Motherwort is a common name for Leonurus cardiaca, an herb from the Leonurus genus, family Labiatae (Mint). It is also known as Lion’s ear, Lion’s tail, or Throw-wort.
The plant has shallow root system with many fibrous roots. 4-angled ridged erect stems arise from the roots, reaching the height of about 3 feet. They are covered with short hairs, as well as the whole plant. Motherwort leaves are opposite; they all have long petioles. Those at the base of the herb are quite large with 5 cleft lobes and coarse teeth. Those situated at the middle of the stem are smaller, being divided into 3 toothed lobes. The upper leaves are usually toothed, but oblong-ovate in shape. The leaves are also characterized with conspicuous veins.
The tubular flowers of Motherwort are situated in bunches around the stems on their middle and upper parts in the axils of the leaves. They are pink and very hairy. Each flower consists of two lips: the upper one is undivided, the lower one has 3 lobes with purple dots on them. The seeds of the plant develop in the three-sided reddish or brown nutlets.
Motherwort is native to central Asia. It is used to rough climatic conditions. Partial sun and moist fertile soils in the woodlands and thickets are alright for it. Nowadays, it can be found practically all over the world, either growing wildly, or cultivated for medicinal properties in the gardens.
All aerial parts of the plant are used medicinally, even the rough stem is suitable for making remedies. The herb is harvested and dried when in full bloom.
Dried herb, or its powdered form, liquid extract, solid extract (in grains), and tinctures of Motherwort can be found in the supplements stores.
The largest concentration of active constituents is found in the plant when it is in full bloom. It contains such beneficial ingredients as alkaloids (e.g. leonurine, stachydrene), iridoid glycosides (e.g. leonurin and leonuridine), diterpinoids (e.g. leocardin), flavonoids (rutin, quercetin), tannins, volatile oils, caffeic acid and vitamin A.
Alkaloid leonurine, which is a vasodilator, has been researched extensively and proved to be a good means to alleviate heart problems, to work as a nervine and cardiac tonic, capable of relaxing smooth muscles and preventing blood clots. At the same time, this component along with alkaloid stachydrene is said to promote uterine contractions, which is helpful during labour, or in case of irregular menstruation, since it encourages menstrual flow.
Motherwort is good at alleviating stress, nervousness, and insomnia. Its glycosides are helpful in lowering blood pressure.
The major applications of Motherwort include cardiovascular problems as arrhythmia, tachycardia, hypertension; as well as prevention of blood clots, strokes and heart attacks.
Motherwort remedies are also powerful means against typical women problems as irregular and painful menstruations; amenorrhea; hot flashes, vertigo, dizziness and other symptoms of menopause. It also soothes tension, nervousness, and stress accompanying the mentioned conditions. Motherwort is very helpful in eliminating insomnia and calming nerves.
This plant has been for centuries used as the means that improve uterine contractions during labour and relieve pain and stress due to childbirth, as well as depression following it. Its remedies also promote milk flow in nursing mothers. Headache may also be eliminated with the help of Motherwort.
This herb has got its common name due to the ways it influences a human body, particularly that of a woman. Due to the fact that multiple cardiovascular diseases have always been treated with this herb, it acquired its Latin name Leonurus cardiaca. Thus, Motherwort may be beneficial for many of us.
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