Motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca)

Motherwort, sometimes called Lion’s Tail, is a perennial plant in the Lamiaceae family native to Southeastern Europe and Central Asia, and introduced to the Northern United States and the rest of Europe. It’s often found growing in disturbance areas and prefers well drained but damp soils. It has hollow, grooved, square stems that are sometimes slightly violet red colored. It’s opposite, downy leaves are typically 3-7 lobed with sharp incisions. The bristly flowers appear in axillary whorls around the stem at the leaf axils from June to September, and are typically purplish pink to white. When established in the garden, Motherwort will self sow itself if the seeds are permitted to scatter. It’s a hardy garden herb and can tolerate a variety of soils.

Medicinal Uses
Motherwort is a sedative, emmenagogue, carminative, anti-spasmodic, and cardiac tonic. It stimulates the uterus in cases of delayed menstruation, especially when due to stress or anxiety, and can ease menstrual cramps. It’s also a helpful tonic for menopausal symptoms, and can ease false labor pains as well as to help expel the afterbirth. In addition to this, its a great tonic for your heart, as it helps to strengthen it without overstraining it. It is used in specific cases for rapid heartbeat due to anxiety, and can be used for almost any heart condition that stems from anxiety and nervousness. Studies have shown that it’s actions as a vasodilator can help lower cholesterol, reducing the risk of heart disease, and helps to regulate blood pressure. It also can act as a stomach soother, especially in cases of nervous gas. It can also be used to ease rheumatic joint pain. In Aryuvedic medicine, it is also considered a cooling herb, and a mild diaphoretic and alterative. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, it is often combined with Dong Quai as a menstrual regulator.

Folk Uses
Motherwort was at one time thought to protect against “wicked spirits”. It’s been an important midwife herb for centuries, often prescribing this herb as a uterine tonic or to cure uterine infections. The Ancient Greeks used the herb to ease the anxieties of pregnant women. It’s also thought to increase joy and calm the nervous system for both men and women.

Dosage
An infusion of 1-2 teaspoons of dried herb per cup of water, steeped for 10-15 minutes, taken three times daily, or as a tincture, 1-4ml three times a day. Motherwort should be avoided by pregnant women.

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A large patch of motherwort.

A large patch of motherwort.

Young motherwort plants.

Young motherwort plants.

Main image courtesy of 7song

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