If you’ve ever been to a Korean spa, you might have taken a dip in the mugwort bath and wondered “what the hell kind of Harry Potter water am I sitting in?” This whimsical name is incredibly fitting for such a beautiful herb that is used for women’s menstrual health in so many cultures, like Chinese and Ayurvedic traditions. Mugwort, or Artemisia vulgarisis, is dear to my heart and uterus and is one of the most-used in my apothecary. Its scientific name stems from Artemis, the greek moon goddess and protective patron of women in all phases of their lives.
This plant is abundant, wild, and grows in almost every part of the world, including in Southern California. Mugwort energy is ancestral, feminine, wise and is filled with dreamy, dark, moon magic. Working with this herb brings in the plant version of a warm, yet strong grandmother crone. I reach for mugwort for myself and my clients for two main uses which are balancing irregular periods and diving into spiritual dream work.
Warnings/Contraindications: Do not use mugwort if you are pregnant or nursing.
Regulating the menstrual cycle
Mugwort is the herb to turn to for those who struggle with an irregular or scanty period, especially during times of stress that can wreak havoc on reproductive hormones. Mugwort is an emmenagogue, meaning it brings on menstrual flow. I’ve seen clients who have not had their period for months take mugwort for a few days and it comes back, bright red, within days, and guess what? All of a sudden other symptoms disappear because their period is getting back to normal.
In addition to its affinity for women’s reproductive organs, this herb delivers additional physical benefits:
- Aids in digestion and decreases bloating
- Moves sluggish energy
- Mild relaxant – calms stress and anxiety
- Topical anesthetic and can calm irritated skin
- Antibacterial and antifungal properties
How to use & prepare:
Mugwort is a powerful plant and should not be used as an everyday herb. I recommend taking mugwort internally no longer than 3-5 days in a row, ideally 2-3 days before and 2-3 days after the period. Make sure to listen to your body when introducing new herbs.
Mugwort can be prepared as a tea or tincture, can be smoked for calming effects, and used as a soothing bath. If you want to work with mugwort to regulate your period, I recommend drinking as a tea or taking as a tincture. When preparing as a tea, let it steep for at least 10 minutes.
As always, it’s best to buy the loose herb and make sure it’s organic. I buy mine from Mountain Rose Herbs. You can also harvest the plant in the late spring/early summer. Look for bountiful patches and do not harvest from plants right next to a trail or street (read: dog pee and pollution).
How to make a tincture – super easy!
- Fill a glass jar with plant material. If using dried mugwort, fill the jar 1/3 full. If using fresh mugwort, fill jar 3/4 full.
- Fill the rest of the jar with vodka (I buy organic vodka from Trader Joes – only $13!) making sure all plant material is submerged and then cover the jar, tightly.
- Store in a dark, dry place for at least one month, shaking it up at least once every couple of days. The longer it sits, the stronger the tincture is, so 1-3 months is fine. When ready to use, strain and bottle in a dropper bottle
- Dosage: start with 1-2 droppers full three times, per day)
Using mugwort for dream work:
Using the lunar chart, the period/bleeding corresponds to the waning and new moon phases so it’s no surprise that this moon medicine supports dream work and creativity during this phase in our cycles. Bringing in mugwort can help us go inward and deepen this creative flow.
A suggested ceremony:
Note: I sometimes experience vivid (and yes, sometimes very intense) dreams when I drink mugwort before bed so make sure you are ready to call in this energy – it can be powerful!
- Create sacred space: about an hour before bed, burn mugwort to smudge/clear the air and set your intentions.
- Prepare a cup of mugwort tea, sipping slowly while journaling about where you are needing guidance.
- Let the drowsiness set in and set the journal by your bed so in the morning, you can immediately write down dreams, imagery, and messages that came to you.
If you don’t remember anything, no worries, just try another night. I’ve found that my body knows I may need deep sleep more than crazy ass dreams!