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Mugwort: the "Weed" Used for Dream Divination and Period Pain Relief

Mugwort: the "Weed" Used for Dream Divination and Period Pain Relief

Before marching into battle, Roman soldiers placed it in their sandals to fight fatigue. Women seeking relief from menstrual cramps have turned to it for centuries. Prior to the cultivation of hops, it was used to flavor beer in Europe. Traditional Chinese medicine practitioners used the smoke to treat inflammation and release energy. Native Americans wore necklaces made from the leaves to ward off dreams of the dead. It grows so abundantly in the US that it's considered invasive, thriving equally in shaded forests, beside busy highways, and through sidewalks. So what do you call a weed that’s been used as a medicinal plant, culinary herb, acupuncture aid, and spirit tool for centuries? Mugwort has entered the chat.

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No Ordinary Herb

Native to Asia, Europe, North Africa, and naturalized in North America, mugwort has been an integral part of wisdom traditions and spiritual practices throughout history.

Artemisia vulgaris, the plant most commonly known as mugwort, is sometimes referred to as wild wormwood, felon herb, and crone-wort. It helps to reduce cold and cough, chronic pain, stomach, and gastrointestinal issues, as well as problems with the nervous system.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has incorporated mugwort in a process called moxibustion for over 3,000 years. Moxibustion involves forming mugwort leaves into cones or sticks, then burning them on or over acupuncture points to improve the flow of energy (qi) in the body. Some herbal enthusiasts even use the plant for its hallucinogenic, psychedelic, and spiritual properties. 

What Dreams May Come

Oneiromancy is a form of prophetic dream divination based on the belief that dreams are often cautionary messages sent by both deities and the dead. Mugwort is what’s referred to as an oneirogen, or oneirogenic herb because it has the ability to create or intensify dreamlike states of consciousness. It is believed to amplify and improve dream recollection as well. In addition to providing guidance and protection in dreams, mugwort can also be a wonderful plant ally in waking life. 

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Mugwort for Menstruation and More

Those who menstruate can benefit from mugwort’s ability to relieve period pain as well. Turn over the plant’s green leaves and you'll find a silvery underside reminiscent of the phases of the moon, which is believed to synchronize with the cyclical nature of menstruation. The herb contains antispasmodic properties, promoting menstruation and relieving cramps. It can also provide relief from other unpleasant symptoms like bloating and gas. If you’re looking for a natural way to encourage more ease during your cycle, mugwort might be just what you need. 

Here are some ways you can work with mugwort: 

  • Consume it as a smokable herb. Want to roll two types of weed into your next joint? Combine it with hemp flower to create your own herbal smoking blend.
  • Clear the air. It’s very fragrant and aromatic, so it can be burned as incense or a smudge stick. I've been working with mugwort on my own altar by using it to cleanse the space and incorporating it into my moon rituals. 
  • Brew it into tea at bedtime, and have sweet dreams. Mugwort has a bitter, spicy taste that often dominates other flavors, so you might want to include a spoonful of infused honey to help the plant medicine go down. 
  • Ingest it in a tincture. My personal favorite is Calm + Clarity. I take some in the morning and it makes me feel like I'm ready to ease into the day. Mugwort is also a star in Happy Period to help comfort you during your moon cycle. 
  • Make a dream pillow. Place it around or under your pillow to tap into more vivid dreams and unconscious psychic energy. 

This tried and true plant ally has been helping people maintain their health and harmony for centuries. From lucid dreaming to relieving painful periods, mugwort provides potent protection. Are you interested in making mugwort part of your holistic health and wellness? Consider your unique needs to determine how mugwort can best support you.

Related to: Our Bodies: An Intimate Look at Gender, Plant Medicine + Menstruation


  1. J. Adams, C. Garcia and G. Garg, "Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris, Artemisia douglasiana, Artemisia argyi) in the Treatment of Menopause, Premenstrual Syndrome, Dysmenorrhea and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder," Chinese Medicine, Vol. 3 No. 3, 2012, pp. 116-123. doi: 10.4236/cm.2012.33019.
  2. Buhner, S. H. (1998). Sacred and herbal healing beers: the secrets of ancient fermentation. Brewers Publications.

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