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Mugwort


    Scientific Names

    Mugwort
    • Artemisia vulgaris L.
    • Compositae
    • Composite family

    Common Names

    ivyAi-hao (Chinese name)
    ivyAi-ye (Chinese name)
    ivyCommon mugwort
    ivyFelon herb
    ivyNagadamani (Sanskrit name)
    ivySailor’s tobacco
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    Parts Usually Used

    Rootstock, herb
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    Description of Plant(s) and Culture

    Mugwort is a perennial plant; the downy, grooved stems grow from 1-5 feet tall and bear alternate, pinnate leaves that are green on top and downy beneath. The leaflets are linear to spatulate and coarsely toothed. In addition, there is a basal rosette of pinnate leaves the survive the winter. Small, greenish-yellow to red-brown flower heads grow in panicled spikes from July to October. Odor aromatic, leaves slightly bitter.

    Another variety: (Artemisia gnaphalodes) known as mugwort and also as cudweed sagebrush, was used by Native Americans in about the Sun Dance Lodge. Dancers bathed with it as they came out from the dance.
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    Where Found

    Can be found in waste places, ditches, bushy areas, and along roadsides and fences in Europe, Asia, and North and South America. In the United States, it grows in the eastern states as far south as Georgia and as far west as Michigan.
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    Medicinal Properties

    Appetizer, anthelmintic, antispasmodic, antiseptic, digestive, cholagogue, purgative, emmenagogue, diaphoretic, hemostatic
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    Biochemical Information

    Essential oil: cineole, thujone, bitter principle
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    Legends, Myths and Stories

    The name mugwort comes from the old Germanic muggiwurti, meaning “fly or gnat plant”, and refers to the plant’s use since the time of Dioscorides (first century AD) to repel moths and other insects.

    In the Middle Ages mugwort was considered a magical protective herb. It was very strong against witches and a branch of it kept in the house would scare off the Devil. Hanging mugwort above the door was a protection against lightning; best of all, putting it under the doorstep ensured that no annoying person would come to your door. (Try it if you are plagued by solicitors.) Mugwort also afforded its protection to the traveler, guarding him against fatigue, sunstrokes, wild beasts, and the evil eye. If a foot traveler put mugwort in his shoes, he would not become weary on his journey. Medieval legend held that John the Baptist wore a girdle of mugwort to help sustain him in the wilderness.

    If put into barrels or hogsheads of beer, mugwort will preserve the brew from souring. The dried herb also repels moths.

    In former years, mugwort was put in baths and thought to have great effect in relieving fatigue.

    It was believed that sleeping on a pillow filled with mugwort would cause a person to see his entire future in his dreams.

    Related to wormwood but not as bitter nor as fragrant.

    This plant was used frequently as a charm and held in superstitious veneration by the Chinese people. At the time of the Dragon Festival, which is the 5th day of the 5th moon, the mugwort is hung up to ward off noxious influences. Mugwort is known to the Chinese as Ai-hao or just simply Ai, the dried leaves are called Ai-yeh; the dried twigs tied in bundles are called Ai-t’iao. The Chinese maintain that mugwort is often helpful in relieving the conditions of sleepwalking.
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    Uses

    Mugwort promote the appetite and proper digestion by its beneficial effect on bile production, and it acts as a mild purgative. A decoction is sometimes used to relieve pain, treat vaginal yeast infections, and regulate menstruation. It has also been used as a bath additive for gout, induces sweating, bronchitis, colds, colic, epilepsy, infertility, preventive for miscarriage, convulsions, hysteria, depression, mental exhaustion, insomnia, wounds, sores, boils, bruises, felons, kidney ailments, sciatica, rheumatism, stress, and tired legs. The fresh juice is helpful in relieving the itching of poison oak or poison ivy irritation, fungal infections, snakebite, insect bites, parasites and worms. A uterine stimulant, it helps in labor and delivery, plus helps expel the after-birth.

    Mugwort stimulates the spinal cord and relieves congestion in the brain, a good brain tonic. Experimentally, it lowers blood sugar.
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    Formulas or Dosages

    Collect the herb when in flower, the rootstock in the fall.

    Infusion: steep 1 tbsp. dried herb in 1/2 cup water. Take during the day, a mouthful at a time.

    Powder: take 1/2 tsp. powdered rootstock with water, 2 times a day.
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    Warning

    Excessive doses can lead to symptoms of poisoning, but nothing is to be feared from normal use.

    Mugwort is a species of wormwood, which is toxic, but can be distinguished from its more popular relative (Artemisia absinthium) by the color and shape of its leaves which are green above and whitish underneath, with sharply pointed segments.

    Mugwort may cause dermatitis. Avoid mugwort during pregnancy and breast feeding.
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    Bibliography

    Buy It! The Herb Book, by John Lust, Bantam Books, 666 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY. copyright 1974.

    Buy It! Back to Eden, by Jethro Kloss; Back to Eden Publishing Co., Loma Linda, CA 92354, Original copyright 1939, revised edition 1994

    Buy It! Chinese Medicinal Herbs, compiled by Shih-Chen Li, Georgetown Press, San Francisco, California, 1973.

    Buy It! Indian Uses of Native Plants, by Edith Van Allen Murphey, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, copyright 1958, print 1990

    Buy It! Old Ways Rediscovered, by Clarence Meyer, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, published from 1954, print 1988

    Buy It! Culpeper's Complete Herbal & English Physician: Updated With 117 Modern Herbs, by Nicholas Culpeper, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, 1990, (reprint of 1814)

    Buy It! Eastern/Central Medicinal Plants, by Steven Foster and James A. Duke., Houghton Mifflin Company, 215 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10000

    Buy It! The Nature Doctor: A Manual of Traditional and Complementary Medicine, by Dr. H.C.A. Vogel; Keats Publishing, Inc., 27 Pine Street (Box 876) New Canaan, CT. 06840-0876. Copyright Verlag A. Vogel, Teufen (AR) Switzerland 1952, 1991

    Buy It! The Herbalist Almanac, by Clarence Meyer, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, copyright 1988, fifth printing, 1994

    Buy It! Planetary Herbology, by Michael Tierra, C.A., N.D., O.M.D., Lotus Press, PO Box 325, Twin Lakes. WI 53181., Copyright 1988, published 1992

    Buy It! The Complete Medicinal Herbal, by Penelope Ody, Dorling Kindersley, Inc, 232 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016, First American Edition, copyright 1993

    Buy It! Indian Herbalogy of North America, by Alma R. Hutchens, Shambala Publications, Inc., Horticultural Hall, 300 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, 1973

    Buy It! American Folk Medicine/i>, by Clarence Meyer, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, 1973

    Buy It! Secrets of the Chinese Herbalists, by Richard Lucas, Parker Publishing Company, Inc., West Nyack, NY, 1987.

    Buy It! How Indians Use Wild Plants for Food, Medicine & Crafts, by Frances Densmore, Dover Publications, Inc., 180 Varick Street, New York, NY 10014, first printed by the United States Government Printing Office, Washington, in 1928, this Dover edition 1974

    Buy It! An Instant Guide to Medicinal Plants, by Pamela Forey and Ruth Lindsay, Crescent Books (January 27, 1992).

    Buy It! The Magic of Herbs in Daily Living, by Richard Lucas, Parker Publishing Co. (1988).

    Buy It! The Yoga of Herbs: An Ayurvedic Guide to Herbal Medicine, by Dr. David Frawley & Dr. Vasant Lad, Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, Wisconsin, Second edition, 1988.

    Buy It! The Rodale Herb Book: How to Use, Grow, and Buy Nature's Miracle Plants (An Organic gardening and farming book), edited by William H. Hylton, Rodale Press, Inc. Emmaus, PA, 18049., 1974

    Buy It! The Healing Plants, by Mannfried Pahlow, Barron's Educational Series, Inc. 250 Wireless Blvd., Hauppauge, NY 11788, 1992

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