Why Motherwort is an Herb That’s “Like A Hug From Mom”
- Published on: 21 January, 2018
- Last update: 25 September, 2020
Let’s talk about the benefits of motherwort… and what we can learn from its wisely chosen name!
This is an herb I’ve been really drawn to lately in my studies, and I plan to harvest it locally when it blooms in June. Why? Because all you have to do is chop up the flowering tops of the plant, pack it into a jar, and cover with alcohol. 6 weeks later, you have a beautiful tincture for your ‘first aid kit’ that can be used in a pinch for anxiety, digestive distress and menstrual cramps.
- Motherwort’s botanical name, Leonurus cardiaca, means “lion-hearted”. First and foremost, it is a heart tonic that can be used in tincture form when someone has palpitations or tachycardia (irregular heartbeat), especially when this is due to stress and anxiety.
- Just as it brings relaxation to the heart, this herb deeply soothes the womb with its antispasmodic properties. Thus, it is helpful for relieving menstrual cramps and any associated digestive distress. “Think of a tightly clenched fist relaxing into an open hand to appreciate motherwort’s action on the uterus.” – Robin Rose Bennett
- Herbalist & MD Aviva Romm also suggests motherwort for menopausal symptoms ranging from insomnia and night sweats to anxiety and depression.
- As the name suggests, motherwort has a calming energy like a big hug from mom. It is classified as a nervine herb, and is incredibly helpful for the type of anxiety where thoughts are racing and worries feel “pent up” in the body. Just as it is soothes cramps due to menstrual congestion, motherwort relieves emotional congestion and says, “you got this.”
- Also in line with its famous name, motherwort is helpful for postpartum anxiety and melancholy felt by new mothers. “Motherwort bolsters the heart and uplifts the spirits, calming mothers so that they may attend to their tasks without feelings of overwhelm and self-doubt.” – CrazyHerbalist.com
- As a bitter member of the mint family, motherwort is medicine for someone who tends to ‘check out’ when facing they get scared or overwhelmed. “The bitter flavor brings us back into our bodies.” – Jim McDonald
- Grounds you (and helps you use the bathroom!) if you’re someone that has trouble feeling safe and secure when traveling to foreign places.
HOW TO USE:
- Either make your own tincture with fresh or dried flowering tops and strong (~100 proof) vodka, or use a high quality purchased tincture.
- For anxiety, a racing heart, or premenstrual headaches, start with a small dose (10 drops) diluted in room temperature or hot water. Some may need a larger dose (full dropper), but always start low first.
- For cramps, take 10 drops the same way just as the menses are coming on. Repeat the dose every 10-15 minutes until relief is felt. Again, some women need larger doses, up to a full dropper. In the words of herbalist Susun Weed when discussing menstrual cramps, “I haven’t heard from any woman whose had to use motherwort for more than four months in a row!”
Use only small doses (5-10 drops) if you have a heavy menstrual flow, as motherwort is traditionally indicated to support blood flow in those with scant menstruation. Do not use in cases of fibroids or endometriosis.