Motherwort is a herbal plant that has been tied to several health benefits, including reduced postpartum hemorrhage. It is also thought to have a few side effects on your health. It is therefore important to be well versed with this herb before using it.

Scientifically called Leonurus cardiaca, motherwort dates back to ancient Greece where it was used during labor to alleviate anxiety. Currently, motherwort is used as a tincture or tea due to its potential health benefits. In some parts of the world, it is called lion’s tail, as it grows upright with dark green leaves and purple or pink flowers with furs. It was originally grown in Asia and Southeast Europe, but at the moment it can be found in most parts of the world. Motherwort is in the mint family, but it has a bitter flavor and unpleasant smell. This article explains the health benefits and side effects of motherwort.

Potential Benefits

For several years, motherwort has been used to treat different ailments, including anxiety, heart disease, and menstrual problems. The traditional uses of this herb have not been justified scientifically, but current studies indicate that it may potentially benefit your health in various ways.

Have Powerful Antioxidants

Motherwort is packed with several plant compounds that possess powerful antioxidant properties, such as tannins, flavonoids, triterpenes, and sterols. Antioxidants are compounds that neutralize free radicals and protecting your cells from their damages. Free radicals are harmful molecules produced during metabolism, especially when you are stressed or eating unhealthy foods. At lower levels, free radicals cannot damage your cells, but their accumulation beyond the levels of antioxidants can lead to oxidative stress. Several chronic conditions have been linked to oxidative stress, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer, and inflammation. Studies suggest that antioxidants in motherwort may protect against oxidative damages and reduce the risk of diseases associated with it, such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s diseases.

May Help Reduce Blood Pressure and Heart Rate

Traditionally, the Greeks used motherwort to lower elevated blood pressure and irregular heart rate related to stress or anxiety. Your body responds to stressful situations or imminent danger by producing cortisol or adrenaline. Adrenaline, also called “fight and flight” hormone, elevates your blood pressure and increases your heart rate. Other health conditions and dietary foods can lead to high blood pressure. If left unchecked for long, high blood pressure can complicate to serious problems, including death. Test-tube and animal studies indicate that motherwort extracts have antiarrhythmic properties, meaning that it may help lower rapid and irregular heart rate. However, no human study has confirmed these effects. Additionally, taking supplements containing motherwort extracts may also help reduce heart rate in people with high blood pressure and anxiety. In most of European countries, motherwort has been approved to be used in treating endocrine disorders like hypothyroidism, as well as mental problems like stress and anxiety.

May Support Heart Health

Motherwort contains powerful compounds, such as ursolic acid, flavonoids, and leonurine, all which have been found to have heart-protective effects. Heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide. Diabetes, hypertension, increased triglycerides, cholesterol, and lipids in the blood are the main predisposing factors to heart disease. Sedentary lifestyle, overweight, and obesity have also been associated with heart disease. Many observational human studies have shown that increased intake of foods rich in flavonoids may drastically reduce the risk of developing heart disease.

May Reduce Blood Loss After Delivery

Postpartum hemorrhage is one of the leading causes of maternal deaths in the developing world. It is caused by a tear of uterine wall, retained product of conceptions, atonic uterus, or thrombin failure. In most cases, women are given oxytocin – a conventional uterotonic drug –to help the uterus relax and prevent blood loss. An old evidence suggests that treating postpartum hemorrhage with motherwort and oxytocin may significantly reduce blood loss after delivery, compared to administering oxytocin alone.

May Alleviate Anxiety and Depression

In the current world where everything is moving fast and people try to pace up with it, anxiety is a common problem people have. It comes with little surprise that many will develop depression if their feelings of anxieties are not solved. According to National Institutes of Health, using motherwort can help alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression. Other studies also suggest that taking leonurine extracts per day may drastically improve the symptoms of anxiety and depression. It is thought that motherwort and leonurine extract can boost mood and increase energy levels. If you are struggling with feelings of anxiety, you can try listening to smooth music, meditate, read a novel or engage in light exercises.

May Decrease Inflammation

Inflammation is a normal response of the immune system. However, oxidative stress can cause chronic inflammation which can lead to diseases like arthritis. Motherwort contains plant compound leonurine, which test-tube and animal studies have found that possesses anti-inflammatory properties. This can be helpful to people with chronic inflammation. However, no human studies have confirmed these claims.

Possible Side Effects of Motherwort

Currently, human research on the effects of motherwort is limited. As a result, it is hard to isolate the potential side effects of the herb. However, recent findings indicate that too much consumption of motherwort can cause uterine bleeding, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. Since motherwort can reduce heart rate and blood pressure, it means that it can interact with antihypertensive and antiarrhythmics medications. It is thus important to talk to your healthcare provider before using motherwort supplement, especially if you are on these medications. Additionally, studies have shown that the herb can interact with medications that thin the blood, such as warfarin. You should avoid taking the herb if you are on blood thinners, unless under medical supervision. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should also avoid this herb due to lack of research.

Recommended Dosage

Currently there is no approved dosage of motherwort. However, in Europe where its widely used, the European Medical Agency recommends a 3-gram dosage of motherwort powder extract per day


Motherwort is an old herb with many health benefits. Traditionally, it was used to manage anxiety and depression during labor, as well as preventing blood loss after delivery. However, there is no research to back these claims. People on certain medications should also avoid this herb.