The Latin name Leonurus cardiaca is derived from the Greek word meaning lionhearted. The ancient Greeks used motherwort to relieve anxiety in mothers after childbirth. It really is a women’s herb, being valuable in the treatment of menstruation and menopausal problems as well as after childbirth.
What to look for
L. cardiaca is a member of the mint family, has a square stem and opposite leaves. Small pink and lilac flowers appear on the upper part of the plant between June and August. The plant grows to about a metre in height and can be found along roadsides and in vacant fields and other waste areas.
Today, motherwort is used to stimulate delayed or suppressed periods and to ease the discomfort of dysmenorrhoea (painful menstruation). The plant contains constituents that act as a gentle uterine stimulant. It is for this reason that it should not be used in pregnancy although after childbirth it helps to restore the uterus and to reduce the risk of bleeding after birth (postpartum haemorrhage).
Herbalist, Susan Weed recommends motherwort during the menopausal years to treat hot flashes, fainting, stressed nerves and sleep disorders. For hot flashes she suggests a dropperful of tincture in a small glass of water. She utilizes it for its great relaxative properties. “Motherwort calms, supports, and strengthens you the way the smell of your mother did when you were very young.”
“Ask motherwort to be your ally in tough times, in shaky times, in scary times.”
Used regularly, motherwort feeds your nerves and your good common sense, relaxing and unclenching any held tension. Motherwort is not sedating, but calming, leaving you ready for action, not flying off the handle or bouncing off the walls. “Ask motherwort to be your ally in tough times, in shaky times, in enraging times, in scary times, in depressed times, in grief-filled times,” Susan continues. She recommends ten to 20 drops of tincture as soon as you feel your nerves starting to fray or just before a stressful event. Repeat every five minutes if needed.
Heart conditions are also treated with this common herb, hence the second part of the Latin name. It invigorates the circulation and increases oxygen in the blood. Motherwort calms a rapidly beating heart with readily usable minerals, trace elements, and an alkaloid exceptionally tonifying to the heart (and uterus). The German herbal doctor, Weiss, uses motherwort tincture for those with functional heart complaints. A dropperful of motherwort tincture acts quickly to ease palpitations and tachycardia (heart rate disorders). Regular use lowers hypertension, and sets you up to be a hale-hearted elder.
Calming at night
At night motherwort’s high-calcium calming effect can be put to good effect when you are awakened and have difficulty getting back to sleep. Keep a glass of water and a bottle of motherwort tincture by your bed and take 10-15 drops and a swallow of water as soon as you wake, even if it’s three times an hour.
ALWAYS SEEK THE COUNSEL OF A QUALIFIED AND TRUSTED PRACTITIONER • PHOTO: BRIAN JOHNSON