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3 Sep 2015

Motherwort: The Plant World’s Mama Bear

Motherwort is the plant world’s mama bear. Or mama lion, from its Latin name Leonurus cardiaca, which translates to the Lion-Hearted One (Bennett, 2014).

Motherwort Plant Profile

This mint-family member has the ubiquitous square-stems that run in the family. Motherwort’s miniature blooms are delicately painted soft pink, and resemble the healthy womb and reproductive system tissue that herbalists say this herb deeply nourishes. This plant stands tall and proud, often reaching well over 5 feet, its green and pink spires swaying upward.

Motherwort presides over the garden as a watchful, protective matriarch. She shows her love with fierce protection in the way she swaddles her delicate seeds in sharp armor, keeping them safe until they have matured and can spread themselves near and far.

Motherwort Plant Profile: The mama bear of the plant kingdom

Herbalist Robin Rose Bennett writes that motherwort “invokes openness, acceptance, and peace” (Bennett, 2014, p. 321). In my own experience working with this plant, I’ve found that to be absolutely true. Last year at my herbal class I tried a flower essence of motherwort for the first time. I took a few drops on my tongue, and wandered down to a nearby freshwater stream. I stripped down, found a perfect spot to bathe, and immersed myself in the silky water. Motherwort’s gifts of softness and fierce self-love washed over me with the cool water. My body felt protected, safe, and thoroughly cleansed.

Motherwort invokes openness, acceptance, and peace

Bennett explains that “it is especially valuable in any condition where nervous tension or anxiety is at the root of the problem, because motherwort is deeply calming to the nerves and helpful for congestive states in general, including emotional congestion” (Bennett, 2014, p. 324).

Motherwort’s Support

Motherwort has many other properties to support and decongest the physical body, in addition to the mind and emotional body. Phytotherapist and herbalist David Hoffmann explains that it is used as a bitter and pungent digestive-stimulant, a relaxing nervine, an antispasmodic and emmenagogue to the reproductive system, and a tonic for the cardiovascular system (Hoffmann, 2003).

Its main uses are within the reproductive system and the heart, where many people feel and hold a great deal of tension and anxiety. Because motherwort soothes and calms these nervous feelings, herbalists use the plant to release the feelings from the physical body as well. For example, nervousness resulting in delayed and/or sluggish menstruation can be relaxed into ease and regularity with motherwort (Holmes, 1989).

Motherwort Plant Profile: The mama bear of the plant kingdom

Plants are genius in this way, containing healing properties that access and heal all parts of ourselves, physical, emotional, mental. They understand that true healing is when all parts of ourselves are given care, attention, and love. Motherwort offers her gifts of protective maternal grace, easing the mind, soothing the womb, and letting the heart feel safe and strong.


Motherwort is often used as a flower essence, tincture, tea, and vaginal steam. If you, or your reproductive system, are feeling tense, lethargic and in need of some gentle nourishment, I encourage you to seek out this special plant and try one, or a few, of these preparations. Be mindful that “excessive use of motherwort may interfere with other cardiovascular treatments,” (Hoffmann, 2003, p. 562.) When you take her medicine, know that you are protected by her lion’s heart, and feel your whole self relax into her mama bear embrace.

For more reading, find Motherwort in The Herbarium Plant Monograph Database.


Bennett, Robin Rose. (2014). The Gift of Healing Herbs. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books.

Hoffmann, David. (2003). Medical Herbalism. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press.

Holmes, Peter. (1989). The Energetics of Western Herbs: Integrating Western and Oriental Herbal Medicine Traditions. Boulder, CO: Artemis Press.


Rebecca Swartwood is an herbalist, artist and gardener. She was born and raised on the island of Martha’s Vineyard. Rebecca graduated from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and is currently in her second year of herbal apprenticeship at the Gaia School of Healing in Putney, Vermont. She lives on Martha’s Vineyard.