A few years ago, I learned that the herb mugwort is used to promote vivid and lucid dreaming, and is also thought to help open the third eye chakra, especially on the new and full moons. Some people make a dream pillow out of mugwort. I tried it as a tea and also smoked it.
Since then, I’ve learned that mugwort also has many other uses. In fact, herbalists refer to it as the Mother of Herbs, Mater Herbanum.
The Latin name is Artemisia vulgaris, after Artemis, the goddess of fertility and childbith, and it is an herb commonly used to promote women’s reproductive health. Understanding of its healing properties, though, varies from culture to culture. In the West, it is commonly considered to be emmenagogue, which is something that stimulates or increases menstrual flow. Also, according to Rosemary Gladstar’s Herbal Remedies for Vibrant Health, it helps regulate the cycles of young women just entering their menses. In Chinese medicine, it is prescribed reduce or stop menstrual bleeding and to prevent miscarriage. It is also used in moxibustion, which is burning mugwort over acupuncture points to stimulate circulation and warm the point; this practice is sometimes used with pregnant women to prevent a breech birth. In Ayurveda, it is thought to direct the flow of apana vata downwards and to regulate menstruation, and it is used for painful and irregular periods. Mugwort is also thought, in Ayurveda, to clear excess kapha dosha from the uterus and so is used for uterine fibroids.
In addition to these uses, mugwort is a digestive stimulant. It improves appetite, digestive function, and absorption of nutrients. In Ayurveda, it is thought to kindle agni, or digestive fire, and to clear toxins from the gut. It also has a nervine action, alleviating tension and helping with depression.
In addition to these healing properties, mugwort is considered to have many other uses. At one time, it was believed to offer protection from evil spirits, wild animals, sunstroke, lightning, the evil eye, and fatigue. Ancient Roman soldiers put mugwort in their sandals to avoid fatigue while walking, and in some cultures it was placed under a horse’s saddle to refresh the horse during a long journey. The Druids used it to lure the sun’s warmth back to earth.
If you are interested in trying mugwort, it is available dried at this time of year. Fresh mugwort will begin to be harvested in mid to late summer, just before the flower blossoms. Please note that mugwort is strongly contraindicated for pregnant women, as it could cause fetal abnormalities, and also for breastfeeding mothers.
Chevallier, Andrew. Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine. New York: Dorling Kindersley, 2000.
Gladstar, Rosemary. Rosemary Gladstar’s Herbal Remedies for Vibrant Health. North Adams: Storey Publishing, 2008.
Hoffman, David. The Holistic Herbal. London: Element, 2002.
McIntyre, Anne and Michelle Boudin. Dispensing with Tradition. Great Britain: Artemis House, 2012.
White, Martha. Traditional Home Remedies. United States: Yankee Publishing, 1997.