Its name received from ancient goddess Artemis, Artemisia is a genus combining a variety of species (up to 400) in the Asteraceae family (daisies). They are all valued for the volatile oils and specific odor. The most common names for the herbs in this genus are mugwort (A. vulgaris), wormwood (A. capillaries and others), sagebrush (not to be confused with Salvia sages) and sagewort. The genus includes perennial herbs and shrubs, spread all over the world in temperate climates.
Artemisia vulgaris belongs to the Artemisia species that have mugwort in its name. It is called a common mugwort, and is also known as Felon herb or St. John’s Plant. It originates from Asia, Europe and Africa. This perennial grows up to 2 meters high, has a firm root, dark-green hairy pinnate indented leaves and small flowers with multiple red or yellow petals. The flowers are arranged on capitula and bloom from July through September.
In Ukrainian language mugwort has a name chornobylnik, translated as “mugwort growth place” and it is mentioned in the Bible, as well as there’s an actual city called Chernobyl.
Artemisia capillaries (wormwood) is a perennial of about 1.20 m height, native to the wild of the East Asia. Its is woody bushy herb that has aromatic gray-green leaves and pale yellowish discoid-shaped flowers. The herb is also known as yebra lenna yesca in traditional Chinese medicine where it is valued as liver tonic and general cleanser.
Although mugwort and wormwood are close relatives within the genus, these are not identical species as it often is assumed.
In cultivation, Artemisia is tolerant to the wide variety of climatic conditions. It just requires enough sunlight during the day and well drained soil. Grown in dry soil, the plant turns out to be more aromatic and becomes hardier. Artemisia is usually propagated by seed, sown in winter or in summer, and collected in late summer. It is often found growing along the roads, in the fields and in the wild, throughout temperate zones all over the world.
Mugwort and wormwood leaves are usually collected in the end of the summer, and later in the autumn the root is dug and dried. Processed leaves and sweetish root extracts are used for the herbal preparations or as food seasonings. Depending on the area of collection, mugwort is believed to have different medicinal properties.
At the herbal market Artemisia is represented by herbal teas, tinctures, dried roots and leaves, and pills. Mugwort ia also used as poultice, and wormwood is processed into the essential oil. Artemisia infusions are prescribed for menstrual disorders, decoction relieves menstrual pain, and tincture is helpful in excessive bleeding.
Artemisia species are rich in volatile oil, triterpenes, flavonoids, tannins and coumarin. Due to their beneficial action, the plant is associated with tonic, cardiac, nervine, vasodilatory, diuretic, antiseptic and anti-fungal properties. Also, scientists extracted an active chemical, that they called artemisin, which has shown anti-malarial actions and thus have the potential to work as malaria remedy. In addition, plant’s activity stimulates the production of the bile in the liver.
Multiple benefits of Artemisia have been for centuries known in many regions of the world.
Historically and up untill now the plant have been used for a variety of digestive tract disorders. Soothing the inflammation of intestinal tissues, herbal extracts relieve diarrhea and constipation, decrease stomach pain and cramping, and aid digestion by boosting the supply of nutrients to the cells. Artemisia bitter generally improves digestion and stimulates appetite.
Herbal preparations of the plant are considered to be the liver tonic as well. They stimulate its cleansing by enhancing the draining of waste products with the help of the improved bile secretion. Artemisia is often used in jaundice and hepatitis treatment.
Anti-bacterial properties of Artemisia are applied for treating such conditions as parasitic and bladder infections, without damaging intestinal flora. It is especially effective against threadworn and ringworm.
Being helpful in severe cases of malaria, artemisin is also effective against the river blindness – debilitating disease spread in some regions of Africa. It kills organisms causing this condition and fights its symptoms.
Both in Eastern and Western medicine Artemisia is used for the reproductive system disorders. It decreases the bleeding in a prolonged menstrual cycle, warms the womb to enhance fertility, and soothes menstrual pain.
Nervine properties of mugwort help the patients with epileptic attacks, tension, and anxiety. Its mild narcotic effects can stop hysteria and shaking, as well as enhance a good sleep in case of sleep disorders. Its appetite-stimulating action is beneficial for the patients with depression who refuse to take meals.
Applied topically, mugworts alleviates bruises, itching, carbuncles and felons. If your legs and feet are swollen and tired, or affected by gout and rheumatism, a bath with Artemisia extract will relieve the symptoms of these conditions.
Since the plants of Artemisia genus are quite toxic, an experienced herbalist should be consulted as for dosage before using it for any kind of treatments.