Mugwort is a common name that is used to describe several species of sage. Our mugwort is a variety that is native to the Western United States and is known as Douglas’s Sagewort but is also called California Mugwort, and Wormwood.
Native Americans used this plant medicinally and ceremonially. The Chumash, Karok, Miwok, and Yurok are said to have used it to treat rheumatism, sometimes applying the leaves as a poultice and other times making a decoction that was taken internally.
The Pomo used it to treat stomachache and cramps. The Paiute used it to treat colds and fevers, placing branches over a bed of ashes and sleeping on it.
Among the Miwok, mugwort was rubbed on the body to keep ghosts away. Necklaces were made with small balls that contained mugwort and other “medicine” and when worn, were believed to prevent dreaming of the dead and would allow one to go out at night without fear of ghosts.