(adapted from Hedgerow MedicineBackyard Medicine, p121)

Mugwort (Artemesia vulgaris) is an ancient wild herb that is beneficial for the digestive and nervous system, and is a valuable warming tonic that improves well-being. It is an important women’s herb, is helpful against stress and anxiety, and has a history of association with magic and protection.

One form of mugwort’s protection is its potential in treating alcohol addiction, as well as withdrawal from heroin and opium.

Another is its role is burning it in smudge sticks to clear stuck energy. Some people find it can give them vivid or lucid dreams, either placed under the pillow or smoked or eaten.

Mugwort is used in Chinese medicine in the practice of moxibustion, an aspect of acupuncture. A cone of dried mugwort leaves (moxa) is placed on the skin to stimulate a meridian, especially for cold abdominal pains benefiting from the plant’s warming qualities.

… aromatic to the taste with a little sharpness. The herb has been famous from the earliest times, and Providence has placed it everywhere about our doors so that reason, and authority, as well as the notice of the senses, point it out for use, but chemistry has banished natural medicines.
– Sir John Hill, The British Herbal (1756)

… the eldest of worts / Thou has might for three / And against thirty.
– The Leech Book of Bald (10th-century Anglo-Saxon herbal)

Mugwort punch

Pour a cupful of red wine into a saucepan, then add a stick of cinnamon, 5 cloves and a handful of mugwort tops.

Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and simmer gently, with a lid on, for half an hour.

Strain out the herbs and spices. Sweeten with honey.

Take hot or cold before a meal to stimulate the appetite and digestion. It should last for several weeks if kept in a bottle.

Mugwort smudge stick

Cut off the top 20cm or so of a mugwort plant when in bud or first open. Leave to dry for a few days, but use before it dries completely and is still flexible.

Make small cigar-size bundles about 3cm thick and 10cm long, with the stem ends together. Starting at the stem end, wind a piece of cotton thread in a spiral around the bundle to the end and then back again, tying it off securely. Leave the bundles to dry fully.

To use, hold the smudge stick by the stem end and light the other end with a match. Wave the smudge around as you move through a room or around a person. The movement helps keep the smudge smouldering (it won’t burn) as well as spreading the smoke through the air.