Mugwort, in English and Artemesia Vulgaris in Latin, is a fairly common shrub herb and yet a very powerful herbal ally. Mugwort is just one of approximately 300 species in the genus Artemesia, named for the goddess Artemis. A tall-growing plant approximately 3 feet, with stems that are angular and often of a purplish hue, Mugwort is used both externally in the form of dried Moxa and internally decocted as a tea or tincture. With a unique spongy texture and a long history of medical use, Mugwort is one of the favored herbs of Chinese Medicine.
The part of the plant used for medicinal purposes is the leaf. The leaves are gathered in the spring and summer, while the plant is flowering, and dried in a shady place. According to the principles of traditional Chinese medicine, Mugwort leaf has bitter, pungent and warm properties, and is associated with the Liver, Spleen and Kidney meridians. Its main functions are to warm the meridians, stop bleeding, to dispel cold and stop pain.
Moxa is prepared by grinding dried Mugwort leaves or by scraping the soft downy fuzz from the underside of them. This fluff can then be used loose in warming Moxa pots, compacted into a cigar-like roll called Moxa Sticks (with its warming ember hovered over the skin), or rolled into small balls and burned on the end of an acupuncture needle.
Moxibustion is the practice of burning Mugwort in order to deliver its deep penetrating heat to various areas of concern, thereby invigorating circulation, easing pain, and releasing constraint.
CAUTION: Pregnant women are not to use Mugwort. Skin contact with Mugwort leaf may also cause an allergic reaction in some individuals. Make sure to consult with a licensed health care provider before taking or using Mugwort leaf.