Motherwort benefits are plentiful, since this herb has been used medicinally for centuries. In Ancient China they used it to promote longevity. It is especially beneficial for women in all stages of their adult life, including supporting menstrual cycles to postpartum and menopause. It is traditionally used to treat nervous and anxiety issues. Studies have shown it can help with alcoholism. Other people use it as a remedy for high blood pressure and heart palpitations since it strengthens the heart and tones the cardiovascular system. This herb can reduce inflammation and pain. It also has antioxidant and antibacterial effects.
Less known uses include the treatment of respiratory ailments such as coughing and wheezing. Historically it has been used to treat typhoid and other diseases with intermittent fevers. Its bitter properties can help stimulate digestion. Can be combined with aromatic mints, chamomile or lemon balm in a tincture to be taken before meals.
Those who want to grow motherwort in their gardens will be pleased to know that it is quite easy. The only complicated part is the seed stratification. When growing plants from seeds, you will have to wait till the second year to take advantage of all the motherwort benefits. All parts of the plant can be used in herbal medicine.
Medical use comes from active ingredients and substances in motherwort including oleic acid, malic acid, citric acid, alkaloids, iridoids, flavonoids, terpenoids, tannins, carbohydrates, choline and fenolglykosid. Some of these compounds are antioxidants that can protect your cells from damages caused by free radicals.
Motherwort benefits can be obtained by consuming the plant in different forms such as capsules, tincture or tea. It is rarely used in cooking since it has a bitter taste.
The common name “motherwort” refers to midwives use of this plant and “wort” which means to heal. The Complete Herbal published in 1653 by Nicholas Culpeper says this herb “makes women joyful mothers of children, and settles their wombs as they should be, therefore we call it Motherwort.”
Native American tribes used it as a uterine tonic for women.
Motherwort benefits are especially important in connection with childbirth. It can help the mother’s mental state, serving as a remedy for stress and tension during the third trimester, birth and postnatal period. This is one of the herbs for labor and birth that I recommend. Make sure not to drink an alcohol based tincture, instead find a water based or make tea, since the alkaloid that prompt its emmenagogue property (stimulating menstruation bleeding) properties are alcohol soluble and not water.
Taking it at the end of pregnancy (it is not recommended in the first and second trimester) can make uterus contractions more coordinated. Low levels of alkaloid leonurine (found in motherwort) promote contractions, while high levels inhibit contractions. This can explain why it is so useful to initiate birth (and menstruation), while at the same time it relaxes and brings the uterus back to normal after childbirth. This herb also helps to release the placenta during the birthing process.
Later stages of pregnancy and birth put stress on the heart, so another motherwort benefit comes into play. This herb can also prevent miscarriage and relieve false labor pains. Women who have had cesareans can use motherwort to reduce bleeding.
Women with menstruation issues can use this herb as an emmenagogue, meaning it stimulates the uterus brining on the menses. It is useful for women with delayed periods and cramping between periods. Do not use if you have a super heavy flow! It also helps alleviate PMS symptoms such as anger, tension and headaches. As a member of the mint family, this herb has a cooling effect on the body which gives relief from hot flashes in menopause. It is often blended with other plants such as black cohosh, kava kava and bugleweed.
The Complete Herbal claims that the name cardiaca derives from the herb’s use for “the trembling of the heart”. Motherwort benefits include lower rapid heart rate, treatment of minor irregularities in the heart’s rhythm and reduction of the risk of thrombosis (blood cloths). Herbalist use it to treat tachycardia, which are heart palpitations due to anxiety.
Extracts of the plant have been used to treat mild and chronic vascular and cardiac diseases. It also inhibits artery calcification formation. Motherwort benefits include high contents of vitamin A and C. It also lowers the level of LDL or bad cholesterol, reducing the risk of a heart attack.
Chinese studies showed that this herb increased the volume of blood circulation, while stimulating uterine activity and the flow of urine. Diuretics help the body get rid of water and salt, inhibiting the the kidney’s capability to reabsorb sodium. This helps relax the blood vessel walls and lowers blood pressure, even more effective than valerian.
Motherwort benefits include treatment of mild forms of Graves’ disease, an autoimmune disease that affect the thyroid. For this condition it is best combined with lemon balm. As well as treating an over-active thyroid, a condition known as hyperthyroidism or thyrotoxicosis. Lowering the thyroid function controls sleeplessness, increased heart palpitation and low appetite.
People who suffer from anxiety, stress and panic attacks can take advantage of one of motherwort benefits. These conditions cause heart rate increase and blood vessels to narrow, incrementing blood pressure. After a person relaxes the blood pressure goes back to normal, but frequent spikes can cause serious damage.
Motherwort benefits include the treatment of depression and bipolarity by bringing on a sense of calm and well-being. This bitter herb stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system allowing us to rest. Motherwort tincture has a sedative property. Take a small dose during the day to get energy (by fighting off stress and strains) and a higher dose at night to sleep.
How to Take Motherwort
It is always best to consult with a herbalist or a doctor. However, usual therapeutic doses of dried herbs in the form of tea are between 2-4 grams taken three times daily. It is quite a bitter tea, so many prefer to mix it with other herbs or put honey to mask the flavor. Tincture form can vary between 2-6 ml taken three times daily to obtain motherwort benefits. It can also be taken in a pill form between 2-4 grams up to three times per day.
Pregnant women should let their gynecologist or doctor know if they plan on taking this herb since it can expedite birth. Women who have heavy bleeding during their periods should not use take it.
Those who take synthetic heart medication, including beta blockers, and blood thinner warfarin should not self medicate since it can counteract with the drug. It should also be avoided by people with low blood pressure. All of these conditions require use under doctor’s supervision. Also avoid taking two weeks before surgery.
Possible side effects of motherwort include uterine bleeding, altered heart rate, low blood pressure, sedation, drowsiness and diarrhea.