Mugwort leaf and stem are used medicinally. Mugwort acts as a bitter digestive tonic, uterine stimulant, nervine, menstrual regulator, and anti-rheumatic. The volatile oil includes thujone, linalool, borneol, pinene, and other constituents. The herb also contains hydroxycoumarins, lipohilic flavonoids, vulgarin, and triterpenes.
Mugwort acts as an emmenagogue, an agent that increases blood circulation to the pelvic area and uterus and stimulates menstruation. It is a useful remedy for painful and irregular menstruation. A compress of the herb has been used to help promote labor and assist with expulsion of the afterbirth. A mild infusion of mugwort is useful as a digestive stimulant. It is helpful in cases of mild depression and nervous tension. The herb also may stimulate the appetite. A weak infusion of mugwort has sedative properties that may quiet restlessness and anxiety. Its antispasmodic action may relieve persistent vomiting, and has been used in the treatment of epilepsy. Mugwort added to bath water is an aromatic and soothing treatment for relief of aches in the muscles and joints. In a clinical trial, crushed fresh mugwort leaves applied to the skin were shown to be effective in eradicating warts. Taken as an infusion, mugwort is helpful in ridding the system of pinworm infestation. A species of mugwort (A. douglasiana), common in the southwestern United States, was used by some western Native Americans as a prevention for poison oak rash. The fresh mugwort leaf was rubbed over areas of exposed skin before walking into poison oak habitat. The two plants often grow near one another.