MOTHERWORT p780 of 1237
Leonurus cardiaca (Chinese form: L. sibiricus; L. heterophyllus)
Names: Lions tail, heartwort; Agripaume,
Herbe battudo (French); Agripalma, Melissa
salvatica (Italian); Aartgespan, Hartgespan (Dutch); yi mu cao (Chinese);
(Japanese); ikmocho (Korean); Hjärtstilla, bonässla;
äkta hjärtstilla (ssp. cardiaca), ullig
hjärtstilla (ssp. villosus) (Swedish); Løvehale (Norwegian);
(Danish); Nukula (Finnish); Echtes Herzgespann, Echtes Lövenschwanz
Løvehale (Norwegian); Scerdecznik pospolity (Polish); Agripalma,
Description: an upright prickly bush with a height
of up to 5 feet and a width of 2 feet. The
flowers are pale pink to purple, very hairy, in whorls of 6 to 12, alternating
up the stems with leaves. The leaves are dark green above, pale below,
oak-shaped and deeply lobed into three, especially at the bottom. Prickly.
Blooms in late-June to August.
Cultivation: A perennial to Zone 3. Germinates
in 2-3 weeks. Space 2-3 feet apart.
Soil temperature for germination 65-75F. Soil should be light, well
drained and fairly poor
with a pH of 7.7. Full sun. Easily self-sows once established. Plants
can be put in by either
hand or by transplanter. Space at 12-15 inches in the row with row spacing
at 240-30 inches. Harvest the leaves and the entire flower stalk with
clippers when the flowers are in full
bloom, anywhere from late June into August, being sure to leave enough
flower stalks for
reseeding to occur. Chinese studies indicate that the active chemical
components are at their
highest concentrations when the plant is in bloom. Before flowering,
the quantity of active
components is much reduced. There is usually a small crop the first
year and then two cuttings
a year after that for several years. Yields of 1,200 to 2,500 pound
per acre can be expected.
Dries easily in 3-5 days, though it should be turned the first couple
Constitutents: essential oil, alkaloids (stachydrine,
leonurinine), glycosides (leonurine, leonuridin), flavonoids, diterpenes,
caffeic acid, tannins, vitamin A.
History: the early Greeks gave motherwort to pregnant
women suffering from anxiety. This use continued and gave the herb the
name mother wort, or mothers herb. Its other prominent
action is on the heart, giving it the species name cardiaca or the Greek
kardiaca, or heart. Leonurus comes from the Greek leon for lion
and ouros for tail, as the plant was thought to resemble
the tail of a lion. There is an old tale about a town whose water source
is a stream flowing through banks of motherwort. Many of the townspeople
lived to be 130 years old and recall one who reportedly lived to 300
years. In ancient China, motherwort was reputed to promote longevity.
In Europe, motherwort first became known as a treatment for cattle diseases.
Colonists introduced motherwort into North America and the 19 th century
Eclectics recommended it as a menstruation promoter and aid to expelling
the afterbirth. They did not consider it a heart remedy at all. The
Cherokees used the herb as a sedative for nervous afflictions. In the
Victorian Language of Flowers it symbolizes concealed love.
Properties: emmenagogue, astringent, carminative,
cardiac tonic, diuretic, antispasmodic, antirheumatic
Medicinal: Motherwort is primarily an herb of the
heart. Several species have sedative effects, decreasing muscle spasms
and temporarily lowering blood pressure. Chinese studies found that
extracts decrease clotting and the level of fat in the blood and can
slow heart palpatations and rapid heartbeat. Another of motherworts
uses is to improve fertility and reduce anxiety associated with childbirth,
postpartum depression, and menopause. If used in early labor it will
ease labor pains and calms the nerves after childbirth. Take motherwort
only once soon after giving birth as consistent use before the uterus
has clamped down may cause bleeding to continue. Use one to two times
a day in the weeks following birth for easing tension and supporting
a woman through the feelings that come with new mothering. Do not use
during pregnancy. Motherwort helps bring on a delayed or suppressed
menstrual flow, especially when someone is anxious and tense. Chinese
women often use it combined with dong quai as a menstrual regulator.
Avoid using for menstrual cramps when bleeding is heavy. It strengthens
and relaxes the uterine muscles and eases uterine cramping. It also
reduces fevers, and is especially suggested for illnesses associated
with nervousness or delirium. Motherwort was formerly used to treat
rheumatism and lung problems, like bronchitis and asthma. Motherwort
may help an overactive thyroid but does not depress normal thyroid function.
Tincture the leaves and flowers as soon as you pick them. If you prefer
to dry them, lay the leaves and stalks onto screens. Motherwort tea
has a very bitter taste. Chinese medicine uses the seeds to aid in urination;
cool the body system; treat excessive menstrual flow, absence of menstruation.
Dosage: 10-30 gms
For a possible tranquilizing, uterine stimulating, blood pressure-lowering
infusion, use 1-2 teaspoons of dried herb per cup of boiling water.
Steep 10 minutes. Drink up to 2 cups a day, a tablespoon at a time.
Because of the very bitter taste, add sugar, honey, and lemon or mix
it into an herbal beverage tea to improve flavor. In a tincture, take
½ to 1 teaspoon up to twice a day. Do not give to children under
ENERGETICS: bitter, spicy, slightly cold Meridians/Organs
affected: pericardium, liver
Infusion of aerial parts: use as a tonic for menopausal
syndrome, anxiety and heart weaknesses, or for menstrual pain. Add 2-3
cloves and drink during labor. Take after childbirth to help restore
the uterus and reduce the risk of postpartum bleeding
Syrup of aerial parts: the infusion is traditionally
made into a syrup to disguise the flavor. Use in similar ways to infusion
Tincture of aerial parts: use as the infusion.
Prescribed with herbs such as hawthorn as a heart tonic.
Douche of aerial parts: Use the infusion or diluted
tincture for vaginal infections and discharges
Decoction of Seeds: use for menstrual problems
Eyewash of seeds: use a weak decoction for conjunctivitis
or sore or tired eyes
Premenstrual Support: support the hormonal changes
that occur before menstruation beings. When taken over a period of timetwo
to six monthsthey assist in relieving nervous anxiety, mood swings,
irritability, swollen and sore breasts, water retention and cramping.
3 parts chasteberries, 2 parts crampbark, 2 parts motherwort, 1 part
oatstraw, 2 parts sarsaparilla root. Take 2-4 times per day from ovulation
through bleeding. As a tincture, take 15-40 drops. To make tea, pour
1 cup of hot steaming water over 2-3 teaspoons of herbs and drink 2-4
cups a day.
General menopause tonic: 3 parts vitex berries,
2 parts motherwort, 2 parts fresh milk
wild oat seed, 1 part Dong Quai root, 1 part wild yam root, 1 part false
unicorn root, ¼ part
licorice root. Take as a tincture, 25-50 drops, 2-3 times per day, 5-6
days a week. Can be used over several months.
Cool as a Cucumber Tea: 1 oz motherwort, 2 oz linden
flower, 1 oz chamomile flower, 4 oz skullcap herb, 3 oz borage flowers,
stems, and leaves, 2 oz marshmallow root, 2 oz hibiscus
flower. Combine 1 oz of the mixture with 4 cups of boiling water in
a teapot or container
with a well-fitting lid. Let stand for fifteen minutes; then strain
the tea and store it in a closed container. Allow to cool; drink at
room temperature. During daytime hot flashes, drink 1 cup as often as
needed. Or it can be sipped all day. Just be sure to drink the entire
amount each day.
Conserve of Motherwort: strip the flowers from
the stems allowing 2 lbs of sugar to 1 lb of flowers. Beat them together
well, stirring the sugar in gradually, then pot and tie down well. Syrup
of Motherwort: Cut the flowering stems into small pieces and put them
into an earthen pot and pour over them boiling water, allowing 1 gallon
of water to every 3 pounds of the stems. Cover closely and leave for
12 hours, then squeeze the herbs very carefully, heat the liquid and
add a fresh lot of herbs; infuse again, covering closely, and continue
to do so until the infusion is strong enough. To every quart of the
infusion add 4 pounds of loaf sugar and boil to a syrup and when cool
Toxicity: Motherwort leaves occasionally produce
skin dermatitis when touched. Because of the possible anticlotting effect
those with clotting disorders should avoid it.
Ritual Uses: herb of Venus and Leo. Excellent for
inclusion in the ritual cup. It is a strengthening herb, giving a person
a sense of purpose, and joy in the completion of the work needed. It
brings an atittude that all will succeed and allows for the growth of
inner trust, knowing that all will work towards a good and positive
conclusion. It is also used as an herb of protection and countermagicke.
The Complete Medicinal Herbal, Penelope Ody, Dorling Kindersley,
The Healing Herbs, Michael Castleman, Rodale, 1991
Herbal Delights, Mrs. C.F. Leyel, Faber & Faber, 1989
The Herbal Menopause Book, Amanda McQuade Crawford, Crossing
The Illustrated Herb Encyclopedia, Kathi Keville, Mallard
The Master Book of Herbalism, Paul Peyerl, Phoenix Press,
Medicinal Herbs in the Garden, Field & Marketplace,
Lee Sturdivant and Tim Blakley, 1998
Planetary Herbology, Michael Tierra, Lotus Press, 1988
The Roots of Healing, Deb Soule, Citadel Press, 1995
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