Please note: this is a guide and caution must be exercised with Mugwort.
Mugwort is the common name for Artemisia, a perennial herb used since the Iron Age in medicine, cooking, and brewing. It grows in Asia, North America, and Northern Europe. The plant parts that grow above the ground and the root are used to make medicine.
Mugwort has various names such as Felon Herb, St. John’s Herb, Chrysanthemum Weed, Old Uncle Henry, Naughty Man, Old Man, white sagebrush, Louisiana Sagewort, silver wormwood and western mugwort. In Europe, they often refer mugwort to the species Artemisia Vulgaris.
In the context of Traditional Chinese Medicine, they refer to this plant as Chinese mugwort. Similarly, Artemisia Princeps is the Japanese mugwort, also known as yomogi.
Mugwort plants have pointed stems and can grow as high as 3 feet or more. The leaves are dark green in color. The upper surface of the leaves is smooth while dense and cottony down beneath.
In some countries such as in China, Japan, and Korea, mugwort is used as a traditional medicine. In Korea, mugwort is not only useful as a medicine, but it has many uses as well. For example, they use mugwort as an ingredient of several dishes such as rice cakes and soup. Likewise, modern medicine recognizes mugwort for its anti-herpetic effect.
How to Grow Mugwort
Mugwort can be grown easily most especially in a mild climate. Some people commonly grow mugwort in herb gardens.
Mugwort plants are best known for providing food and habitats for various moths and butterflies. They are also a great compliment to summer flowers.
The following are step by step process on how to grow mugwort plants:
Step 1: Planning – It is important that you design where to set up your mugwort garden. Keep in mind that mugwort plants grow in a sunny spot with suitable drainage.
– Allocate at least 30-50 centimeters between mugwort plants and allow another 30-50 cm for weeding
– Mark boundaries by using bamboo sticks and strings. Because mugwort plants can quickly multiply, you may just need to plant 3-5 seedlings. In some cases, these plants can invade other plants if not tended properly.
Step 2: Prepare the soil for planting during Fall season
– Make use of top soil. The use of organic fertilizer is highly recommended because it provides nutrients and it will not burn the roots of the plant.
– Mix the top soil and organic fertilizer while cleaning and removing small rocks and weeds.
– Raised beds are the best to use in a mugwort garden as it is the easiest to maintain.
Step 3: Transplanting Mugwort
– Transplant out a few weeks after the last frost
– Make sure that the temperature is warm before transplanting as Mugwort is a hardy plant.
Mugwort plants are pruned in autumn. It self-seeds easily when happy, so deadhead it if you don’t want seedlings. Once they are established, they are easy to propagate by dividing the rhizomes in the early spring, before the plant leafs out. Harvest before the first frost and dry in the shade or hang in the house to dry.
Health Benefits of Mugwort
During the Middle Ages, mugwort was known to be a magical protective herb. It was used to ward off insects such as moths. Likewise, in the Ancient times, mugwort was used as a tonic against fatigue. It was noted that Roman soldiers put mugwort in their sandals to keep their energy and protect themselves against exhaustion.
The Romans planted mugwort on the roadsides so passerby could have something to use to relieve their aching feet. Also, it was believed that mugwort was used to safeguard travelers against evil spirits and wild animals.
Likewise, the Anglo-Saxon tribes believed that the aromatic mugwort was one of the nine sacred herbs given to the world by the god Woden. It was used as a flavoring additive to beer before hops (Humulus lupulus) became widely used.
The following are the health benefits of Mugwort:
• Mugwort has long been known as a powerful herbal remedy in regulating the menstrual cycle of women. It is also effective in easing the transition to menopause.
• Mugwort leaf and stem are used medicinally. Mugwort acts as a bitter digestive tonic, uterine stimulant, nervine, menstrual regulator, and antirheumatic. The volatile oil of mugwort includes thujone, linalool, borneol, pinene, and other constituents. The herb also contains hydroxy-coumarins, lipohilic flavonoids, vulgarin, and triterpenes.
• Mugwort acts as an emmenagogue, an agent that increases blood circulation to the pelvic area and uterus and stimulates menstruation.
• A compress of the herb has been used to help promote labor and assist with the expulsion of the afterbirth.
• A mild infusion of mugwort is useful as a digestive stimulant. It is helpful in cases of mild depression and nervous tension.
• The herb also may stimulate the appetite. A weak infusion of mugwort has sedative properties that may quiet restlessness and anxiety. Its antispasmodic action may relieve persistent vomiting, and has been used in the treatment of epilepsy.
• Mugwort added to bath water is an aromatic and soothing treatment for relief of aches in the muscles and joints. In a clinical trial, crushed fresh mugwort leaves applied to the skin were shown to be effective in eradicating warts. Taken as an infusion, mugwort is helpful in ridding the system of pinworm infestation.
• Dried mugwort leaf also acts as a natural tinder, useful in holding a smoldering fire. The dried herb has also been smoked as a nicotine-free tobacco.
• A species of mugwort (A. douglasiana ), common in the southwestern United States, was used by some western Native Americans as a prevention for poison oak rash. The fresh mugwort leaf was rubbed over areas of exposed skin before walking into the poison oak habitat. The two plants often grow near one another.
• In Chinese medicine, the mugwort hern known as Ai ye or Hao-shu is highly valued as the herb used in moxibustion, a method of heating specific acupuncture points on the body to treat physical conditions. Mugwort is carefully harvested, dried and aged; then it is shaped into a cigar-like roll. This “moxa” is burned close to the skin to heat the specific pressure points. It has been used in this way to alleviate rheumatic pains aggravated by cold and damp circumstances. Mugwort has also been used in various size cones that are placed on the skin directly or on top of a herb or some salt and burned. In Japan, some practitioners only use moxa for treatment.
• A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association reported on the successful use of moxibustion in reversing breech birth positions. The study found that 75% of 130 fetuses had reversed their position after moxibustion treatment of the mother. The technique is said to stimulate the acupuncture point known as BL67, located near the toenail of the fifth toe, stimulating circulation and energy flow and resulting in an increase in fetal movements.
• In Chinese medicine, mugwort is ingested to stop excessive or inappropriate menstrual bleeding.
• Mugwort has also been used in Brazilian folk medicine as a remedy for stomach ulcers. Researchers have found that the plant contains antioxidants, which help to explain its protective effects on gastric tissues.
• More recently, mugwort has attracted attention as the source of a natural compound, artemisinin, which has been shown to have antimalarial properties. Artemisinin is a promising natural remedy for malaria because of its low toxicity and its effectiveness against drug-resistant mutations of the malaria parasite. In addition to its effectiveness in treating malaria, artemisinin is also being tested as a possible anticancer drug. A group of researchers in Mississippi has shown that artemisinin is toxic to several different types of human cancer cells.
• Some people take mugwort root as a “tonic” and to boost energy.
• People use the rest of the plant for stomach and intestinal conditions, including colic, diarrhea, constipation, cramps, weak digestion, worm infestations, and persistent vomiting. Mugwort is also used to stimulate gastric juice and bile secretion. It is also used as a liver tonic; to promote circulation, and as a sedative. Other uses include treatment of hysteria, epilepsy, and convulsions in children.
• In combination with other ingredients, mugwort root is used for mental problems (psychoneuroses), ongoing fatigue and depression (neurasthenia), depression, preoccupation with illness (hypochondria), general irritability, restlessness, trouble sleeping (insomnia), and anxiety.
• Some people apply mugwort lotion directly to the skin to relieve itchiness caused by burn scars.
Mugwort is not recommended for pregnant or lactating women. Mugwort has a chemical component called thujuno which may be passed on to the baby during lactation. Mugwort is a uterine stimulant hence, it should not be taken if there is uterine inflammation or pelvic infection.
Taking a high dose of mugwort can result to liver damage, nausea, and convulsions. Some people are also allergic to mugwort which can lead to allergic skin rash. This mugwort allergy is commonly referred as the mugwort-spice syndrome or the mugwort-celery-spice syndrome.
Mugwort and Healthy Goats
Another healthy feature of mugwort is its health benefits to goats. One of the health properties of this herb is its de-worming properties to goats and other livestock. Julie Brill, a holistic goat keeper of susunweed.com shares that she gives dried flowering mugwort to the goats when she sees signs of worms.
Similarly, parasitipedia.net reports that Mugwort contains thujone, which is very efficient against parasitic roundworms (e.g. Haemonchus, Bunostomum, and Protostrongylus). Sheep, goats and chicken take it easily.
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