Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris), or moxa, is a Chinese herb that has many uses. Well known for it’s penetrating warmth, it is used in a variety of ways to alleviate cramps, increase energy, and counteract cold and protect against seasonal illnesses. A plant this special is used across cultures in medicine and folk lore.
Mugwort has a long and colorful history. In the Middle Ages, it was worn to protect against evil spirits. Native Americans rubbed its leaves on their bodies to keep away ghosts. Before hops became popular in brewing, mugwort was used to flavor beer. Over the ages mugwort has been important in the dream world, being used to enhance dreaming, increase prophetic dreams, and to prevent dreaming about the dead. Placing mugwort in shoes is said to give strength and prevent sore feet when walking long distances. In Ancient Rome mugwort was planted along roads and byways to make it accessible to travelers on long journeys. The protective nature of mugwort has been said to guard against everything from poison to wild beasts, and even sunstroke.
Even in today’s world, mugwort is indeed an important medicinal herb. The crushed leaves serve as a natural insect repellant. It is aids digestion, relieves spasms, and has antiseptic qualities. It can be used as a gargle for sore throats and an antibacterial wash for sores. Rubbing mugwort leaves onto the skin before exposure to poison oak is an old trick for preventing a rash. Because tea made from mugwort leaves has a calming effect, it is used for anxiety and difficult sleep. Named after the goddess of childbirth, Artemis, to this day mugwort has been an herbal ally for women with menstrual and menopausal issues and problems associated with childbirth and pregnancy..
Mugwort is an extremely important herb both in acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine. The most common uses for mugwort in Chinese Medicine are for prevention of seasonal colds, warming, and women’s issues.