MotherwortLeonurus cardiaca, Leonurus artemisia
As its Latin name cardiaca suggests, motherwort has traditionally been used to treat heart conditions. The ancient Greeks and Romans employed motherwort to treat heart palpitations as well as depression, which they considered a problem of the heart. Centuries later, Europeans would believe motherwort helpful for "infirmities of the heart" but also considered the herb to have strengthening and stimulating effects on the uterus, using it to bring on a delayed menstrual period, as an aid during labor, and to relax a woman's womb after childbirth.
These uses of motherwort correspond well with those in traditional Chinese medicine, which employs the Asian variety,
, to treat menstrual disorders or to help a woman expel a dead fetus and placenta from her womb.
What Is Motherwort Used for Today?
Germany's Commission E
However, as yet there is no real evidence to support these uses of the herb. The best that can be said is that in one
Two other test tube studies suggest that leonurine, a compound found in some species of motherwort, may affect the uterus.
One poorly designed study suggests that motherwort might improve blood circulation.
One component of motherwort, ursolic acid, has been found to possess possible antiviral and antitumor properties; however, this extremely preliminary preliminary information should not be taken to mean that motherwort can fight viral infections or help treat cancer.
The Commission E recommends a dose of 4.5 g of dried herb daily, or the equivalent.
Note : Irregular or rapid heartbeat can be a sign of serious medical illness. Do not self-treat these conditions with motherwort except under medical supervision. Also, do not combine motherwort with other heart medications, as they might interact unpredictably.
The safety of motherwort has not been well studied; however, obvious side effects appear to be rare, except for occasional allergic reactions and gastrointestinal distress.
Because of the herb's traditional use for uterine stimulation and the corroborating results of some test tube studies, 13,14 motherwort should not be used by pregnant women until further scientific investigation has been performed.
In addition, preliminary animal evidence suggests that women with a history of breast cancer, or those at high risk for developing it, should avoid motherwort.
Safety in young children, nursing women, or people with severe liver or kidney disease has not been established.
3. Blumenthal M, ed. The Complete German Commission E Monographs, Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. Austin TX: American Botanical Council; Boston, Ma: Integrative Medicine Communications; 1998: 172.
12. Nagasawa H, Inatomi H, Suzuki M, et al . Further study on the effects of motherwort ( Leonurus sibiricus L ) on preneoplastic and neoplastic mammary gland growth in multiparous GR/A mice. Anticancer Res . 1992;12:141–144.
15. Nagasawa H, Inatomi H, Suzuki M, et al . Further study on the effects of motherwort ( Leonurus sibiricus L ) on preneoplastic and neoplastic mammary gland growth in multiparous GR/A mice. Anticancer Res . 1992;12:141–144.
Last reviewed April 2009 by EBSCO CAM Review Board
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