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Featured Herb: Mugwort

Mugwort. Cronewort. Wise old silver sage. Known as the eldest of plants, Artemisia vulgaris (along with many other species within the Artemisia genus) is known throughout history for being a lunar plant and protector of women. She gets her name from Artemis, the Greek lunar goddess of the hunt, who is protectress of the wildlife, and of women. Mugwort goes by many names, and there are hundreds of different Artemisias, all similar in quality but differing in strength (due to the variations in volatile oil content). Mugwort has a rich history of being used medicinally, as well as in rituals and ceremonies across the globe.

Mugwort is identified by the silvery, soft white to grey hue under the green leaves. The leaves actually change shape over the course of the growing season, going from multi-lobed to spear shaped. The flowers, which come in late summer, are pale yellow or reddish and barely noticeable. Mugwort leaves and flowering tops are harvested throughout the growing season, although the properties change somewhat as she matures. She can be dried and used for tea, which can be aromatic or intensely bitter, depending on when you harvest and how you prepare it. You can also prepare a tincture with the fresh plant, and mugwort infused oil makes a wonderfully aromatic massage oil or salve ingredient. Dried artemisia stalks also make a great smudge stick. As I write this I have a mugwort vinegar brewing, and mugwort oil being made in my Magical Butter machine. I plan to come back to my garden when she is flowering and make a second batch of oil, at which point I will mix both oils to get a full spectrum of lovely scented oil for some new salve blends.

Artemisia vulgaris, also known as common mugwort, riverside wormwood, felon herb, chrysanthemum weed, wild wormwood. Blooming in spring

Mugwort is highly nutritive, rich with vitamin B complex, and vitamins C & A, as well as calcium, potassium, phosphorus and iron. This is why I love it in vinegar form. You could add the leaves to salads, but not everyone enjoys the texture, plus it can be overwhelmingly bitter if harvested late in the season. The vinegar I have brewing is from a May harvest. It is mildly aromatic and full of nourishment. It’s great in a summer salad dressing or marinade. If you’d like some Mugwort vinegar, it will be ready around the end of June. Check back in the shop at that time or shoot me a message and let me know if you’d like to be notified when it’s ready.

Mugwort is an excellent digestive bitter tonic. I like to take a tablespoon of mugwort vinegar in a little water, or a dropperful of tincture before or after meals for any kind of simple digestive upset, or as a preventative. It is also hepatoprotective, which means it has a history of protecting the liver from damage. It’s good at moving stuck energy, whether that manifests as slow digestion and constipation, or liver congestion. If you can handle the bitterness of the tea, all the better, but a tincture will do in most situations.

As for protector of women, I think where mugwort shines the most is for the women’s reproductive system. Mugwort has been used for regulating moon cycles, as well as relieving menstrual cramps. Since it’s great at moving stuck energy, and is also a uterine stimulant, it can bring on delayed menses, especially in people who are prone to stuck periods. CAUTION: Mugwort can overstimulate bleeding in women who are prone to excessive bleeding, so it may be contraindicated in these situations.

Mugwort Smudging Sticks

Mugwort can also be used to help one remember dreams. This can be helpful, or it can be scary, since not all dreams are wonderful. But for those of us who believe our dreams can give us clues to our current state of mind and well-being, as well as guidance & insight, then mugwort could be a useful ally. For this I prefer the tincture or tea made from the flowering plant. This can also assist wth getting one in the state of mind for meditation, visualization, ritual or journeying. I notice these attributes to be particularly enhanced around the times of the new and full moon, which in my opinion are excellent times for these activities anyway.

I do hope you feel called to get to know this sacred plant. Even if you just sit next to her, asking for wisdom and guidance, being open to what you receive in the form of intuition, thoughts, dreams, and opportunities. Wise Artemisia has much to share with us if we open ourselves to listen.

RESOURCES:

A Weedwife’s Remedy (Kiva Rose Hardin)

Materia Medica (compiled by Jesse Wolf & Kiva Rose Hardin)

Materia Medica Monthly issue #37 (Sajah Popham)

The Backyard Herbal Apothecary (Devon Young-with instructions on creating mugwort lavender smudge sticks!)