Family: Compositae or Asteraceae
Other names: Artemisia, Felon Herb, St. John’s Plant, Naughty Man, Oild Man, Sailor’s Tobacco,Absinthium spicatum, Artemisia affinis,Artemisia coarctata, Artemisia officinalis
Habitat: Throughout most temperate regions of the northern hemisphere, including Britain. Common on hedgebanks and waysides, uncultivated and waste land.
Mugwort has a long history of use as a medicinal herb especially in matters connected to the digestive system, menstrual complaints and the treatment of worms. It is slightly toxic, however, and should never be used by pregnant women, especially in their first trimester, since it can cause a miscarriage. Large, prolonged dosage can damage the nervous system. All parts of the plant are anthelmintic, antiseptic, antispasmodic, carminative, cholagogue, diaphoretic, digestive, emmenagogue, expectorant, nervine, purgative, stimulant, slightly tonic and used in the treatment of women’s complaints. The leaves are also said to be appetizer, diuretic, haemostatic and stomachic. They can be used internally or externally. An infusion of the leaves and flowering tops is used in the treatment of nervous and spasmodic affections, sterility, functional bleeding of the uterus, dysmenorrhoea, asthma and diseases of the brain. The leaves have an antibacterial action, inhibiting the growth of Staphylococcus aureus, Bacillus typhi, B. dysenteriae, streptococci, E. coli, B. subtilis, Pseudomonas etc. The stem is also said to be antirheumatic, antispasmodic, and stomachic. The roots are tonic and antispasmodic. They are said to be one of the best stomachics. The leaves, placed inside the shoes, are said to be soothing for sore feet. The compressed dried leaves and stems are used in moxibustion. Another report says that the down from the leaves is used.
Description of Mugwort:
Artemisia vulgaris is a PERENNIAL growing to 1.2 m (4ft) by 0.7 m (2ft 4in).
It is hardy to zone 3 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from Jul to September. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Wind.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils and can grow in very alkaline soils.
It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought.
Cultivation of Mugwort:
Easily grown in a well-drained circumneutral or slightly alkaline loamy soil, preferring a sunny position and a moist soil. Plants are longer lived, more hardy and more aromatic when they are grown in a poor dry soil. Tolerates a pH in the range 4.8 to 8.2. Established plants are drought tolerant. Mugwort is an aggressive and invasive plant, it inhibits the growth of nearby plants by means of root secretions. The sub-species A. vulgaris parviflora. Maxim. is the form that is eaten in China. There are some named varieties. ‘White’ is a taller plant than the type species, growing to 1.5 metres. It has a strong, rather resinous or “floral” taste similar to chrysanthemum leaves and is used in soups or fried as a side dish. Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer.
Propagation of Mugwort:
Seed – surface sow from late winter to early summer in a greenhouse and do not allow the compost to dry out. When large enough to handle, prick out the seedlings into individual pots. If growth is sufficient, they can be planted out into their permanent positions in the summer, otherwise grow them on in a cold frame for their first winter and then plant them out in the spring. Division in spring or autumn. Basal cuttings in late spring. Harvest the young shoots when about 10 – 15cm long, pot up in a lightly shaded position in a greenhouse or cold frame and plant them out when well rooted. Very easy.
Collection: The leaves and flowering stalks should be gathered just at blossoming time, which is between July and September. The leaves are harvested in August and can be dried for later use. The roots are harvested in the autumn and dried for later use.
Culinary uses of Mugwort:
Edible Parts: Leaves.
Edible Uses: Colouring, Condiment.
Leaves – raw or cooked. Aromatic and somewhat bitter. Their addition to the diet aids the digestion and so they are often used in small quantities as a flavouring, especially with fatty foods. They are also used to give colour and flavour to glutinous-rice dumplings (Mochi). The young shoots are used in spring. In Japan the young leaves are used as a potherb. The dried leaves and flowering tops are steeped into tea. They have also been used as a flavouring in beer, though fell into virtual disuse once hops came into favour.
Actions: Bitter tonic, stimulant, nervine tonic, emmenagogue.
Part Used: Leaves or root.
Indications: Mugwort can be used wherever a digestive stimulant is called for. It will aid the digestion through the bitter stimulation of the juices whilst also providing a carminative oil. It has a mildly nervine action in aiding depression and easing tension, which appears to be due to the volatile oil, so it is essential that this is not lost in preparation. Mugwort may also be used as an emmenagogue in the aiding of normal menstrual flow.
Preparations & Dosage:
Infusion: pour a cup of boiling water onto 1-2 teaspoonfuls of the dried herb and leave to infuse for 10-15 minutes in a covered container. This should be drunk three times a day. Mugwort is used as a flavoring in a number of aperitif drinks; a pleasant way to take it!
Tincture: take 1-4ml of the tincture three times a day.
Combinations: May be used widely where a bitter action is needed.
Other uses of Mugwort:
Insecticide, Repellent, Tinder.
The fresh or the dried plant repels insects, it can be used as a spray but caution is advised since it can also inhibit plant growth. A weak tea made from the infused plant is a good all-purpose insecticide[. An essential oil from the plant kills insect larvae. The down on the leaves makes a good tinder for starting fires.
Esoteric uses of Mugwort:
Carried to increase lust & fertility, prevent backache and cure disease & madness. Place around divination and scrying tools to increase their power or near the bed to enable astral travel. Use in sleep pillow or place in a sachet under your pillowcase to bring about prophetic dreams. Use an infusion of mugwort to clean crystal balls and magick mirrors.
- Volatile oil, containing linlool, l, 8-cineole, [[beta]]-thujone, borneol, [[alpha]]- and [[beta]]-pinene, nerol, nerylacetate, linalul acetate, myrcene, vulgarole, [[alpha]]-, [[beta]]- and[[gamma]]-cadinol, cadinenol, muurolol, spathulenol and others
- Vulgarin, a sesquiterpene lactone
- Flavonoids; quercitin -3-rhamnoglucoside and5, 3′-dihydroxy-3, 7, 4′-trimethoxyflavone
- Coumarin derivatives; 7, 8-methylendioxy-9-methoxycoumarin
- Triterpenes such as 3 [[beta]]-hydroxurs-l2-en 27, 28-dionic acid, [[beta]]-amyrin, [[beta]]-sitosterol.