COMMON NAMES: Mugwort, Yomogi, Sook, Agenjo del Pais, Ambfe (Otomi), Artemisia, Epazote de Castilla, Green Wormwood, Hierba de San Juan, Xun, Zizim, Felon Herb, Sailor’s Tobacco, Gypsy Tobacco, Moxa Herb, Old Man, Muggons, Ai-Hao, Una, Pati
Artemisia vulgaris is a bush that can grow up to one meter in height. It is extremely similar in appearance to Artemesia absinthium, also known as Wormwood. It has angular, sometimes purplish stems with smooth, dark green leaves that have a characteristic downy white cotton on the underside. The flowers are small oval heads that are arranged that are reddish or pale yellow (Voogelbreinder 2009, 93).
Various species of mugwort that are extremely similar in qualities and appearance may be found all over Europe, China, Japan and Korea, as well as in Mexico, Arizona and New Mexico (Voogelbreinder 2009, 93).
TRADITIONAL USES: In Pre-Columbian times the Aztecs used mugwort as a ritual incense. The plant was sacred to the Aztec goddess of salt, and salt makers, and the plant was used widely in her festivals.
In Europe, in the Middle Ages, mugwort was used as a protective herb, and was placed in gardens to repel insects. It was also used to prevent fatigue and ward off evil spirits and wild animals. In witchcraft traditions, it has long been used to induce lucid dreaming and astral projection. It was one of the nine sacred herbs given to the world by Odin. The Romans placed mugwort in their sandals to relieve tired, aching feet (Grieve n.d.).
In Korea and Japan, mugwort is used widely in cuisine, and is also placed outside of homes to keep evil spirits away. It is also consumed as a tea to relieve colds and coughs.In Korea, mugwort is said to have different medicinal properties depending on the season. In some areas, the plant is so strongly psychoactive that individuals gathering the plant have passed out just from dermal contact with the plant leaves. Mugwort is often used to ward off evil spirits in spiritual rituals. The Ainu tribe of Japan drink a tea made of mugwort before beginning divination in order to expel evil influences. It is also used as an incense by Nepalese and Indian shamans, who say that it wards of demons and other evil spirits (Vooglebreinder 2009, 93).
Mythologically speaking, Mugwort is dedicated to Artemis and Diana, and was well known for it’s use in helping to alleviate pain in the body, while enhancing psychic powers and lucid dreaming in the mind. (This is probably why SweetSmoke Herbs uses Mugwort as one of its main ingredients in their LUCID SMOKING BLEND).
In ancient China and Japan, Mugwort was hung in open doorways to exorcise the spirits of disease. The ancient Europeans did the same to ward off evil spirits. These two separated cultures also believed that the supernatural powers of Mugwort were revealed by
mermaids who came from the sea to present the herb for the good of humankind.
For beer connoisseurs, Mugwort was once the staple ingredient in beer before Hops became the norm. Something else we found in the literature, is that Mugwort was also known as Sailor’s Tobacco, as it was used as an alternative when sailors ran out of tobacco at sea. There’s nothing very tobacco-like about Mugwort, but it’s interesting to know that it was used in that way.
Also known as the visionary herb, Mugwort is still used today for increasing psychic powers. Native Americans also burned Mugwort as a ‘smudge’ to purify the spiritual and physical environment. The herbal tea was, and is still used by women for late periods (and, as it relaxes the uterus, also for natural terminations without the trauma, pain or guilt – it was just a late period!).
TRADITIONAL PREPARATION: In Mexico, fresh mugwort is added to tequila and other distilled spirits to create an extract. It is also used to create an absinthe-like liquor known as Yolixpa. The dried plant may also be smoked. One to three grams smoked is said to create psychoactive effects, while three to four grams provides powerful anti-parasitic doses. Higher doses act as abortifacient, so mugwort should be avoided completely by pregnant women (Burgess 2003).
Dried mugwort can be smoked or placed in boiling water to make a tea. The fresh herb may also be placed under the pillow before bed time to produce wondrous dreams (Burgess 2003).
MEDICINAL USES: In Mexico, mugwort is as an antispasmodic, and an alcohol extract is used for digestive troubles. The plant is very effective in treating parasites of the digestive tract. In modern folk medicine, the roots and fresh leaves are used to treat epilepsy and rheumatism and to cause abortions. Tea made from the leaves are made to increase the appetite. The Yucatec Maya use the herbage as a treatment for headaches and to help with digestive and respiratory troubles. They also use the plant for birth control (Voogelbreinder 2009, 92-93).
In Traditional Chinese medicine, mugwort is used to treat pregnant women through Moxibustion (in which the dried plant is burned on specifc pressure points). Mugwort is also said to be a remedy for opium poisoning (Voogelbreinder 2009, 92-93).
TRADITIONAL EFFECTS: Smoking dried mugwort leaves is said to produce a mild and pleasant stimulation that can increase to euphoria that some compare to cannabis intoxication. Consumed internally as a tea or extract, mugwort is said to cause mild clear relaxation. Smoking or consuming a tincture of mugwort is said to increase the intensity of dreams, as well as lucidity in the dreams and an increase in recall. Mugwort contains thujone, the active component in wormwood and the popular beverage absinthe, and this accounts for a great portion of the psychoactive properties the plant has (Voogelbreinder 2009, 93)
Purchase Mugwort Essential Oil (Not For Internal Use)
Purchase Mugwort Herb for Smoking from ShamansGarden.
Burgess, T. “Mugwort, Artemisia Vulgaris, Dreaming,”, 2003. http://altnature.com/thegarden/Mugwort.html.
Grieve, M. “A Modern Herbal | Mugwort.” Botanical.com, n.d. http://botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/m/mugwor61.html.
Voogelbreinder, Snu, Garden of Eden: The Shamanic Use of Psychoactive Flora and Fauna, and the Study of Consciousness. Snu Voogelbreinder, 2009.