Mugwort, or Artemisia vulgaris, is a versatile perennial herb with a rich history in traditional medicine and culinary arts. Noted for its bitter, aromatic flavor and calming effects, it has been used for purposes ranging from flavoring beers to treating digestive issues. Varied in its active compounds, mugwort is also explored for its mild psychotropic effects when smoked, although caution is advised due to limited research on this use.

Common name(s): Common wormwood, felon herb, chrysanthemum weed, wild wormwood, and St. John's plant.
Scientific name: Artemisia vulgaris


Life Cycle

leaf, rain, beautiful flowers

Known for its aromatic leaves, traditional medicinal uses, and presence in various cultural practices.


Commonly found in Asia, Europe, and North America, particularly in disturbed soils.

Natural Habitat

Commonly found in waste areas, roadsides, and along stream banks.


Prefers full to partial sun, moderate watering, and well-drained, nitrogen-rich soil.

Traditional Usage

Mugwort has an impressive history, once called the “mother of herbs” for its versatile applications. Traditionally, this herb was revered for its many uses, which predominately revolve around culinary and medicinal purposes. Specifically, mugwort has been associated with:

  • Flavoring beer before the widespread use of hops.
  • Assisting in various digestive ailments with its bitter components.
  • Promoting calming effects, potentially benefiting those with anxiety.
  • Regulating the menstrual cycle and easing related issues.

While the health-related benefits of mugwort are primarily founded on tradition and not exclusively on modern scientific research, its historical uses reflect a deep-rooted belief in its healing properties5. However, it is essential to use mugwort responsibly and to consult a healthcare professional before incorporating it into health routines.

Historical Usage

Used historically in beer-making and various medicinal applications, including digestive and menstrual issues.

Common Usage

Currently used in herbal teas, as a culinary flavoring, and in natural wellness practices.


Mugwort is highly regarded for its multifaceted uses, particularly in traditional health practices. This esteemed herb is associated with several effects on the body:

  • Calming properties, often incorporated into teas and tinctures to promote relaxation and well-being1.
  • Historically used for its potential to improve digestion and ease stomach ailments.
  • Believed to help in regulating menstrual cycles and easing symptoms associated with periods.
  • Some users report mugwort as beneficial for managing anxiety, although this is supported more by personal experience than scientific evidence1.

Each benefit comes from the varied active compounds within mugwort, which may influence its therapeutic potential. Notably, the effectiveness and safety might vary between individuals, so it’s essential to approach using mugwort with mindfulness. Due to the lack of thorough scientific validation, it’s best to consult a healthcare professional before incorporating mugwort as a remedy for any health concerns1. Potential users should also be aware of the risk of allergic reactions and interactions with other medications.

artemisia vulgaris, mugwort, common wormwood

Believed to promote tranquility and improve relaxation when consumed.

Effects when smoking

When smoked, mugwort is believed to offer a range of subtle effects for the users. Taking a careful and moderate approach to its use is advisable, as with any herb. Here are some of the experiences you might have when smoking mugwort:

  • A sense of calmness and relaxation may occur, which is one of the reasons users choose to smoke mugwort.
  • Some individuals report experiencing mild psychotropic effects, although this is based on anecdotal evidence and not heavily documented.
  • Slight changes in perception or mild euphoria have also been noted by some users, contributing to its historical association with dreams and sleep.
  • It may also serve as a digestive aid, following its traditional use for various gastrointestinal complaints.

It’s worth noting that individual responses can vary widely, and the effects may not be the same for everyone. With any kind of herb, particularly those with potential psychoactive effects, it’s crucial to start with small amounts to understand your personal reaction to it.

Furthermore, while mugwort is legal in most areas, it is essential to stay informed about local regulations and to use it responsibly.
Before trying mugwort or changing your herbal routine, always consider consulting a healthcare professional, especially if you’re on medication or have health concerns to avoid any potential risks1.

Flavor Profile

Bitter and aromatic.

Edible Parts

Leaves and roots

Effects when Smoked

May induce mild psychotropic effects; caution is advised.

User Experiences

User experiences with mugwort are varied, with some noting improvements in digestion and sleep, and others perceiving minimal effects.

Medicinal Benefits

Mugwort has been harnessed for its potential medicinal effects for centuries. This herb is believed to offer several health benefits, although it’s important to note that while some of these benefits are backed by traditional use, scientific evidence may be limited1.

  • Anxiety relief: It is thought to help calm the nerves and alleviate anxiety.
  • Digestive aid: Mugwort may support digestion and soothe gastrointestinal issues.
  • Menstrual regulation: Historically used to help normalize irregular periods.
  • Sedative effects: In various forms like teas or tinctures, mugwort is considered to have calming properties that may promote better sleep1.

It’s crucial to consult a healthcare professional before using mugwort, especially when considering dosage and potential risks related to its use1.

History and Folklore

Mugwort has been revered as the “mother of herbs” throughout history, with uses that extend deeply into culinary and medicinal realms. In the art of brewing, it contributed its bitter, aromatic elements to flavor beer before the widespread use of hops 5. On the medicinal front, it was employed for its supposed healing properties, being a common remedy for digestive issues, anxiety, and aiding in women’s menstrual cycles 1. Cultures across the globe have shared a long-standing belief in the plant’s significance, a testament to its extensive historical background.
Mugwort’s enduring reputation as a significant herbal remedy in traditional practices marks it as a plant of historical importance and intrigue.

flowers, tansy, nature

Mugwort: a revered "mother of herbs" with historical use in cuisine, traditional medicine, and ancient brewing practices.

Side Effects and Contraindications

Potential Side Effects:
Using mugwort may lead to certain side effects. It’s important to be aware that allergic reactions such as sneezing, sinus problems, and contact dermatitis can occur1. In some instances, mugwort can cause mouth ulcers if consumed orally1.

Mugwort use is not recommended for everyone. Pregnant women should avoid mugwort, as it may stimulate the uterus and potentially lead to miscarriage1. Those with a known allergy to the Asteraceae/Compositae family, which includes ragweed, marigolds, and daisies, should also be cautious as they may have an increased likelihood of an allergic reaction1. Because mugwort can interact with medications, especially those used for treatment of seizures or blood thinners, consulting a healthcare professional before use is advisable1.

Legal Status

Mugwort is commonly recognized as legal to use and possess in most areas. However, as legal statuses can be subject to change and may differ from one locale to another, it’s imperative to confirm with your local laws to ensure compliance. This applies to smoking mugwort as well, where it remains imperative to ascertain that usage aligns with regional regulations. Checking current laws will provide the most accurate guidance for its lawful use within your specific jurisdiction1.


1. “Mugwort Benefits, Side Effects, Dosage, Interactions – Verywell Health.” Verywell Health. Accessed April 7, 2023.
2. “Characteristics of mugwort – Botanical online.” Botanical online. Accessed April 7, 2023.
5. “Significance of Artemisia Vulgaris L. (Common Mugwort) in the History …” NCBI. Accessed April 7, 2023.