Motherwort (botanically known as Leonurus cardiaca) is a member of the mint family and an herb used especially for women's health. The many benefits of motherwort range from its effectiveness as a heart tonic to its calming properties.
Sometimes called lion's tail (because it was thought to resemble the tail of a lion), motherwort has long been used in herbal medicine.
Often used to support the female reproductive system, motherwort also has healing properties for both the physical and emotional heart.
Here is more about motherwort, plus some key benefits.
Motherwort was originally native to central Eurasia, but it has now spread to many parts of the world, including North America.
Its medicinal use dates back as far as the ancient Greeks, and it has been used by many different cultures such as the Europeans, Native Americans and Chinese.
Because it is a member of the mint family, motherwort is very easy to grow in a garden and can run wild if not kept in check. Typically, the leaves and flowers are used for medicinal purposes.
(If harvesting motherwort yourself, you may wish to wear gloves as the leaves can be spiky.)
Here are 6 of the major benefits of motherwort.
Supports Female Reproductive Health
With a name that means 'mother's herb,' it's no surprise that motherwort is a very supportive herb for mothers and female health in general.
It can be used as a tonic to support uterine health both before and after birth.
A compound found in motherwort called leonurine can help to promote uterine contractions, which explains its use in helping with delayed labor. (1) However, it can also help to ease afterbirth pains postpartum. (2)
To find relief from afterbirth pain, try motherwort in tea form with other supportive herbs. This Afterbirth Ease Tea is especially formulated for postpartum pain relief.
PMS and Menstrual Cycle Helper
The same compound (leonurine) that helps to stimulate uterine contractions can also help to regulate a delayed menstrual cycle.
Known as an emmenagogue, motherwort is an herb that stimulates blood flow to the pelvic area and uterus. This, in turn, will increase or stimulate menstrual flow. (3)
Those who struggle with a delayed or irregular period (also known as amenorrhea) could benefit from the properties of motherwort.
Motherwort can also help to relieve symptoms of PMS, including cramping. For a painful or irregular period, try this Menstrual Melody Tea with motherwort and other supportive herbs.
(Because it is an emmenagogue, motherwort should not be taken during pregnancy.)
As its Latin name (Leonurus cardiaca) indicates, motherwort is also beneficial for the heart and is often used as a heart tonic.
It is especially used to calm or decrease heart palpitations, but it also functions as an overall protector of heart health. A 2014 study concluded that these heart-protective properties could be from the antioxidants found in motherwort. (4) Motherwort extract is often recommended for those with thyroid conditions that cause a racing heart, like Graves Disease or Hashimoto's.
Motherwort can also help to lower blood pressure and improve circulation, which both contribute to heart health. (5)
Calms Anxiety and Stress
Along with motherwort's benefits for the physical heart, it's also known as a very beneficial herb for the emotional heart.
Motherwort helps to calm and soothe nerves and can also relieve feelings of stress, overwhelm, and anxiety. It has a mild sedative effect that is calming without being overly sedating. (5)
It can be especially helpful for treating anxiety that is accompanied by heart palpitations or hypertension. A small study found that patients with hypertension accompanied by anxiety and sleep problems who took an extract of motherwort noticed improvement of symptoms. (6)
Support During Menopause
The healing benefits of motherwort for women continue into menopause.
The active compounds in motherwort help the body to break down and process hormones, which in turn can help to balance symptoms of menopause. (3) It can be especially helpful for reducing the severity of hot flashes, it's recommended to pair it with herb sage for hot flashes.
For hot flashes and other symptoms of menopause, a combination of motherwort and black cohosh is often used. To support your whole body through menopause, try this Menopause Melody Tea that contains both of these herbs.
Stimulates Digestion and Appetite
The benefits of motherwort for the digestion, liver, and appetite come from its bitter nature.
Like other bitter herbs, motherwort will help to stimulate both the liver and digestive system, promoting healthy digestion and improving a sluggish digestion.
Motherwort also helps with poor digestion or poor appetite that is related to stress or anxiety. Combining it with chamomile or lemon balm can aid a loss of appetite due to nerves. (2)
Although there are many benefits of motherwort, there are a few side effects to consider.
Because motherwort affects the heart and can act as a blood-thinner, it should not be taken with other medication (especially heart medication or blood thinners) without first consulting your doctor.
Motherwort can also lower blood pressure and should not be taken by those with low blood pressure. If you are on blood pressure medication, consult your doctor before using motherwort.
Motherwort should not be used during pregnancy. The only exception is just before labor and only under the care of an experienced practitioner.
How To Get the Benefits of Motherwort
Due to its bitterness, motherwort is not often taken as a tea unless it is mixed with other, more pleasant herbs.
When used on its own, motherwort is most often made into a tincture using the fresh herb.
A tincture is much more concentrated than a tea, so you can get the benefits of motherwort by consuming a small amount of tincture throughout the day.
Motherwort is also sometimes used as part of a digestive bitters blend. These blends are usually taken before a meal to stimulate and improve digestion.
Could You Use the Benefits of Motherwort?
Motherwort is a much loved herb among herbalists, especially for its benefits to women, its heart-protective nature, and its calming and soothing properties.
Whether you want to try it to calm nerves and anxiety or to help with PMS symptoms and an irregular cycle, motherwort's healing properties are definitely worth exploring!