Leonurus cardiaca Energetic Properties and Uses


When you need a good hug, reach for Motherwort. In the line-up of heart-healing herbs, Motherwort is one of The Best herbs for soothing both a physically exhausted heart and an emotionally exhausted heart. Modern herbalists often look to this weedy member of the mint family for support in blends for racing heart and high blood pressure, hormone-induced emotional swings, and anxiety or nervousness you can’t quite kick. The commonality to near all conditions is a relationship of some kind to the Heart.

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Mothewort and Traditional Western Herbalism

Motherwort, aka Leonurus cardiaca, has been associated with matters of the heart since the Ancient Greek physicians and likely well before them in Europe. It’s taste is described as “nauseatingly bitter” by Michael Wood, who suggests this herb for heart-related conditions that include an element of Tension or Constriction. That can include obviously heart-related matters, such as hypertension, tachycardia, high blood pressure, Anemia and poor blood flow due to vascular tension. It can also include conditions that result from or cause emotional tension, like hyperthyroidism or Graves Disease, PMS and PMT or hormonal fluctuations that include anxiety, tension, irritability, mood swings, and hot flashes.

Motherwort’s Ayurvedic Actions

From an Ayurvedic Perspective, Motherwort’s cooling energy primarily moves Pitta. It boosts Vata and reduces Kapha in the process of bringing Pitta’s heat into balance. The bitter to acrid taste is one clue that connects Motherwort to Pitta and the digestive fires.

Motherwort and TCM

Traditional Chinese Medicine herbalist Lesley Tierra describes Motherwort’s action as invigorating to the blood. She connects Motherwort with the Heart, Liver, and Bladder meridians and the cool, spicy, and bitter tastes. Within the context of Chinese Medicine, this makes Motherwort, aka yi mu cao, an important herb in formulas designed to build and move blood, increase yang, and calm the Shen.

Leonurus heterophyllus is the variety of Motherwort most often used in TCM formlation, although both L. cardiaca and L. heterophyllus share similar uses and properties.

Who is the Motherwort Person?

Motherwort’s cooling action coupled with that bitter bite is a specific kind of medicine. It’s soothes without pacifying, rather instead reminding you to own your power and use it wisely. When I’m working with a client who seems a little high-strung, as in nervous or anxious but unable to take action to change the situation, I may well reach for Motherwort whether a heart or blood condition is present yet or not.

DIY Motherwort Remedies

I often use Motherwort as a Dui Yao or herb-partner with either nervous system herbs, like Skullcap, or with circulatory herbs, like Hawthorn. Skullcap and Motherwort in equal parts supported by a mildly warming sedatives like Valarian or Passionflower and cooling or warming nervines like Milky Oats and Hops make a terrific formula for insomnia that includes racing mind and anxiety or worry that’s outta control.

For More In-Depth info on Motherwort Energetics…

Join the Herbal Nerd Society and Read the Expanded Article that includes a formula recipe to try at home!


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