Mugwort is such a widespread and hardy plant that it is often taken for granted or condemned as a weed. But this fresh, lively herb has a time-honored place in healing traditions from all over the world, and its medicinal applications are powerful and diverse.
Mugwort is full of stimulating energy. It enlivens and energizes while simultaneously soothing the nerves. It is perhaps this unique combination of properties that lends mugwort its reputation as an herb to encourage both deep sleep and vivid dreams. It also accounts for mugwort’s ability to cleanse the air when burned as an incense.
Mugwort takes its name from its history as a flavoring agent for drinks (consumed in mugs). Before hops, mugwort was the top herb used for flavoring beer and other beverages. In Western medicine, Mugwort’s most common uses are as an emmenagogue, nervine, bitter tonic, and stimulant.
Mugwort warms and strengthens the abdomen, uterus, and lower body. It is a superb emmenagogue and supports a healthy, regular menstrual cycle. In cases where there is coldness, stagnancy, or excessive bleeding, mugwort stimulates healthy circulation and helps to warm and balance the system. Its nervine properties also bring stability to mood swings and hormonal depression.
Mugwort’s bitter quality and high essential oil content make it an excellent herb for digestion. It encourages the flow of digestive juices and helps to dispel gas and ease griping pains. Where there is stagnancy, lack of appetite, coldness, or debility, Mugwort warms, stimulates, and encourages healthy digestive activity.
Mugwort is an excellent nervine and may be combined with other relaxing herbs such as chamomile and lavender for a soothing bedtime tea. Dream pillows with mugwort have been used for centuries to encourage nighttime relaxation and vivid dreams. In aromatherapy, the essential oil of mugwort can be used to ground nervous personalities and calm the nerves.
In Chinese medicine, mugwort is used as an incense called moxa. Moxa is used in acupuncture and other healing therapies to cleanse and unblock the subtle energetic channels of the body. Moxa is also burned to purify the air.
To make your own moxa cones, gather a handful of dried mugwort leaves and use your palms to grind them. Shape the crushed material into a cone, place it in a heat-proof dish, and light the tip with a match. Like sage, myrrh, etc., mugwort is one of the most powerful energetic and antiseptic air purifiers in the natural world.
Once you learn to recognize mugwort, you’ll see it everywhere. It thrives in rich, well-drained soil, but it can be found growing in sidewalk cracks, along railroad tracks, in waste areas and ditches, practically anywhere. Once established in a garden, it is there for good (as we have discovered at Smile). Stop by the garden this spring to meet mugwort in person!
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