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Leonurine in Motherwort – How It Works

Leonurine In Motherwort – How It Works

Herbal Nerd Society Exclusive Article

Motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca) is a leafy, green herb that contains the alkaloid leonurine which protects and supports the heart and nerves. Leonurine is just one of many compounds in motherwort that has been shown to have cardioprotective, hypotensive, uterotonic, and neuroprotective effects. Herbalists rely on this herb to help people with rapid heart beat, nerve pain, anxiety and depression. It has traditionally been given to women during birth to ease the passage of the child by calming the mother. It has also been included in multiple formulas to stimulate the uterus while reducing stress to women who struggle with delayed menses.

As a heart tonic, leonurine performs a multitude of functions. It reduces the pressure in the left ventricle of the heart which improves blood flow in the coronaries. This, in turn lengthens the PQ interval which helps reduce rapid heart beat. The PQ interval may be seen on an ECG or heart monitor as the first up slope and down slope on the graph measuring the heart beat waves. These waves are measured by fraction of seconds between intervals. This alkaloid is being studied as a calcium channel antagonist which is a primary way to decrease the calcium influx, reduce heart rate by calming contractions, relaxing and widen blood vessels thus lowering blood pressure.

Leonurine for Nerves

Leonurine reduces nerve inflammation.  As the heart’s blood is controlled by nerves and muscles, the calming effect that the leonurine in motherwort has on the nerves may be an important way that it reduces abnormal heart rhythm. It is a strong antioxidant. Oxidative stress has severe effect on the nerves and vascular cells. Leonurine tones the mitochondrion processing within the cells themselves. This is how it has earned it’s title as a neuroprotective herb.

Motherwort  contains a many compounds that contribute to good health. It has iridoid glycosides, monoterpenes, diterpenes, triterpenes, alkaloids, phenylpropanoids, flavonoids and volatile oils, sterols, and tannins. As with all herbal medicine, herbalists utilize a combination of effects from the wealth of chemical constituents as they interact with each other and the chemicals with our own bodies. Research on these compounds is released all the time so there is always something new to learn about herbs, their compounds and how they interact with our body systems.

Contrandications for Motherwort

Motherwort calms the central nervous system. It is possible that when combined with anesthesia and other medications used during and after surgery. Motherwort might cause too much sedation. Stop using motherwort at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery. Do not use if you have a heart condition without first consulting with a qualified healthcare practitioner. Do not use if you are pregnant or breast feeding without first consulting with a qualified healthcare practitioner. There is no documentation as of this writing of known drug/herb interactions.

Further Research

Research Gate – Leonurine ameliorates adriamycin-induced podocyte injury via suppression of oxidative stress

Naturopathic Doctor News and Review – Motherwort: For the Heart and Beyond

Restorative Medicine – Motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca)

Research Gate – Molecular Structures of Leonurine, Boldine and Tannic Acid

Sue Sierralupe

Sue Sierralupé is a Certified Master Herbalist, Master Gardener and Sustainable Landscape Specialist. She is the clinic manager and lead herbalist at Occupy Medical clinic. Sue is author of The Pocket Herbal: Medicinal Plants that Changed the World and co-author of The Practical Herbalist Herbal Folios series. Follow her blog at Herbalism Manifesto for commentary on herbs, parenting, nutrition and a whole lot more.


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