In traditional Chinese medicine, mugwort or herb Artemisia is used in a process called moxibustion. Mugwort or wormwood leaves are formed into sticks or cones about the size and shape of a cigar, and then burned on or over an acupuncture point to release energy. The heat is able to penetrate deeply into the muscles and essentially strengthens the actions of the needles. By drawing more Qi and Blood into the area, Moxa can greatly aid the healing process. It is the burning of Moxa which gives many acupuncture clinics their characteristic aroma!

Moxibustion has been practiced for more than 3,000 years in China, and advocates claim that it can strengthen and warm your blood and life energy, and deal with inflammations and cancers. This study shows how moxa smoke can improve the autonomic nervous system and induce a relaxing effect on the body.

Moxibustion is also used to help menstrual cramping and to help a baby in the breech position turn. According to this study (1), the practice does appear to increase fetal movements, helping the baby turn to a normal head-down, or cephalic, position. However, the authors conclude that more research needs to be done to determine moxibustion’s real effectiveness.

Other uses

Mugwort can also be used to stimulate a women’s menstrual cycle. It can bring on delayed menstruation and in the past was used to induce abortions. Pregnant and breast-feeding women are advised to avoid the herb because of this potential risk.

In European and American herbal practices, mugwort is used to help with stomach and intestinal problems such as:

  • colic
  • gas
  • diarrhea
  • constipation

It’s also used to ease:

  • headaches
  • nosebleeds
  • chills
  • fever
  • nerve problems
  • insomnia

What are the side effects of mugwort?

Mugwort can cause allergic reactions leading to sneezing and sinus-related symptoms, and it can cause contact dermatitis, or rashes, in some people.

  1. Coyle ME, Smith CA, Peat B. Cephalic version by moxibustion for breech presentation. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2012;(5):CD003928. Published 2012 May 16. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD003928.pub3