Motherwort benefits and uses—and how to make motherwort tincture
Open up a wise woman medicine chest and chances are, you'll find motherwort tincture. Motherwort benefits the heart, the circulatory system and supports women’s reproductive health. She’s a fast-acting herbal ally that’s easy to identify in the wild or to cultivate in your garden. And making motherwort tincture is super simple. Get to know this superstar herb—one of my favorites for women’s health.
What is motherwort used for?
Motherwort’s uses include supporting the heart and alleviating common issues during menstruation and menopause.
Leonurine, the active compound in motherwort, is easily extracted into water and alcohol making her well suited for tinctures and tonics. Given the bitter taste of motherwort, I prefer tinctures over teas.
If you’re ready to jump down to the motherwort tincture recipe, click here.
A myriad of medicinal motherwort benefits
Botanically, motherwort is known as Leonurus cardiaca which translates to lion-hearted! As her botanical name suggests, motherwort benefits the heart.
And not just the physical heart. Think of motherwort as medicine for centering—when you need the courage of the lion to do what needs to be done.
As Susun Weed says, motherwort gives you a little “mom’s shoulder to lean on!” Such it is with motherwort or Leonurus cardiaca. Actually, I like to call her mom for short.
Other benefits of motherwort range from calming anxiety to supporting common concerns associated with menstruation and menopause. Let’s dive a little deeper into these benefits.
Motherwort benefits for the heart
Motherwort is classified as a cardiotonic and nervine. She calms a racing heart. By slowing heart rate and reducing blood pressure, motherwort benefits the physical heart.
Having a mild sedative effect, motherwort benefits the emotional heart as well. During moments of anxiety when the heart rate increases, motherwort soothes the nervous system and relieves the tensions that can accompany stress.
Improve motherwort’s benefits to the heart by pairing her with hawthorn.
Motherwort uses for menstruation and menopause
Motherwort is highly indicated for three common health issues for women:
- Menstrual cramps
Many a day I was working at my herbal business and found myself clutching my belly or back with the ache of menstrual cramps. With just a few droppers full of motherwort tincture, within half an hour I was breathing deeply, centered and focused back at the tasks at hand.
- Hot flashes
Now that I’m in menopause, I know what my elders meant about needing to peel off the layers! Taking motherwort tincture at the onset of hot flashes helps to ease and cool the intensity. Or take motherwort tincture before bed—and if you wake up during the night—to reduce night sweats.
- Hormonal-related mood swings
Yup, this little bit of mom-to-lean-on is a lovely ally for those hormonal-related mood swings. Especially the ones in the rage direction, if you know what I mean? Taken in the moment, she helps you calm and center. Now, this is not squelching your connection with your feelings. Just supporting you in moving forward from a clearer place.
Speaking of hot flashes and mood swings, I actually have a theory about how those hot flashes—and mood swings—help us come home to ourselves and our power (see more in my article on how menopausal mood swings became my ally).
Motherwort supports the uterus by increasing blood flow and activating the uterine muscles, which is part of the medicinal action and motherwort’s benefit for menstrual issues.
However, because of the increased blood flow to the uterus, motherwort is contraindicated for menopausal women with extremely heavy bleeding, also known as flooding. (Not sure whether you have flooding? That would be like soaking through several pads an hour!)
Motherwort’s stimulation of the uterus and uterine contractions also makes her incompatible during pregnancy.
Can I take motherwort daily?
A fast-acting tonic and calmative, motherwort is usually used in acute situations. Taking 20-30 drops of motherwort tincture usually takes the edge and intensity off cramps, hot flashes and hormonal mood swings within a half hour.
You can also experiment with taking motherwort preventatively—in your menstrual years, it will be most effective taken in the last two weeks of your cycle, from ovulation to menstruation. Although in general, my preferred herb for all three of these hormonal-related issues, is to bring in vitex as a long-term ally.
Vitex works through the pituitary gland, which in turn controls the ovarian hormones. So it’s slow-acting, and also a powerful hormonal regulator. I like to use both—vitex on a daily basis, and motherwort for acute situations. For more on vitex, see my article here.
The same application is recommended to calm the nerves and slow the heart rate during moments of increased anxiety.
To take motherwort’s benefits to the next level, pair this practice with visualization. Breathe slowly and deeply as you picture her lavender double-lipped flowers glorious in the sunshine, her roots traveling through the earth and entwining with your own. Imagine the earth’s support beneath you and the lionheart mother’s support behind you.
Easy to grow in a garden, motherwort often finds her way into the paths and new beds. She is in the mint family—relax, though, she’s not like peppermint. Motherwort spreads by seed, and not by creeping roots. And unlike most other mints, motherwort is not aromatic.
Like most mints, the optimum window for peak potency is in the early flowering stage. In the Blue Ridge mountains that is usually in May. Harvest the top third of the plant including the buds and flowers and connecting leaves and stems.
How to identify motherwort
- Square stem (like all plants in the mint family!)
- Opposite leaves—meaning the leaves alternate sides of the stem
- Light purple double lipped flower
- Maple-shaped leaves
Making motherwort tincture
Three simple steps to make your own motherwort tincture:
- Stuff a jar full of fresh plant material and pour 100 proof vodka to the top
- Cap it and let it sit for 6 weeks
- Strain out the plant material and the tincture will be almost black
Wondering about how and when to make herbal tinctures, infusions, vinegars, salves or oils? Get the scoop with my concise Wise Woman Medicine Making Chart as a clear reference for the why's and how's of using and making herbal medicine.
Motherwort, the fierce mama herb you can lean on
- Relieves menstrual cramps
- Reduces hot flashes
- Lessens hormonal mood swings
- Lowers blood pressure
- Slows a rapid heartbeat
- A bit of 'Mom' to lean on when you need her
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