What is mugwort?
From the sound of it, it may seem like something straight out of the Harry Potter series. In reality, it is actually a root-based perennial plant with a lot of names.
More importantly, this odd plant has been known to fight different diseases as simple as joint pain to as complex as cancer.
You may come across mugwort with other names like green ginger, felon herb, or common wormwood. You may confuse it with St. John’s wort because of similar names, or with chrysanthemum weed because of its appearance.
You can find different varieties of mugwort growing in different parts of Asia, Northern America, and Northern Europe.
The Origin of Mugwort
The technical name of mugwort, Artemisia vulgaris is derived from “Artemis”, the name of a Greek moon Goddess known to be the patron of women. The term “vulgaris” is connected with one of its many uses that will be discussed later in this article.
Historically, mugwort has been used as a natural inhibitor of the female menstrual cycles. In some cases, it was also used to provide relief from menopausal symptoms.
This herb has a high amount of antioxidants which can help cure a lot of intestinal and digestive issues such as vomiting, ulcers, constipation, and nausea. It is also known for eliciting vivid and intense dreams.
The components of mugwort are also being tested for their effects against certain types of cancer.
What are the five major benefits of mugwort? Keep reading to know which.
1. Reversal of Breech Birth Position
In normal cases, when a baby is a few weeks away from delivery, their head starts moving towards the birth canal naturally. However, in 1 out of every 25 full-term births, this does not happen. Such types of births are known as breech births.
To solve this potentially dangerous situation, the ancient Chinese medicine started using a medicine known as moxibustion as a natural solution.
What is moxibustion?
The leaves of mugwort are used to form a short cone of the stick which is then burned over the acupuncture points. This stops the release of energy and improves blood circulation by producing a warming effect at the site of acupuncture.
Moxibustion is helpful in reversing the fetus in breech by stimulating a particular acupuncture point known as BL67. This point is present just near the toenail of your fifth toe.
It helps in improving blood circulation and producing energy, ultimately causing an increase in the fetal movements.
As per a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, almost 75 percent out of the 130 fetuses reversed their positions right after their mothers were treated with mugwort.
2. Treating Joint Pain
Mugwort together with the technique of moxibustion can not only help stimulate the movements of a fetus inside the womb but can also help in therapeutic treatment for arthritis.
In one study, the same Chinese technique mentioned above was blind-tested on participants suffering from osteoarthritis. Out of all the 110 patients included in this study, half were provided with the moxibustion treatment whereas the other half was given a placebo.
This was repeated thrice a week and the study continued for six weeks. Both the practitioners as well as the patients had no idea about the treatment which they received.
The results? By the end of the treatment, the participants provided with the moxibustion treatment suffered from a 53 percent reduction in their pain.
On the other hand, the participants who received placebo only suffered from a 24 percent reduction in their pain.
The knee function was also improved by 51 percent in the group receiving moxibustion. On the other hand, only 13 percent improvement was observed in the placebo group.
While the results of this therapy were not permanent, they were certainly promising.
3. Flavoring Beers
Most of the beer brewers make use of hops or Humulus lupulus to produce beer. However, about a thousand years ago, the medieval brewers used an alternative concoction known as gruit for this purpose and mugwort was one of its ingredients.
In fact, the English people have a different memory for how mugwort actually got this name. Because gruit beer containing this herb was served and consumed in a mug, the name mugwort was given to it.
The flowers of this herb are dried and boiled along with other herbs to form a herbal tea. It is then added to the liquid to form the flavor of the brew. Some people say that the mixture of all these herbs acquires a sour flavor.
Like a lot of other ancient trends, the trend of brewing beers just like in the medieval times has made a comeback. A lot of popular breweries are now creating gruit blends around the world.
There are even a lot of recipes available to brew a gruit beer on your own.
4. Curing Cancer and Malaria
Current ongoing studies on the uses of mugwort suggest its strong link to the treatment of cancer. The herb contains certain components named artemisinins which can be toxic to some cancer cells.
In more recent research, mugwort has also been indicated as a malaria-treating agent.
Scientists have discovered that artemisinins can target mitochondria, lysosome, and the endoplasmic reticulum. Cancer cells also contain a higher amount of iron as compared to the healthy cells which makes them more susceptible to the toxic artemisinin.
In one study, the scientists tried to pair the iron-containing cancerous cells with artemisinins. Once this combination got inside the cells, the toxicity was enhanced.
This means that artemisinins were more potent in killing cancer and reducing its spread. The scientists formulated the hypothesis saying that this tagged compound could be a potential chemotherapeutic agent for the treatment of cancer.
While this is not a proven method to treat cancer as yet, it is definitely something to look out for as more studies uncover the true effects of this therapy.
How Can You Spot Mugwort?
Mugwort can reach up to 6 feet in height and can be easily confused with a hemlock. However, you can easily tell the difference keeping in mind a few factors.
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The stem color, height, and the flowers of mugwort can all help to distinguish it from other plants. The stem of hemlock is green with purple splotches on it. On the other hand, a mugwort has a stem with pure purple color.
The flowers of hemlock are white in color with 5 petals, each directed in an upside-down shape. On the other hand, the flowers of mugwort are red or pale yellow in an alternative pattern around the stalk.
The leaves of mugwort usually grow down its purplish stem following an alternating pattern. The undersides of these leaves have a lighter hue with a fuzzy, silvery layer.
If you reside in the Eastern region of the United States and live near the rocky soil, a stream, or an embankment, you may have a wild mugwort growing near your place.
If you are looking forward to purchasing a mugwort, there are a number of forms to choose from. Always make sure that you are buying from a reliable source and don’t forget to consult a doctor before using it.
Mugwort can be purchased in the form of:
· Dried herbs
· Essential oils
· Smudge sticks