It is a tall herbaceous perennial plant with a woody root. The
leaves are 5-20 cm long, dark green, pinnate, with dense white
tomentose hairs on the underside. The erect stem often has a
red-purplish tinge. The rather small flowers (5 mm long) are
radially symmetrical with many yellow or dark red petals. The narrow
and numerous capitula (flower heads) spread out in racemose
panicles. It flowers from July to September.
The plant contains ethereal oils (such as cineole, or wormwood oil,
and thujone), flavonoids, triterpenes, and coumarin derivatives.
Chewing some leaves will kill the fatigue and stimulate the nervous
Medical use: Mugwort is used in the practice of traditional Chinese
medicine in a pulverized, aged, and recompounded form called moxa.
The British RCT yielded results that indicate that moxibustion of
mugwort was indeed effective at increasing the cephalic positioning
of fetuses who were in a breech position before the intervention.
Since it also causes uterine contractions, it has been used to cause
abortion. It also plays a role in Asian traditional medicine as a
method of correcting breech presentation. This method is termed
moxibustion. A study of 260 Chinese women at 33 weeks of pregnancy
demonstrated cephalic version within two weeks in 75% of fetuses
carried by patients who were treated with moxibustion, as opposed to
48% in the control group.