MOTHERWORT (yi mu cao)
Motherwort is native to the European continent, but has been naturalized throughout North America, ranging in geographical extent from Nova Scotia to Montreal and south to Texas and North Carolina. Motherwort prefers vacant lots and similar waste places.
Motherwort is a perennial herb growing to five feet. The leaves are shaggy-appearing and to some extent resemble a lion's tail, which explains several of its other common names: lion's tail, lion's ear, lion's tart. Each leaf has three lance-shaped lobes. The tiny flowers bloom between June and September and are pink, white, or purple and grow in clusters.
Motherwort is predominantly a womb remedy, for painful, delayed or suppressed periods, and also to prepare for childbirth. If taken two to three times daily, in the last few weeks of pregnancy, it encourages more coordinated contractions of the uterus when otherwise they could be painfully spasmodic or insufficient. The name motherwort could also come from its traditional reputation for soothing stress and tension during pregnancy, childbirth and motherhood.
Both alkaloids in motherwort induce uterine contractions, stachydrine doing so particularly at the end of pregnancy when the nature of uterine muscles changes and Braxton-Hicks contractions begin in practice for labour. This stimulating effect is coupled with an appreciable sedative and relaxing effect, contributed by bitter glycosides, useful for anxiety or tension about the coming birth. This combination of relaxant with uterotonic effects gives motherwort a useful role both as a partus preparator and during labour to facilitate the birth. Motherwort has a reputation for preventing miscarriage and relieving false labour pains.
Motherwort has other cardio - tonic properties, making it beneficial to the heart. Motherwort strengthens the heart, especially useful during pregnancy and childbirth when more stress is imposed on the heart. Motherwort may also be used for irregularities such as arrhythmias and palpitations which are associated with anxiety and tension. The glycosides have been observed to have a short-term ability to lower blood pressure.
Aerial parts, seeds.
A remedy for the heart and nerves and often prescribed for palpitations, motherwort strengthens heart function, especially in conditions where the heart is weak. A gentle sedative and antispasmodic, it promotes relaxation rather than drowsiness. However, it does stimulate the muscles of the uterus, and is especially suitable for delayed menstruation, menstrual pain, and premenstrual tension (especially if shock or distress is a factor). Motherwort should not be used if menstrual bleeding is heavy.