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Amazing Artemisias - by Susun Weed

Artemis - Goddess of the herbalist - gives her name to a genus of marvelously aromatic, safely psychedelic, highly medicinal, dazzlingly decorative, and more-or-less edible plants in the Asteraceae family. I love Artemis, and I love her plants.
 

Who is Artemis?

Amazonian moon goddess. Goddess of the hunt. Goddess of the wild things. Goddess of the midwife. Goddess of the herbalist. Mother of all Creatures. Leader of the sacred bitches. Great she-bear. Diana. Selene. Ever Virgin; owned by no man. We will visit her sacred wood on a shamanic journey. Who knows what will happen then.
 

How do Artemisias grow in your garden?

Most Artemisias are perennials and grow best from cuttings, not seeds. Sweet Annie is the exception, being a self-seeding annual. Although you can buy tarragon seeds, you can't grow   true tarragon from them. Wormwood and southernwood and tarragon (the last not winter-hardy in many places) are woody perennials which regreen each year on last year's new wood; I prune only dead wood from them. Cronewort is an invasive perennial that creeps underground; it dies back to the ground each year and can be heavily harvested (clear cuts are ok) without damage to its further prolific productivity.

Most Artemisias require little care. Lack of soil nutrients and lack of water do not faze them. Many are native to deserts, and know how to thrive in hot dry weather. Except for tarragon, all can overwinter without fuss.

Flowers are usually small and green, in other words, nearly invisible.
 

What do Artemisias contain?
 

  • bitter principals: wormwood
  • coumarins: cronewort, tarragon
  • essential oils (complex, variety specific, with hundreds of components per plant): cronewort (high in camphor, thujone), tarragon, wormwood (high in camphor, thujone)
  • flavonoids: cronewort, tarragon
  • glycosides: cronewort, tarragon
  • hormones: cronewort (sitosterol, stigmasterol)
  • sesquiterpene lactones: cronewort

           

How are Artemisias used?
           

Artemisias, with their grey-green or white-green foliage bring beauty to the garden throughout the growing season. They also make long-lasting, aromatic and beautiful indoor decorations: bouquets, wreaths, swags. They are popular strewing herbs, too.

Those which are high in essential oils are thereby antibacterial, antifungal, and antimicrobial. They also improve digestion and appetite if taken in small doses.

Any Artemisia growing beside the door - or painted on it - was, in days of old, the sign of the midwife, the herbalist. Magical and folkloric uses are numerous.

"Mugwort possesses both natural and supernatural qualities. [It] excels as a woman's herb, easing the pain of labor, menstrual cramps, and effectively treating various uterine complaints."

                                                                        Gai Stern (1986)

 

Cronewort/mugwort = smudge, dream pillow, moxa, birthing steam, vinegar of roots and young leaves, salad green when young, mugwort noodles, mugwort mochi. American colonists used the sundried leaves as a tea substitute. Formerly a popular beer flavoring (hence the name mugwort). Controls worms in goats. Urinary tonic. Uterine tonic. Digestive tonic. Nerve tonic.  Circulatory tonic. Cronewort eases pain and fever, comforts grief and depression, eases irritability and burdened joints, brings peace and sleep, and reassures the nerves.

 

"That torturous, barbaric practice, the use of the moxa, is closely related to this plant."

                                                                        Millspaugh (1892)

 

Wormwood = tincture, oil. Ingredient in absinth. Stimulates mid-brain activity and increases creativity, but repeated use disturbs the central nervous system. Prevents giardia, dysentery, amoebas. Cholagogic, digestive, appetite-stimulant, liver-stimulant, wound healer. Caution: Use can lower seizure threshold; interacts adversely with seizure-reducing medications.

Sweet Annie = capsules, in fairly large daily dose, to prevent malaria; source of antimalarial drugs. A strong tea, taken frequently, kills giardia and amoebas.

Tarragon = vinegar, seasoning. Appetite stimulant according to Herbal PDR.

Southernwood = dream pillow, sachet, charms. To see the beloved.


Species

Some of the many Artemisia species that herbalists and gardeners use:

A. abrotanum (southernwood)

A. absinthium (wormwood)

A. afra (African wormwood)

A. annua (sweet Annie, qing hao)      

A. camphorata (camphor-scented sothernwood)

A. drancuncula (tarragon, estragon, little dragon)

A. frigida (fringed sagebrush)

A. lactiflora (ghost plant)

A. ludoviciana (silver queen)

A. pontica (Roman wormwood)

A. schmidtiana (silver mound)

A. stellerana (old woman, dusty miller)

A. tridentata (sagebrush; three-toothed sagebrush)

A. vulgaris (cronewort, mugwort)



Susun Weed, green witch and wise woman, is an extraordinary teacher with a joyous spirit, a powerful presence, and an encyclopaedic knowledge of herbs and health. She is the voice of the Wise Woman Way, where common weeds, simple ceremony, and compassionate listening support and nourish health/wholeness/holiness. She has opened hearts to the magic and medicine of the green nations for three decades. Ms. Weed's four herbal medicine books focus on women's health topics including: menopause, childbearing, and breast health.

 

Visit her site  for information on her workshops, apprenticeships, correspondence courses and more or contact her at:


Susun Weed

PO Box 64

Woodstock, NY 12498

Fax:  1-845-246-8081


For permission to reprint this article, contact us at:
susunweed@herbshealing.com

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Legal Disclaimer: This content is not intended to replace conventional medical treatment. Any suggestions made and all herbs listed are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease, condition or symptom. Personal directions and use should be provided by a clinical herbalist or other qualified healthcare practitioner with a specific formula for you. All material contained herein is provided for general information purposes only and should not be considered medical advice or consultation. Contact a reputable healthcare practitioner if you are in need of medical care. Exercise self-empowerment by seeking a second opinion.

 

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Browse the publishing site - Ash Tree Publishing - to learn more about her alternative health books.

 

Venture into the NEW Menopause site to learn all about the Menopausal Years the Wise Woman Way.

Or Join the Forum! Susun Weed’s Wise Woman Forum - an open space for discussion. Make yourself at home, post a message or start a discussion. This place is for you to share your questions, concerns, and comments with other wise women like you. Take a moment to register and become part of the community. Enjoy!
 

 

Susun Weed’s books include:

 

Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Year

Author: Susun S. Weed. Simple, safe remedies for pregnancy, childbirth, lactation, and newborns. Includes herbs for fertility and birth control. Foreword by Jeannine Parvati Baker. 196 pages, index, illustrations.

Retails for $11.95 Order at: Ash Tree Publishing

 
Healing Wise 

Author: Susun S. Weed. Superb herbal in the feminine-intuitive mode. Complete instructions for using common plants for food, beauty, medicine, and longevity. Introduction by Jean Houston. 312 pages, index, illustrations.

Retails for $17.95 Order at: Ash Tree Publishing

 

New Menopausal Years the Wise Woman Way

Author: Susun S. Weed. The best book on menopause is now better. Completely revised with 100 new pages. All the remedies women know and trust plus hundreds of new ones. New sections on thyroid health, fibromyalgia, hairy problems, male menopause, and herbs for women taking hormones. Recommended by Susan Love MD and Christiane Northrup MD. Foreword by Juliette de Bairacli Levy. 304 pages, index, illustrations.

Retails for $16.95 Order at: Ash Tree Publishing

For more great info on menopause, visit the site.

 
Breast Cancer? Breast Health!

Author: Susun S. Weed. Foods, exercises, and attitudes to keep your breasts healthy. Supportive complimentary medicines to ease side-effects of surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, or tamoxifen. Foreword by Christiane Northrup, M.D. 380 pages, index, illustrations.

Retails for $14.95 Order at: Ash Tree Publishing

For more great info on Breast Health, visit Susun's Breast Health site.



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