Health Benefits of Mugwort Tea: Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris): is an ancient herb, found across Africa, Europe, and Asia and naturalized in countries like North America. It has a few common names like Cronewort, or Sailor’s Tobacco, Felon Herb and there is an Old Uncle Henry too. Mugwort is called ‘chornobylnik’ in Ukraine. Sound familiar? Mugwort got this name from the abandoned Chernobyl city.
In English, it means the place where mugwort grows”. If you hear the name wormwood as well in the plant world, there are some that say that they are exactly the same plant, whereas others say they are not the same. Mugwort comes from the family known as Asteraceae.
History and description of this herb
Mugwort is a perennial, also aromatic, with red-purplish stems and dark green leaves which grow anything from 5-8 cm long. The underneath of the leaves are silvery white, showing an affinity with the moon and also the reproductive systems of females. This plant can grow from around 60 cm to 1.7 m tall. It has small red-brown type flowers which appear in the summertime. It is a hardy herb and requires well-drained alkaline soil in the sun. Usually, mugwort is pollinated by the wind and will flower between July-October.
Mugwort is believed to be one of the very first plants that humans cultivated. Its genus name, Artemisia is a reference to the goddess incarnation of Mother Earth, Artemis, from ancient Greek times. In Japan, mugwort is thought to belong to the Goddess of Progeny, Life, and Death. Artemis is thought to be highly concentrated in mugwort, and because of this, was used to worship her across the ancient world. At ceremonies, mugwort would be ingested during a full moon, particularly in Artemis’s honor.
Folklore says that the mugwort herb got its name from flavored drinks, being used also with other herbs such as ground ivy to give flavoring to beer. This was before hops were introduced. Folklore also says that long ago in the Middle Ages, mugwort was known as ‘cingulum Sancti’ or ‘St John’s Girdle’ because rumors abounded at that time that the biblical John the Baptist wore a girdle around his waist whilst he was in the wildness; made of mugwort. Other folklore suggests that mugwort was named after the mother of herbs, Mater Herbarium, and was considered sacred with the Anglo Saxons. Ancient herbals originating from Anglo Saxon healers say that mugwort “has might for three, and against thirty, for venom availest, for flying vile things, might against loathed ones that through the land rove.” See what a noteworthy herb mugwort is!
Just say the magic word
There are not many herbs that offer uses in the magic world as well as protecting other than mugwort. Today many people believe that certain extraordinary occurrences of misfortune that befall them are because of bad luck, or simply Gods will. But in olden times, such things were blamed on devils, evil spirits, witches or sorcerers. To cope with these evil forces, people forearmed themselves with magic plants, especially before participating in any activity or event which involved unpredictable risks, such as traveling, marriage or business ventures. Had evil stuck before the victim managed to obtain the charms of mugwort, other herbs, roots or bark were used in an attempt to break the spell.
In fact, mugwort is best known as an herb for dreams. Shamans use mugwort for their liquid dream pillows. Mugwort essential oils are also diffused in bedrooms or used as pillow sprays in dream work. Just a few drops of the oil in a diffuser or as a room spray will allow users to experience memorable and vivid dreams that they can remember easily when they wake up. Across Europe, mugwort holds sway with people who use it for dream work, its magical protection and divination.
Chinese people often hang bunches of mugwort in their homes when their Dragon Festival is on. This is done to keep away evil spirits.
It has health benefits too
1. Mugwort addresses medical issues too, like menstrual complaints, easing pain and inflammation and also treating parasites. Like a lot of the bitter herbs, the fresh leaves of mugwort are said to be able to stimulate digestion. Because it is a stimulant, it keeps hormones of females functioning properly.
Apart from mugwort being a menstrual tonic, some text from the 14th century discusses it as being good at expelling dead fetuses after miscarriages. This is in fact quite possible because mugwort has certainly been used by women when they were desperate to abort their pregnancies in order to avoid the shame and embarrassment of those times. And because menstrual irregularities were a fact of life for women in those times too, abortions, fortunately, would go unnoticed, just putting any irregularity down to missed menstruation, thereby avoiding many a raised eyebrow.
It was also widely used to stimulate healthy menstruation to make it more regular. Mugwort gave women the opportunity to choose if they were willing to keep their child or not in those times and cultures, where usually the husbands and fathers would dictate the rules in the home and in society. Today, pregnant women should not be taking mugwort because it does indeed stimulate menstruation and abort fetuses. There are properties in the leaves which can harm the umbilical cells.
2. For any travelers, mugwort was considered an essential to carry. You would keep some of the leaves in a bag and you would be given protection from any wild beasts that roamed; also from any evil spirits entering your body. Mugwort was also known to protect you from exhaustion and to prevent you from getting sunstroke. In ancient times. Roman soldiers would use mugwort inside their sandals and this kept their feet from becoming exhausted when they had to endure long marches.
3. When it comes to food, mugwort used for goose stuffing was considered highly delicious. In Japanese and Korean dishes, mugwort is added fresh to salads and for flavoring. During the Second World War, when tea ran out or was so expensive that few could afford to buy it, mugwort would be drunk. It ended up becoming a very popular tea substitute around the Cornwall area of the UK.
4. Have you ever heard of a traditional Chinese medicine known as moxibustion? A cone is heated; in the cone, mugwort leaves are placed – the heated leaves of the mugwort is placed on any affected parts of the body to cure ailments such as rheumatism, lack of appetite, expelling parasites, inducing sweating and to break the fever. These leaves are burned over acupuncture points and this inhibits any energy releases and also circulates the blood. The acupuncture areas experience a warm healing sensation.
In a study, 110 patients suffering from osteoarthritis were blindfolded. Half of them were giving treatment using moxibustion. The other half were given a placebo three times during a week for a period of six weeks. Neither the doctor nor the patients knew which treatment each group of patients received. The results came at the end of the treatment. It was noted that those patients who received the moxibustion treatment had a reduction in pain of 53%. A reduction in pain of 24% in the other group of patients who received the placebo treatment was noted.
It was also noted that knee-function of the moxibustion patients also improved by 51% whilst it only increased by a mere 13% in the patients who received the placebo. The treatment administered was not known to be permanent, but it certainly did hold promise. The use of moxibustion in the treatment of patients is favored by a lot of Chinese doctors – those patients could say thank you to the healing effects of mugwort.
5. It is indeed a unique plant because it has the ability to even reduce the side effects caused by other herbs that are commonly smoked. Culpeper, an English herbalist, botanist and physician who lived in 17th century times said that “mugwort juice is a special remedy for when opium has been used in excess”.
6. Farm animals also benefit from mugwort because it is a natural dewormer. Farmers can avoid the usual toxic type chemicals to deal with worms in their farm animals. Animals, being created wondrously, don’t go overboard when eating mugwort; they chew just a little bit from time to time, instinctively knowing what is good for them, compared to the human race which is consumed by greed.
Side effects of mugwort
Pregnancy: Pregnant woman and breastfeeding women should avoid mugwort because the preparation instructions and dosage amounts are not definite. Remember that mugwort does contain thujone in it, which is the reason for all the medicinal properties in the plant. When taking large doses of thujone, it can be toxic. In pregnant woman, miscarriages can occur because mugwort stimulates menstruation. It’s better not to use mugwort or any herbs for medicinal purposes unless you are specifically under the licensed care of a professional in the healthcare industry.
Allergies: Mugwort’s pollen is a big trigger for those who suffer from hay fever, so some people still experience allergic reactions when drinking the tea. If you do experience skin irritations, swelling up of your throat, tongue or lips or gastrointestinal problems, you need to discontinue taking mugwort immediately.
Fatigue the next day: There are some who report that after drinking mugwort for a couple of days, they actually feel fatigued in the days following when they are not drinking the tea. This could be that it does change the ‘deep sleep’ cycles a bit, so always remember to use mugwort in moderation.
Mugwort is typically used for making tea blends, and people need to note that the leaves contain thujone which can be toxic if taken in high doses. People can also suffer from allergic reactions if they are generally sensitive to other plants that are in the daisy family. Thujone is reportedly toxic to the liver cells, kidneys cells and brain and can cause convulsions if it is taken in too large doses.
Dreams are good friends
- Mugwort has helped many people who suffer from disrupted sleep – those that often wake up in the early hours and then have difficulty getting back to sleep. Mugwort, often in combination with skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora) or passionflower (Passiflora incarnata) has the capacity to help with sleeping right through the night.
- Mugwort has always been known as a plant to conjure up magical ideas and conceptions, strange ideas and also sacred connections across many parts of the world. It is known to induce dreams with its magical proportions. For instance in the 17th century in England, it is believed that young women dug up the roots and placed them under their beds so that they would dream of who their future husbands would be. It has over the years been used for prayers or for smudging (some indigenous people in the Americas practice ‘smudging’, a ceremony where sacred herbs get burned in order to bring about spiritual blessing or cleansing. It is also used for making incense for ceremonies).
- Mugwort contains strong camphor oils and when these are inhaled, they open up the ancient memory chambers allowing future and past visions to stir up. Mugwort is supposed to dust away cobwebs of forgetfulness and help people in remembering old unwritten healing methods for the soul and spirit. It is the compounds in the leaves that can produce psychedelic and hypnotic effects, vivid dreams and stimulating hallucinations. The effects of low doses of mugwort are mild when taken at correct dosages, but if you take higher does, the strong effects will be known!
- The leaves of the mugwort can be smoked to offer a relaxing and dreamy effect to whoever is smoking it. It can be drunk or smoked at night so as too ‘bring on’ lucid dreams and people will put it under their pillow apparently for astral traveling and dreams full of fancy. Dreaming can actually get to amazing heights if you take mugwort just before you go to bed. Very lucid dreaming, better dream recall, and better dream creativity are side effects of taking mugwort. If you want to increase the validity of your dreams and dream recall it is a good idea to add 1 or 2 tablespoons of honey with your mugwort. When you combine the two together your dreaming experience is further enhanced to better levels, to enable you to dream dreams that you would before have dreamed of!
- It is important that you look for good quality mugwort though – you might be fortunate enough to find it growing in areas where there is a bit of water too. Smoking mugwort directly into your lung assists with the lucidness of the dream.
- Mugwort can also be taken with a lucid dream supplement by the name of Claridream PRO. It is created by World of Lucid Dreaming and is highly effective in making your dreams extremely colorful, realistic, lucid and vivid. It is important though that you read the disclaimer notes before starting on your dream trail.
Make a dream pillow if you fancy. You just put a few leaves or even incense into your pillowcase and even add other beneficial herbs into the pillowcase, like lavender for example. If you love the thought of nights of restful sleep, and lovely dreams at the same time, make a dream pillow.
You can burn Mugwort incense too; to relax you as well and to stimulate your dreams. This method is not all that common, but it is worth trying.
How do you drink or smoke your mugwort tea
1 ounce dried mugwort
4 cups filtered water
1 tsp. sugar or honey if you prefer
Bring water to boil before adding your dried mugwort. Steep the tea for say 10 minutes and when done, remove it from the heat, allowing to cool for a further 2 or 3 minutes. Strain your tea, and enjoy!
You can opt to drink mugwort as a tea or you can buy it today in the form of capsules, it up to you. But to get the best results out of it, it is recommended that you drink it or take the tablets about 30 minutes to an hour before you go to bed. A standard dose ranges between 100-400 mg. Keep yourself hydrated though, before you take the tea or tablets because your body requires more water to assist the mugwort to reach your digestive system.
It is also common to smoke mugwort. The leaves of the mugwort are used for this purpose. You simply roll it in up some rolling paper as if you are making an ordinary cigarette. You can also mix it with tobacco or you could simply opt for the ‘traditional sailor’ method, in place of tobacco.
Mugwort is used to make a yellow dye, it is extremely useful as a natural insect repellent, it makes a delicious addition to food and salad dishes and it appears as it is a possible solution for bodily conditions ranging from infertility to flatulence.
It protects itself against invading predators by storing strong compounds in its leaves and branches, even its roots. Mugwort today, growing along the roadside and in rocky and disturbed waste areas, is no longer noted or observed as a sacred plant incarnated from the Earth Goddess. No, today it is considered a weed, an invasive weed and much effort is given to try and eradicate it, but it fights back with growth that is aggressive because of the compounds within it.
These very compounds act like herbicides and sometimes prevent and reduce other plants from sharing its space. It is this compound mix of ancient magical compounds, medicinal compounds and even toxic and chemical compounds that enable the mugwort to dominate places right across our Northern Hemisphere.
Once it was thought of as being the ‘universal herb’ in the ancient world. Today some of its powers are still considered important and people use it to increase their psychic powers. The Native Americans would burn it, as smudging, so that their physical and spiritual environment was cleansed and purified.
Remember mugwort is not a panacea when it comes to lucid dreaming. It is good if you are looking for something to assist you in many ways. It is not a quick fix though – it is just a delightful herb, making a relaxing cup of tea, and dreaming big dreams!
To close with, a lovely dreamy tea, just for you! Make it after your dinner; it will help you to wind down with ease, relaxing you as you enter the magic of your dream world.
1 part of linden
1 part of lemon balm
½ part of oat tops
¼ part of mugwort
A little pinch of lavender
Steep these for 15 minutes, and later, breathe in the vapors of the tea – bet you are going to a have a sound, deep sleep, filled with dreams that you will remember clearly the next morning – mugwort – helps you to follow your dreams!
Welcome to Health Intent, I’m a working mom of 3 beautiful kids and love spending time with my kids and my husband. I am truly passionate about staying healthy and living a healthy lifestyle. “My time” includes Zumba which is an addition which combines with my love for dancing. Family time is indulging in healthy competition with my kids at Just Dance, trips to the park and library which my kids absolutely love.