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Motherwort – Western Clinical Formulas

Motherwort – Western Clinical Formulas

Herbal Nerd Society Exclusive Article

Motherwort (Leonurus Cardiaca) is a soothing herb for the heart. It is used for cardiac insufficiency, arrhythmias, premenstrual cramps, hypertension, stress and anxiety. Motherwort has been traditionally used as an emmenagogue for amenorrhea due to some of the alkaloids but its effect is mild. Experienced herbalists add it to emmenagogue formulas. Usually it is added to help soothe anxiety that lead to delayed menses which might provide more help to the patient than the uterine stimulating alkaloids of leonurine and stachydrine.

Motherwort combines its actions as an antispasmodic and as a nervine which makes it a wise addition to any formula for cramping. Women suffering from premenstrual cramping find relief by combining it with raspberry leaf, vitex and/or black cohosh. The most commonly used blend is 3 parts dried raspberry leaf tincture with 1 part motherwort leaf tincture. Vitex or black cohosh is added depending on the duration and frequency of the symptoms.

As an aid to conditions of the heart, motherwort is blended with hawthorn to be taken as needed. Hawthorn may be taken as a single tincture or syrup with additional magnesium supplements to strengthen the heart and reduce blood pressure. Anxiety is often accompanied with heart conditions, motherwort may be taken as a daily supplement when blended with other nervines such as catnip, valerian, or lemon balm.

Dosage can vary depending on the formula, intention and delivery device. Motherwort is widely available in capsules, tinctures and teas. It is bitter to the taste. Look for deep green leaves in dry mix without flowers. Small, unopened flower buds are acceptable but not preferred. Motherwort is most potent when picked at the bud stage before the flowers have opened. Keep it away from light as the chlorophyll fades quickly.


Motherwort is not contraindicated with other herbs or conditions but it is suggested to not use in pregnancy. It is a mild uterine stimulant. Theoretically, motherwort may be contraindicated with CNS depressants but no evidence exists to substantiate this claim.

Further Research on Motherwort

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database: Motherwort

American Botanical Council – Expanded Commission E: Motherwort Herb

NCBI: Leonurus cardiaca L. (motherwort): a review of its phytochemistry and pharmacology

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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