There couldn't be a more perfect herb to talk about just before Mother's Day than motherwort. The latin name for motherwort is Leonurus cardiaca, or the lion-hearted one. It's said that when you take motherwort, you are protected by her lion's heart and you can relax into her embrace. Her energy is that of protective maternal grace, supporting heart, mind, body and spirit.
In 1652, the famous herbalist Nicholas Culpepper identified the plant's three most common uses: supporting the heart, nervous system and reproductive cycle. He wrote, "There is no better herb to drive away melancholy vapors from the heart to strengthen it and make the mind cheerful" and to settle the wombs of mothers.
An Herb For Soothing The Heart
Motherwort has a long history of use in supporting the emotional and physical heart. Motherwort encourages balance in the cardiovascular system. Herbalist Robin Rose Bennett suggests that motherwort also supports the spiritual heart by encouraging openness, acceptance and peace.
A Balm For The Nervous System
Motherwort is considered a nervine, or an herb that helps to soothe the nervous system. It's often said that taking motherwort is like receiving a big mama bear hug, offering a calming and soothing effect. By soothing the nervous system, we have a greater capacity to respond to stress and anxiety in a more balanced way, helping us to stay centered and grounded. The result is that we experience a greater sense of well-being and our mood is uplifted. WishGarden's Emotional Ally formula includes motherwort and suggests that taking this formula is like a big "herbal hug." Motherwort is also used in Deep Stress, a formula designed to encourage peace and tranquility.
A Motherly Herb To Support The Reproductive Cycle
The common name motherwort suggests yet another common use. Motherwort has long been used as a gentle female reproductive tonic, helping to support a healthy hormone balance during all stages of a woman's life. She deeply nourishes the reproductive system and can be helpful in easing postpartum discomforts. WishGarden uses motherwort in several women's formulas including Baby Blues, AfterEase for Postpartum Cramping, Monthly Rescue, PMS Emotional, Wise Changes, ReBalance, and WombKind.
Historical And Modern Uses
In the Middle Ages, motherwort was reportedly used to calm and soothe the nervous system, as well as to ward off evil spirits. In the nineteenth century, the Eclectic Physicians, as well as Native American tribes such as the Delaware, Micmac, Modheman, and Shinnecock, recognized motherwort's affinity for the female reproductive system. Today, motherwort is still an important herb in Traditional Chinese Medicine and Western Herbalism.
She Thrives In Many Climates
Motherwort is native to Central Asia and Europe and has been cultivated since ancient times. She is now naturalized in much of North America and Europe, growing wild in woodlands, open areas and along roadsides. Motherwort was introduced to North America as a plant to attract bees, and she is still an important pollinator-friendly plant.
She is a perennial, hardy to zones 4-8. Her stem is square, as is classic of all mint family plants. Her dark green 3-pointed leaves are simple and opposite. Her light purple flowers typically appear in mid-to-late summer, are round and hug the stem. The aerial parts of the plant (leaf, flower, and stem) are used in herbal preparations. Motherwort will grow in many climates and conditions but seems to prefer a bit of shade and well-drained soil. She does well cultivated in gardens and is very good at self-seeding.
In honor of Mother's Day, and to the mothering spirit, we offer this heart-centered tea blend recipe.
A Mother's Love Tea
- 2 parts Motherwort
- 2 parts Hawthorne berry
- 1 part Linden
- 1 part Rose petals
- 1 part Rose hips
- 1 part Marshmallow root
- Pour 8 ounces of boiling water over 1 tablespoon of this mixture.
- Cover and steep for 15-20 minutes.
- Strain and savor.
- Leonurus cardiaca L. (motherwort): a review of its phytochemistry and pharmacology
- Motherwort by Rebecca's Herbal Apothecary
- Motherwort: The Plant World'S Mama Bear
- Leonurus cardiaca
- Herbal Medicine: Expanded Commission E, Motherwort herb
- Making Plant Medicine by Richo Cech
- Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine by Andrew Chevallier
- Herbal Medicine From the Heart of the Earth by Dr. Sharol Marie Tilgner
Writer Amy Malek, CCN, CCH, INHC is a Certified Clinical Nutritionist, Certified Clinical Herbalist, Integrative Nutrition Health Coach and Flower Essence Practitioner. She discovered her love for plants in the Sonoran Desert while living in Tucson, AZ. She has been studying plants of the Mountain West and Southwest for 10 years. Her many teachers include Paul Bergner, Rosemary Gladstar, Dr. Aviva Romm, Lisa Ganora, Kat MacKinnon, Erin Smith, John Slattery and Charles Kane. Her career is divided between Holistic Health, Graphic/Web Design and Marketing/Social Media Consulting. She is currently WishGarden's Social Media Coordinator. She lives in Boulder County, CO. She enjoys wildcrafting and growing her own medicinal plants and making a variety of herbal remedies. You can learn more about her practice on her website, www.wholeheart-wellness.com.
For educational purposes only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease, or sell any product.