MOTHERWORT (Leonurus cardiaca)

Family: Lamiaceae

Parts commonly used: Flowering tops and leaves.

Properties/energetics: Nervine, cardiac relaxant, diuretic, antispasmodic, antiadrenergic/Slightly cold, dry; spicy, bitter.

Systems predominantly affected:  Nervous, circulatory, reproductive.

Uses: Primarily a heart sedative acting through the nervous system to slow racing, pounding heartbeat and other heart conditions brought about by nervous tension or too much input that elicits sensory overload. Its antiadrenergic action relaxes the effect of an overstimulated sympathetic (fight-or-flight) nervous system, and it has an indirect supportive effect on (hyper)thyroid conditions, acting to slow down sympathetic excess. Motherwort also decreases platelet aggregation and somewhat lowers blood fats, all in all providing a beneficial effect on the cardiovascular system (denoted by the species name cardiaca). A general nervous system relaxant with mild emmenagogic properties makes this herb ideal for women experiencing painful scanty menstrual flow aggravated by stress (denoted by the name Motherwort — ‘wort’ means herb).

Combinations: Use with Oat and Ziziphus for balancing nervous, anxious deficient patterns; use with Skullcap for excess patterns. As a reproductive-organ tonic, use with Saw Palmetto, Red Raspberry, or Shatavari. Combine Motherwort’s general relaxing properties and its effect on the heart with the actions of Bugleweed for counteracting the effects of hyperthyroidism.

Affects on specific body types: This is a useful remedy for both the Warrior and the Seer constitutional types. Motherwort balances agitated, irritable, angry, excessive patterns as well as nervous, anxious deficient patterns. Although on the surface this seems like primarily a Seer remedy, on its own Motherwort is probably best suited for the nervous aggravation of the Warrior. Motherwort is actually more a sedative than a tonic, and the Warrior’s agitation comes from excess, excitable nerve energy requiring only simple sedation to lower its fire and balance out, whereas the Seer’s agitation stems from deficiency, requiring nourishment in conjunction with sedation to build up his balancing juice. For example, Motherwort and Ziziphus are both used for heart palpitations, but they differ fundamentally in that the former is more sedative, while the latter is more tonic. For this reason, Motherwort taken as a simple (singly) is better suited to heart agitation in Warriors, while in Seers it might get problems under control quickly, but in the long run it is better compounded with or replaced by Ziziphus because the latter will supply more nourishing and tonifying actions. Motherwort is well suited for long-term use by the aggravated Warrior; its actions are gently sedative, and its influence on blood constituents is a good preventive to cardiovascular damage.

Preparations/dosage: Infusion: 1 cup three times a day. Tincture: 20 to 40 drops two to four times a day.

By James Green, Herbalist, copyright 2008

For more information please refer to James Green’s book, The Male Herbal, 2nd Edition