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 Herbal Materia Medica: Motherwort 
Leonurus cardiaca


Names: Lion's Tail.

Habitat: Throughout Europe and occasionally in Britain.

Collection: The stalks should be gathered at the time of flowering, which is between June and September.

Part Used: Aerial parts.


  • Iridoids: leonuride and others not yet identified
  • Diterpenes of the labdane type, such as leocardin, a mixture of two epimers of 8[[beta]]-acetoyx-9[[alpha]], l3[[alpha]], l5, l6-bisepoxy-l5-hydroyx-7-oxo-labdan-6[[beta]], l9-olide (This is why shorter names are coined!)
  • Flavonoids; rutin, quinqueloside, genkwanin, quercitin, quercetrin, isoquercetrin, hyperoside, and apigenin and kaempferol glucosides
  • Caffeic acid 4-rutinoside.
Actions: Nervine, emmenagogue, anti-spasmodic, hepatic, cardiac tonic, hypotensive.

Indications: The names of this plant show its range of uses. `Motherwort' shows its relevance to menstrual and uterine conditions whilst`cardiaca' indicates its use in heart and circulation treatments. It is valuable in the stimulation of delayed or suppressed menstruation, especially where there is anxiety or tension involved. It is a useful relaxing tonic for aiding in menopausal changes. It may be use to ease false labor pains. It is an excellent tonic for the heart, strengthening without straining. It is considered to be a specific in cases of tachycardia (heart palpitations), especially when brought about by anxiety and other such causes. It may be used in all heart conditions that are associated with anxiety and tension. Chinese research referred to in Potters Cyclopedia found that it both reduced blood platelet aggregation and decreased levels of blood lipids.

Priest & Priest tell us that it is "diffuse, stimulating and relaxing, an antispasmodic nervine: indicated for reflex conditions affecting cardiac function, and as a simple cardiac tonic. It also influences pre-menstrual nerve tension and muscular rigidity." They give the following specific indications: anaemic nervousness and insomnia; palpitations, cardiac weakness after infections; neurosis; hyperthyroid cardiac reactions; P.M.S., congestive amenorrhoea or dysmenorrhoea.

Ellingwood considered it specific for "suppressed lochia from any cause, amenorrhoea from cold; dysmenorrhoea, with morbid nervous excitability and hysteria." He says it may be used with value in cases of: delirium tremens, typhoid state in fevers, chronic disease with wakefulness, restlessness, disturbed sleep, spinal irritation, neuralgia of the stomach and head, feeble digestion, general debility, chorea, convulsions, nervousness from irregular menstruation, palpitation of the heart, pain in the pelvic and lumbar regions in females.

Combinations: May be freely combined in any prescription, especially with Hawthorn.

Preparations & Dosage: Infusion: pour a cup of boiling water onto l-2 teaspoonfuls of the dried herb and leave to infuse for l0-l5 minutes. This should be drunk three times a day. Tincture: take l-4ml of the tincture three times a day.

Go to Herbal Materia Medica Homepage
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 About The Author
David Hoffmann BSc (Hons), MNIMHWhilst working in conservation and lecturing in ecology and the eco-crisis for the University of Wales, David Hoffman became convinced that to heal the world, to embrace planetary wholeness and responsibility for it......more
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