Sunday, June 22, 2008

Saturday - What Herb Is This - Mugwort

Well, apparently I am losing what little mind I have left...maybe that's why my head hurts so bad...Looking back over the week it seems I did Saturday's stone post on Wednesday, so I guess I will do Wednesday's Herb post today...


Also known as Sailor's Tobacco, Witch Herb, Old Man, Artemis Herb, Hartemisia, Felon Herb, Muggons, Naughty Man, Old Uncle Henry, St. John's Plant, Cingulum Sancti Johannis. The mugwort is a shrubby perennial, the flowers are in small oval heads with cottony, leaf-like structures from which the flower stalk arises, and are arranged in long, terminal clusters of flowers; they are either reddish or pale yellow. The stems, which are angular and often of a purplish hue, frequently rise to 3 feet or more in height. The leaves are smooth and deeply indented, of a dark green tint on the upper surface, but covered with a dense cottony down beneath. The Mugwort is closely allied to the Common Wormwood, but may be readily distinguished by the leaves being white on the under-surfaces only and by the leaf segments being pointed, not blunt. It lacks the essential oil of the Wormwood.

It thrives in extreme heat and poor soil, and will withstand full sun or light shade. Mugwort grows abundantly in the temperate regions of the northern hemisphere, in open areas and alongside roads. Mugwort can be collected during the late summer. It abounds on hedgebanks and waysides in most parts of England.

The Mugwort is said to have derived its name from having been used to flavor drinks. It was, in common with other herbs, such as Ground Ivy, used to a great extent for flavoring beer before the introduction of hops. For this purpose, the plant was gathered when in flower and dried, the fresh herb being considered unsuitable for this object: malt liquor was then boiled with it so as to form a strong decoction, and the liquid thus prepared was added to the beer. Until recent years, it was still used in some parts of the country to flavor the table beer brewed by cottagers. It has also been suggested that the name, Mugwort, may be derived not from 'mug,' the drinking vessel, but from moughte (a moth or maggot), because from the days of Dioscorides, the plant has been regarded, in common with Wormwood, as useful in keeping off the attacks of moths.

The mugwort has a large number of uses, and has been traditionally used to treat digestive disorders. It has also been used as a tonic for various remedies. The mugwort is known to be milder in action than most other species of Artemisia, and this means that it can be taken for improving appetite, digestive functions, and absorption of nutrients over long periods of time, in small dosages. The elimination of worms within the body is achieved, and whenever needed, it can be used to induce menstruation as well. In Europe, mugwort is assumed to be a uterine stimulant, but this idea is in direct opposition to the Chinese concept of using mugwort to prevent miscarriage in a woman, and also to reduce and to stop excessive and heavy menstrual bleeding. The herb is also widely used as an antiseptic, and is known to provide relief in cases of malaria. In Chinese medicine mugwort, 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. The down is separated by heating the leaves and afterwards rubbing them between the hands until the cottony fibers alone remain, these are then made up into small cones or cylinders for use. 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 an herb or some salt and burned. Artemisia Moxa and A. sinensis are mainly used in Japan.

The shrub was also used by ancient Europeans and Asians in treating various ailments. The Greek physician Dioscorides of the 1st century AD supposedly stated that the Goddess Artemis, who gave inspiration to the plant’s genus name, used the herb to offer succor to women in the throes of labor and childbirth. An eighteenth century Spanish herbalist, Diego de Torres is known to have said that using an application of mugwort as a plaster below the woman’s navel would induce labor in the woman. It has a stimulant and slightly tonic property, and is of value as a nervine, being an old-fashioned popular remedy for epilepsy (especially in persons of a feeble constitution) palsy, fits, and similar affections. Gerard says: 'Mugwort cureth the shakings of the joynts inclining to the Palsie;' and Parkinson considered it good against hysteria. A dram of the powdered leaves, given four times a day, is stated by Withering to have cured a patient who had been affected with hysterical fits for many years, when all other remedies had failed. The juice and an infusion of the herb were given for intermittent fevers and agues. The leaves used to be steeped in baths, to communicate an invigorating property to the water.

Mugwort is a known traditional herbal remedy for worms, and when it is used in lowered dosages over a specified period of time, it can prove to be extremely effective. The Chinese and Europeans use the herb for disorders and malfunctions in the reproductive system, and when properly used, the herb can bring on the onset of menstruation. The Chinese use the herb to warm the body, and to stop bleeding when the cycle is too long. It is also used to stop uterine bleeding brought on by certain deficiencies, in which case the herb cools the body. A cool or cold womb is thought to be the cause of infertility in a woman, and mugwort can be used to treat this condition as well. It can also, if used properly, stop a miscarriage from taking place, although this can only be done under the supervision of a qualified medical or herbal practitioner. Menstrual pain can be alleviated successfully with the help of mugwort, and when it is used externally in the form of a moxa stick on specific acupuncture points, it can even help turn a breech baby around in the womb. Chinese mugwort is found to be often acrid, bitter and warm.

As an infusion: Mugwort can be taken to treat menopausal syndrome.
As a bitter: Mugwort can be used to cool the digestive tract in fever management.
As a decoction: Mugwort can be used to make a warming tea for menstrual pain: 5 g mugwort can be combined with an equal amount of dry ginger to make the tea.
As a tincture: Mugwort can be used for effectively treating menstrual pain, prolonged bleeding, scanty menses and other related disorders. The herb can be used as a stimulant for treating liver stagnation and slow digestion. In childbirth it can be used for prolonged labor and for the treatment of retained placenta.

As a tincture: 1-2 ml or 20-40 drops can be taken two times a day.
As an infusion: 100 ml or 4 fl oz can be taken two times a day.
The Chinese however use it in dosages of 3 - 9 g or 1/8 - 1/2 oz.

Given in infusion, it should be prepared in a covered vessel, 1 OZ. of the herb to 1 pint of boiling water, and given in 1/2 teaspoonful doses, while warm. The infusion may be taken cold as a tonic, in similar doses, three times daily: it has a bitterish and aromatic taste.

The dried leaves were, sixty or seventy years ago, in use by the working classes in Cornwall as one of the substitutes for tea, at a time when tea cost 7s. per lb., and on the Continent Mugwort is occasionally employed as an aromatic culinary herb, being one of the green herbs with which geese are often stuffed during roasting.

Mugwort has a long history of folk tradition and use. Anglo-Saxon tribes believed that the aromatic mugwort was one of the nine sacred herbs given to the world by the god Woden. In Pagan ceremony, a garland or belt of mugwort is worn while dancing around the fire during summer solstice celebrations. The herb is then thrown into the fire to ensure continued protection throughout the coming year. Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris) is a versatile sacred herb. It can be used for spiritual cleansing, protection, healing, and consecration. It can also aid dream work, trance, and intuitive development. This amazing shrub has been known since the ancient times, and reportedly, Roman centurions used mugwort inside their sandals, so that their feet could remain in great shape. They planted mugwort by roadsides where it would be available to passersby. In the Middle Ages, the plant was known as Cingulum Sancti Johannis, it being believed that John the Baptist wore a girdle of it in the wilderness.

Mugwort is considered a magical herb, with special properties to protect road-weary travelers against exhaustion. There were many superstitions connected with it: it was believed to preserve the wayfarer from fatigue, sunstroke, wild beasts and evil spirits generally: a crown made from its sprays was worn on St. John's Eve to gain security from evil possession, and in Holland and Germany one of its names is St. John's Plant, because of the belief, that if gathered on St. John's Eve it gave protection against diseases and misfortunes. At the culmination of a home blessing rite, a fresh Mugwort sprig should be hung above the main door into the home for protection and good fortune. Hang a Mugwort sprig or wreath above your bed to bless sleep and dreaming. Fill an amulet bag with Mugwort, energize it, and wear it around your neck for healing, spiritual growth, and intuition. Drink as a tea sweetened with honey before divination. The plain tea can also be used to wash crystal balls and magic mirrors. Leaves of mugwort can be placed around crystal balls and magic mirrors to aid in scrying - burn with sandalwood or wormwood in scrying rituals. Put a pouch of Mugwort in the glove compartment of your vehicle or hang a Mugwort amulet bag from your rear view mirror to bless your travels. In addition, Mugwort can be combined with other ingredients in making amulets and charms for a variety of purposes; strength, psychic powers, protection, prophetic dreams, healing, astral projection (Venus, Earth, Feminine). Use in dream pillows for prophetic dreams.

Some of the magic in mugwort is in its reputed ability to induce prophetic and vivid dreams when the herb is placed near the bed or under the sleeper's pillow. Dream pillows were once called comfort pillows, and were used in the sickroom to ease the nightmares that may come with medicine and the smells of illness. Relaxing herbs - primarily catnip, lavender, and mugwort - combined in little pillows were respected for their usefulness in easing the sleep of crying babies. Dream pillows work just as well on healthy folks, but may not be for everyone. Although most people react to fragrances in pleasant ways, the people who have had the least reaction are heavy smokers, elderly people, and those who use excessive amounts of cologne or perfume; all seem to have desensitized noses. But for most people, fragrance unlocks pleasant memories that play out in their dreams in the most delightful way.

Dream Pillows: For a large sized dream pillow, take a cotton pillow case liner, stuff it with dried Mugwort leaves to the desired thickness, and then securely shut the end. Another type of dream pillow is a Mugwort sachet. Cut two pieces of cloth of equal size. Most Mugwort dream sachets are square or rectangular since they are easiest to make, but they can be any shape and size. Place the right sides of the fabric pieces together and stitch a half-inch seam nearly completely around the edges. Turn the sachet bag inside out, fill it with Mugwort leaves, and then hand sew the opening shut. Place this sachet under your regular pillow or inside its pillowcase. Connect with your Mugwort sachet or pillow just after getting into bed. Touch it and smell its fragrance as you do an affirmation to bless sleep, guide dreaming, and aid dream recall and interpretation upon awaking. For a protective amulet, take a rectangle of purple velvet, 4in X 2 in. and sew into a small pouch. Add freshly picked mugwort that has been dried (approx. 5 g.). Carry it in a pocket to protect against all sorts of bad external influences and slide it into your pillow to encourage revelatory dreams.

Associated with the Full Moon and with the Summer Solstice since ancient times, Mugwort is also suitable for rituals year round.

Information obtained in part from :

A Modern Herbal


Circle Magazine

This herbal information is intended for educational purposes only. I am not a medical professional and I cannot prescribe what herbs are right for you. I cannot answer medical questions, so please do not ask me (or any other complete stranger for that matter) to prescribe herbal remedies, cures, treatments or to guess what is wrong with you.

If you use herbs, do so responsibly. Consult your doctor about your health conditions and use of herbal remedies. Herbs may be harmful if taken for the wrong conditions, used in excessive amounts, combined with prescription drugs or alcohol, or used by persons who don't know what they are doing. Just because an herbal remedy is natural, does not mean it is safe! There are herbs that are poisonous such as Poison Hemlock, Jimson weed, and many more.

Disclaimer: No one involved in this blog or its contents may be held responsible for any adverse reactions arising from following any of the instructions/recipes on this list. It is the reader's personal responsibility to exercise all precautions and use his or her own discretion if following any instructions or advice from this blog.

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