Motherwort  Materia Medica           

Leonurus cardiaca

Don’t let the prickle and bitter of motherwort fool you.  She is a gentle and loving ally.  The botanical name roughly translates as ‘Lion-hearted’, which is kind of awesome.  Native to southeastern Europe and central Asia, it has a long history of use, in particular for “female” complaints as well as cardio support as we can see from both its common and botanical names.    

Motherwort is one of the herbs we covered in our detailed “Heart Herbs” Materia Medica which is featured along side several other heart supportive herbs like Hawthorne and Linden.  If you’d like to view the Free School Class Video we taught on this, please visit the Herbalista Toolkit.  


A tall perennial (up to 5 feet) in the mint family, it has opposite leaves and a square stem but lacks the typical strong aromatics of other members of this plant family .  Her palmately lobed leaves are silvery below and a darker green above.  Flowers whorls grow in the axils and get quite prickly, so be careful when harvesting!  It is native to temperate parts of Europe and Asia and has naturalized in America.  


Aerial parts in flower; you can also just work with the leaves (as some people do to avoid the prickly flower parts).


when in flower, be careful and wear gloves as the calyx around the flowers are quite prickly! In Atlanta, the first harvest of Motherwort is typically in May.  Possible second harvest in the autumn. Can be tinctured fresh or dried for later use.  This plant is easy to dry and can simply be hung on a line to dry.


cool, drying, bitter


nervine, emmenagogue, anxiolytic, cardiotonic, bitter relaxant, diuretic, antispasmodic


nervous; ovarian-based system (female reproductive); cardiovascular and circulatory


anxiety and tension (heart palpitations); PMS (irritability, mood swings, depression); menopausal symptoms (hot flashes, emotional lability);  insomnia, delayed menses; water retention 


  • Tincture (Alcohol):
  • Glycerite:
    • Fresh Flowering Herb [1:2, 100%] Glycerine
    • Dry Flowering Herb [1:5, 60%] Glycerine
    • See Happy Heart Compound
  • Tea: Dried Herb.  Standard Infusion up to 3 times per day. Blend with other cardiotonic or nervine herbs (see Pairings)


  • For insomnia or anxiety with other nervine sedatives (Passionflower, Chamomile, Skullcap, etc.)
  • For hyperthyroid (Lemon Balm, Bugleweed)
  • For menopausal support (Schisandra, Black Cohosh, Anemarrhena, etc.)


  • Do not use excessively in early pregnancy due to the emmenagogue effect.  
  • As an herb for hyperthyroid and cardio excess, not recommended for folks with underactive thyroid.