Iron age people drank ale made from Mugwort and it was one of the 9 sacred herbs of the Anglo-Saxon’s as recorded in the ‘Nine Herbs Charm’ in the 10thC Lacnunga. The physicians of Myddfai in 13th century Wales recommended drinking ale based brews laced with mugwort, fennel and mint to cure hysteria1.
Mugwort was believed to be a plant that offered protection to humans and was burnt as an incense or hung over doorways to keep evil spirits away from the home. In keeping with its link with Artemis, Mugwort has traditionally had a close and powerful affiliation with the moon. It is used to ease the pain of childbirth and the cramps that accompany monthly menstruation; as a uterine stimulant it is used to bring on delayed menstruation2.
Its effectiveness in childbirth and menstruation are due to Mugworts actions on the body, it is warming and slightly stimulating, helping to increase circulation and remove stagnant blood; for these reasons, if you are pregnant or think that you may be pregnant, you should not use Mugwort under any circumstances. This warming action also makes it effective when used as a poultice for stiff joints; the Japanese use it in a preparation called Moxas to cure rheumatism.
Mugwort the Dream Herb
(The volatile oils found in all parts of the plant contain the psychoactive terpine Thujone3.)
- ‘A Modern Herbal Vol I & II’, Mrs. M Grieve F.R.H.S. (1931) – Medicinal Action and Uses. “It has stimulant and slightly tonic properties, and is of value as a nervine and emmenagogue, having also diuretic and diaphoretic action”.
Other Names for Mugwort
Cronewort, Felon herb, St. John’s Plant (not to be confused with St. John’s Wort), Chrysanthemum weed, sailor’s tobacco, moxa, Artemis Herb, Naughty Man, Old man, Old Uncle Henry, Muggons
This shrubby herbaceous perennial plant can be found growing in most of the temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere; it grows to a height of up to 2 metres. The tall erect stems have a purple tint to them; the leaves are 5–20 cm long, dark green and pinnate on the upper side, the undersides are white and downy. The individual flowers are white and downy in bud opening to have greenish bell shaped ‘sheaves’ with yellowish bracts in the centre approximately 2.5mm in diameter, they form clusters of upright racemose panicles.
Mugwort grows freely in hedgerows, along waysides and on rough ground where interference from man has occurred. Growing freely in the British Isles it is found across N.Europe, Asia, Alaska & N.America
How to Use
- Mugwort can be smoked – either on its own or mixed with tobacco
- Make a herbal pillow by placing a handful of leaves inside your pillowcase
- Burn as an incense
- Drink as a tea
- Use 1 – 11/2 heaped teaspoons of Mugwort per cup
- Pour boiling water over
- Leave to infuse for 5-10 minutes
- Strain before drinking
- Do not use if you are pregnant or even think that you may be pregnant – Mugwort stimulates menstruation and can therefore cause miscarriage
- Hayfever & Asthma sufferers should be aware that Mugwort can cause severe reaction
- Thujone is a known poison if consumed in larger doses or over extended periods3 excessive use can be dangerous
- Mugwort induces lucid dreaming by altering your sleep pattern creating more REM sleep time – this results in less ‘deep sleep’ and can leave you feeling tired the next day; continuous use can cause exhaustion