Mugwort: American and Chinese

When patients learn that the herb I use when doing moxabustion is called mugwort, many say, “hmm, sounds like something from Harry Potter”. (Clearly, they are muggles who know nothing about Hogwarts Academy, where mugwort is not used in any potions or spells!) Mugwort, also known as Artemisia vulgaris, has been used for the purpose of moxabustion for thousands of years. The warming of acupuncture points and meridians, moxabustion is the burning of herbs (most commonly mugwort) either directly on the skin, attached to needles, or in a large rolls held above the skin.

Having a soothing effect overall, moxabustion warms areas of poor circulation, reduces inflammation from injuries, and can be used to either increase qi or disperse qi from an area of the body, as needed. The burning of mugwort has an odor that is sweet and earthy, belying it’s relation to sage.

Mugwort is used in Native American medicine as well, but in a different manner. Mugwort can be ingested as a remedy for a host of conditions including headache, digestive complaints and gynecological issues. Mugwort grows plentifully both in China and in North America, so it is not surprising that it has been harnessed for medicinal purposes on both continents.