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Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris)
Natural Standard Bottom Line Monograph, Copyright © 2011 (www.naturalstandard.com). Commercial distribution prohibited. This monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. You should consult with a qualified healthcare provider before making decisions about therapies and/or health conditions.
While some complementary and alternative techniques have been studied scientifically, high-quality data regarding safety, effectiveness, and mechanism of action are limited or controversial for most therapies. Whenever possible, it is recommended that practitioners be licensed by a recognized professional organization that adheres to clearly published standards. In addition, before starting a new technique or engaging a practitioner, it is recommended that patients speak with their primary healthcare provider(s). Potential benefits, risks (including financial costs), and alternatives should be carefully considered. The below monograph is designed to provide historical background and an overview of clinically-oriented research, and neither advocates for or against the use of a particular therapy.
Ai ye, arbre aux cent gouts, armoise, armoise commune, artemisia, Artemisia vulgaris, Artemisiae vulgaris herba, Artemisia vulgaris L., Artemisia vulgaris pollen, Artemisia vulgaris R., Artemisiae vulgaris radix, Asteraceae (family), baru cina, bijvoet, borneol, Carline thistle, chernobyl, chornobyl, chrysanthemum weed, cineole, common mugwort, common wormwood, Douglas mugwort, felon herb, fuchiba, Gemeiner Beifuss, genje jawa, hierba de San Juan, hiyam, hydroxy-coumarins, Japanese wormwood, linalool, lipohilic flavonoids, moxa, moxa rolls, nagadamni, pinene, polyn' obyknovennaya, prunasin, sailor's tobacco, St. John's plant, suket ganjahan, sundamala, thujone, triterpenes, tzu ai, vulgarin, wild wormwood, wormseed, yomogi, yomogiko.
Note: Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris) should not be confused with wormwood (Artemisia absinthium), tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus), or St. John's wort (Hypericum perforatum L.), despite similar names.
Mugwort is a perennial herb native to Europe, Asia, and northern Africa. It pollinates mainly from July to September, although it may flower throughout the year, depending on the climate. The Chinese have used dried mugwort leaves (moxa) in moxibustion for centuries. Moxibustion is a method of heating specific acupuncture points on the body to treat physical conditions. Mugwort is carefully harvested, dried and aged, and then shaped into a cigar-like roll. This "moxa" is burned close to the skin to heat the specific pressure points.
Mugwort leaf and stem have been used medicinally as a digestive stimulant and to promote menstruation. The nervine action of mugwort is thought to aid in depression and ease tension. Traditionally, mugwort was believed to provide protection from fatigue, sunstroke, wild animals, and evil spirits.
No clinical studies have been performed on the use of mugwort as a medical treatment, although an extract from the related Artemisia annua suggests some promise in treating malaria. Dried mugwort (moxa) has been used in moxibustion to treat cancer, but there is no scientific evidence to support this use. Most research on mugwort has focused on its allergenic properties, as its pollen affects 10-14% of the patients suffering from pollinosis in Europe.
These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.
No available studies qualify for inclusion in the evidence table.
*Key to grades:
A: Strong scientific evidence for this use;
B: Good scientific evidence for this use;
C: Unclear scientific evidence for this use;
D: Fair scientific evidence against this use (it may not work);
F: Strong scientific evidence against this use (it likely does not work).
The below uses are based on tradition or scientific theories. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious and should be evaluated by a qualified health care professional.
- Abortifacient (inducing abortion), addiction (opium), anorexia, anthelminthic (expels worms), antidepressant, antifungal, antimicrobial, antioxidant, antiseptic, antispasmodic, anxiety, asthma, bowel cleansing, cancer, carminative (digestive aid), cathartic, cholagogue (stimulates bile flow), circulatory disorders, convulsions, diaphoretic (promotes sweating), digestion, emmenagogue (promotes menstruation), epilepsy, expectorant, fatigue, fever, food uses, gastric ulcers, gout, headaches, hysteria, infertility, insomnia, irritability, liver disorders, malaria, muscle spasm, nosebleeds, restlessness, rheumatic disorders, snakebites, stimulant, stress, sunstroke, tonic.
The below doses are based on scientific research, publications, traditional use, or expert opinion. Many herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested, and safety and effectiveness may not be proven. Brands may be made differently, with variable ingredients, even within the same brand. The below doses may not apply to all products. You should read product labels, and discuss doses with a qualified healthcare provider before starting therapy.
Adults (18 years and older):
There is no proven safe or effective dose for mugwort. Traditionally, 2 cups of mugwort tea (1oz. of fresh mugwort leaf infused 5-10 minutes, covered, in one pint boiling water) daily for six days has been used.
Children (younger than 18 years):
There is no proven safe or effective dose for mugwort, and use in children is not recommended.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.
Avoid in individuals with a known allergy or hypersensitivity to mugwort, any of its constituents, or to other members of the Compositae/Asteraceae family including ragweed, chrysanthemums, chamomile, marigolds, and daisies. Allergic responses have been associated with exposure to mugwort including bronchoconstriction/asthma, upper and lower respiratory tract sensitization, seasonal allergic rhinitis, conjunctivitis, pollinosis, contact dermatitis, urticaria, and atopic eczema.
Cross-reactivity has been noted between birch, cabbage, grass, hazelnut, olive pollen, honey, mustard, royal jelly, sage, sweet bell pepper pollen, and sunflower. Cross-reactivity has also been demonstrated between mugwort and kiwi, peach, mango, apple, celery, and carrots. A florist with a pre-existing sunflower allergy developed a life-threatening glottal edema after occupational contact with mugwort.
Side Effects and Warnings
There is limited information regarding the adverse effects of mugwort. Mugwort has caused breathing difficulties and skin allergic responses, such as contact dermatitis, urticaria, conjunctivitis, atopic eczema, bronchoconstriction/asthma, upper and lower respiratory tract sensitization, seasonal allergic rhinitis, pollinosis, and anaphylaxis. According to traditional use and expert opinion, large doses of mugwort may cause abortion, nausea, vomiting, or damage to the nervous system.
Mugwort is on the German Commission E (Germany's regulatory agency for herbs) list of unapproved herbs. Avoid if allergic to birch, grass, hazelnut, olive pollen, honey, mustard, royal jelly, sage, sweet bell pepper pollen, tobacco, and sunflower because cross-reactivity has been noted. Avoid with food allergies to kiwi, peach, mango, apple, celery, and carrots due to cross-reactivity.
Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
Mugwort is not recommended in pregnant or breastfeeding women due to a lack of available scientific evidence. Mugwort is on the German Commission E (Germany's regulatory agency for herbs) list of unapproved herbs. Traditionally, mugwort has been used to induce abortion (abortifacient).
Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments, or traditional use. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy.
Interactions with Drugs
Mugwort contains coumarin derivatives, which may increase the risk of bleeding. Some examples include aspirin, anticoagulants ("blood thinners") such as warfarin (Coumadin®) or heparin, anti-platelet drugs such as clopidogrel (Plavix®), and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen (Motrin®, Advil®) or naproxen (Naprosyn®, Aleve®).
Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements
Mugwort contains coumarin derivatives, which may increase the risk of bleeding. Caution is advised in patients with bleeding disorders or taking herbs that may increase the risk of bleeding. Dosing adjustments may be necessary.
This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com).
Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.
- Bauer R, Himly M, Dedic A, et al. Optimization of codon usage is required for effective genetic immunization against Art v 1, the major allergen of mugwort pollen. Allergy 2003;58(10):1003-1010. View Abstract
- Darsow U, Vieluf D, Ring J. Evaluating the relevance of aeroallergen sensitization in atopic eczema with the atopy patch test: a randomized, double-blind multicenter study. Atopy Patch Test Study Group. J Am Acad Dermatol. 1999;40(2 Pt 1):187-193. View Abstract
- Figueroa J, Blanco C, Dumpierrez AG, et al. Mustard allergy confirmed by double-blind placebo-controlled food challenges: clinical features and cross-reactivity with mugwort pollen and plant-derived foods. Allergy 2005;60(1):48-55. View Abstract
- Gilani AH, Yaeesh S, Jamal Q, et al. Hepatoprotective activity of aqueous-methanol extract of Artemisia vulgaris. Phytother Res 2005;19(2):170-172. View Abstract
- Jimeno, L., Duffort, O., Serrano, C., et al. Monoclonal antibody-based ELISA to quantify the major allergen of Artemisia vulgaris pollen, Art v 1. Allergy 2004;59(9):995-1001. View Abstract
- Kurzen M, Bayerl C, Goerdt S. [Occupational allergy to mugwort]. J Dtsch Dermatol.Ges. 2003;1(4):285-290. View Abstract
- Osterballe M, Hansen TK, Mortz CG, et al. The clinical relevance of sensitization to pollen-related fruits and vegetables in unselected pollen-sensitized adults. Allergy 2005;60(2):218-225. View Abstract
- Palacin A, Cumplido J, Figueroa J, et al. Cabbage lipid transfer protein Bra o 3 is a major allergen responsible for cross-reactivity between plant foods and pollens. J Allergy Clin Immunol 2006;117(6):1423-1429. View Abstract
- Ramezani M, Fazli-Bazzaz BS, Saghafi-Khadem F, et al. Antimicrobial activity of four Artemisia species of Iran. Fitoterapia 2004;75(2):201-203. View Abstract
- Rossi RE, Monasterolo G. A pilot study of feasibility of ultra-rush (20-25 minutes) sublingual-swallow immunotherapy in 679 patients (699 sessions) with allergic rhinitis and/or asthma. Int J Immunopathol.Pharmacol 2005;18(2):277-285. View Abstract
- Sakagami H, Matsumoto H, Satoh K, et al. Cytotoxicity and radical modulating activity of Moxa smoke. In Vivo 2005;19(2):391-397. View Abstract
- Schmid-Grendelmeier P, Holzmann D, Himly M, et al. Native Art v 1 and recombinant Art v 1 are able to induce humoral and T cell-mediated in vitro and in vivo responses in mugwort allergy. J.Allergy Clin.Immunol. 2003;111(6):1328-1336. View Abstract
- Tuekpe MK, Todoriki H, Sasaki S, et al. Potassium excretion in healthy Japanese women was increased by a dietary intervention utilizing home-parcel delivery of Okinawan vegetables. Hypertens.Res 2006;29(6):389-396. View Abstract
- Vermeulen AM, Groenewoud GC, de Jong NW, et al. Primary sensitization to sweet bell pepper pollen in greenhouse workers with occupational allergy. Clin Exp Allergy 2003;33(10):1439-1442. View Abstract
- Wopfner N, Gadermaier G, Egger M, et al. The spectrum of allergens in ragweed and mugwort pollen. Int Arch Allergy Immunol. 2005;138(4):337-346. View Abstract
Copyright © 2011 Natural Standard (www.naturalstandard.com)
The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.