Favorite Herb this Week: Mugwort!

Young mugwort shoots coming up in my garden in March

Most people HATE mugwort. Honestly, I was one of them up until quite recently. I had an enormous patch… like a whole quarter of what was supposed to be my big vegetable garden, that was just inundated with Artemesia vulgaris. Mugwort spreads under the ground, so pulling some out here or there doesn’t really do much to get rid of the whole patch. But now, three years after I fought this battle, I have given up. Not because I can’t handle the fight anymore, but because I learned about all the really great things mugwort can do!

There are lots of places online and plenty of books out there that can give you a full materia medica workup of this great little plant, but I’m just going to tell you how I have been working with it over the past year or so to give you some examples.

Mugwort makes an excellent addition to smudge bundles. The smell of smouldering mugwort is just so super grounding and earthy, and really brings me to a place where I am both one with the earth and also open to feeling the spirits of things all around me. Mugwort can be used in protective incense blends and in sleep pillows to help give you lucid or memorable dreams.

Medicinally, Mugwort can be added to women’s health blends in a mixture that will help bring on a lagging period and also help to balance the hormones in the body, along with things like vitex and black cohosh. Mugwort can be taken as a nervine, or added to blends for help with anxiety issues. It is also a helpful additive in anthelmintic blends, so I always add some in the herbal de-worming mixture that I use to help keep my flock free of parasites.

At any rate, I have decided this year that I LOVE mugwort! If you ever have a patch you want to get rid of, call me up and I’ll come harvest it all for you! I hope you can eventually grow to not hate this herb too. Here’s a great Video about Mugwort from Yarrow Willard that I really enjoy. Thanks for reading!

My Favorite Herb This Week: Usnea

Usnea, A.K.A “Lungs of the Forest”

I tell you what, my friends: Usnea tincture is my BEST FRIEND this year. Usnea is that sort of furry-looking green lichen that you see hanging off trees this time of year, or that often blows down from high above during a wind storm. Winter is the best time to forage for usnea, since it’s really the only time you can see it! If you find some “Old Man’s Beard,” but aren’t positive of your identification, just peel the stem portion apart; if the core is white, you have usnea.

I had the WORST cold ever last week, so bad in fact that I still cough if I take too deep a breath right now. Thank goodness I make usnea tincture pretty much any time I find the stuff! About 2-3 teaspoons worth generally does the trick for me–I tend to dose higher when I’m actually sick. Within seconds, my lungs can take a full breath again. It’s amazing what medicine the forest can give us! Usnea is absolutely my go-to remedy for any kind of respiratory infection. I even combined it with a little Spilanthes tincture to help boost my immune system and get rid of that nasty head cold.

I prefer to use usnea for when I can definitely tell I have a viral infection, though I’m sure it would help a bacterial infection as well. For a more general, localized, or daily cough, Mullein is a go-to plant for us. More on Mullein in another post.

Thanks for reading!

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