I never thought much about using herbs medicinally in the form of incense until very recently. Smoke has been used by humans to bless, harmonize and release since we discovered how to use fire. I have been burning a lot of incense lately to force movement when the energy in my environment feels stagnant, dense or negative. There are a lot of interesting things happening in the world right now. I have hardly left the house in the last five months. Lighting the match, watching the fire and smoke, smelling the familiar plant materials. I do feel a shift, a settling, and at peace when I am done with the simple but powerful act.
Here are two types of incense blends that I have been experimenting with. All the ingredients are grown in my garden. At the moment throwing dried loose plants into a chiminea and setting it a blaze works well for good weather. I might need to look into making cones for the winter and indoors. Drying in a dehydrator preserves the essential oils/scent and bright colors.
For direct healing and moxibustion just straight mugwort that has been processed for Chinese Medicine. A food processor works very well for this being easy/quick to use and breaking the leaves down to the right consistency. Plant material can also just be left alone, coarsely chopped, dried and loose for incense.
I have already talked about juniper which is my favorite plant to burn. But mugwort has the advantage of being very slow burning, no flame, and producing a lot of fragrant smoke. I have used mugwort in liniments and dream pillows. It can be used as an infusion but I feel that it is just too powerful of a plant for me to use it internally. I prefer other choices for treating certain health problems. There are different types/species of mugwort. Some that are native and can harvested from the wild. I find to Artemisia vulgaris to be the most useful and very easy to grow in a garden. When cultivated this herb can become a large perennial that produces a lot of plant material. Does not self seed and become invasive in the yard.
Common mugwort has a long history of being used for issues related to menstruation, menopause and in childbirth. Historically it has been used to stop bleeding, remove toxins, reduce inflammation and kill parasites. Artemisia has been found to be anti-microbial both internally and externally. It stimulates the appetite and digestion. Herbalists have used it for respiratory illnesses, kidney/bladder stones, liver conditions, and nervous complaints. The Japanese use it in dumplings and other food items. In Europe it was used to make beer. As moxa in Chinese medicine it is used to move cold, damp, and stagnation. As a liniment or oil it can be used externally for headaches, sore muscles, tired feet, rheumatism, arthritis, injuries and gout. A poultice it is helpful for poison ivy, rashes, bug bites, bruises and sores. As a steam for asthma and congestion.
Part used:root and aerial parts.
Where found: cultivate in the garden. In fields, roadsides, wastelands as a weed. Not wild or native to the US.
Contraindications: pregnancy and nursing. Avoid using long term or in large doses. May cause a rash in people that are allergic to the plant (aster family).