Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris) is a very dear plant to my heart. She is well known for sleep, lucid dreaming, depression and anxiety, and lesser known as a wonderful women’s herb useful for menstruation issues and period pain. Mugwort is brilliant for those who like to do a lot and tend to hyperstimulated and hyperadrenalised. She has a grounding and stabilising way of ensuring you don’t blow the energy circuit – or if you do, she helps you rewire up with the wisdom of hindsight not far away.
Mugwort’s Medicinal Properties
Latin: Artemisia vulgaris
Part used: aerial parts (flowers and leaves)
Flavour: Bitter with an aromatic pungency with a slight sweetness.
Energetic: Light, dry and warming.
Mugwort is a lesser known herb. You can order it as a tea through Southern Light Herbs, or it is effortless to grow in your garden.
- Digestive bitter
- Uterine tonic
- Painful periods
- No periods
- Irregular periods
- Mental exhaustion
- Stress-related poor appetite
- Anxiety and depression
Herb of Artemis
As the Latin name Artemisia vulgaris suggests, Mugwort is a plant traditionally associated with the Greek virgin goddess Artemis or the Roman equivalent, Diana. There are many myths of Artemis, but the most interesting one is her birth. Artemis was conceived in a fit of illicit passion between Zeus and Leto. As jealous wives do, Zeus’s enraged wife, Hera, sent the she-dragon, Python, after Leto during her labour to destroy mother and babe. Luckily for Leto, the birth of her first child, Artemis, was fast without any pain. As Leto was having twins, her labour continued, putting her in great danger. The newborn Artemis took on the role of the midwife and helped birth her twin brother Apollo and defended her mother against Python. She has become famous throughout history as the virgin goddess of the hunt, healing, women and the moon. Her name was given to members of the Artemisia genus of herbs because of their helpful qualities for women’s health complaints.
The Artemisias are a genus of the daisy (Asteraceae) family
I like to think of them as the daisies with the edge of that raw courageous femininity. They include wormwood, the famous ingredient of absinthe that was said to inspire great creativity and vision of artists and poets. And southernwood would be used by the gypsies to line baby’s cots and newborn animal’s barnyards with its leaves and flowers to protect them against malevolent spirits and diseases.
Mugwort’s qualities fall somewhere between the two, but has more of an affinity with the moon, earning one of its common names moonwort. It is well known for its ability to stimulate dreams and promote creative meditation, having a unique ability to dissolve the veil between the unconscious and conscious mind.
The Brain Hemisphere Balancer
Mugwort is particularly helpful when facing fears, nutting out problems and overcoming creative or emotional blocks, as it helps to access deep memories (whether personal or collective) and bring them to light. I find this ability of mugwort astounding. On a more physical level, one of my herbal mentors refers to mugwort as the “synapse connector” and “brain hemisphere balancer”.
Mugwort is brilliant for a foggy mind, or when one side of the brain is being used predominately over the other (very helpful for students!). Matthew Wood observes that mugwort is well suited to women whose inner masculine archetype is being projected into the world in front of their feminine, or in other words, using the left side logical brain over the creative right side.
Mugwort Supports the Deeper Feminine
By suppressing their femininity, these women may have problems with their menstrual cycles, from amenorrhoea to delayed or irregular cycles, painful periods or the type of PMS that manifests as anxiety, flightiness, cloudy thinking or just that feeling of not knowing why they are feeling so emotional. Mugwort brings in a soft strength and helps to bring insight to the forefront.
She is well suited to women who are establishing themselves within the world, helping them to develop their gifts and discover their niche in society where they can channel these gifts. Mugwort provides a great deal of assistance in helping with this process and gently grounding any anxiety that naturally surfaces during this developmental stage.Mugwort is one of those special herbs that makes for a wonderful ally for women.
For the Ultimate Herbal Hug: Mugwort and Motherwort
In this way, mugwort is a very close friend to motherwort (Leonaurus cardiaca). While motherwort provides that characteristically beautiful mint-family relaxation and nurturance on a deep emotional level, mugwort likes to be more proactive, helping untangle one’s woes constructively and creatively.
I would suggest motherwort for when you feel you need a hug and words of reassurance, and mugwort for when you want to sit down with that sobering cup of strong tea, put words to the intangible and devise a strategic plan to move forward in a more meaningful way. They make an excellent combination if you need both!
For the Blues: Mugwort and St John’s Wort
Another combination I love is with the mind stilling scullcap and sunny St John’s wort. As St John’s wort is a herb of the sun which in mythology was ruled by Artemis’s twin brother Apollo, the two herbs make a natural alliance. In fact, Mrs Grieve notes that in the Middle Ages, mugwort was also known as Cingulum Sancti Johannis (the girdle of St John). The scullcap in the mix helps to create a clear mind to allow the two herbs to unveil what needs to be revealed and to bring a strength of will to act upon the new insights.
Mugwort as a Bitter Tonic
Mugwort is also a great bitter tonic. Being slightly aromatic and acrid, it stimulates upper and lowers digestive juices as well as bringing blood flow to the entire gut. It can be used simply to stimulate appetite or to help people better digest life in general.
Another way I have used mugwort successfully is in case of parasitic infection, in particular worms. It is gentle yet effective when accompanied by other vermifuge herbs and foods (such as raw garlic, organic pumpkin seeds, oregano and thyme) in conjunction with a proper anti-parasitic regime. It is a good place to start especially for kids (use only drop doses!) before using the harder hitting botanicals. Too often parasitic infections are approached by modern naturopathic practice with the iron-fisted heavy weight of heroic dosing and high alkaloid-containing herbs when our gentler herbs could be used just as well and not as assaulting on the body.
No safe to take during pregnancy. Avoid if you have a known allergy to plants in the daisy family. Do not take if you are on any blood thinning medications (Warfarin, aspirin or other anticoagulants).
Mugwort in the garden
Mugwort is an incredibly easy plant to grow, and if you’re not careful, it will infiltrate through your entire garden, so best keep it to a corner. You can eat it fresh as a bitter before meals, dry it and make it into a tea or a smoking mixture, or make into a tincture and use as a low dose herb (2ml per day). Mugwort is an excellent ally to have on board and a great lady to call upon to lend a hand to many who could do with her stilling, strengthening and insightful ways.