Plant Profile: Motherwort


(Leonurus cardiaca)


Energetics: Cooling, stimulating 

Taste: aromatic & acrid bitter, spicy. 

Part used: Aerial Parts (Leaves, flowering tops) 

Systems affected: Pericardium, Liver, Heart, Kidneys, Uterus. Nervous System

Key components: Iridoids, bitter glycosides including leonurin & leonuridine, bitter principle, alkaloids including leonuinine & stachydrene, flavonoids including rutin & quercitin, volatile oils including tannins, resin, organic acids, vitamin A. 

Preparations: infusion, tincture (from fresh or dried), formentation, Flower essence. 

Properties: relaxing nervine, invigorates blood, antispasmodic, hypotensive, vermifuge, emmenagogue, cardiovascular tonic, digestive bitter, diaphoretic, diuretic, uterine tonic. 


Women: Uterine stimulant. Stimulation of delayed or suppressed menstruation. tonifies the uterine membranes.  Indicated for a cold uterus. Blood congestion & painful menstruation (can use with calendula & cramp bark. 10 drops tincture as needed to help relax cervix during labor & 1 squirt (maybe 30 drops) for pains after labor. 

Anxiety/Nervous System: Calms sympathetic nervous system. Specific for anxiety that causes a racing heart or palpitations as well as stress/anxiety held in the digestive tract. Calms the sympathetic nervous system and helps promote transition from sympathetic to parasympathetic. Excellent for those who move too quickly in thoughts, emotions or actions that are not well thought out. Stress & tension held in the digestive tract. Remedy for nervous restlessness, wakefulness, disturbed sleep & anxiety. A cloak of protection that keeps the heart safe & strong. Created good boundaries for those who are caring for others to make sure we can still care for ourselves. 

Heart: Works to strengthen and normalize heart action. When taken daily, helps new blood vessels grow to the heart (“bypass in a bottle”). Helps to remove arteriosclerosis & dissolve blood clots. Dose of 10-20 drops several times per day can lower blood pressure (glycosides), improve heart action & strengthen electrical activity in the heart. Promotes blood circulation. Heart conditions that are associated with anxiety & tension.

Edema: A mild diuretic that strengthens the kidneys. Useful for stagnation in the kidneys. 

Fever reduction: Opens the skin (diaphoretic). Good for stubborn fevers and fevers that have left a person feeling drained. Drink 3 cups infusion each day to reduce fever and strengthen body. Mildly stimulates colon & kidneys & relaxes uterus. 

Stimulate appetite & digestion: Especially when stress and anxiety are the cause of appetite loss. 

Flower essence Specific for boundaries, make sure they aren’t overstepped. aids in the development of inner strength.

Combines well with: For anxiety: Passionflower or Prusqueflower. For the heart: Hawthorn and Rose. 
Hot flashes & menopause related anxiety: Black cohosh. 
Dysmenorrhea: Dang Gui, Tang Kuei, Calendula, Cramp Bark. 
Stress/anxiety/nerve related loss of appetite: chamomile &/or Lemon balm. 
Hyperthyroid: Lemon balm.  
Pain inhibitor associated with menstruation or birth: Skullcap &/or Valerian.

Dosing: Formentation: 4 Tbsp per pint steeped 4 hours, soak cotton cloth in infusion & apply as needed. Infusion: 1-2 tsp per cup steeped 8-10 minutes 1-3x per day. 

Identifying: As a member of the mint family, Motherwort has the expected square stem. 
Growing: Perennial. Seeds germinate easily whether down in fall or early spring. Start seeds in spring after freezing them for several months or plant in ground in fall so the winter naturally stratifies (freezes) them. Zones 4-8. Typically flowers in the first year. Like most mints, often takes over the area in which it grows. Will self-sow abundantly if the seed is allowed to mature & spread. Can also be started by root division. 

Harvesting: Harvest at a joint when flowers are in bloom. Tincture fresh in alcohol & dry for later infusions.

Contraindications: Some advise not to use if taking prescription sedative or heart medications. Don't take in tincture form (due to alcohol/glycerin soluble alkaloids) during pregnancy (except labor) or breastfeeding. Do not use for painful menstruation with heavy bleeding. 

The Complete Herbs Sourcebook: David Hoffman; Pg 286-87
The medicinal Gardening Handbook: Dede Cummings & Alyssa Holmes; Pg 27.
Herb Contraindications & Drug Interactions: Francis Brinker, N.D; Pg 150.
A-Z Guide to Drug-Herb-Vitamin Interactions; Pg 296
The Herbal Apothecary: JJ Pursell; Pg 133-135
The Way of Herbs: Michael Tierra; Pg 158-159
Herbal Healing For Women: Rosemary Gladstar; Pg 178 & 248