Motherwort Medicinal Herb Use

motherwort herb in flowering stage

Leonurus cardiaca

Motherwort is known as a woman's herb which is said to be helpful at many stages of life. It is used for menstrual cramps, nervous pain and heart palpitations. Many women experience stress related heart palpitations and anxiety during menopause, as well as delayed and "phantom" periods. Motherwort has been used for all these conditions, as well as a uterine tonic after childbirth.

Motherwort may also lower blood pressure. Its sedative and hypotensive properties have been established in clinical trials. Since pharmacological studies are limited, the use of motherwort is mainly based on traditional suggestions.

Motherwort might slow down the heart and thin the blood. It may also stimulate uterine tone and blood flow. ( Web MD )

Motherwort is also used as a bath herb for shingles and itching skin.

Chinese motherwort has been commonly used to treat disorders of mammary gland in Chinese traditional medicine (TCM). Chinese motherwort aqueous extract (MAE) was previously reported to have anti-cancer activity in breast cancer cells with low potency (IC50s in a range of 8-40 mg/mL). However, treatment of motherwort ethanol extract in vivo markedly suppressed the development of uterine adenomyosis and mammary cancers in mice. (1)

Motherwort Use Cautions

Contraindications, Side Effects and Interactions : Wear gloves to harvest tops, as the plant in flower is prickly. Contact may cause skin irritation. Plant oils from Motherwort may cause photosensitivity. Do not use in pregnancy as it causes uterine contractions. Do not use with other sedatives or blood thinners, thyroid medications, or with blood pressure medicine as Motherwort may exagerrate the effects of such drugs or substances. Motherwort may aggravate hypothyroidism or be contra-indicated with treatment for same.

How to Grow Motherwort

Motherwort herb can be grown easily from seed, and reseeds itself profusely. Start in flats or directly in the ground and transplant or thin to 12-18" apart. Seed can be sown from late summer to early spring. It prefers moist ground. Motherwort blooms in midsummer.

Motherwort Description and Native Habitat

From the perennial root-stock rise the square, stout stems, 2 to 3 feet high, erect and branched, principally below, the angles prominent. The leaves are very closely set, the radical ones on slender, long petioles, ovate, lobed and toothed, those on the stem, 2 to 3 inches long, petioled, wedge-shaped; the lower roundish, palmately five-lobed, the lobes trifid at the apex, the upper three-fid, coarsely serrate, reticulately veined, the veinlets prominent beneath, with slender, curved hairs. The uppermost leaves and bracts are very narrow and entire, or only with a tooth on each side, and bear in their axils numerous whorls of pinkish, or nearly white, sessile flowers, six to fifteen in a whorl. The corollas, though whitish on the outside, are stained with paler or darker purple within. They have rather short tubes and nearly flat upper lips, very hairy above, with long, woolly hairs. The two front stamens are the longest and the anthers are sprinkled with hard, shining dots.

The Motherwort plant blossoms in August. It has rather a pungent odor and a very bitter taste. It is a dull green, the leaves paler below, pubescent, especially on the angles of the stem and the underside of the leaves, the hairs varying much in length and abundance.

Extensive Motherwort Herb Description and Photos at
Ohio Perennial and Biennial Weed Guide

Harvesting and Using Motherwort

Motherwort Tincture can be made from fresh flowering tops and leaves, which can be harvested 2-3 times from midsummer to frost. Don't leave much to go to seed, as it will take over a garden. For use as dried herb, harvest on a dry, sunny day before mid-afternoon. Hang in small bundles or spread out on a screen in a warm, dry place. Do not attempt to dry Motherwort in humid conditions; the dense flower clusters need to dry quickly to prevent mildew and spoilage. Even once you think it is dry, it would be best to store Motherwort herb loosely in paper bags for a few weeks before transferring to airtight containers.

Motherwort History, Legends, Folklore, Magical uses, Astrology

Motherwort energies promote inner trust and confidence that the ultimate outcome will be best for all involved in the fullness of time. It is also used for counter-magic and associated with immortality and spiritual healing. It is a protective herb, especially in spells designed to protect pregnant women and their unborn children.

Some recommend smoking Motherwort to promote astral projection, but smoking too much can cause respiratory arrest. It is therefore perhaps best used as a smudge or burned as incense rather than smoked directly. It is especially effective in combination with mugwort.

It corresponds to the energy of Leo, Venus, and the element of Water.

"There is no better herb to drive melancholy vapours from the heart, to strengthen it and make the mind cheerful, blithe and merry. May be kept in a syrup, or conserve, therefore the Latins call it cardiaca.... It cleanse the the chest of cold phlegm, oppressing it and killeth worms in the belly. It is of good use to warm and dry up the cold humours, to digest and disperse them that are settled in the veins, joints and sinews of the body and to help cramps and convulsions." (Culpeper)  

One rather odd Hindu tale relates that if you make a tea of Motherwort and add it to the laundry when you wash your socks and underwear, you will bring peace to your home. (Mountain Rose)

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Internet References

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1. Motherwort Uses, Dosage, Interactions, Adverse Effects and Warnings

2. MOTHERWORT Overview Information

3. A Modern Herbal at Botanical.com

4. Motherwort Article by Susun Weed

5. Motherwort: How it Works

6. The Study of Analgesic Effects of Leonurus cardiaca L. in Mice by Formalin, Tail Flick and Hot Plate Tests

7. Leonurus cardiaca L. (motherwort): a review of its phytochemistry and pharmacology.

8. How to Grow Motherwort

9. Witchipedia : Motherwort  (Magical uses)

Next: Mugwort