“If we want children to flourish, to become truly empowered, then let us allow them to love the earth before we ask them to save it. Perhaps this is what Thoreau had in mind when he said, “the more slowly trees grow at first, the sounder they are at the core, and I think the same is true of human beings.”
-David Sobel, Beyond Ecophobia
Motherwort is commonly known as “Mother’s Little Helper” because of her ability to help ease stress and tension for weary moms. While Motherwort is wonderful for this aspect, she is also useful for many other ailments as well.
A member of the Lamiaceae family, Motherwort’s botanical name is Leonurus cardiaca, “leonurus” referring to lion and “cardiaca” to the heart, giving another indication for her use.
Do you have Motherwort growing in your garden? If so, pick a leaf and try this experiment: chew the leaf and notice the flavors of Motherwort. What do you notice? Bitter? Yes, pungent too? Yes. How does the leaf make your mouth feel? Does it seem a bit dry? Cooler? We describe Motherwort’s energetics as bitter, pungent, drying and cooling.
Nutritionally, sources indicate Motherwort contains beta carotene, calcium, choline, cobalt, copper, iodine, manganese and potassium.
Motherwort contains many constituents that give her healing power: alkaloids such as leonurine, stachydrin, betonin and turicin, flavonoids such as rutin, apigenin, and quercetin, bitter glycosides, volatile oils, resins, tannins, and acids such as magic, citric and vinitic.
Motherwort has an affinity for the reproductive system and the heart. Medicinally, Motherwort is considered to be analgesic, antibacterial, antifungal, antioxidant, antirheumatic, antispasmodic, astringent, bitter, cardiotonic, circulatory stimulant, diaphoretic, diuretic, emmenagogue, hemostatic, hypotensive, immune stimulant, laxative, nervine, parturient, sedative, stomachic, tonic, uterine tonic and vasodilator. Let’s talk about these actions in greater depth…
Motherwort is one of the first medicinal plants that I used after I started seriously studying herbs for the medicinal uses. My first plants were patiently grown from seed and I have happily grown her ever since. Focusing on the common name, indicating her use for mothers (wort means ‘herb or plant’ indicating her common name to be mother’s herb or plant), I found this herb to be very helpful as a new mother, as well as mama’s little helper during my cycle. Motherwort has an uncanny way of making everything seem alright for mothers and women who become tense and irritated due to hormonal changes.
Motherwort is wonderful for women of all ages. Young women, coming into womanhood, will find Motherwort to be a powerful ally while they adjust to the extra hormones that are flooding their bodies. Menopausal women will find Motherwort to be just as supportive when their hormones once again wildly fluctuate, by helping to moderate hormone levels, calm hot flashes and night sweats and emotional mood swings as well as easing heart palpitations, insomnia and depression, which are often a common part of the menopausal journey. Mothers laboring in childbirth may find Motherwort beneficial for a smooth birthing process.
At the same time, Motherwort is also a uterine tonic, supporting the uterus and toning it. Menstrual cramps are often eased with doses of Motherwort. Motherwort can also help to bring on delayed menses, especially when the delay is caused by clots in the uterus, or when menses is scanty.
For those stuck in extreme emotional upset, whether due to hormones, grief or even unexplainable reasons, Motherwort will gently bring you back to a more calm emotional point of wellbeing.
Motherwort is not just for women though. Men can also benefit from her hormone balancing actions. As a reproductive tonic, Motherwort not only tones the female reproductive system but also the male reproductive system.
Motherwort is also very supportive to our hearts. Her botanical name Leonurus cardiaca, lionhearted, refers to her support of the cardiac system. Motherwort strengthens the heart muscle, calms palpitations, relaxes the heart, can slow a rapid heartbeat and improves circulation. As a mild hypotensive, Motherwort combines well with Hawthorn, Linden and Black Haw.
Emotionally, the name infers courage and Motherwort is wonderful for helping those navigate through dark times and periods of intense grief.
David Winston recommends the combination of Motherwort, Bugleweed (Lycopus americanus) and Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis) to help with hyperthyroidism, especially when nervousness and palpitations are present.
Lesser known and utilized uses of Motherwort include her effectiveness as an analgesic, especially for post partum pain. Motherwort is also good for treating digestive system upsets, especially when tied into the nervous system such as nervous dyspepsia, as well as indigestion and liver/gallbladder stagnation due to her bitter and digestive actions.
Some may also find relief from chronic skin conditions such as acne, psoriasis and eczema.
As an antispasmodic, Motherwort is also great for working with spasmodic conditions in the respiratory system, including asthma. I like to combine her with New England Aster for this.
Motherwort should not be used by pregnant women as Motherwort is a uterine stimulant but is safe during lactation.
Harvest Motherwort when she begins to bloom. The flowering tops, leaves and stalks can all be used.
Want to try a tea with Motherwort? Try my Happy Heart Tea blend:
Mix equal parts:
Dried Tilia flower and leaf
Dried Hawthorn leaves and flowers
Store in a labeled airtight jar.
To make a cup of tea, add 2 teaspoons tea to a tea ball and steep in boiling water for 10 – 20 minutes.
For more information, recipes and activities with Motherwort, check out the July issue of Herbal Roots zine, Marvelous Motherwort.
Have you worked with Motherwort? What are your favorite uses of this plant?