- Family Labiatae
- Leonurus cardiaca
- Lion’s Tail, Lion’s Ear, Throw-wort
- It should not be used if menstrual bleeding is heavy.
- Do not take during pregnancy as it is a uterine stimulant.
Native to central Asia, central Europe, and Scandinavia through to temperate Russia, motherwort is now naturalized in much of Europe and North America. It is a perennial herb, growing to about five feet producing toothed, palm-shaped leaves and double-lipped, pink flowers that grow in clusters. The plant thrives in woodlands, open areas, and along roadsides, as well as in gardens. It is harvested when in flower during the summer.
The species name, cardiaca, indicates that it has long been used as a heart remedy, while the genus name, Leonurus, means “lion’s tail”, derived from the shaggy shape of the leaves.
In 1652, Culpeper stated that there was “no better herb to drive away melancholy vapours from the heart, to strengthen it and make the mind cheerful.”
The Italian physician and herbalist Pierandrea Matteoli held it “useful for palpitations and a pounding heart, spasms, and paralysis.” He also indicated, in 1548, that it “thins thick and viscid humours, stimulates urine and menstrual bleeding, and purges stone from the kidneys.”
- gentle sedative
- strengthens heart function
- uterine stimulant
- alkaloids (including L-stachydrine)
- an iridoid (leonuride)
- flavonoids (including rutin, quercitrin, isoquercitrin, hyperoside, genkwanin)
- caffeic acid
- vitamin A
- Aerial parts, seeds (L. Heterophyllus)
Infusions are used as a tonic for menopausal symptoms, menstrual pain, anxiety, and heart weaknesses. It is taken during labour with cloves and after childbirth to help restore the uterus and reduce risk of postpartum bleeding.
Syrups are made from an infusion and used mainly to disguise the flavour of other preparations.
Tinctures are used like the infusion and often prescribed with hawthorn as a heart tonic.
Douches are made from an infusion or diluted tincture for vaginal infections and discharges.
Decoctions from the seeds are used for menstrual problems. A weakened solution is used as an eyewash for conjunctivitis or tired, sore eyes.
It has long used as a remedy for the heart and nerves and often prescribed for palpitations and strengthening a weakened heart function.
It is used for delayed menstruation, menstrual pain, and premenstrual tension, especially if shock or distress is a factor.
In China, L. heterophyllus (yi mu cao) appears to lower blood pressure and to induce menstruation. It is also used externally on eczema and sores and internally as a circulatory stimulant. The Chinese consider it an effective liver aid and, therefore, one that will help the eyes and “brighten the vision.”
In Siberia, L. sibiricus is used in a similar manner.