We only need to learn a few plants to gain a lot of herbal wisdom. Its great fun in the growing season to find plants that can become our constant companions year after year, and Motherwort is one of those plants. I just saw some ready for picking while walking my dogs down the back lane.
When identifying Motherwort look for the classic square stem of all mint plants. Use caution when harvesting this prickly herb, the flowers arise from sharp clusters that can puncture the skin. Once picked, you can simply boil the kettle and steep the fresh flower tops for 5 – 10 minutes. You have just prepared a fresh cup of Motherwort to sip and savour, enjoy!
This amazing plant has two main actions (1) a nervine tonic to soothe jangled nerves and even hysteria, and (2) aiding congestion of the heart and strengthening heart tone. It also helps with all female disorders from stimulating menstrual flow when menstruation is absent for reasons other than pregnancy, relieving menstruation cramps and even menopause. Today many herbalists appreciate Motherwort for its bitter principals, which are useful for digestive complaints.
Historically wort is a non woody plant usually thought to have medicinal value. This alleged usefulness was sometimes based on the belief that if a plant looked like some part of the human body, then it would be good for strengthening or curing a disease of that body part. Think Lungwort, Spleenwort and Liverwort. The word “wort” is derived from the old English word “wyrt,” meaning plant, herb or root. Weed is from Old English “wod,” meaning weed or herb. Both are very old words and have been in use since at least the 13th century. Motherwort was first used by the Greeks to soothe the anxiety of pregnant women. This use continued and spread and gave the herb its common name, Motherwort. “There is not a better herb to take melancholy vapours from the heart and to strengthen it”, wrote Nicholas Culpeper, the 17th century herbalist. “It makes mothers joyful and settles the womb, therefore it is called Motherwort”. It is the “guardian” of all mothers. The botanical name, Leonurus cardiaca also comes from the Greek. Leon=lion, ouros=tail and kardiaca refers to the heart. Historically, the herb has been associated with longevity. An old legend states that there was once a town whose spring ran through a patch of Motherwort. All the local townspeople got their daily drinking water from that spring and all of them lived to be over 100 years old. Its association with longevity was widespread throughout Europe and Asia. In the Victorian language of flowers, motherwort symbolized concealed love. Ahhh how romantic:)