Mugwort, an Abundant Medicinal and Culinary Herb

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Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris)

Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris)

Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris), also known as Common Wormwood is a very abundant plant in its growing range.  It grows in the Eastern US and Northwestern US.  Mugwort is adapted to grow in compact rocky soil where other plants might have a hard time.  Mugwort has a long history of use as a medicinal and culinary herb in Europe and Asia where it is native. Although Mugwort is an established culinary herb you should never take Mugwort if you are pregnant, scroll down to our ‘Cautions’ section for details.  There are a few other plants in the genus Artemisia that live in the US  including Western Mugwort (Artemisia ludoviciana) which grows throughout the entire US.  Western Mugwort and others may share some edible and medicinal properties as well as cautions with Mugwort.

Edibility and Culinary Use

Mugwort has a long history of culinary use, it has a unique musty herbal fragrance, the flavor is just as unique and slightly bitter.  It is often used dried as a spice for meats.  The leaves can be eaten fresh in salads, or cooked in soups.  Mugwort has a long history of use in beverages. Mugwort has been added to teas and alcoholic beverages.  The acoholic drink absinthe is made from Artemisia absinthium, a plant in the same genus as Mugwort which  is also referred to as Common Wormwood.  Mugwort was used prior to hops in the making of beer.

Health Benefits

Mugwort has a wide range of health benefits.  It is believed to help in digestion so is often eaten with fatty foods like meat as a dried spice.  It also is known to aid in a number of digestive tract issues such as diarrhea, cramps, vomiting, and constipation.  Mugwort root may help give energy, it is sometimes made into a tea for that purpose. Mugwort has a long history of assisting women with irregular periods and  in reducing menstrual cramp pain.  Mugwort also has a number of uses in the treatment of mood disorders such as anxiety, depression, insomnia, and irritability.  Some people find that Mugwort has dream enhancing properties, there is a long history of use for this purpose, it was taken as a tea or dried and smoked before going to bed.

Key ID Features

Cautions

Mugwort does contain some components that might be harmful under certain circumstances.  Women who are pregnant should never take mugwort, because it tightens the uterus and could potentially cause a miscarriage, especially early in pregnancy.  Over-consumption of Mugwort should be avoided by everyone because it could have some mild toxic effects if taken in large quantities

Conclusion

Mugwort is an abundant weed that many people have little appreciation for, but in reality it is a plant with a long history of use as a medicinal and culinary herb.  Early in my foraging days I never looked twice at Mugwort but now I nibble on it often and use it in teas and spices. With so many health benefits Mugowort is yet another plant that hides secrets to a healthy lifestyle.  Science would learn a lot from thoroughly researching the chemical components of this plant.

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