Chris Marano is in the garden collecting motherwort. Watch the video below and learn all about motherwort uses for the discerning herbalist
Today we are harvesting and discussing motherwort uses. You can see in the video that the motherwort is a little bit past where I would like it. I would have liked to have harvested it when it was in full leaf before it went to flower as it has, but we got caught with a bunch of rain and it really bolted on us. Regardless, it’s still very worthwhile medicine. The leaf is what we’re looking for.
If you know something about the signature of the morphology of mints, you know that members of the mint family (Lamiaceae) have square stems. You can see this in the video below. Motherwort is the poster child for square stems in the mint family. Another signature of the mint family is the irregular shape of the flower, with an elongated petal resembling a lip. In fact, its old family name was Labiatae, as in labia or lip.
Motherwort, however, is not a typical mint when it comes to aroma. There’s not much of an aroma at all and definitely not something you would find on your spice rack. Motherwort is an atypical, non-aromatic mint. This in no way detracts from its medicinal virtues. In fact, motherwort is intensely bitter and its medicine is extremely versatile.
Motherwort uses as an antispasmodic and anti-anxiety herb
Motherwort is perhaps one of the most versatile medicines I know of. In herbal medicine, we speak about plant medicines that are connector herbs, helping to connect the formula together because they go to so many places in our physiology that they can help the formula come together as a whole to move to these different locations. Motherwort is working primarily through the nervous system as an antispasmodic and an antianxiety herb, but it’s also working very much through the liver and gallbladder. In Chinese medicine, the liver and gallbladder have a lot of say over constraint and constriction held anywhere in the body causing tension, anxiety and irritation. Motherwort has equal access to the liver, gallbladder, digestion, heart, cardiovascular system, female reproductive system, and to the brain into the nervous system. In all of these places it is helping to ease tension, take away spasm and constriction so that qi can flow better and the nervous system can flow better, too.
Want to learn herbalism in greater depth? Check out the online herbalist course: Foundations of Western Herbalism now.
Motherwort uses for the heart and solar plexus
Motherwort’s scientific name, Leonurus cardiaca, (‘Leonurus’ as in ‘lion’ and ‘cardiaca’ as in ‘heart’) truly lives up to its name as being lion-hearted. I put this herb in formulas or by itself to help people gather courage, gumption, more strength, decisiveness and conviction coming through the solar plexus. That’s where a lot of our vow and movement forward comes from. This herb helps us stand place and hold our ground.
Motherwort is superlative cardiovascular medicine, especially if we hold tension there, experiencing tightness in the chest, or heart palpitations.
Motherwort uses for the female reproductive system
Motherwort is profoundly important for female reproductive complaints and menstrual irregularities, especially where there’s tension and emotional issues that are connected to it. Whether it’s amenorrhea or dysmenorrhea, it doesn’t matter. More what matters is that there is an accompanying emotional or a nervous system component and then it becomes even more useful.
Motherwort uses as a medicinal tincture
I’m going to take this medicine, strip all the leaves off, remove the flowers and make tincture from it. I don’t really make glycerite from this plant because it’s not tasty at all, and it’s not a children’s medicine. It’s more for adult nervous system complaints.
I gather motherwort every year because I use it a lot. It’s one of these herbs that is for the times. Like I mentioned earlier, it’s valuable for irritability, constraint, spasmodic holding patterns and nervous system issues, all of which are an epidemic in our culture right now. Let’s face it, the world isn’t in a very harmonious, smooth place and people have to keep on keeping on, toeing the line, and holding it together. That takes effort and the nervous system has to cover all of that. Motherwort really helps to ease nervous system flow and qi. Imagine health as being free-flowing qi through all of your channels without impediment. Motherwort helps to release and relieve the impediments, especially when it goes to the heart, digestion, or the female reproductive system.
Steven Buhner also speaks about motherwort uses for enlivening all the way down to the mitochondrial level. It helps mitochondria work better and utilize oxygen better. This means that if you’re looking for something on a deep level for “get up and go” but not through the adrenals, and you’re feeling that you are stuck there, then motherwort might be a very handy herb in formulas along that line.
Motherwort uses to be careful with
One of the downsides of motherwort for some people, as is also the case with lemon balm, is that it depresses thyroid function a bit. If you have hypothyroidism, you may want to think twice about using motherwort. If you’re already on medication for hypothyroidism, then it doesn’t matter. The amount of motherwort will not impede the dominating strength of the medication. If you’re looking to put more than one herb in a formula for nervous system complaints and you wanted to mix motherwort and lemon balm together, know that the two of them together are going to have a compounding effect on lowering thyroid function. If on the other hand you have hyperthyroidism, then have at it.