Leonurus cardiaca


Beautiful motherwort, a member of the mint family, is highly regarded around the world because of its special affinity for women. Motherwort literally means herb-for-the-mother. The Japanese call it herb-of-life. The Chinese use motherwort, or Yi Mu Cao, to promote longevity. Females from puberty to old age find motherwort a gentle and unfailing ally, and mothers everywhere find this fuzzy, pink-flowering herb indispensable!

Motherwort is an excellent tonic for the uterus, heart and generative organs. It helps relieve menstrual cramping and brings on late menstruation. It promotes a heavy flow when it breaks up stuck clots that cause pain. I encourage any woman who suffers from premenstrual syndrome (PMS) to get to know motherwort. It consistently quiets the associated nervous irritability. Wise women use 20 drops of fresh plant tincture, or a cup of dried plant infusion, to restore emotional ease when feeling tense. I find motherwort soothes and strengthens my entire nervous system and I rely on it whenever necessary.

Midwives know the leonurine in motherwort encourages uterine contractions and labor, Ancient Chinese courtesans relied on motherwort's emmenagogic properties to prevent pregnancy. Other constituents include stachydrine, bitter glycosides, phytosterols, volatile oil, tannins, minerals and carotenes.

Motherwort tincture in water, 10 drops taken several times a week on and off for a year or more, helps young girls ease into puberty. Motherwort is also a superb ally for menopausal women. It helps moderate hormone levels, emotional swings and hot flashes. It alleviates insomnia, depression and heart palpitations. I use 30 drops of tincture.

As its species name cardiaca implies, motherwort is a gentle, dependable and strengthening tonic for the heart. Tests conducted in China show motherwort relaxes cells in the heart. Other studies demonstrate motherwort's ability to prevent the internal blood clots that trigger heart attack. Russian researchers found motherwort contains chemicals that reduce blood pressure.

Motherwort is powerful yet safe and nourishing. At times of extreme emotional upset,  when you can't hold yourself together or stop crying, 20 drops of motherwort tincture can be taken as often as necessary. And do nurture yourself with other wise, wild-hearted ways so you don't become overly dependent on this indispensable herb.                             

Flower Essence Motherwort flower essence promotes the development of healthy boundaries. It creates inner strength while allowing a soft nurturing presentation.

Magical Lore Motherwort is an herb of protection, especially for women. Motherwort gives a sense of purpose and joy, an expectation that all will succeed. It brings the gifts of inner growth and trust.

When my mother arrived at Blessed Maine Herb Farm for a summer visit after my brother Jon died, she was very sad. The motherwort plants gave my mother great comfort, demonstrating how deeply plants can heal and nourish us when we open our wild hearts to them.

Culture Motherwort is an easy plant to grow. If you have one, more are sure to follow. Your neighbors will also find motherwort plants appearing in their gardens, so be sure to share with them your knowledge of this wonderful healing herb! Bee keepers are very fond of motherwort as honey bees love them.

From summer solstice until it frosts, motherwort sends up spikes lined with soft, pink, orchid-like flowers. Motherwort's hard, sharp, seed balls form on the lower portion of the flowering stems while the upper part is still flowering. Plants three to five feet high with leaves that metamorphose as the plant grows, first large and maple-shaped, then tiny and oblong with three points when it's flowering. These tiny leaves look to me like faery wings!

Motherwort not only supports us emotionally, but also teaches, through her growing habit and appearance, a lesson for strong emotional health. The prickly parts of our natures, the parts we usually try to hide and stuff away, need to be acknowledged and allowed to coexist with the softer and more socially acceptable parts of ourselves.

This is a plant teaching about the psychological necessity of setting healthy boundaries, about deciding for oneself and stating clearly, what one needs to feel safe, what one will welcome into one's life, and what one will not tolerate or accept. This will be different for each and every one of us.

I gather flowering spikes and tincture them while fresh in alcohol or vinegar, or infuse in honey. You can dry them as well, in bunches or on screens. Know that a motherwort infusion is very bitter. I usually add mint to it if I intend to drink it in tea. 

WARNING! Do not use motherwort during pregnancy or if menstrual flow tends to be heavy. Use it with caution if you have fibroids or endometriosis. 

Bitchcraft: the womanly art of pissing people off while smiling sweetly.

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