Action: Sedative, antispasmodic, cardiac tonic, hypotensive,
Systems Affected: Nerves, heart, circulation, uterus.
Preparation and Dosage (thrice daily): Dried flowering plant, dose
2-5 grams by infusion.
There are several species of Leonurus throughout the world, all with
similar cardiotonic, sedative and emmenagogue properties. The Asian
species L. artemisia is an important herb in Chinese medicine and
the European species L. cardiaca has been in use since the time of
the ancient Greeks.
The plant is a strongly smelling erect perennial growing to 1.5
meters in height. The generic name Leonurus refers to the tall leafy
stem which the ancients thought resembled a lion's tail; the
specific name cardiaca refers to the herb's action on the heart. Its
common name refers to its use as a female tonic.
Motherwort is useful for treating female disorders, including
menopausal problems and particularly suppressed or irregular
menstruation, for which it is often combined with other herbs such
as Cramp Bark and Marigold.
It is a good tonic for the heart, and may be combined with Hawthorn
berries for a very effective heart tonic useful in weakness of the
heart, palpitations and neuralgia. It is specific for heart problems
associated with anxiety.
Culpeper wrote: 'There is no better herb to drive melancholy vapours
from the heart, to strengthen it and make the mind cheerful, blithe
and merry . . . therefore the Latins call it cardiaca.'
As a sedative and antispasmodic, Motherwort is useful for treating
conditions such as anxiety, hysteria, insomnia, cramps and
convulsions. It allays nervous irritability, inducing quiet and
relaxation of the whole nervous system. In fevers attended by
nervousness and delirium it is very useful. It is also used in
treating flatulence, shortness of breath and congestion of the
Cautionary Notes: The fresh plant may cause contact dermatitis in
some susceptible individuals.