Habitat & Cultivation : Mugwort is found in temperate regions of the northern hemisphere. It flourishes on waste ground and in hedgerows, and is gathered in late summer just before flowering.
Parts Used : Leaves, root.
Constituents : Mugwort contains a volatile oil (mainly caryophyllene), a sesquiterpene lactone, flavonoids, coumarin derivatives and triterpenes.
History & Folklore : Known as “Mater Herbarum” (mother of herbs), mugwort has a rich history of use in Europe and Asia dating back to ancient times. According to legends, Roman centurions placed mugwort in their sandals to maintain the well-being of the soles of their feet. The Greek physician Dioscorides, from the 1st century CE, mentioned that the goddess Artemis, who inspired the plant’s genus name, was believed to provide support to women in childbirth.
The 13th-century Welsh herbal “The Physicians of Myddfai” recommended the use of mugwort for aiding childbirth. It suggested binding mugwort to the left thigh of a woman unable to give birth and removing it promptly after delivery to prevent hemorrhage. In the 18th century, Spanish herbalist Diego de Torres advised the application of a mugwort plaster below the navel as an effective method to induce labor.
In the Isle of Man (UK), sprigs of mugwort are worn during the annual open-air parliamentary assembly on Tynwald Hill. In China, mugwort has been highly valued for thousands of years and is a key component of moxa used in moxibustion. Moxibustion involves applying heat from a burning, cigar-shaped roll of chopped mugwort leaves to acupuncture points.
Medicinal Actions & Uses : Mugwort, recognized as a digestive and tonic herb, boasts a diverse range of traditional applications. With a gentler impact compared to many other Artemisia species, it is suitable for prolonged use at a low dosage to enhance appetite, support digestive function, and aid in nutrient absorption. Mugwort is acknowledged for its potential to promote the elimination of worms. Furthermore, it stimulates bile flow and has a mild effect on initiating menstruation.
Interestingly, the European perspective of mugwort as a uterine stimulant contrasts with Chinese usage, where it is recommended to prevent miscarriage and manage or halt menstrual bleeding. Mugwort also exhibits antiseptic properties and has historical use in the treatment of malaria.