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Mugwort: Ancient Herb for Absent Periods

Mugwort: Ancient Herb for Absent Periods

Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris) is great for an absent periodOne of the most stressful things that can happen to a woman is for her period to go missing. When this happens, typically she scrambles to a calendar, calculates the last time she had sexual relations and then counts out the last time she had her period. Then she takes a pregnancy test and it is either positive… or not. It is the “not pregnant” result that can be confusing and worrisome leaving one to think, “If I am not pregnant then why have I missed my period?”

For some, an absent period can go on for months. This is a signal that something is off in the body and something needs to be done about it! It is nearly impossible to get pregnant if you are not having a menstrual cycle each month! Lucky for you, I am going to share information about an herb that is very helpful in bringing back a woman’s menstrual period…

Meet Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris)

If your monthly menses has gone missing, the herb Mugwort is worth considering to help encourage or “re-start” menstruation. Mugwort is a uterine tonic and emmenagogue, which can be used to encourage menstruation. The uterus depends on healthy circulation (blood flow) to the pelvic region and strong uterine muscles to function properly. A toned uterus that is receiving adequate circulation allows for a healthy monthly menses.

Herb Lore & History

I like to include lore and a bit of history to help my readers understand that herbs have been used for centuries, since the beginning of human history, as medicine. Many seem new to us, but it’s always thrilling to learn that so many plants have been used for a very long time as medicine.

Mugwort is a member of the Asteraceae family, named after Greek Queen and healer Artemisia, and ruled by the Greek Goddess of the moon Artemis, also known as Diana. Artemis by legend is the protector of nature, women and childbirth.

Its affinity for women’s reproductive health, specifically uterine health, is why Mugwort has been used for centuries for menstrual health issues.

A bit of Mugwort history:

  • During the Roman empire, Greek physician, surgeon and philosopher, Galen, reported the use of mugwort for amenorrhea (absent menstruation).
  • Unani healers of India used mugwort decoction (strong tea) for absent menstruation too.
  • According to Rosemary Gladstar, Juliette de Bairacli Levy, lovingly known as a ‘wise old gypsy herbalist’, views Mugwort as a favorite for women’s problems.
  • Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners use Mugwort for a healing practice called moxibustion, “moxa” for short. Moxa is burned several different ways, during different types of applications with the intent of bringing energy, heat, and blood flow to the area of the body it is being used on. TCM practitioners burn moxa on acupuncture needles or through a specialized moxa burner that is placed directly on or over the skin, which allows the heat to stimulate the movement of energy through meridians of the body.
  • Traditional herbalists use Mugwort for some cases of irregular menses and primarily to encourage menstruation in women with amenorrhea.

Uses in Other Natural Therapies

Mugwort has also long been used for:

  • smudging – the practice of burning herbs to uplift the spirit and cleanse one’s environment
  • as a dreamtime herb – by placing a sprig of mugwort under your pillow, it has the ability to activate and stimulate more vivid, lucid dreams (it is important to set your intention for using Mugwort to stimulate dreams – not for use if you are sleep-deprived, have nightmares, or are pregnant)

How Mugwort Helps with Fertility

Uterine Stimulant: Mugwort supports a woman’s moon cycle or moon time which is her natural menstrual rhythm. It is a uterine tonic used to strengthen and enliven the female reproductive system. Mugwort is known to stimulate blood flow to the pelvic area, especially the uterus, and is used for cases of:

  • irregular periods to normalize/regulate menstrual flow (even in young women just entering their menstrual phase of life)
  • delayed or absent menstruation (amenorrhea)

“When the menstrual cycle has been suppressed for a long time, mugwort is one the best herbs to use.” ~ Herbalist Rosemary Gladstar

Digestive stimulant: Mugwort is a very bitter herb. Bitters act as digestive aids because they stimulate gastric juices. Bitter herbs, like Mugwort, have been shown useful for a variety of digestive issues: sluggish digestion, relief of constipation/gas, improved digestion, and absorption of vitamins and minerals.

Mild nervine and sedative: Mugwort is known as an effective mild, nervous system tonic and sedative that may be helpful in providing relief from acute stressors and nervous tension.

General Suggested Use

Mugwort is a great addition to any herb garden. Yes, you can grow it yourself for use in most areas. In the United States, it is best to harvest the aerial parts (leaves, flower and stems) when in full bloom, from July through September.

How to Use Mugwort

Infusion: 1-2 teaspoons Mugwort in 1 cup of freshly boiled water. Steep covered 10-15 minutes. Strain and drink 3 times a day. Due to its bitterness, it is a good idea to combine Mugwort with other flavorful herbs like Lavender (Lavandula officinalis), Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis), or Ginger (Zingiber officinale).

Tincture: 1-4ml per day

Bath: Rosemary Gladstar shares, “Mugwort can also be used in the bath and is very pleasant with lavender flowers.” Learn how to make a medicinal bath here…

Mugwort in an important herb in the activating herbal blend RejuvaFlow, which is designed to encourage menstruation that has been absent for some time due to hormonal imbalance.

The Botanical Safety Handbook lists Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris) in Safety Class: 2b indicating it is not to be used in pregnancy due to its emmenagogue, uterine stimulant effects. In China, Mugwort is used to prevent miscarriage, so the above stands true, unless being guided by and under the close supervision of a qualified healthcare provider.

  • Based on limited case studies, clinical and animal trials, there are no known side effects or reports of toxicity for Mugwort.
  • It is best avoided by those with allergies to plants in the Asteraceae family.

  • Gladstar, R. (1993). Materia Medica For Women. In Herbal Healing for Women: Simple home remedies for women of all ages (pp. 249-250). New York: Simon & Schuster.
  • Hoffmann, D. (1990). The Herbal. In The New Holistic Herbal: A herbal celebrating the wholeness of life (3d ed., p. 216). Longmead, Shaftesbury, Dorset [England]: Element Books
  • Romm, A. (2010). Menstrual Wellness and Menstrual Problems. In Botanical Medicine for Women’s Health (p. 127). St. Louis, Mo.: Churchill Livingstone/Elsevier.

Dr. Christine Traxler M.D., OB/GYN
Dr. Christine Traxler M.D., OB/GYN

Dr. Traxler is a University-trained obstetrician/gynecologist, working with patients in Minnesota for over 20 years. She is a professional medical writer; having authored multiple books on pregnancy and childbirth; textbooks and coursework for medical students and other healthcare providers; and has written over 1000 articles on medical, health, and wellness topics.  Dr. Traxler attended the University of Minnesota College of Biological Sciences and University of Minnesota Medical School,  earning a degree in biochemistry with summa cum laude honors in 1981,  and receiving her Medical Doctorate degree (MD) in 1986.

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  1. Avatar

    Hello! I’m a missionary in Mozambique and we use Mugwort as an antimalarial and also it is a great parasite killer. Kids that are not feeling well/ are feverish and nothing seems to help, often feel better soon after using Artemesia only a short time. It gives your immune system a boost.
    To use it to get back your menstruation is new to me, but would love to try it for the ladies that come to my door with this complaint. For how long can you use it; till the menstruation is back? Or should you stop after e.g. 1 week of using it 3x a day?? Thanks for sharing all your wonderful insights on this website… love it!

    • Dear Sandra,

      Mugwort can be used until menstrual regularity is achieved. It could be stopped when length of a period and the length of the entire cycle show pattern, and the color and consistency of the menstruation (vibrant red and not watery) are considered normal. Menstruation should last between 3-5 days and be pain free.

      How great to offer women this support!

  2. Avatar

    Hi there can i get mugwort in a South Africa, if can please advice me where.


    • Dear Zodwa,

      Mugwort can be found in many healthfood stores, or ordered from a reputable herb company. Herb companies I prefer are Elk Mountain Herbs, Gaia or Mountain Rose Herbs. I am sorry I am not sure where in South Africa Mugwort is available.

      Best wishes!