Health Benefits of Mugwort Tea

What is Mugwort?

Artemisia vulgaris

Artemisia vulgaris (Wikimedia image)

Mugwort is a common name for several herbs belonging to Family Asteracea, mainly in the genus Artemisia. Artemisia vulgaris is the most commonly referred species when using the term mugwort in North America, Northern Africa and Europe. It is also called Old man’s or St. John’s plant, Felon Herb and Wild Wormwood. The term mugwort also refers to Artemisia douglasiana in Western North America and Mexico where it is called dream plant and Douglas’ Sagewort. In Asia, the Chinese usually refer to Artemisia argyi as Chinese mugwort and the Japanese have Artemisia princeps as Yomogi or Japanese mugwort. Mugwort is closely related to the absinthe plant/wormwood Artimesia absinthium. Worldwide, members of this family have been used for generations as an herbal cure for a wide range of maladies.

Mugwort is a perennial shrub averaging three feet in height but may reach five feet having leaves with dark green upper regions and a clump of soft, curly white hairs at the bottom. Its flowers are minute, yellowish to darkish red and appear in clumps.

Mugworts are native to temperate areas in regions like Asia, North Africa, Europe and Alaska. It has been successfully reproduced and is now widespread in North America. It is considered a weed, growing in uncultivated areas like abandoned farmsteads, roadsides and vacant lots. It prefers nitrogen rich soil. Thus it is easily obtainable. Simple ranging around one’s neighborhood could yield a substantial harvest of mugwort.

The leaves are usually used for tea though some brew in the roots, stems and flowers for purportedly additional effects. Aside from tea, mugroot can be used via inhalation, or thru combustion in several practices the Chinese call moxibusion. Obtaining mudwort is easy, aside from simple looking for one in the vicinity of your home, there are also available in capsules and pills in herbal stores, natural medicine centers as well as over the internet.

Mugwort tea is made either boiling plant parts in water or by steeping a teabag containing mugwort plant parts in warm water. Some prefer drying the plant parts first before using as medicine. Ginger and other herbs can be added depending on the desired medicinal effect. Dosage is arbitrary, though mostly 2 cups per day. Moderate drinking of low amounts is recommended since mugwort contains very potent substances.
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Health Benefits

Mugwort tea has been known to prevent and eliminate parasitic worms. In cats, dogs and sheep, mugwort has been shown to eliminate hookworms, lungworms and other nematodes.

Mugwort tea is utilized as a relief to various stomach ailments. This includes relieving bloating and reducing flatulence. It is also used to treat diarrhea. Cases of indigestion have also been known to be alleviated by drinking mugwort tea.

Mugwort pollen is one of the causative agents of hay fever, allergies and asthma. However, mugwort tea has been said to be able to relieve symptoms associated with these diseases.

Mugwort contains thujone, a substance also found in Thuja orientalis. Thujone can stimulate menstruation as well as relieve cramps and other menstrual pain. Mugwort tea combined with 5 to 10 grams of ginger is the most effective way to achieve this desired effect. However, thujone is a very potent and toxic substance, thus pregnant women should not consume mugwort tea to avoid abortion and premature birth.

Drinking mugwort tea could benefit one’s disposition and general mood. It has been used as a nerve tonic and a health drink to lift one’s spirits and to avoid malaise. It stimulates the appetite, indirectly improving one’s health and invigorating those with depression.

Mugwort tea can also relieve kidney concerns, acting as a diuretic and relieving kidney pain.

In some regions, it is used to induce and enhance dreams, mostly by ingestion as tea, though placing a bag with mugwort plant parts or smoking one in the vicinity of one’s bed is also performed.

Mugwort is effective as a relief to a large variety of illnesses and disorders due to the number of chemicals. Mugwort contains flavonoids, compounds that serve as plant pigments but when ingested, have medicinal properties. These compounds are said to reduce chances and severity of allergic attacks, while also protecting against infections. It also reduces swelling and may also contribute to the prevention of cancer. Aside from flavonoids, mugwort also contains terpenes which may aid in the treatment of bronchitis. Coumarine, an anti-inlfammatory and anti-arrhythmia compound is also present in mugwort.

The natural world has given us medicine for many of our illnesses. Used throughout the years, mugwort has been invaluable as a simple herbal supplement and a source of relief for many ills.  With the presence of many compounds, mugwort, even with its many health benefits should be used carefully monitored, since it is also capable of having toxic effects.

References:

  • Ramawat, K. G., Ed. (2004). Biotechnology of Medicinal Plants:Vitalizer and Therapeutic.
  • Science Publishers, Inc. Enfield, New Hampshire
  • Hartung, Tammi (2000)Growing 101 Herbs that Heal. Storey Books, Massachusetts
  • O’Mathúna ,Dónal (2010) Does it work? Can mugwort help with childbirth? Irishtimes.com accessed June 11 2011 at http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/health/2010/0713/1224274564092.html

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