Motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca L.) and its Uses

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Flickr Image Thanks to oceandesetoiles
Flickr Image Thanks to oceandesetoiles

Motherwort is one of those interesting plants that, to me, has incredible personality.  (Plantality?) It’s a helpful plant and a joy to find, although harvesting it can be rather prickly at times.  I made a tincture of some motherwort this year, and it quickly became a favorite of mine due to its ability to heal both the physical and the spiritual sides of “ouch”.  True to its name, this herb has a real mothering quality to it.

Found: Throughout most of the United States, this plant is alien to our country.  To see if it grows in your state, you can check this distribution map from the USDA Plants Database.

Identifying: Leonurus has a square stem and grows about 3 – 5 feet tall.  The leaves have 3 toothed lobes, and the flowers are pinkish-purple.  These flowering spikes get rather pokey, so if you plan on doing some wildcrafting, take gloves.  I don’t and always wish I did!

Parts Used: Whole flowering tops

Medicinal Use: Nervousness and anxiety, “heartache” from life events, high blood pressure, hyperthyroidism, heart palpitations. Sedative. Tea promotes menstruation and regulates menses; childbirth aid, postpartum, menopause, hot flashes. Also used for neuralgia, sciatica, spasms, stomach pains, fevers, chills and cold; the flu. Hypotensive, antispasmodic, cardiotonic, diuretic, antioxidant.  In Germany it’s been approved in use for nervous heart conditions. 

Preparation: Dried plant for tea, whole fresh chopped plant for tincture.

Allergic Reactions/Warnings: Rare contact dermatitis.  

Extras: Motherwort video by herbalist Michael Moore of the Southwest School of Botanical Medicine

Note: These posts are not meant to be a medical guide but an overview.  Consulting an herbal specialist is always recommended.