By Corrie Snyder, Certified Herbalist
Leonorus cardiaca ("Lion Hearted")
Lamiaceae (Mint Family)
The aerial, or above ground, portions of Motherwort are used. Motherwort is a member of the Mint Family and has the characteristic square stem of any plant in the Lamiaceae family. The round, light purple-pink flowers of Motherwort hug the stalk and her dark green leaves are simple and grow opposite. Motherwort originated in Asia but thankfully can be found all over North America growing wild. She self sows abundantly.
As the Latin name Leonorus cardiaca suggests, this lovely plant is an excellent heart tonic. It has healing powers for both the emotional and physical heart. Motherwort is an excellent heart tonic particularly for Tachycardia (accelerated inactive heart rate), but is also quite useful for all heart conditions associated with anxiety and tension, including helping to lower high blood pressure.**
On an emotional level, Motherwort is one of my absolute favorite herbs for treating a broken heart and relieving the anxiety and duress which frequently accompanies. As our great herbal forefather Culpepper wrote in 1652, "There is no better herb to drive away melancholy vapors from the heart to strengthen it and make the mind cheerful". I always drink Motherwort tea when my heart is feeling heavy for any reason, known or unknown. She has a remarkable ability to hold the heart in the most grandmotherly way, allowing me to be where I am and then leaving me with my heart feeling understood, protected and open.
As her common name suggests, Motherwort is also a phenomenal plant for female reproductive issues. She is specific for easing the malaise of menstruation for the young woman as well as being a perfect ally for the Wise Woman entering into menopause. She is a specific remedy for peri-menopausal anxiety and depression as well as helping with disturbed sleep and the restlessness which can accompany this transition. Motherwort is also a perfect herb for younger women who suffer with menstrual irregularities and painful menses. She has antispasmodic properties which calm the uterus when cramping, as well as being an excellent emmenagogue to help bring on menstruation.
**Motherwort, as with all herbs, may be contraindicated if you are on any heart medication. Always check with your health practitioner for any herb/drug interactions.
Motherwort is also contraindicated during pregnancy due to its action as an emmenagogue (agent that hastens menstrual flow), as well as for women who have heavy menstruations.
Preparations & Applications
Pour one cup of near boiling water over one Tbsp of Motherwort. Cover and steep for 15-20 minutes. Strain and enjoy.
Fresh plant is best. Take 10-20 drops of Motherwort tincture in a small amount of water every hour to help relieve menstrual cramps. As a heart tonic, take 30-60 drops in water twice daily.
Heart Tonic: Emotional and physical support
1 part Motherwort
1 part Hawthorn Berry
1 part Hawthorn Leaf and Flower
.5 part Linden flower
.25 part Red Rose
.25 part Marshmallow root
Bring on the Blood
For stagnation and bloating during menstruation - when a woman just needs to bleed.
1 part Motherwort
1 part Calendula
.5 part Ginger
Hoffman, David: Medical Herbalism
Tilgner, Sharol: Herbal Medicine from the Heart of the Earth
Frawley, David: The Yoga of Herbs
Tierra, Micheal: Planetary Herbology
Chevallier, Andrew: The Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine