By H. Zell (Own work) [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Leonurus cardiaca-Motherwort

Family: Labiatae or Lamiaceae

Other names: Lion’s Tail, Cardiaca crispa, Cardiaca glabra, Lamium cardiaca, Leonurus glabra.

Habitat: Throughout Europe and occasionally in Britain.

Motherwort Side Effects : Skin contact with this plant can cause dermatitis in susceptible people. The fragrant essential oil can cause hazardsmallphoto-sensitization. Grazing animals can have their mouths injured by the sharp teeth of the calyxes  Avoid during pregnancy as it is a uterine stimulant although it has been used during labour.

Motherwort is especially valuable medicinal herb in the treatment of female weaknesses and disorders, allaying nervous irritability, inducing quiet and passivity of the whole nervous system. It is also seen as a remedy for heart palpitations, it has a strengthening effect, especially on a weak heart. The antispasmodic and sedative effects promote relaxation rather than drowsiness. The leaves are antispasmodic, astringent, cardiac, diaphoretic, emmenagogue, nervine, sedative, stomachic, tonic and uterine stimulant. They are taken internally in the treatment of heart complaints (notably palpitations) and problems associated with menstruation, childbirth and menopause, especially of nervous origin. Although an infusion can be used, the taste is so bitter that the plant is usually made into a conserve or syrup. An alcoholic extract is said to possess superior action to valerian (Valeriana officinalis). The plant has been found effective in the treatment of functional heart complaints due to autonomic imbalance, and also as an anti-thyroid treatment, though it needs to be taken for several months for these effects to be noticed. . It should not be prescribed in the earlier stages of pregnancy or where periods are heavy. A homeopathic remedy is made from the plant. It is used in the treatment of heart complaints, amenorrhoea, menopausal problems and flatulence. The German Commission E Monographs, a therapeutic guide to herbal medicine, approve Leonurus cardiaca; Motherwort for nervous heart complaints.

Motherwort, Leonurus_cardiaca
By H. Zell (Own work) [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Description ofMotherwort:

Leonurus cardiaca is a PERENNIAL growing to 1 m (3ft 3in) by 0.5 m (1ft 8in).
It is hardy to zone 3. It is in flower from Jul to September, and the seeds ripen from Aug to September. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees.

Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

Cultivation of Motherwort:

An easily grown plant that succeeds in most soils, preferring one on the poor side. This plant was at one time cultivated for its medicinal uses. The whole plant is deliciously pungent when handled. The plant often self-sows when well-sited.

Propagation of Motherwort:

Seed – sow spring in a cold frame. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and plant them out in the summer. If you have sufficient seed then it can be sown in an outdoor seedbed, or even in situ. Division in spring or autumn. Larger clumps can be replanted direct into their permanent positions, though it is best to pot up smaller clumps and grow them on in a cold frame until they are rooting well. Plant them out in the spring.

Collection: The stalks should be gathered at the time of flowering, which is between June and September. The whole herb is harvested in August when in flower and can be dried for later use.

Culinary uses of Motherwort:

Edible Parts: 
Edible Uses: Condiment,  Tea.

The fresh or dried flowers can be used as a flavouring in soups, particularly lentil or split pea. They are also used as a flavouring in beer. Fresh or dried flowers can be used to make a tea.

Motherwort,Leonurus_Cardiaca_BotanicalMedicinal uses of Motherwort:

Actions: Nervine, emmenagogue, anti-spasmodic, hepatic, cardiac tonic, hypotensive.

Part Used: Aerial parts.

Indications: The names of this plant show its range of uses. `Motherwort’ shows its relevance to menstrual and uterine conditions whilst`cardiaca’ indicates its use in heart and circulation treatments. It is valuable in the stimulation of delayed or suppressed menstruation, especially where there is anxiety or tension involved. It is a useful relaxing tonic for aiding in menopausal changes. It may be use to ease false labor pains. It is an excellent tonic for the heart, strengthening without straining. It is considered to be a specific in cases of tachycardia (heart palpitations), especially when brought about by anxiety and other such causes. It may be used in all heart conditions that are associated with anxiety and tension. Chinese research referred to in Potters Cyclopedia found that it both reduced blood platelet aggregation and decreased levels of blood lipids.

Priest & Priest tell us that it is “diffuse, stimulating and relaxing, an antispasmodic nervine: indicated for reflex conditions affecting cardiac function, and as a simple cardiac tonic. It also influences pre-menstrual nerve tension and muscular rigidity.” They give the following specific indications: anaemic nervousness and insomnia;palpitationscardiac weakness after infections; neurosishyperthyroid cardiac reactionsP.M.S.congestive amenorrhoea or dysmenorrhoea.

Ellingwood considered it specific for “suppressed lochia from any cause,amenorrhoea from cold; dysmenorrhoea, with morbid nervous excitability and hysteria.” He says it may be used with value in cases of: delirium tremens, typhoid state in fevers, chronic disease with wakefulness, restlessness, disturbed sleep, spinal irritation, neuralgia of the stomach and head, feeble digestiongeneral debilitychoreaconvulsionsnervousness from irregular menstruation,palpitation of the heartpain in the pelvic and lumbar regions in females.

Preparations & Dosage:

Infusion: pour a cup of boiling water onto 1-2 teaspoonfuls of the dried herb and leave to infuse for 10-15 minutes. This should be drunk three times a day.

Motherwort Tincture: take 1-4ml of the tincture three times a day.

Combinations: May be freely combined in any prescription, especially with Hawthorn.

Other uses of Motherwort:
my motherwort fairy
Esoteric uses of Motherwort:

Magickal uses include bolstering ego, building confidence, success and counter magick. Keep in a jar by family pictures to keep the family safe.

The Chemistry:


  • Iridoids: leonuride and others not yet identified
  • Diterpenes of the labdane type, such as leocardin, a mixture of two epimers of 8[[beta]]-acetoyx-9[[alpha]], l3[[alpha]], l5, l6-bisepoxy-l5-hydroyx-7-oxo-labdan-6[[beta]], l9-olide (This is why shorter names are coined!)
  • Flavonoids; rutin, quinqueloside, genkwanin, quercitin, quercetrin, isoquercetrin, hyperoside, and apigenin and kaempferol glucosides
  • Caffeic acid 4-rutinoside.
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