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The Medicinal Magic of Mugwort

Seafarer Mama/Karen has loved gardening since she began getting her hands dirty beside her grandmother at the tender age of 3 or 4.

Mugwort Grows Abundantly Near My Gardens

A patch of wild mugwort growing in my backyard

A patch of wild mugwort growing in my backyard

Mugwort, an Introduction

Is mugwort an invasive weed or a medicinal plant? When you meet mugwort on your path, what do you do? Are you tempted to pull it up at its roots or take some home? I know someone who tries with all of her might to eradicate it from her property, only to be healed by poultices made with stem-fulls of its leaves during a recent trip abroad. She was able to find humor in this and sent pictures of her leg bedecked with mugwort poultices.

The Latin name for mugwort is Artemisia vulgaris. The plant eventually made its way west to North America from Asia and Europe. It grows plentifully and is so hardy that it often takes over and kills other plants if allowed to take seed in a garden bed. It is smart to keep a large margin between the wild mugwort on your property and your fruits, veggies and flowers. But, while you are pulling it up by its roots, why not take it home and brew a cup of tea with it? It may seem like a headache to manage, but it is also a gift to us from Mother Earth.

Below are photos and a description of some of the medicinal benefits enjoyed by people who have used mugwort as a medium for healing and wellness.

A Cozy Cup of Earthy Comfort

A cup of mugwort tea

A cup of mugwort tea

Mugwort Tea

A small cup of mugwort tea each day is warm and comforting. It holds a earthy flavor, similar to sipping tea from pine needles, which I often do. Mugwort tea can help us manage our mood and increase human health and well-being. Here are a few ways that a single daily cup of mugwort tea can have a positive impact on our health:

  • Balances our mood: reduces anxiety and depression
  • Improves digestion and aids weight loss
  • Relieves menstrual cramps for women
  • Strengthens the immune system and helps detoxify the body
  • Helps prevent osteoporosis and other bone density disorders
  • Regulates blood sugar levels for diabetics
  • Boosts vision health

There are also potential side effects:

  • Developing excema can be an indicator that you are allergic to mugwort.
  • It can be toxic if overused, so only one cup daily is recommended.
  • If drunk when pregnant, it can cause a miscarriage***

Mugwort Smudge Stick

A lit bundle of mugwort for smudging

A lit bundle of mugwort for smudging

Smudging With Mugwort

What is Smudging?

Smudging is done by lighting a bundle or braid of herbs and swirling the smoke around you as a means of purification in preparation for a sacred ritual, by banishing negative energy from around you. It is used to purify the space used for a ritual, as well. It can be used to cleanse the energy in your home, too.

Traditionally, Native Americans used (non-European) white sage, Artemisia tridentia, most often in ritual, but mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris) was also used. Mugwort was used as part of a a sleep-inducing ritual to banish insomnia and stimulate divinatory visions and dreams. It is best to not ever smudge yourself with mugwort before driving.

The smoke from smudging oneself with mugwort can benefit us in various ways:

  • Release of negativity
  • Healing
  • Divination
  • Relief from insomnia
  • Promotes vivid, meaningful dreams or visions

Mugwort Poultice

A warm mugwort poutice relaxes my sore skin after banging my foot on the foot of my office chair.

A warm mugwort poutice relaxes my sore skin after banging my foot on the foot of my office chair.

Healing With Mugwort

There are unique benefits to creating topical herbal poultices for human health and healing. They are created by warming the leafy stems in water and crushing them into a pulp, which is applied directly to the skin. Bunches of warm mugwort have also been used whole, laid out over the spots that need healing. The warmer they are when they are applied, the greater their healing potential because the body's circulation is stimulated on that spot, the healing properties of the herbs are experienced more deeply, and the relief from pain more quickly and lasts longer.

Mugwort poultices have been used for:

  • Stimulating milk production in new mothers
  • Relieving the pain and cramping associated with rheumatism and arthritis
  • Relaxing sore muscles after long periods of exertion
  • Healing burns, splinters, cuts, bruises (such as abrasions)
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Ancient and Effective Herbal Medicine

Creating teas and poultices with herbs is an ancient art. The herbs used are often found in the wild, a gift of healing from the Earth. Smudging with bundles of herbs is also an ancient practice, most closely associated with Native American sacred ritual culture. They are all filled with elemental power:

Smudge smoke ~ Fire + Air

Teas and poultices ~ Fire + Water

The herbs themselves ~ Earth

Thanks - Giving

Earth wants us to use her gifts to heal ourselves and others. Using caution around determining the potential for allergic reaction is an important step before use; but if an individual is not allergic to a particular herb, it can be used by anyone who needs it, and its effects will be purest because they've been harvested straight from the source. Offering a gesture of gratitude at the time of harvesting is all that is asked of us.

*IMPORTANT: Consult with your doctor before consuming mugwort in any manner! It is a potential allergen and can be toxic to consume in large amounts.

© 2018 Karen A Szklany


Karen A Szklany (author) from New England on March 15, 2019:

LOL ~ That's great, Bill! Fun association! ~:0)

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on March 15, 2019:

Just a silly thought....when I hear mugwort now I think of Harry Potter. :)

Karen A Szklany (author) from New England on September 22, 2018:

Thank you, Paula!

I delight in surprising people, so I'm glad you ebjoyed reading this article.

Suzie from Carson City on September 21, 2018:

Karen...This is a brand new one on me! I always appreciate new info on herbs and natural health helpers! How can something with a name like "mugwort" be good for us?? LOL....just kidding. Thanks for this! I guess I'll search my yard and wooded area behind my home for this stuff!! Paula

Karen A Szklany (author) from New England on September 21, 2018:

Thank you, Bill! May not grow in the American Northwest region. Thank you for stopping by to read and share your thoughts.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on September 21, 2018:

Never heard of it. Certainly never seen it. Very cool article, my friend. I love learning new things.

Karen A Szklany (author) from New England on September 20, 2018:

Hope you do, Eric! Thanks for stopping by.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on September 20, 2018:

Well that is extremely cool. I'll have to look it up to see if we have any.

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