Common Names: mugwort, common wormwood, wild wormwood, felon herb, chrysanthemum weed, St. John’s plant, sailor’s tobacco

Latin Names: Artemisia vulgaris

Mugwort is a perennial plant that is native to Europe and parts of Asia and Africa. It now grows in many parts of the world, including North America.
Historically, mugwort has been used in traditional systems of medicine in different parts of the world.
Today, mugwort taken orally (by mouth) is promoted for digestive problems, irregular menstruation, and high blood pressure. It is also promoted as a sedative, laxative, and liver tonic.
Mugwort lotion applied topically (to the skin) is promoted for itching caused by hypertrophic scars (visible, raised scars that can sometimes cause restricted movement of muscles, joints, and tendons).
How Much Do We Know?
Very little research has been done on mugwort in people.
What Have We Learned?
One preliminary study shows that a topical lotion containing mugwort and menthol relieves itching associated with hypertrophic scars from severe burns. Because it’s only one very small study, definite conclusions cannot be made.
There’s not enough evidence to say whether mugwort is beneficial for any other conditions.
What Do We Know About Safety?
Little is known about whether it’s safe to take mugwort orally or to use it topically.
Mugwort should not be used during pregnancy because it may start menstruation and cause the uterus to contract. Little is known about whether it’s safe to use mugwort while breastfeeding.
Keep in Mind
Take charge of your health—talk with your health care providers about any complementary health approaches you use. Together, you can make shared, well-informed decisions.
For More Information
Using Dietary Supplements Wisely
Know the Science: How Medications and Supplements Can Interact
Know the Science: How To Make Sense of a Scientific Journal Article
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Key References
Abiri R, Silva ALM, de Mesquita LSS, et al. Towards a better understanding of Artemisia vulgaris: botany, phytochemistry, pharmacological and biotechnological potential. Food Research International. 2018;109:403-415.
Mugwort. Natural Medicines website. Accessed at on April 20, 2020. [Database subscription].
Ogawa R, Hyakusoku H, Ogawa K, et al. Effectiveness of mugwort lotion for the treatment of post-burn hypertrophic scars. Journal of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery. 2008;61(2):210-212.
Rabello FB, Souza CD, Farina Júnior JA. Update on hypertrophic scar treatment. Clinics. 2014;69(8):565-573.
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Last Updated: January 2021

Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris) is a flowering plant native to northern Europe, Asia, and parts of North America. The sage-colored plant is commonly used for beer-making but is also thought to prevent or treat health conditions like anxiety, digestion problems, and irregular periods, among others. Mugwort has seen continuous use in many cultures throughout the world as a medicinal, spiritual, and culinary ingredient since at least the Iron Age. In contemporary culture mugwort is commonly found in foods and drinks, and remains a common ingredient in Chinese, Japanese, and Korean traditional medicine, where the leaves are used directly as a food or to obtain oil extracts or tinctures. The roots, leaves, stems, and blossoms of the mugwort plant are all used in folk medicine to make tinctures, extracts, tonics, teas, powders, and essential oils. This article describes medical uses, possible side effects, and how to select and safely use mugwort.

Mugwort Benefits
Many people consider mugwort a common weed. It spreads aggressively and can take over large parts of a garden. Because it’s related to ragweed, people who are allergic to ragweed may be allergic to mugwort, as well. So, some people destroy mugwort when it turns up in their garden. But in certain parts of the world it’s purposely grown to make herbal medicine.

Reported mugwort benefits include:
• Relieving stress
• Boosting energy
• Improving sleep
• Promoting blood circulation
• Relieving headaches
• Supporting liver health
• Itch relief
• Easing digestion problems
• Relieving muscle aches
• Normalizing menstrual cycles

Active Components
The parts of the mugwort plant that grow above the ground are used to make essential oil. Compounds in the oil — including camphor, pinene, and cineole — are said to have potent antioxidant, antibacterial, and antifungal properties. A chemical called artemisinin is found in the root, stem, leaves, and blossoms of the mugwort plant. When eaten, artemisinin is said to cause gentle contractions of the uterus, which promote regular periods. In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), it’s sometimes used to induce labor. Artemisinin is thought to have anti-cancer properties, though this has yet to be proven.

Conditions Treated
There is only limited scientific evidence that mugwort can prevent or treat any medical condition. Even so, it is regularly used for:
• Amenorrhea (irregular or absent periods)
• Anxiety
• Chronic fatigue
• Colic
• Constipation
• Depression
• Eczema
• Diarrhea
• Epilepsy
• Headaches and migraines
• Insomnia
• Nausea or vomiting

In TCM, mugwort is used in the practice of moxibustion. This involves rolling mugwort into sticks or cones, igniting them, and waving it over the part of the body being treated. This is thought to enhance the effects of acupuncture. A 2012 review suggests moxibustion can reduce the need for cesarean sections by aiding in the delivery of breach babies.

Possible Side Effects
Mugwort is considered safe for most people. However, you shouldn’t use it if you’re pregnant because the uterine contractions it causes can lead to miscarriage. Due to the lack of safety research, you also shouldn’t give it to children or use it while breastfeeding.

Mugwort Allergy
People with a ragweed allergy should use mugwort with caution due to an increased risk of an allergic reaction. Mild allergic symptoms to mugwort include hives or rash, itching, headaches, nausea or vomiting, and stomach pain. Severe allergic symptoms to mugwort include sudden, severe hives or rash, shortness of breath, rapid or irregular heartbeats, and lightheadedness or fainting.

People allergic to celery, birch, or carrot should be cautious with mugwort because it’s linked to “celery-carrot-mugwort-spice syndrome.” This is typically a milder allergy but in rare cases, it can cause anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis is a medical emergency that can lead to shock and death if not treated immediately. A 2008 study from the Netherlands found that 87% of people allergic to celery were also allergic to mugwort, while 52% of those allergic to birch and 26% of those allergic to caraway also had mugwort allergies.

Dosage and Preparation
Mugwort is used in cooking to flavor foods and beverages, including fish, meat, desserts, pancakes, soups, salads, and more. Mugwort was used in Europe to flavor beer long before hops were discovered. You can buy mugwort online and in drugstores, natural food stores, and herb shops. It comes in many forms, including:
• Extracts
• Tinctures
• Dried whole leaves
• Powders
• Essential oil
• Supplements including tablets, capsules, and soft gels
There is no recommended dose of mugwort in any form. With that said, mugwort supplements may be safest as the dose is more controlled. As a rule, do not exceed the dose on the product label.

What to Look For
Herbal remedies and supplements are not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). To ensure safety, select products certified by:
• U.S. Pharmacopeia (USF)
• NSF International
• ConsumerLab
These independent bodies evaluate the purity and safety of natural or herbal supplements like mugwort. If foraging for mugwort to make essential oil be sure to harvest the plant when it’s just starting to bloom. This is when the flower contains the most potent oil content.

Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris L.) is a plant related to ragweed that’s used to flavor food and as an herbal medicine. It is thought to boost energy, calm nerves, support digestion, relieve itching and pain, and promote regular periods, among other things. Mugwort is available as a dietary supplement, tincture, extract, essential oil, powder, or whole dried leaves. There is no recommended doseage. It is generally safe for use, although it may cause an allergic reaction in people with allergies to ragweed, celery, carrot, or birch. Mugwort should not be used by children or by people who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

For Further Reading:
• Wikipedia has an excellent overview on the mugwort plant and its uses at
• “Mugwort – Uses, Side Effects, and More” by WebMD is presented at their page:
• Medical News Today presents valuable information in their article, “What to know about mugwort”, found at:


Common Names: mugwort, common wormwood, wild wormwood, felon herb, chrysanthemum weed, St. John’s plant, sailor’s tobacco

Latin Names: Artemisia vulgaris


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