There is a tendency to regard herbal medicine in the same light as the pharmaceutical variety –  take this herb for this symptom, take that herb for that problem – when really we ought to think of herbs in an entirely different way.  Some use words such as allies or support. Others think of herbs as agents that strengthen, balance or cleanse. I myself like to think of herbs in the same way that I think about people; I think of them as friends.

Just like a good friend, an herb is an entity that seems to click with us, that helps to balance us and support us and make our lives a little better; that encourages and influences us over time to become our better selves. And while some friendships are short lived and provide a very specific purpose in our lives, the best friends are the ones we can keep for a lifetime. In such friendships, the healing  is not just in the support they lend during difficulties or troubled times, but in the relationship we cultivate with them over our lives; the commitment we make to them. The healing comes from that relationship; it has no beginning or end. I think it is only in thinking about herbs in this way, that we can fully embrace all the gifts and benefits they have to offer us.

Motherwort is just the sort of life-long friend I am referring to. Also called Leonurus cardiaca or the lion-hearted, the common and Latin names reveal much that we need to know.

The name Motherwort comes from the plant’s ability to soothe anxiety in women associated with hormonal imbalances linked with menstruation, pregnancy, childbirth and menopause. By easing tension and calming spasming muscle, it eases menstrual cramps and can help prevent them altogether through its ability to strengthen the uterine muscles and relax the system. The herb can also help bring on a delayed period where tension and anxiety is upsetting the system.

The lion-hearted reference comes both from the resemblance of the plant to a lion’s tale and from motherwort’s ability to ease anxiety related heart palpitations, strengthen the heart muscle, and support healthy blood pressure when used over time. Recent studies demonstrate that motherwort helps support healthy circulation and vascular function.

As a cooling, bitter herb motherwort is also traditionally used to reduce fevers and has some application in the hot-flashes associated with menopause. It can improve the digestion by supporting healthy bile flow and is said to clear dampness  from the lungs and ease spasms in conditions such as bronchitis and asthma.

I have told you a little about motherwort; consider yourself officially introduced.  But I feel very strongly this is not an herb to be used in the short term, but more of a long term friend, or a tonic if you will. It is the perfect companion to those of an anxious nature who respond to stress with tension, heart palpitations and hormonal imbalance. Used as a companion to people who fit this picture, it is sure to make life a little easier, and provide the influence and strengthening one needs in the good times, and the support one requires in the bad.

Writer Danielle Charles Davies has a BSc in Herbal Science from Bastyr University and in addition completed two years of clinical training at the Vermont Center for Integrative Herbalism. She has a Masters Degree in Writing and has written for the the American Herbalists Guild and has also served as a food columnist. Her musings, and recipes, can be found at her blog, Teacup Chronicles.

For educational purposes only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.