Mugwort is a common name for several species of aromatic plants in the genus Artemisia. In Europe, it most often refers to the species Artemisia vulgaris, or common mugwort. While other species are sometimes referred to by more specific common names, they may be called simply “mugwort” in many contexts. For example, one species, Artemisia argyi, is often called “mugwort” in the context of Traditional Chinese Medicine but may be also referred to by the more specific name “Chinese mugwort”. Artemisia princeps is the Japanese variety, also known as yomogi (ヨモギ).
typically used medicinally, especially in Chinese, Japanese, and Korean traditional medicine. Some have also found a use in modern medicine for their anti-herpetic effect. They are also used as an herb to flavor food. In Korea, they’ve also been used for plain, non-medicinal consumption; in South Korea, known as ssuk, are still used as a staple ingredient in many dishes including rice cakes and soup.
Some places consider it an invasive weed, since it grows in weedy and uncultivated areas, but it can be found growing in North America, Europe, Asia and northern Africa. A favorite woman’s herb, mugwort can bring on a delayed menstruation and help balance a monthly cycle. Being a bitter herb, mugwort is great for digestion. It is helpful before or after a big meal to alleviate gas and bloating. Traditionally, it was used as a dream herb, combined with other herbs in a sleep pillow, to help bring out more lucid dreams. Being mildly sedative, mugwort helps calm nerves and stress, and is also burned as a ceremonial herb. When used topically, it can help relieve itching from burns.
The Anglo-Saxon Nine Herbs Charm mentions Mucgwyrt. A folk etymology, based on coincidental sounds, derives Mug and wort from the word “mug”; more certainly, it has been used in flavoring drinks at least since the early Iron Age. Other sources say the name is derived from the old Norse muggi, meaning “marsh”, and Germanic “wuertz”, meaning “root”, which refers to its use since ancient times to repel insects, especially moths. The Old English word is “mucgwyrt” where “mucg-” could be a variation of the Old English word for midge “mycg”. Wort comes from the Old English “wyrt” (root/herb/plant), which is related to the Old High German “wurz” (root) and the Old Norse “urt” (plant).