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Motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca [Latin]), also called leonurus, lion’s tail, and heartwort, has been used to treat heart disease and depression for thousands of years. Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) recommends motherwort to promote longevity and treat menstrual disorders. Today motherwort is still recommended by herbalists for treatment of heart palpitations and anxiety, and to encourage normal menstrual cycles.

Recent studies performed in China have shown that motherwort helps prevent blood clots relax the heart muscle, and lower blood pressure. Of course, anyone with a diagnosed or suspected heart condition should be under a doctor’s care.

Motherwort contains lionurine and stachydrine, alkaloids that not only help lower blood pressure but also have a sedating effect on the central nervous system, which supports motherwort’s traditional use as a treatment for depression anxiety.

The tranquilizing effects of this herb may benefit those experiencing anxiety as well as those having trouble sleeping. Laboratory studies have shown that the lionurine in motherwort also causes uterine contractions. Motherwort may indeed benefit women who are trying to induce menstruation, but those that are pregnant or trying to get pregnant should avoid motherwort altogether.

Motherwort is easy to grow; watch this plant or it could take over the garden! You can cut this plant and use the stem, leaves, or flowers in homemade herbal tea—use 2 teaspoons of dried motherwort to 1 cup of hot water for a homemade tea. You can drink up to 2 cups daily. Motherwort is also available at health food stores and some pharmacies in extracts, teas, capsules, and tablets. Just be sure to follow the dosage instructions on the package—too much motherwort can cause diarrhea and upset stomach.

Pregnant or nursing women should not take this herb. People taking blood thinners also should not consume motherwort since it may increase the effects of these drugs.

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