Let’s talk about about a fairly obscure herb today: motherwort (which means herb for the mother). It’s also known as Lion’s Tail or leonurus cardiaca.
True to its name, motherwort has traditionally been used to stimulate uterine contractions and facilitate childbirth. It can also remedy late menstruation, but should be avoided if one has heavy menses. Many herbalists recommend it for PMS and everything that goes with it, namely stress, tension, anxiety, depression, headaches, insomnia, and water retention.
It is contraindicated during pregnancy, except in the last few days to stimulate labor. In fact, it is used in Chinese medicine to prevent pregnancy.
Motherwort is not just for mothers though! The botanical name is cardiaca, from the Latin for heart, and it has long been known as an herb that supports heart health. In fact, Russian scientists released a study, published in the journal “Phytotherapy Research” that showed it significantly reduced blood pressure after 14 days of taking 300 mg twice a day. Those subjects with seriously high hypertension saw improvements similar to those with moderately high pressure, but the seriously high blood pressure group still needed additional medication to lower the pressure to the desired range.
Interestingly, most subjects from both groups had significant improvements with anxiety, headaches, and insomnia! But that’s nothing new. As a nervine, it has traditionally been used to treat neurotic conditions like these, as well as convulsions and hysteria.
There are very few clinical studies on motherwort, but it has been used for centuries. As a heart tonic, it is believed to dissolve blood clots, promote good blood circulation, and reduce heart palpitations.
As always, if you decide to take an herbal supplement, do your research and run it by your physician, especially if you’re on medication or pregnant.
Copyright © by Bobbi Mullins; originally published December 6, 2012
Grieve. M. A Modern Herbal (©1931)
Tierra, M. The Way of Herbs (©1980)