(Leonurus cardiaca)

Motherwort is a mint family plant that came from central Europe originally, but has spread to all temperate areas of the world, primarily as a garden plant but also as an escaped weed. A similar plant, Leonurus heterophyllus, is used in China. The Chinese name for motherwort is yi mu cao, meaning “benefit mother herb.” The leaves and flowers of this herb are used medicinally. In Chinese herbal medicine, the seeds are also used.

The use of motherwort is practically the same in European folk medicine and traditional Chinese herbal medicine. It was widely used to regulate periods and to treat associated conditions. It was also considered a helpful diuretic and heart-strengthening herb by herbalists in both cultures, particularly to alleviate heart palpitations associated with anxiety attacks. Europeans used motherwort as a sedative

What it does

Motherwort contains alkaloids, irridoids, bitter glycosides, diterpenoids, triterpenes, caffeic acid, tannins and a number of flavanoids including quercetin and rutin. The alkaloids acts as a central nervous system depressant, lower blood pressure and also stimulate the contraction of muscles of the uterus. It can reduce blood lipid levels and reduce blood platelet stickiness making it useful for heart and cardiovascular health.

Motherwort is sedative, hypotensive, a cardiac tonic, antispasmodic, astringent, diuretic, stimulates period flow.

Potential Uses

Absence of periods Anxiety Diarrhoea
Cardiovascular health Menopause Painful periods

Other information

Motherwort used to be recommended immediately after childbirth to help deliver the placenta and tone the uterus.

Herbalists often use motherwort with vervain for anxiety, for menstrual problems it may be combined with cramp bark and black cohosh. For heart disorders and angina it may be used with hawthorn and lily of the valley.

Motherwort may also be used with skullcap and valerian to help benzodiazepine withdrawal.


You should not take motherwort in pregnancy due to it’s ability to stimulate the uterine muscles, which may lead to miscarriage.

High doses may cause diarrhoea, uterine bleeding and stomach irritation.

At the time of writing there were no well known negative drug interactions with motherwort.


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