Other names:

Labiatae—Mint family


As its Latin name cardiaca indicates, Motherwort is primarily used for cardiac issues, but as its common name indicates, it has also been used widely for women’s health. “Chinese research shows that it promotes a better volume of blood throughout the body and can slow a rapid heart rate,” (Duke II, 152), while other scientists “have found extracts to have antispasmodic, hypotensive, sedative, cardiotonic, diuretic, antioxidant, immuno-stimulating, and cancer-preventative activity,” (Foster, 182). Motherwort is also widely known as a sedative, nervine, emmenagogue, and hepatic. Specifically regarding its cardiotonic qualities, Leonurus cardiaca is “strengthening without straining. It is specific for over-rapid heart beat where this is brought about by anxiety…” (Hoffman, 108).

And that’s really the key: to aid in healing diseases caused by anxiety, tension and fear. As my teacher Kathleen Maier shared with me (and here I’ll paraphrase while mixing in my own interpretations), think “lion heart”—a sense of courage, an easing of fear and anxiety, the stalwart strength of a mother’s embrace, comforting when you need it, but never clinging, always urging you forward.

Motherwort is used in treatment of delayed or absent menses, anxiety, tension, transition into menopause, to aid in childbirth, heart and circulatory disorders, heart palpitations, insomnia, stroke, asthma, especially when these ailments are caused or exacerbated by anxiety. Furthermore, “Extracts approved in Germany for nervous heart conditions and in the supportive treatment of hyperthyroidism,” (Foster, 182).

Leonurus cardiaca most notably contains volatile oils, tannins, the bitter glycosides leonurine and leonuridine, and the alkaloids leonuinine and stachydrene. “Experimentally, leonurine… is a uterine tonic,” (Foster, 182).

Motherwort flowers

Parts used:
Aerial parts—stems, leaves, flowers

Growing information:
Motherwort is a perennial with whitish-pink flower clusters close to the stem, similar to basil or mint. It is “native to Europe but naturalized across much of North America, features a tall single stem from which grow three-fingered leaves in an arrangement said to resemble a lion’s tale,” (Duke II, 152).

Collect aerial parts when in flower, May—August.

Tincture or infusion

Motherwort has been used for centuries in both Europe and China for cardiac and circulatory ailments (Duke II, 152).

Motherwort is contra-indicated while a woman is pregnant or lactating. Very rarely, persons with extremely sensitive skin may experience contact dermatitis. Regarding dosage precautions, “Dosages larger than 3 grams might cause diarrhea, indigestion, or uterine bleeding,” (Duke II, 152).