Mugwort, as an herb, has had a wonderful tradition in the West of being associated with witchcraft and superstition, used as a protective charm against evil. In the East, mugwort has an even longer history as a healing agent, assisting in acupuncture to build and strengthen chi. In the aromatherapy world, there are differing opinions as to the efficacy of mugwort as an essential oil. Some books will say it is contraindicated in aromatherapy or home use because of its thujone content (which can be toxic), others extol its therapeutic virtues. I have used mugwort essential oil sparingly in massage treatments and found it very effective.
The leaves and flowers of the Artemisia vulgaris plant are steamed distilled to form the essential oil. The oil is primarily produced in France, Germany and in the Far East. The artemisia used in the East is usually A. moxa and A. sinensis, which is prepared into sticks for moxabustion, a process that is combined with acupuncture to create a deeper and more potent form of therapy.
In aromatherapy, as stated earlier, only one drop should be used occasionally in a carrier oil in massage treatment. The essential oil is good for women’s complaints and supports the womb. It eases painful menstrual cramps, relaxes tension through the abdominal area and encourages blood flow when periods are delayed or scanty. With skin complaints mugwort is said to alleviate eczema, acne and psoriasis. It is also helpful with actinic keratosis, reducing the abnormal cell production and promoting healthy cell growth.
Some of the research shows that mugwort is useful for arthritis and other inflammatory conditions of the joints. It eases achy muscles and stiffness and brings increases circulation to the affected area. It can also be effective in loosening phlegm and mucus, especially with bronchitis and chest colds.
In acupuncture, moxa brings the inherent energy or chi to the surface. It is used in cold, deficiency states of chronic disease. Likewise, mugwort essential oil can be used to bring heat into the body support the immune system in cases of weakness and lingering illness.
When burned, either as moxa or as an essential oil in aroma lamp, mugwort is uplifting and relaxing. It has a warming quality that seems to penetrate deep into the bones. Like a warm blanket, the scent seems to encircle you with a sense of security and protection. It is calming and is great for anxiety and moments of hysteria and overwhelm.
Mugwort has been honored and used for thousands of years. Use it sparingly and enjoy its gifts.