Herbalism, The Childbearing Year, Women's Health
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Motherwort – Leonurus cardiaca

motherwort.jpgDo you see the motherwort in this picture? Hint: its vertical. Mmmm…Motherwort! I have been craving the bitter herb for a steady week running – and as a tea! Who in their right mind drinks motherwort infusion? Someone who needs it, or who likes the bitter zing. Have you ever eaten a motherwort flower? Try it, I dare you. I have been drinking motherwort infusion to calm my critical and exacting PMS self to a down to a low roar; its working quite well. It is also nourishing, stockpiling nutrients that will soon be shed; for this purpose I add a bit of nettle or oat straw. At this time in my cycle I tend to see things very clearly, which can either enrich my life with wise insight or keep me up at night ruminating. Motherwort, along with hops, eases my mind.

In the middle of winter, I dream of a sunny day and a garden full of motherwort. There is something very awakening and attracting about the upright member of the mint family. A friend once became very aquatinted with a particular motherwort plant and described her as juicy. I have yet to have a garden full of motherwort, as my seeds never seem to germinate. This year I am trying really hard to get my seeds sprouted…so wish me luck.

Motherwort promotes menstruation, reduces nervous tension and cramps, and is regulating to stress and anxiety caused heart problems, racing and/or irregular heartbeat (tachycardia). Culpepper says about motherwort, “Venus owns this herb and it is under Leo. There is no better herb to drive melancholy vapors from the heart, to strengthen it and make the mind cheerful, blithe and merry”. Yes, motherwort is warming in taste and even color with the sweet downy pink with white whorls of flowers, soothing to the heart and demanding emotions, and a wonderful ally for women of all ages and at all times of their cycles. The way it stands in the garden, attracting bees like mad, reminds me of an seemingly innocent attention-seeking amorous Leo. Well, not that innocent, if you have ever been tangled amongst their sharp seed pods at the end of the season!

It is called Ectes Herzgespann in German, which in an excruciatingly literal translation is “common heart team”; luckily a German woman described it to me as meaning “it pulls the heart forward, as one would lead a team of yoked oxen”. What a wonderful way to visualize this herb’s actions. Like many herbs, motherwort contains a myriad of chemical compounds that give rise to its unique uses. From its taste we know that it works on the digestion; Tierra says it is specifically a carminative. The tannins make it astringent to the uterus, and according to Wikipedia, “the herb contains the alkaloid leonurine, which is a mild vasodilator and has a relaxing effect on the smooth muscles. For this reason, it has long been used as a cardiac tonic, nervine, and as an emmenagogue.”

As an emmenagogue, I view it as enriching the blood and circulating it, rather than starting delayed menstruation, as the latter has never worked for me. It still has an important pre-menstrual use of allying stress, anger and rage, worrying that keeps you up at night, and anxious palpitations. Stress and anxiety keeping your period away? Try motherwort. Motherwort may be helpful include during the last few weeks of pregnancy to promote uterine tone. Ruth Trickey states in Women, Hormones and the Menstrual Cycle that motherwort “is one of the many herbs which posses the apparently contradictory actions of relieving spasm and stimulating uterine activity–an effect which seems to be brought about by a reduction in the irritability (spasticity) of the uterine muscle. This allows contractions to be followed by an adequate rest period when blood can circulate through the muscle again”(470). Of course, motherwort is useful for peri-menopausal women, adressing palpitations, night sweats and worrying keeping you up at night, Trickey combines hops, motherwort and black cohosh for this reason with “excellent results”.


Tierra, Micheal. Planetary Herbology.

Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motherwort

Culpepper’s Complete Herbal. http://www.bibliomania.com/2/1/66/113/frameset.html

Trickey, Ruth. Women, Hormones and the Menstrual Cycle.

Gladstar, Rosemary. Rosemary Gladstar’s Family Herbal.


  1. pinkpants says

    Great post! I live in WI so it’s nice to read a herbal blog from this neck of the woods.

    I love motherwort too. About a year after I gave birth and my moon returned, my first few cycles right before bleeding were rough. Motherwort along with some diet improvments evened and soothed my roll-a-coaster emotions. Tea or a little tincture. I like to use it for after birth cramps too-especially like you noted with heart centered feeling. Lovely!

  2. kat says

    You are an absolute sweetie – I was googling motherwort and came across your blog – thank you for what you wrote – I have been working part time at the herb bar in Austin, TX and bought a tea blend of motherwort, skullcap, oatstraw and stevia – when I tasted it – I was like “What the heck is that??” and I had to buy it and now I am making it.
    Ironically it’s not for post pregnancy – just my emotional state – I believe you have to listne to your body.
    Anyway, best of luck to you in your ventures and living your life.

  3. Claire says

    How do you make your motherwort tea? I am dealing with skipped heart beats and racing heart that come cyclically with the [slow] return of my cycle following the birth of my twins 1.5 years ago. I am not sure if my symptoms have to do with hormonal balance (seems likely), possibly mild anemia or anxiety — or all three! I have tincture but I’ve also purchased the whole herb and now reading your post I want to try making it as a tea and see how it helps me. I drink nettles infusion a lot and enjoy the bitterness so motherwort probably wouldn’t bother me. Do you find the tea more effective for you than tincture? Would love to know how you make it and how much you know to drink…

    GREAT information and site!


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