May 12, 2013
Leonurus cardiaca – Motherwort
Other names – Lion’s tail, heartwort, Agripaume, Herbe battudo, Agripalma, Melissa, salvatica, Aartgespan, Hartgespan, yi mu cao, yakumos.
Leonurus cardiaca is a flowering plant in the Lamiaceae or mint family.
The common name Motherwort reflects the herb’s ability to connect us to Divine Mother.
Native analog: Heart tonic, uterine tonic, and nervine tonic.
The name Leonurus is two Greek words; leon, which is lion and ouros, is tail. The plant was thought to look somewhat like the tail of a lion. Additionally Leonurus is genus of stout old World herbs having flowers in whorls. The word cardiaca is the Latin for heart.
Historical uses: Hysteria and chorea.
The early Greeks gave Leonurus cardiaca to pregnant women suffering from anxiety. Legend has it that a town where the water supply flowed through banks of Leonurus cardiaca and many of the town’s people lived to be 130 years of age and one was reported to have live to the age of 300. In ancient China this herb was associated with promoting longevity. The Europeans used Leonurus cardiaca to treat diseased cattle and the colonist presented Motherwort to North America in the 19th century. In Russia Leonurus cardiaca has been highly endorsed as a remedy for hydrophobia.
Properties: Leonurus cardiaca’s primary use is for the heart as a tonic, diuretic, anti-rheumatic and lowers blood pressure. Motherwort is also an emmenagogue; as it stimulates blood flow to the pelvic region and can bring on menses as well as increase the flow. Prior to childbirth is reduces anxiety associated with birth and following birth is it is used to assist with expelling the placenta.
It is an excellent herb for use in calming anxiety that is accompanied with heart palpitations due to stress or liver toxicity and has been said to give courage and strength to the heart. Motherwort is a bitter digestive and antispasmodic. In Germany it is used to treat hypothyroidism.
Motherwort can be used for to aid postpartum depression as well as peri-menopause anxiety. The name suggest a woman’s herb, as it is suitable for PMS and menses, pre-birth, post delivery, postpartum and peri-menopause. )O(
Leonurus cardiaca is used for protection in magick. When planted around the home, or hanging above the doorway, it is said to keep away evil spirits and other unwelcome guests. It is also used for counter-magic and associated with immortality and spiritual healing.
Motherwort is associated with the Norse goddess Freya and Ogun; deity in the African Yoruba religion who presides over iron.
The herb is connected to the energy of Leo, Venus, and the element of Water.
Energetics: I found the first taste hot and dry (more hot). The energy eventually moved to dray and hot (drier). Leonurus cardiaca’s flavor was be fresh and slightly citrus. It was bitter, dry, pungent, and bland, as well as less sweet or salty. Aromatics and sourness were neither too little nor too much.
The energy moved down, expanded, and was slower.
I mostly drank Leonurus cardiaca as a tea. The herb gave me an overall sense of calm, especially when experiencing anxiety and panic. I felt my heart rate decrease and palpitations diminished. The tincture brought on faster effects than the tea and lasted longer. Smoked, Motherwort was fast acting, however the effect was a shorter duration than the tincture.
Following a day in our usual obsessive-compulsive mode conducting research, my partner and I consumed a spot of Motherwort tea and retired for a rest. My partner felt his heart rate decrease and had excessive diaphoresis. The healing was physical, mental, and emotional
Growing considerations and habitat: Leonurus cardiaca is a perennial herb. It is usually found in the wild, near areas of water; like streams or rivers.
The parts of Leonurus cardiaca used include leaves and flowering tops. Harvest the early flower and use fresh or dried. The seeds can be harvested when the plant is mature and dried.
Tincture of fresh herb : 1:2
Tincture of dried herb: 1:5
Tincture of seed (very strong) 1:4
Water extract: tea of fresh or dried plant or decoction of dried herb.
Syrup: combine 1 part decoction of dried plant with 2 parts honey. The syrup has a calming effect and is used just as the tincture, but with a better taste.
To prepare as a tea, use 1-2 teaspoons of dried herb in 1 cup of boiling water no more than twice per day. Motherwort tea is very bitter. Sweeten with honey.
Standard dosage: Dry plant tincture 30 – 40 drops 4 time a day.
Contraindications: Women with endometriosis or fibroids as well as pregnant and breast-feeding women. Motherwort should not be given to young children or those with hypoactive thyroid. Individuals who take digoxin should not use motherwort because it can intensify the action of the drug thus causing heart rate to slow down too much. Also, it is not advisable to take motherwort with other herbs that affect the heart such as ginger, hawthorn, mistletoe, ginseng, pleurisy root, and squill. Motherwort has also been reported to interfere with blood clotting and shouldn’t be used by those with blood clotting issues. In large doses Leonurus cardiaca can cause diarrhea and stomach irritation and prolonged use may lead to photosensitivity, so if you use motherwort on a regular basis you should cover up and or use a sunscreen.
Motherwort may cause drowsiness. One should not operate heavy machinery while under the influence of this herb. If you take any drugs that have a side effect of drowsiness, Motherwort can intensify this effect. Prescription medications and over the counter drugs such as diphenhydramine or doxylamine as well as over the counter sleep aids. Observe caution when combining Motherwort with sleep inducing herbs such as Catnip, hops, Kava Kava, St. John’s Wort and Valerian.
Culinary uses: Young shoots can be cooked like any other green.
Serve motherwort tea in moments of family crisis. It helps sooth the physical symptoms of stress (and panic) so that you can focus on solving the problem.
www.swsbm.com (Michael Moore)
www.medherb.com (Paul Bergner)
www.susunweed.com (Susun Weed)
Making Plant Medicine (Richo Cech)
Botany in a Day (Thomas J. Elpel’s)
Donna Ryall (Austin, TX artist and herbalist)