Blog - Motherwort


If you are a person who knows Latin, Motherwort is called  Leonorus cardiaca.  For the rest of us, that translates to Lion Heart.


Most of the time plants are named after the person who first classified them, or the region they grow in or originated from (California poppy’s Latin name is Eschscholzia californica).  If the pharmacopea has deemed it the “official” plant, it’s name will often reflect that title. For example, medicinal calendula is called Calendula officinalis. There are no strict rules when it comes to naming a plant, it’s completely up to the person choosing whether they want to give the plant a name reflective of the its usefulness.

Whoever named our Herb of the Week wasn’t messing around.  Akin to a hug from someone who loves you, Motherwort empowers you with a sense of stability, settles your churning stomach, un-clenches your teeth, and generally reminds you everything will turn out ok.  It’s a good one to have around the house.

Do you enjoy a good tension headache?  Love insomnia?  Devise new and creative ways to take your stress level from 0 to 60?  Well, then, Motherwort is not for you.  And also, we recommend you seek counseling.

As it’s common name implies, Motherwort is a calming herb that offers emotional support.  On a physical level, it eases nervous heart palpitations and generally strengthens the heart muscles, softly ‘mothering’ your body when it’s under serious (or mild) stress.

Ladies, it is especially awesome for any complications with your period; pain, bloating, general don’t-touch-me-the-world-sucks-ness, and can return regularity to a disrupted cycle.



Latin NameLeonurus cardiaca

Common Name(s): Motherwort

TCM Name: Yu mi cao

Geographic Distribution: Grows throughout the temperate regions of the world in sunny areas

Botanical DescriptionMotherwort grows from two to ten feet tall on a smooth, square and sturdy main stem with many branching stems. The lower leaves have three to seven unequal, toothed lobes while the upper leaves are lanceolate to three-lobed. The leaves are dark green and are located in opposite pairs and become progressively smaller toward the top of the stem. Small, fuzzy white or pink flowers arranged in whorls around the leaf axils bloom in summer. As the calices surrounding the seeded fruits dry, they become rather prickly. (Foster, 1993)
Parts Used: Aerial parts harvested when blooming in summer

Primary Uses:

  • May quite anxiety and nervous heart palpitations
  • Has an affinity for the female reproductive areas, helps with menopause and PMS by gently stimulating the liver to move excess hormones through
  • Specific for cramping associated with delayed menses,
  • Amenorrhea (lack of a period) with bearing down lumbar pain
  • Will bring on the menses if feeling delayed or repressed
  • Can restore the menses when it is repressed due to higher regulatory centers
  • Good to bring on the menses when it won’t return after going off BC
  • Good for helping with uterine drainage, will tone the uterine muscles
  • Strengthens without straining the heart, is lionhearted, a warrior plant, it gives strength to the emotional heart
  • Good for insomnia related to stress and anxiety
  • Good for women who are feeling particularly sensitive emotionally

Preparation & Dosing:

  • Tincture – Fresh Plant 1:2, Recently Dry Plant, 1:5, 60% alcohol; 30-60 drops
  • Tea – standard infusion (not a good tasting tea, best as a tincture)

Energetics: Bitter, cool

Parts Affected: Heart, uterus, nervous system


  • relaxant
  • cardiac relaxant
  • anti-spasmodic
  • emmenagogue
  • stimulates the uterus
  • relaxes the heart
  • nervine

Biochemical Constituents: Alkaloids, flavonoids, tannins, caffeic acid


  • May disrupt the menstrual cycle in high doses
  • Do not take while pregnant
  • Do not take if menses is heavy


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