The dried Mugwort plant gives its users colorful dreams and helps with memory. It’s commonly added to smoking blends because its thick, white, low-odor smoke is soothing and smooth. When brewed into a tea it’s good for digestion, helping with constipation and diarrhea, and can also relieve headaches. Drinking or smoking mugwort can also help with lucid dreaming.
Table of Contents
- 1 Overview
- 2 Effects
- 3 History
- 4 Medicinal Uses
- 5 Is mugwort the same herb as wormwood?
- 6 Side effects
- 7 Where to buy mugwort
At a glance
Common Mugwort (Artemesia vulgaris) is a perennial plant belonging to the Asteraceae family. It is native to Northern Europe and grows throughout Asia and the British Isles. The plant blooms with yellow or orange flowers in the summer.
Mugwort has a long history of various uses in many countries. It was popular as a ‘magical herb’ during the Middle Ages. Smoking mugwort was also a popular alternative to tobacco or cannabis by sailors who called it ‘sailor’s tobacco’.
Other names throughout its history have included felon herb , armoise, naughty man, chrysanthemum weed, old uncle henry, and wild wormwood .
Today, it continues to be popular as a smokeable herb and for inducing ‘weird’ dreams. Mugwort is a close relative of wormwood—the “flavouring agent” of absinthe.
This herb is considered to have mild psychoactive properties that can produce sedation and euphoria 5.
Effects of smoking mugwort
Smoking dried Mugwort leaves is believed to be the most effective way to enjoy the benefits of its active components. It is usually smoked as a hand-rolled cigarette, in much the same way as tobacco. It can be used as a base when crafting your own herbal blend.
The effect is said to be soft on the throat and ‘fluffy’, similar to mullein. Users say it produces a calm and mellow feeling rather than the intoxicated or ‘stoned’ effects of smoking marijuana. It produces a light smoke with a pleasant, slightly sweet flavor.
As such, smoking mugwort can provide relief against anxiety.
The taste and harshness of the smoke was minimal, and I found this substance to be, at the very least, a good substitute for those who are considering quitting smoking either tobacco or cannabis (the greenness of mugwort is very close to MJ!). I did notice a small high very similar to bud that lasted about a half-hour […]New believer’s experience on Erowid
When I awoke the next morning I recalled perhaps the most vivid and entertaining dream that I have ever had in my entire life.
Mugwort is also said to enhance dreaming, with many users reporting astral travel and wild, prophetic dreams 6. It can be taken on its own or with Calea zacatechichi for “hardcore dreams”. Although there is a lack of scientific research to support this, anecdotal evidence dates back centuries. Users suggest smoking it shortly before going to bed in order to experience these hallucinogenic effects in dreams 7.
Mugwort alone won’t make you a lucid dreamer overnight. This is a practice and requires consistent effort, including mindset-managing and intention-setting practices before bed, such as breathwork, visualization, and meditation. Keeping a dream journal is an important method for bolstering dream recall and enabling you to identify recurring patterns in your dreams.Source: commonwealthherbs.com
Mugwort is one of the nine sacred herbs of Anglo-Saxon England. Its early uses date back to Roman times when soldiers placed Mugwort leaves in their sandals to prevent their feet from fatigue 1.
Native Americans used this herb in their witchcraft and believed that rubbing it on their bodies would protect them from ghosts. They also wore necklaces of the leaves of this herb to prevent themselves from dreaming about the dead. It was also used in pagan rituals, and by travelers who sought to protect themselves both from evil spirits and dangerous animals 2.
Mugwort has also been used for beer-making, as an insect repellent, in herbal medicine, food, and as an astringent smoking herb.
Artemisia vulgaris is a complex herb, comprising over 75 unique chemicals.
Mugwort’s edible parts include its leaves and roots and is often used as an ingredient in many Asian dishes. The leaf can be bitter and make it suitable for seasoning meats such as fish, fat, and even the roasted goose at Christmas.
In China and Japan, Mugwort is often used in juices and rice cakes.
Mugwort also harbors carminative properties and can help to relieve gastrointestinal problems such as colic, gas, constipation and diarrhea. It’s also believed to help kill intestinal parasites such as pinworms, and can be used as an antibacterial, purgative, and anthelmintic.
One of Mugwort’s most-known uses is in the practice of moxibustion. This is a traditional practice of Korean, Japanese and Chinese cultures and involves rolling the leaves of the herb into a stick or cone, igniting it, then waving it over an area to be treated. The leaves may also be burned over an acupuncture point to release energy.
It is an emmenagogue, which means it can stimulate menstruation and promote regular menstrual cycles. It was even once used to induce abortions 3. (please refer to side effects and avoid this plant if you are pregnant)
Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) holds that Mugwort has healing properties that are released through heat. This technique is even used to help breech babies change their cephalic position during delivery 4.
Mugwort has many medicinal properties such as stimulant, antibacterial, purgative, anthelmintic, nervine, anti-inflammatory, hemostatic, antiseptic, expectorant, antispasmodic, emmenagogue, carminative, digestive, diaphoretic, and cholagogue properties. It also expels pinworms in the intestine.
In combination with other ingredients, mugwort root is used for mental problems (psychoneuroses), ongoing fatigue and depression (neurasthenia), depression, preoccupation with illness ( hypochondria ), general irritability, restlessness, trouble sleeping ( insomnia ), and anxiety Some people apply mugwort lotion directly to the skin to relieve itchiness caused by burn scars.Source: Mugwort article on rxlist.com
Mugwort comprises several essential oils including thujone, wormwood, and cineole, as well as various triterpenes and flavonoids. It is useful as an insect repellent to keep moths from the garden.
Mugwort’s widespread use as a psychoactive substance is due to a variety of terpene compounds like – and – thujones (which also stimulate the heart and the central nervous system) (Alberto-Puleo 1978).Source: sites.evergreen.edu
There are many reports about the hallucinogenic properties it produces when smoked. Several peer-reviewed scientific journals, including the Journal of Life and Environmental Sciences, have noted that Artemisia harbors various psychoactive or psychotropic properties.
Researchers say Artemisia’s phytochemical constituents in wormwood (Artemisia spp.) are due to a monoterpenoid called thujone, which has been shown to antagonizes the main inhibitory neurotransmitter, gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). This produces stimulant effects almost to the point of being convulsant 8.
Other research suggests that the great diversity of sesquiterpene lactones prevalent in Artemisia is likely to be responsible for its hallucinogenic and aphrodisiac effects 9.
Is mugwort the same herb as wormwood?
There is some debate over the difference between mugwort and wormwood. The scientific name for wormwood is Artemisia absinthium, while mugwort is Artemisia vulgaris. Although the two plants are closely related, “mugwort” refers to all 200 aromatic plants belonging to the Artemisia genus. Wormwood is only one of these. So no, wormwood is not common mugwort.
Pregnant or lactating women should never use this plant due to its ability to increase blood flow to the pelvic area. This can lead to uterine contractions and even miscarriage.
Mugwort may cause allergic reactions in some people, which can involve sneezing and sinus-related symptoms. Some people have also reported contact dermatitis or rashes.
You should note that its pollen is one of the main cause of hay fever and asthma in North America & North Europe.
“Tearing mugwort is known to lessen the effect of the allergy, since the pollen flies only a short distance.”Mugwort – Wikipedia citation from the Finnish allergy associations
In the U.S, Artemisia vulgaris is available both as a dietary supplement and homeopathic preparation and is generally considered safe for most people.
Mugwort is not controlled in the U.S, so it is legal to grow, process, sell, or trade.
Where to buy mugwort
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1. Artemisia. [book] Accessed April 28, 2020. https://books.google.co.nz/books?id=t0MtnKDvLLwC&pg=PA144&lpg=PA144&dq=roman+soldiers+mugwort&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=roman%20soldiers%20mugwort&f=false
2. Native American Uses of California Plants – Ethnobotany. [research paper]. Accessed April 30, 2020. https://arboretum.ucsc.edu/pdfs/ethnobotany-webversion.pdf
3. Mugwort ( Artemisia vulgaris) in the Treatment of Menopause, Premenstrual Syndrome, Dysmenorrhea and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder [pdf] Accessed April 30, 2020.
7. Meet the Foragers Getting High on Mugwort. [magazine article]. Accessed April 29, 2020.
8. α-Thujone (the active component of absinthe): γ-Aminobutyric acid type A receptor modulation and metabolic detoxification. [research article]. Accessed April 30, 2020. https://www.pnas.org/content/97/8/3826.short
Nicolas ‘Axel’ Duval is the founder and content editor of this website. He launched Smokable Herbs in 2011. He later created the Smokably herb online store, which sells herbs and blends worldwide.
As an herbalist and marketing enthusiast, he used Smokable Herbs as a sandbox to test ideas and deploy content.