English: Motherwort herbs

Chinese: 益母草

Parts used: Dried aerial parts

TCM category: Herbs that invigorate the Blood

TCM nature: Cool

TCM taste(s): BitterPungent

Organ affinity: Heart Liver

Scientific name: Leonurus japonicus

Use of Yi Mu Cao (motherwort herbs) in TCM

Please note that you should never self-prescribe TCM ingredients. A TCM ingredient is almost never eaten on its own but as part of a formula containing several ingredients that act together. Please consult a professional TCM practitioner, they will be best able to guide you.

Preparation: Remove impurities, wash, cut into sections and dry.

Dosage: 9 - 30 grams

Main actions according to TCM*: Moves and regulates Blood, breaks Stasis and regulates the menses. Increases the flow of urine and reduces Stagnation of water

Primary conditions or symptoms for which Yi Mu Cao may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Irregular menstruation Dysmenorrhea Amenorrhea Edema Oliguria Acute nephritis Abnormal uterine bleeding

Contraindications*: Motherwort should not be used during pregnancy or by those with Blood Deficiency or Yin Deficiency.

Common TCM formulas in which Yi Mu Cao is used*

Ba Zhen Yi Mu Tang

Source date: 1624 AD

Number of ingredients: 9 herbs

Formula key actions: Tonifies Qi and Blood. Invigorates the Blood.

Conditions targeted*: Infertility and others

Yi Mu Cao is a king ingredient in Ba Zhen Yi Mu Tang. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

In Ba Zhen Yi Mu Tang, Yi Mu Cao invigorates Blood and stops pain

Read more about Ba Zhen Yi Mu Tang

Tian Ma Gou Teng Yin

Source date: 1958 AD

Number of ingredients: 11 herbs

Formula key actions: Calms the Liver. Extinguishes wind. Invigorates the blood. Clears heat. Tonifies the Liver and Kidneys.

Conditions targeted*: InsomniaHeadache and others

Yi Mu Cao is an assistant ingredient in Tian Ma Gou Teng Yin. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

In Tian Ma Gou Teng Yin, Yi Mu Cao invigorates the Blood to prevent it from rising to the head with the rising Liver Yang

Read more about Tian Ma Gou Teng Yin

Key TCM concepts behind Yi Mu Cao's properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Yi Mu Cao belongs to the 'Herbs that invigorate the Blood' category. Like the name indicates these herbs tend to stimulate the Blood flow. In TCM they're used to help the circulation of Blood in cardiovascular conditions or menstrual irregularities as well as to treat acute pains caused by Blood Stagnation. They can also be used to treat Blood Stagnation when it causes certain tumors, cysts and hardened clots.

Furthermore Yi Mu Cao is Cool in nature. This means that Yi Mu Cao tends to help people who have too much 'Heat' in their body, although with less effect than a plant that would be Cold in nature. Balance between Yin and Yang is a key health concept in TCM. Those who have too much Heat in their body are said to either have a Yang Excess (because Yang is Hot in nature) or a Yin deficiency (Yin is Cold in Nature). Depending on your condition Yi Mu Cao can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.

Yi Mu Cao also tastes Bitter and Pungent. The so-called 'Five Phases' theory in Chinese Medicine states that the taste of TCM ingredients is a key determinant of their action in the body. Bitter ingredients like Yi Mu Cao tends to have a cleansing action on the body by clearing Heat, drying Dampness and promoting elimination via urination or bowel movements. On the other hand Pungent ingredients tend to promote the circulations of Qi and Body Fluids. That's why for instance someone tends to sweat a lot when they eat spicy/pungent food.

The tastes of ingredients in TCM also determine what Organs and Meridians they target. As such Yi Mu Cao is thought to target the Heart and the Liver. In addition to regulating Blood flow, in TCM the Heart is believed to be the store of the 'Mind' which basically refers to someone's vitality. The Liver on the other hand is often referred as the body's "general" because it is in charge of regulating the movements of Qi and the Body Fluids. It also takes a leading role in balancing our emotions.

Research on Yi Mu Cao

Pharmacological studies have confirmed motherwort’s antibacterial, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and analgesic activity, as well as its effects on the heart and the circulatory system.1

Recent studies have shown that several active components of Herba Leonuri exert beneficial effects in coronary artery disease and cerebral ischaemia.2

It is safe and efficacious that combined use of motherwort injection and oxytocin was to prevent postpartum hemorrhage during or after caesarian section.3

Herba leonuri has been demonstrated to have beneficial effects on ischemic diseases including myocardial infarction.4


1. Wojtyniak K, Szymański M, Matławska I. (2013). Leonurus cardiaca L. (motherwort): a review of its phytochemistry and pharmacology. Phytother Res. , 27(8):1115-20. doi: 10.1002/ptr.4850. Epub 2012 Oct 8.

2. Liu XH, Pan LL, Zhu YZ. (2012). Active chemical compounds of traditional Chinese medicine Herba Leonuri: implications for cardiovascular diseases. Clin Exp Pharmacol Physiol. , 39(3):274-82. doi: 10.1111/j.1440-1681.2011.05630.x.

3. Lin JH, Lin QD, Liu XH, Yan JY, He J, Li L, Gu H, Sun LZ, Zhang JP, Yu S, Ma YY, Niu JM, Xia Y, Zhao SC, Li W, Wang HL, Wang BS. ( 2009). Multi-center study of motherwort injection to prevent postpartum hemorrhage after caesarian section. Zhonghua Fu Chan Ke Za Zhi. , 44(3):175-8.

4. Liu XH, Xin H, Zhu YZ. ( 2007). More than a "mother-benefiting" herb: cardioprotective effect of Herba leonuri. Sheng Li Xue Bao. , 59(5):578-84.