Mugwort: A Wild Medicinal Herb You Need to Know About

Never heard of mugwort? Learn about the magnificent properties of this healthy wild herb below!

If you haven’t heard of mugwort, you’re missing out! This wonderful plant (also sometimes called wild wormwood, chrysanthemum weed, artemis, Old Uncle Henry, St. John’s plant, or cronewort) has a number of helpful medicinal and culinary uses, and has been used in home remedies and natural medicines for centuries.

This easy-to-grow perennial grows in all types of soils, and can tolerate drought as well as cool climates. Mugwort can be found growing wild throughout North America, Europe, Asia, Africa, and some parts of Alaska.

Mugwort can be identified by its purple central stem and feathery leaves with silvery undersides. It has delicate, reddish or pale yellow flowers arranged on thin upward spikes, and a faintly sage-like scent.

You can use mugwort as an herb for flavoring many dishes, as you would other herbs. Mugwort has a slightly bitter, sage-like flavor. You can also use it as a tea, a medicinal tincture, or to repel mosquitoes and other biting insects.

Here are a few other ways to use mugwort:

#1: Tea Substitute? Tea Medicine!

Interesting tidbit: Back in WWII, when tea became a pricey luxury, mugwort was used as a tea substitute in some parts of England. Nowadays, we know that a pot of mugwort tea hosts several cups of medicine: excellent to help with gas, flatulence, stomach acid, bile production, and overall digestion. Her root is considered a supreme stomachic. That same cup of tea can be enjoyed as a nightcap before bedtime, as this herb also has nerve-soothing properties. She might even bring you some lucid dreams. Mugwort is also considered an emmenagogue, antispasmodic, and hemostatic, which means 1-3 cups of tea a day will help women with menstrual cramps or those who have heavy, prolonged bleeding.

To Harvest: Cut the top 1/3 of the plant when mugwort is in flower. You can hang the plant upside down to dry (such as from an indoor clothesline), or chop her into small pieces and spread her onto newspaper or on mesh sheets in a dehydrator. Roots are dug up and collected in the fall. Use a scrub brush and a bit of water to clean the roots, then spread them out on newspaper or on mesh sheets in the dehydrator and let them dry completely. All parts of the plant should be stored away from light (e.g., in paper bags).

To Make Mugwort Tea: Place 1 ounce dried leaves in 4 cups of boiling water and let steep 5-10 minutes, then strain. If you let it sit for longer and make a standard infusion in a mason jar for 4 hours, the tea will be quite bitter. Feel free to halve this recipe if you want to make less tea. You can keep any unused tea in the fridge for up to 2-3 days.

To Make Mugwort Root Tea: Place 1 ounce chopped roots with 4 cups water in a glass or ceramic pot. Bring to a boil, then continue to simmer, covered, until reduced by half, about 20-30 minutes. Strain and drink.

If you’d like to benefit from mugwort’s medicine, but want to skimp on the bitter, consider taking it as tincture instead. It’s easy to make your own, too. . . .

To Make Tincture of Mugwort: Cut off the top 1/3 of flowering mugwort plants and chop the stems, leaves, and flowers into small pieces using scissors or pruners. Place slightly packed in a mason jar. What size mason jar you use depends on how much herb you have. Fill the jar with alcohol, screw the lid on, and let sit for 6 weeks in a cool, dry place. Strain and store in dark, amber-colored bottles. Standard dosage is 5-20 drops. Use this tincture before meals to help with stomach acid and liver bile production, or after meals to help with gas, bloating, and distention.

#2: Worms Be Gone!

Mugwort is in the same family as wormwood (Artemisia absinthium), and both are great at ridding the body of parasites and candida, including Staphococcus aureus, Bacillus typhi, B. dysenteriae, streptococci, E. coli, B. subtilis, and pseudomonads. While you can drink the tea for this purpose, you can also try a mugwort retention enema in combination with other naturopathic treatments.

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(Read more about this here…)

#3: Clear the Bad Air

Science has officially recognized what folk medicine has known for centuries—that burning herbs to “clear the energy” does just that: It kills bad bacteria lingering around. Mugwort is antimicrobial, so whether you happen to be a health practitioner about to give a healing session (such as massage, reiki, reflexology, etc.), or you just want to get your house purged of nasty bacteria, consider using a mugwort smudge or incense.

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#4: Remineralize With ‘Strong Bones Vinegar’

A great way to get some of the calcium and magnesium required by strong, healthy bones is by using mugwort vinegar. You can make “strong bones vinegar” at home by lightly packing a mason jar of any size with fresh mugwort leaves. Add apple cider vinegar to fill the jar, screw the lid on, and let it sit for 6 weeks before straining. As the leaves soak up the vinegar, you can add in more vinegar as needed. You can use plastic wrap or parchment paper to keep the metal lid from coming in contact with the vinegar and rusting. The apple cider vinegar will leach out the calcium and magnesium from the mugwort’s leaves. Some people like to shake the bottle on a daily basis, checking to see if any more vinegar is needed. If you’re like me (excuses: too busy or too lazy) and you only check it occasionally, your vinegar will turn out just fine anyway, so long as you leave it in a cool, dry place out of direct light.

Pour this vinegar over salads or add it to vinaigrettes. If you use an apple cider vinegar “with mother,” you will get the benefits of gut-friendly probiotics as well. And if you like this “strong bones vinegar,” try pairing the mugwort with chickweed (Stellaria media) or nettles (Urtica dioica), or use all three together to make a potent herbal bone vinegar.

Other Interesting Uses for Mugwort

  • Use mugwort stalks or leaves for kindling.
  • Add dried stalks to a fire to help keep it smoldering.
  • Rub the leaves on your skin as an antidote to poison oak.
  • Since it is an insect repellent, try adding essential oil of mugwort with other essential oils (such as neem, thyme, fennel, lemon eucalyptus, and others) to a carrier oil (such as coconut oil) to make your own natural insect repellent. Try using 20 drops total essential oils to 1 ounce oil.
  • Infused mugwort oil can be used to aid in circulation, such as on varicose veins.
  • Make mugwort beer. This herb was often used in beer recipes before hops became the standard. Look for recipes for “gruit ale” on the Internet.

Warnings & Cautions:

Large amounts and prolonged use of mugwort can cause nervous and liver damage. While some midwives might use mugwort to help induce labor, mugwort is not suitable for pregnant or lactating women. Mugwort’s flowers contain pollen, which can trigger hay fever symptoms in those susceptible. Contact dermatitis has been reported by some.

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