Mugwort (Ai Ye, Liu Ji Nu, Qing Hao)

Botanical Name: Artemisia vulgaris

Mugwort has long been used as a healing herb that is used both internally and externally. As “moxa,” the herb is burned and passed over the portion or area of the body needing to be healed or tonified.

Below is an overview of Mugwort (Ai Ye, Liu Ji Nu, Qing Hao), combining and interpreting the best of Western science, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), shamanism, folklore and more. Gain a balanced and thorough understanding of the healing properties of Mugwort (Ai Ye, Liu Ji Nu, Qing Hao).

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Western Name: Mugwort

Also Known As: Sagebrush, Wormwood, Wild Wormwood, Old Uncle Henry, Naughty Man, St. John’s Plant (not St. John’s Wort!!), Cronewort, Old Man

Organs/Systems: Stomach, Uterus, Intestines, Liver, Blood

Key Western Actions: Tonic, Stomachic, Febrifuge, Anthelmintic. Antiseptic, Anti-inflammatory, Relaxant, Choleretic

Medicinal Uses: Very good against malaria. asthma, paralytic muscles, pleurisy, catarrh, forms of scrofulous, inflammation of joints, pregnancy to aid birthing, especially the removal of the placenta, anthelmintic. And in Ayurveda for cardiac complaints, feelings of unease, unwell or general malaise, and menstrual conditions.


Pin Yin: Ai Ye (Folio Artemisieae Argyi), Qing Hao (Folium Artemisieae Annuae), Liu Ji Nu (Artemesieae Anomalae)

Also Known As: Chrysanthemum Weed

Meridians: Liver, Kidney and all Meridians

Key Actions: Warming and Moving (includes womb too), Stops Bleeding, Disperses Cold,Alleviates Pain, Cools Blood. Moxa used for moxibustion, Cleanses the Blood, Moves Blood and Qi, Hallucinogenic, Releases to the Exterior Expels Parasites, Reduces Inflammation

Medicinal Uses: Malaria, warts (external), to aid breech babies, aid uterine contractions, cause sweating to break a fever, colds, flu, depression, constipation, cramping, fatigue, hysteria, irritability, diarrhea, insomnia, general malaise, ulcers, sores, scrofula, intestinal worms.

Basic Habitat/Botany:

There are 200-400 species of Mugwort belonging to the daisy family. It has fern like leaves that are covered with white silvery hairs. Its small white flowers are wind pollinated. They grow best in free-draining soil, unfertilized, and in full sun. It is a tall herbaceous perennial plant with a woody root. Mugwort flowers from July to September.
Living in the Northern and Southern Hemisphere in usually dry to semi-dry habitats. It is native to Europe, Asia, North Africa, and Alaska. It has been naturalized in North America, where it is often considered an invasive weed. Likes nitrogenous soils, weedy uncultivated areas, and roadsides.

Parts Most Frequently Used: Leaf and Flower

Flavors: Extremely Bitter, Acrid, Warm

Caution: Mugwort is generally considered safe. However, as it is a uterine stimulant caution is advised for pregnant women.

History/Folklore: Mugwort is believed in Wiccan traditions to have psychic abilities. It is often cultivated in what are called moon gardens. Artemis, the goddess of the moon, is the plant’s namesake (“Artemesia”). It’s bitterness was used by wet-nurses for weaning infants from the breast. It is also said to be a tea for lucid dreaming.

Rubbing mugwort leaves on the body can help keep ghosts away and prevents dreaming about the dead. It is believed John the Baptist used the herb as a girdle in the wilderness to protect himself from evil spirits. Ancient Greeks and Egyptians used moxa (burning mugwort). Hippocrates recommended mugwort taken internally to aid delivery of placenta.

The common name of mugwort is often said to derive from “mug” since it was used to flavor drinks since the Iron Age. Some say it is from the Norse word “urt” for plant or Germanic “wuertz” meaning root.

Sometimes called the mother of all herbs, mugwort is known for its powerful relationship to the moon, the female goddess Artemis, and as a prime herb for women as it benefits the menses, can help turn the fetus, expel the placenta, and lift a woman’s spirit.

In the Middle Ages, it was used as a magical protective herb. In ancient times, it was used as a remedy for fatigue; the Romans even put it in their sandals as a protection against weariness when going into battle.

In Japan the juice of mugwort is used to stop bleeding, lower fevers, and purge the stomach of toxins. It is also commonly boiled and used to relieve coughs and cold symptoms.

In Ayurvedic medicine, mugwort is used to treat cardiac complaints and soothe anxiety.

In Oriental medicine, mugwort is used as moxibustion to turn the fetus and prevent breech positioning prior to birth. It is commonly used as moxibustion to treat a variety of ailments including to help Build and Move Qi (Energy) and Blood. In this form, the herb is warming, tonifying, and moving. It is said to be one of the few herbs that can be used to treat all the Meridians.

In the West, mugwort smoke has been used to disinfect contaminated areas and help to revive patients from comas.

Native North American Chumash Indians have traditionally used the herb to treat coughs and fevers. It was also used to help treat bruises, rashes, poison ivy, eczema, and even arm or foot odor. They have also associated and used the herb for over 13,000 years in rituals to help protect against ghosts or dreaming of the dead.

The flowers are used as a bitter flavoring agent to season fat, meat, and fish dishes. It has also been used to flavor beer before the introduction of hops. In Germany, the herb is especially used to season the traditional roast goose at Christmas. In Japan, mugwort is the key ingredient in kusa mochi rice cakes. In Korea, the herb is used in soups and salads.

Mugwort pollen is a main source of hay fever and allergic asthma in North Europe, America, and parts of Asia.

Research indicates that mugwort contains over 100 identified compounds.

Mugwort also makes a yellow dye and effective insect repellent.

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Key Constituents:

Volatile oils, Terpenoids, Sesquiterpenes, Artemisinin, Camphene, Vitamin A, Limonene, Thujone, Cineole, Flavonoids, Coumarin. Flowers contain Beta-carotenes.
Did you know?

Mugwort and Malaria

Mugwort’s constituent artemisinin is the most rapid compound against malaria.

Repels Insects

Mugwort repels insects, especially moths, from gardens.
Fun fact!


Mugwort is used in brewing beer and as a base for vermouth and absinthe.

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