The Essential Herbal Blog: Mad for Motherwort

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previously published in Sept/Oct ’18 The Essential Herbal, shared from Herbalrootszine!

NOTE:  If you have young ones at home with school a big question mark, take a good look at Kristine’s website for some great ideas to keep their minds engaged and learning.

 

by Kristine Brown, RH (AHG)

Motherwort is commonly known as
“Mother’s Little Helper” because of her ability to help ease stress and tension
for weary moms. While Motherwort is wonderful for this aspect, she is also
useful for many other ailments as well.

A member of the Lamiaceae family,
Motherwort’s botanical name is Leonurus cardiaca, “leonurus” referring to lion
and “cardiaca” to the heart, giving another indication for her use. 

Do you have Motherwort growing in
your garden? If so, pick a leaf and try this experiment: chew the leaf and
notice the flavors of Motherwort. What do you notice? Bitter? Yes, pungent too?
Yes. How does the leaf make your mouth feel? Does it seem a bit dry? Cooler? We
describe Motherwort’s energetics as bitter, pungent, drying and cooling. 

Nutritionally, sources indicate
Motherwort contains beta carotene, calcium, choline, cobalt, copper, iodine,
manganese and potassium. 

Motherwort contains many
constituents that give her healing power: alkaloids such as leonurine,
stachydrin, betonin and turicin, flavonoids such as rutin, apigenin, and
quercetin, bitter glycosides, volatile oils, resins, tannins, and acids such as
magic, citric and vinitic. 

Motherwort has an affinity for the reproductive
system and the heart. Medicinally, Motherwort is considered to be analgesic,
antibacterial, antifungal, antioxidant, antirheumatic, antispasmodic,
astringent, bitter, cardiotonic, circulatory stimulant, diaphoretic, diuretic,
emmenagogue, hemostatic, hypotensive, immune stimulant, laxative, nervine,
parturient, sedative, stomachic, tonic, uterine tonic and vasodilator. Let’s
talk about these actions in greater depth…

Motherwort is one of the first
medicinal plants that I used after I started seriously studying herbs for the
medicinal uses. My first plants were patiently grown from seed and I have
happily grown her ever since. Focusing on the common name, indicating her use
for mothers (wort means ‘herb or plant’ indicating her common name to be
mother’s herb or plant), I found this herb to be very helpful as a new mother,
as well as mama’s little helper during my cycle. Motherwort has an uncanny way
of making everything seem alright for mothers and women who become tense and
irritated due to hormonal changes. 

Motherwort is wonderful for women of
all ages. Young women, coming into womanhood, will find Motherwort to be a
powerful ally while they adjust to the extra hormones that are flooding their
bodies. Menopausal women will find Motherwort to be just as supportive when
their hormones once again wildly fluctuate, by helping to moderate hormone
levels, calm hot flashes and night sweats and emotional mood swings as well as
easing heart palpitations, insomnia and depression, which are often a common
part of the menopausal journey. Mothers laboring in childbirth may find
Motherwort beneficial for a smooth birthing process. 

At the same time, Motherwort is also
a uterine tonic, supporting the uterus and toning it. Menstrual cramps are
often eased with doses of Motherwort. Motherwort can also help to bring on
delayed menses, especially when the delay is caused by clots in the uterus, or
when menses is scanty.

For those stuck in extreme emotional
upset, whether due to hormones, grief or even unexplainable reasons, Motherwort
will gently bring you back to a more calm emotional point of wellbeing. 

Motherwort is not just for women
though. Men can also benefit from her hormone balancing actions. As a
reproductive tonic, Motherwort not only tones the female reproductive system
but also the male reproductive system. 

Motherwort is also very supportive
to our hearts. Her botanical name Leonurus cardiaca, lionhearted, refers to her
support of the cardiac system. Motherwort strengthens the heart muscle, calms palpitations,
relaxes the heart, can slow a rapid heartbeat and improves circulation. As a
mild hypotensive, Motherwort combines well with Hawthorn, Linden and Black
Haw. 

Emotionally, the name infers courage
and Motherwort is wonderful for helping those navigate through dark times and
periods of intense grief. 

David Winston recommends the
combination of Motherwort, Bugleweed (Lycopus americanus) and Lemon Balm
(Melissa officinalis) to help with hyperthyroidism, especially when nervousness
and palpitations are present. 

Lesser known and utilized uses of
Motherwort include her effectiveness as an analgesic, especially for post
partum pain. Motherwort is also good for treating digestive system upsets,
especially when tied into the nervous system such as nervous dyspepsia, as well
as indigestion and liver/gallbladder stagnation due to her bitter and digestive
actions. 

Some may also find relief from
chronic skin conditions such as acne, psoriasis and eczema. 

As an antispasmodic, Motherwort is
also great for working with spasmodic conditions in the respiratory system,
including asthma. I like to combine her with New England Aster for this. 

Motherwort should not be used by
pregnant women as Motherwort is a uterine stimulant but is safe during
lactation.

Harvest Motherwort when she begins
to bloom. The flowering tops, leaves and stalks can all be used. 

Motherwort Extract

You can make Motherwort with fresh
or dried herb. Both are equally powerful. This is often the preferred method of
taking Motherwort as the tea alone is quite bitter. 

Fresh or dried flowering tops

Grain alcohol

Water (if using dried)

Fresh: Chop and fill your jar
halfway with fresh plant material. Fill the jar with grain alcohol. Have an
adult help you chop this plant as it can be hard to chop up. Watch out for the
spiny bracts. 

Dried: Fill your jar about 1/4 with
the dried plant material. Add enough grain alcohol to fill the jar slightly
over half. Top off with water. 

Screw the lid on tightly and label
your jar. You should include: the name of the plant you are extracting, if it
was fresh or dried, how much alcohol vs. water and the date it was
started. 

Let steep for 4 weeks, shaking
daily. After 4 weeks, you can strain off or leave the herbs in and the extract
will continue to get stronger with time.

Dosage: Adults 15-30 drops 3-4 times
daily. Children 7-12 10-20 drops 3-4 times daily.

 

Happy Heart Tea

A daily cup of tea nourished the
heart. 

Dried Motherwort

Dried Tilia (Linden)

Dried Hawthorn leaves and flowers

Mix equal parts of each herb in a
jar and mix well. Label the jar. 

To make tea, add 2 teaspoons tea to
a tea ball and steep in boiling water for 10 – 20 minutes. 

 Motherwort Infused Oil

This oil can be used on cramps,
muscle spasms, and on achy rheumatic joints. 

1/2 cup freshly dried Motherwort
flowers and leaves

2 cups olive oil

Place the Motherwort in the bottom
of the crockpot and pour enough oil to completely cover the plant material.

Plug the crockpot in for an hour or
two then unplug and let cool. Repeat this step several times until the oil has
taken on the properties of the Motherwort. It should be a lot greener than when
you started.

Strain off the plant material from
the oil and pour the oil into a jar. Let it sit for 24 hours then check for any
moisture that may have settled to the bottom. If you do not see any, your oil
is ready to use and you can label and store it in the refrigerator until you
need it. 

If there is a layer of moisture at
the bottom, pour off the oil into a new jar and discard the moisture layer.
Label the jar and store it in the refrigerator until you need it.

Motherwort Pendant

Make this pendant to wear near to
your heart for protection. These make thoughtful gifts for someone who needs
heart protection.

Air dry clay

Fresh Motherwort leaves

Small eye screw

Acrylic paint: green, metallic gold
or copper, tan, brown

Waxed paper

Paint brush with thin tip

Stiff brush such as an old
toothbrush or stencil brush

Small jar of water
Mod podge

Cord such as hemp, leather or silk

Begin by pinching off a piece of
clay about the size of a cherry. Depending on the size of your leaf, you may
want it bigger or smaller. 

Roll the clay into a ball, place it
on the waxed paper then gently press flat with your hand until the clay is
about 1/4 inch thick.

Place the Motherwort leaf vein side
down onto the clay and gently press with your hand or the bottom of a glass.
Using the end of the stem, remove the leaf from the clay. You should have an
imprint of the leaf on your clay.

Repeat as many times as you’d like. 

Decide which way is up then insert
an eye screw in the top, turning it so the hole of the eye screw is not visible
when you look at it. Repeat with all the pendants you are making.

Let the clay dry. 

Once the clay is dry, squeeze out a
dot of paint onto the waxed paper, one for each color.  Use some water
from the jar to thin the tan paint and create a wash for the pendant’s
background. Let dry.

Do the same with the green then fill
in the leaf with the green. Let dry. 

Use a touch of the metallic paint to
make details. You may wish to highlight the veins, or create a wash to coat the
entire leaf. 

If you would like your pendant to be
a bit more stone-like in appearance, use a bigger brush to flick paint over the
top of the pendant. Practice on the waxed paper first. To flick paint, dip the
brush into the paint then use your finger to flick the paint. There is a quick
tutorial on how to do this on the resource page. 

After the paint dries, paint a coat
or two of mod podge to seal the paint. 

Measure out a piece of cord long
enough to hang your pendant from. Make sure it will fit over your head after
you tie a knot in the end. Slip the cord through the eye screw then tie the
ends in a knot. 

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