MOTHERWORT, Leonurus cardiaca

Motherwort Herb

Way back in the times of the Greeks and Romans, there was an herb that became quite prominent. This herb had been used for people who had chest pains and irregular rhythms of the heart. It was also a mild sedative, so it helped them get rid of the tension that goes with a heart problem. Because this herb was so helpful to the heart, the Latins and Greeks called it cardiaca.

When someone complained of chest pains or heart palpitations they would be given a conserve, or heart tonic, of cardiaca. They made the conserve from fresh young plant tops, which were smashed into pulp and mixed with honey or sugar to get rid of the bitter taste. Sometimes, they would mix a couple of other herbs into the prescription to make it more effective.
Studies have confirmed the effectiveness of motherwort as a heart tonic. Sir Lauder Brunton, an English research scientist said that it was known that the heart consumes a great amount of calcium chloride. This is one reason that motherwort was so important as a heart tonic – because it contains much of the natural non-toxic calcium chloride. It has the ability to draw the calcium out of the lime soil. This is an easy source of natural calcium for not only the heart, but for all of the body. Motherwort, and hawthorne berry are two of the main herbs in Grandma's herbal Heart Plus formula. Down through the ages as the people used the herb cardiaca, they found it to be helpful for many more ailments than just the heart. In Western Europe and England it was used as a sedative that would calm a woman while she was waiting to deliver a child and they found it would relieve some of the pain.

A few centuries ago, a group of English midwives agreed that this herb was important for mothers. One midwife had told others that she had used the herb and it helped to speed up a difficulty delivery. Another told how the herb helped to relieve the pain and helped to regulate delayed menstruation. Another said it improved fertility. Another used the herb for calming the anxiety during the last week of carrying a child and making a delivery a less painful. Still another said it helped to discharge the afterbirth. They reasoned that an herb that was so helpful to a mother should be called motherwort, which means a mother herb. So, throughout England and Europe, they called it motherwort.

Since the time the Greeks called it cardiaca, it has had many other names such as “heart wort,” “heart gold,” “heart heal,” “heart herb,” “lion's ear,” “lion's tail,” “throw wort,” and “mother weed,.” Almost every country has grown and cultivated motherwort as an herb since its history in Greece. However, it likes to be wild and free and can be found growing wild in northern temperate zones. Motherwort is a perennial herb that will grow from three to five feet tall. It is a member of the mint family, of which most have square stalks. The leaves grow in pairs out of opposite sides of the stalk. Each leaf has three, lance-shaped lobes that resemble a lion's tail. The flowers are pink or white and very small. They grow in whorls or clusters above the leaf stems or bracts.

Motherwort is a diaphoretic that will promote sweating if you're trying to get rid of a fever. It is an antispasmodic if you are trying to relieve nervous irritability and reduce or prevent excessive involuntary muscular contractions or spasms. It has been used to help neuralgia and to soothe and strengthen the nerves. I enjoyed one very old herbalist when he wrote that “motherwort gladdeneth and strengtheneth the heart against palpations and hysterical complaints and will ally inward tremors and faintings.” Another wrote, “there is no better herb to drive melancholy vapors from the heart and make the mind cheerful, blithe and merry.”

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