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Thursday, March 6, 2014

March 6th WHMonth: MUGWORT

TO CELEBRATE WOMEN'S HISTORY MONTH (WHM), during the month of March ~ in addition to my weekly postings ~ I will be making DAILY postings of time tested herbal and medicinal foods used from a Medicine Woman's bag, which holds many, many herbs, generating many, many formulas, as one herb used for a cold (mullein), when combined with totally different herbs, can be used as an antispasmodic for inflammation or as an expectorant to relieve asthma or general lung congestion.

MUGWORT (Artemisia vulgaris) is a very potent emmenagogue, very often used for irregular periods and other female complaints, as a hemostatic, antispasmodic, diaphoretic, vermifuge, mild narcotic and bitter tonic.  The leaves, roots and above ground parts are all used medicinally. They have a bitter, acrid taste and slightly warm energy.  It directly influences the balance, and improves the health of, the spleen, liver and kidneys (for gout, sciatica and water retention).

The Native Americans use the leaves in decoctions for colds, colic, bronchitis, rheumatism and fever. Also externally for wounds, poison oak, ulcers and tumors when made into a poultice with slippery elm, cleavers and bear's foot, bathing the inflammatory swelling with a strong tea of Mugwort.

Mugwort is a revered remedy for stomach; the liver; as a nervine for nervousness, insomnia and uncontrollable shaking. Used with cramp bark, Mugwort has strong emmenagogue properties and induces the menstrual cycle and relieves cramps when combined with calendula, cramp bark, black haw and mint.

It is often taken for stomach and intestinal conditions including colic, diarrhea, constipation, cramps, weak digestion, worm infestations and persistent vomiting.  Mugwort is also used to stimulate gastric juices and bile secretions; as a liver tonic; to promote circulation, and as a sedative. It treats hysteria, epilepsy and convulsions in children. Combined with other herbs, mugwort root is used for mental neuroses, ongoing fatigue and depression (neurasthenia) and preoccupation with illness (hypochondria), general irritability, restlessness, trouble sleeping (insomnia) and anxiety.

The Chinese dry the herb leaves into a cottony mass, roll it into a long, huge cigar-like shape which is then lit on one end like a cigar and placed near the skin in a therapeutic technique called moxabustion.  Mugwort is ideally suited for this because of its cotton-like consistency and also because its volatile oils help promote blood circulation, relaxes the underlying nerves and burns quickly at a low temperature. Once the tip is hot and burning well, the tip is repeatedly passed in a clockwise motion over a specific area until the area becomes hot - this removes stuck energy (pain), congealed blood (bruises), and aids in the healing of broken bones.