Motherwort herbs

Chinese: 益母草

Pinyin: Yì Mǔ Cǎo

Parts used: Dried aerial parts

TCM category: Herbs that invigorate the Blood

TCM nature: Cool

TCM taste(s): BitterPungent

Meridian affinity: HeartLiver

Scientific name: Leonurus japonicus

Use of motherwort herbs (Yì Mǔ Cǎo) 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 practitionner, 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 motherwort herbs 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 motherwort herbs are used*:

Key TCM concepts behind motherwort herbs' properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), motherwort herbs are plants that belong 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 Stasis in the case of certain tumors, cysts and hardened clots.

Furthermore motherwort herbs are plants that are Cool in nature. This means that motherwort herbs tend 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 motherwort herbs can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.

Motherwort herbs also taste Bitter and Pungent. The so-called "five elements" theory in Chinese Medicine states that the taste of TCM ingredients is a key determinant of their action in the body. Bitter ingredients like motherwort herbs tend 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 motherwort herbs are 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 "spirit" 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 body fluids. It also takes a leading role in balancing our emotions.

Research on motherwort herbs

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

Sources:

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.