Mugwort essential oil is steam distilled from the rhizomes, buds, leaves, and flowers of the mugwort tree or Artemisia Vulgaris. It is native to Eastern Europe, Western Asia and other temperate regions of the world. Mugwort essential oil is popular in Germany, France, Hungary, Morocco, China, Japan, and India.

The herb has many names including sailor’s tobacco, Armoise, felon herb, St. John’s plant, naughty or old man, wild wormwood, etc.

The mugwort herb grows up to 4-5 feet. The green leaves and tiny yellow-brown flowers have medicinal qualities.

Traditionally mugwort herb has notorious uses in witchcraft, black magic, etc. In China, mugwort is an important herb for treating numerous diseases. Some of the traditional uses of mugwort are regulating menstruation, energy, and liver tonic, stimulating gastric juices, relieving stomach disorders, etc. The herb is a folk remedy for intestinal worms, anxiety, depression, fatigue, seizures, epilepsy, and so on.

Modern clinical research has investigated the therapeutic values of mugwort chemical constituents.

This article reviews the mugwort therapeutic effects and its health benefits, all supported by science.

Chemical Constituents and Therapeutic Values

Mugwort essential oil retains all the potent chemical constituents of the herb. [1] Some of the active components of the oil includes:

  • Alpha thujone
  • Beta thujone
  • Germacrene D
  • Cineole
  • Caryophyllene
  • Alpha-Zingiberene
  • Camphene
  • Borneol
  • 1,8-Cineole
  • Camphor
  • Camphone
  • Borneol
  • Caryophyllene
  • Trans-2-Hexenal

These bioactive components in mugwort oil have numerous therapeutic effects such as anti-inflammatory, analgesic, anti-arthritic, anti-epileptic, diuretic, sedative, anti-hysteric, digestive,  emmenagogue (stimulating menstrual flow), uterine, nervine, stimulant, and antiparasitic.

Evidence-Based Health Benefits of Mugwort Essential Oil

1. Mugwort Essential Oil May Relieve Arthritis Pain and Inflammation.

Arthritis is characterized by pain, inflammation, swelling, and dysfunction of the joints.

Knee osteoarthritis is very common and affects 6-10% of people between 30 and above 60 years of age. Obese, menopausal women are at higher risks of developing osteoarthritis.

Mugwort oil may be an effective remedy for osteoarthritis pain and inflammation.

mugwort essential oil

A 2017 report in the Iranian Journal of Medical Sciences investigated the therapeutic effects of mugwort topical ointment on osteoarthritis knee pain.

90 osteoarthritis patients aged 30-70 years participated in the 4 weeks trial. A topical application of mugwort extracts could significantly reduce the symptoms such as pain, inflammation, and dysfunction of the joints in the patients. The researchers concluded that mugwort may be a promising remedy for arthritis.

2. Mugwort Essential Oil May Inhibit The Growth of Cancer Cells.

Recent medical science has experimented the anti-cancer effects of mugwort essential oil and has found promising results.

A 2014 study in the BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine journal tested the cytotoxic and cancerous cell growth inhibitory effects of mugwort essential oil.

In vitro study the therapeutic constituents of the oil-induced significant apoptosis or cell death in leukemia and other types of cancerous cells.

3. Mugwort Essential Oil May Treat Irregular Periods.

Irregular menstrual periods is a common gynecological problem in women.

About 10–15% of reproductive women suffer from numerous menstrual irregularities symptoms such as long menstrual cycles or missing periods.

In traditional Persian medicine, numerous herbs are used for menstrual problems in women.

In a 2018 study in BioMed Research International journal, the researchers investigated 198 herbal plants that have emmenagogue (menstrual flow stimulating) effects.

In the study, 87 herbs showed positive results in regulating menstrual periods. Mugwort herb is one of those potent emmenagogue herbs that can be used topically, in the bath, and orally to regulate periods.

4. Mugwort Essential Oil is a Potent Insect Repellent and Fumigant

The chemical constituents in mugwort essential oil are natural disinfectant and insect repellent.

You may use mugwort oil to control and repel pest in your house and surroundings. [7]

A 2006 study in the Journal of Stored Products Research tested the insect-repellent and fumigant effects of mugwort essential oil.

mugwort essential oil

The essential oil proved to be very effective in killing the Tribolium castaneum, a stored-product insect pest. There was a 100% mortality of the adult insects and significant fumigant effects on the larvae.

5. Mugwort Essential Oil May Protect Your Liver

The liver is a vital organ of the body. The organ plays an important role in the digestion process and eliminating toxins from the body.

Several factors are associated with compromising your liver health such as genetics, alcoholism, obesity, etc. A damaged liver can develop scars and over time result in liver failure.

Clinical research confirm the hepatoprotective effects of mugwort extracts.

A study published in the Phytotherapy Research confirms that the aerial parts (leaves) of mugwort has therapeutic effects on liver inflammation such as hepatitis.

The researchers did the trial on rats and found that the methanol extracts of mugwort could significantly improve the damaged liver tissues, reduce the swellings, and cell death.

Mugwort essential oil may be a potential remedy to protect your liver.

Side Effects of Mugwort Essential Oil

Thujone is one of the bioactive components in mugwort and other Artemisia plants. The compound is a toxin and may produce mind-altering, narcotic effects on the brain. While using mugwort oil you should always follow the recommendation of an expert for proper usage and dosage.

Mugwort essential oil is abortifacient. That means the oil can stimulate uterine contractions and lead to abortions. So you should never use the oil when you are pregnant. Many have reported allergic sensitivity to mugwort oil. You should do a patch test before using the oil topically in a large skin area. Moreover, use the oil to a minimum amount and always dilute it in a carrier oil. Avoid the oil is coming to contact with sensitive skin areas.

Bottom Line

Mugwort essential oil comes from the aerial parts of the mugwort herb. The herb extracts have many traditional medicinal uses in different parts of the world.

Modern scientific research have investigated the therapeutic values of the mugwort chemical constituents and its essential oil. Mugwort oil may be an effective remedy for osteoarthritis, cancer, irregular menstrual periods, etc. The oil has potential uses as a natural fumigant and insect repellent as well.

Read Next: Nag Champa Essential Oil: Potential Benefits & Uses


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