Motherwort

Latin:  Leonorus cardiaca

Family:  Lamiaceae

Parts Used:  Aerial

Taste/Energetics:    Bitter, cooling, drying

Properties:   Anxiolytic, antispasmodic, cardio tonic, carminative, astringent, emmenagogue

Actions:   Motherwort has a number of uses that makes this one of the most beloved herbs by herbalists.  Motherwort is an esteemed member of the Mint family and originally comes from Europe and Asia.  It was cultivated by Colonists in North America and grows easily here.   Motherwort is one of the best herbs for both relaxing the nervous system as well as strengthening the heart.  In small doses, motherwort helps bring greater calm and in larger doses it can help improve sleep.  In terms of the heart, it can regulate the heartbeat, calm palpitations and lower blood pressure.

The name motherwort comes from its traditional use as an emmenagogue.  An emmenagogue is an herb that helps promotes menstrual flow and in turn helps promote birth.   Its antispasmodic qualities make it helpful for pre-menstrual tension and cramping.   Its bitter and relaxing qualities make it very useful for sluggish digestion with tension and tightness in the belly.

It is also a women’s tonic during menopause.  Motherwort helps cool hot flashes, relax tension, stress and cramping.

Motherwort has the name Leonorus- which means lion’s tail, and cardiaca- which refers to its good effect on the heart.  In terms of mental health, I often think of this herb for those who have experienced trauma and have symptoms of anxiety, insomnia, confusion, frustration, anger and sadness.   Motherwort brings a mother’s touch, regulating and calming our heart, soothing our distress and fear.

Dosage:  In tea as infusion 2-4 grams per cup, in tincture 2-4 ml to 3 x/day.

Contraindications:   Motherwort contains the alkaloid leonine which acts as a uterine contractor and for that reason should be avoided during pregnancy (unless at end stage with the advice of a competent herbalist.) Avoid with blood thinners.

Further Reading: 

Motherwort monograph by Rosalee de la Foret

Motherwort monograph by Kirsten Hale