Motherwort—Leonurus cardiaca—is also called Lion's Tail or Yi Mu Cao in the Chinese Pharmacopoeia. It grows in waste places. Motherwort is the most comforting herb I have ever come across. It brings a sense of inner security and calm strength that is unequalled by anything, except perhaps for a love affair of the deepest order—maybe not even that.
This wonderful herb has gained its name from the ancient practice of using it to reduce anxiety during pregnancy. The plant has good sedative properties which have been well validated by scientific experiments. It is able to calm the nervous system while at the same time acting as a tonic to the body as a whole. Culpepper, who believed that motherwort belonged to the goddess Venus and to the astrological sign of Leo, wrote "There is no better herb to drive melancholy vapors from the heart, to strengthen it and make the mind cheerful, blithe and merry." I think this sums up the virtues of motherwort superbly.
Its leaves are full of mind-altering natural chemicals, which studies in China have shown to decrease the levels of blood lipids and exert a regulating action on muscles such as the womb and the heart, bringing calm in its wake. This is one of the reasons why, in addition to being used by women to ease hot flushes, banish insomnia, and even restore elasticity to the walls of the vagina, it is an excellent herb for the treatment of many heart conditions in men. It is the most physically and psychologically comforting plant I know.
Motherwort is rich in alkaloids and bitter as an infusion. It is easier to take as a tincture or made into a herbal vinegar. Take 10 to 25 drops of the tincture made from the fresh plant every 2 to 6 hours, or 1 to 2 teaspoons of the herb vinegar as desired.
WHAT IT CAN DO
Calm The Nerves
There is something so calming and balancing about motherwort that it is hard to describe to someone who has never used it; used frequently it can relieve anxiety, nourish the nervous system, and relax tensions, while at the same time act as a tonic for energy; it is wonderful used just before confronting stressors of any kind.
Minimize Hot Flushes
This herb can reduce the intensity, length and frequency of hot flushes, even helping to calm the dizziness or faintness that can accompany them, thanks to its ability to oxygenate the blood in men and women, tonify thyroid, liver, heart and womb, and invigorate circulation all round. For best results use it regularly for 12 weeks or longer. Sometimes 10 to 15 drops or so of the tincture in a little spring water can ease a hot flush while it’s happening.
Promote Undisturbed Sleep
It’s a great help when you awaken in the night with sweats and have trouble dropping off again. Take 10 to 20 drops of the tincture (kept at the side of your bed with a glass of spring water) and swallow some each time you wake up. It even helps banish anxiety and bad dreams.
Eliminate Water Retention
Taking a little motherwort every few hours and it acts as a natural diuretic, reducing water retention; this is useful after a flight when legs and feet can become swollen.
Tone and elasticize womb and vagina
Improving circulation and thickening tissues which have lost their elasticity and tone, the herb can rejuvenate the tissues of the bladder, womb and vagina when you take it a couple of times a day for 2 to 4 weeks.
Simply the best for clearing up menstrual and uterine cramps, when the menstrual flow is absent or light to moderate. Use 5 to 10 drops of the tincture in a little water every few minutes until they have gone and repeat as necessary. Prolonged use strengthens the muscles of the womb, and makes it resistant to cramping in the future.
Strengthen Self Esteem
My favorite plant for calming emotional ups and downs is motherwort. 10 to 20 drops of tincture of motherwort works wonders when you are feeling unsettled. Alternatively you can take 5 to 15 drops of the tincture every day for a month or two to stabilize emotions long-term. It is also strengthening to the heart and tends to enhance courage and self-esteem.
Motherwort is not a herb to use when a woman is experiencing menstrual flooding since it can aggravate this tendency.