The Benefits of Motherwort

Chinese herbal medicine
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Motherwort is an herb found in the mint family. Available in dietary supplement form, motherwort is said to enhance heart health and help treat a variety of health conditions.

What's in Motherwort?

Motherwort contains leonurine, a compound found to promote relaxation of blood vessel walls in preliminary studies. Motherwort also contains several antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds.

Uses for Motherwort

In alternative medicine, motherwort is touted as a natural remedy for the following health problems:

When applied to the skin, motherwort is thought to promote healing from shingles.

In addition, motherwort is sometimes used to regulate menstrual periods. Proponents suggest that motherwort can stimulate uterine blood flow.

Benefits of Motherwort

Although motherwort has long been used in several systems of traditional medicine (including traditional Chinese medicine), few scientific studies have tested the herb's health effects. Still, some preliminary research shows that motherwort may offer certain health benefits. Here's a look at several key study findings on motherwort:

High Blood Pressure

Motherwort may benefit people with high blood pressure, suggests a small study published in Phytotherapy Research in 2011. The study included 50 people with high blood pressure and related psychological issues (such as anxiety).

After 28 days of treatment with motherwort, 32% of the patients showed a significant improvement in symptoms of anxiety and depression. In addition, 48% of patients showed a moderate improvement in these symptoms. 


Motherwort may help curb inflammation, according to a study published in Immunopharmacology and Immunotoxicology in 2009.

In tests on human cells, scientists determined that motherwort slowed up the release of a number of pro-inflammatory compounds. Given this finding, the study's authors concluded that motherwort may help control inflammatory diseases.


Preliminary research suggests that motherwort may possess cancer-fighting properties. In a 2003 study from the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, for example, tests on human cancer cells showed that motherwort may help induce apoptosis (a type of programmed cell death essential for stopping the proliferation of cancer cells).

It should be noted that more research is needed before motherwort can be recommended in the treatment or prevention of cancer.


Motherwort may trigger a number of side effects, such as diarrhea, drowsiness, and uterine bleeding. Because of its effects on the uterus, motherwort should be avoided by pregnant women.

When applied to the skin, motherwort may increase sensitivity to the sun and boost likelihood of sun damage.

Since so few studies have tested motherwort's health effects in humans, it's unknown whether this herb is safe for longterm or regular use. What's more, it's important to note that using motherwort in place of standard care in treatment of a heart condition (or any other chronic condition) may be harmful to your health.

It's important to keep in mind that supplements haven't been tested for safety and dietary supplements are largely unregulated. In some cases, the product may deliver doses that differ from the specified amount for each herb.

In other cases, the product may be contaminated with other substances such as metals. Also, the safety of supplements in pregnant women, nursing mothers, children, and those with medical conditions or who are taking medications has not been established.

You can get further tips on using supplements safely here.

Alternatives to Motherwort

Like motherwort, a number of other remedies show promise as a natural approach to enhancing your heart health. For instance, studies show that herbs like hawthorn and garlic may help keep blood pressure in check, while regular intake of omega-3 fatty acids may help lower blood pressure and cholesterol, combat atherosclerosis, and reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke.

If you're considering the use of any type of herbal remedy in treatment of a heart condition, make sure to talk to your doctor before starting your supplement regimen.

Where to Find Motherwort

Many natural-foods stores, drugstores, and stores specializing in dietary supplements sell motherwort in supplement form. You can also purchase motherwort supplements online.


Chen CX, Kwan CY. "Endothelium-independent vasorelaxation by leonurine, a plant alkaloid purified from Chinese motherwort." Life Sci. 2001 Jan 12;68(8):953-60.

Chinwala MG, Gao M, Dai J, Shao J. "In vitro anticancer activities of Leonurus heterophyllus sweet (Chinese motherwort herb)." J Altern Complement Med. 2003 Aug;9(4):511-8.

Shikov AN, Pozharitskaya ON, Makarov VG, Demchenko DV, Shikh EV. "Effect of Leonurus cardiaca oil extract in patients with arterial hypertension accompanied by anxiety and sleep disorders." Phytother Res. 2011 Apr;25(4):540-3.

Shin HY, Kim SH, Kang SM, Chang IJ, Kim SY, Jeon H, Leem KH, Park WH, Lim JP, Shin TY. "Anti-inflammatory activity of Motherwort (Leonurus sibiricus L.)." Immunopharmacol Immunotoxicol. 2009 Jun;31(2):209-13.

Wojtyniak K, Szymański M, Matławska I. "Leonurus cardiaca L. (Motherwort): A Review of its Phytochemistry and Pharmacology." Phytother Res. 2013 Aug;27(8):1115-20. 

Disclaimer: The information contained on this site is intended for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for advice, diagnosis or treatment by a licensed physician. It is not meant to cover all possible precautions, drug interactions, circumstances or adverse effects. You should seek prompt medical care for any health issues and consult your doctor before using alternative medicine or making a change to your regimen.

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