Motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca)
益母草 Yi Mu Cao
Image: Western Motherwort vs. Traditional Chinese Motherwort (Yi Mu Ciao)
Motherwort is an herb in the mint family. It is used as a remedy for female reproductive disorders. For instance, it's purported to help regulate menstrual periods, especially when someone is anxious or tense. Another prominent use for motherwort is as a tonic for the heart (especially heart palpitations), as the Latin word cardiaca ("for the heart") indicates.
Preliminary research shows that motherwort may have cardiac-protective abilities. For instance, it's been shown to relax heart cells and to help prevent the blood clots that cause heart attacks.
One study from 2012 showed that leonurine acts as a very weak type of calcium channel blocker, a drug that results in lower blood pressure. And research from 2014 showed that the antioxidants in motherwort can help protect the heart from damage.
Germany's Commission E, the country's counterpart to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), has authorized motherwort for the treatment of heart palpitations occurring with anxiety attacks or other nervous disorders, as well as part of an overall treatment plan for an overactive thyroid, a condition that also causes irregular heartbeats.
Image: Fresh motherwort and dried motherwort
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. The research is preliminary, however, and these findings don't mean you'll experience the same results if you consume the herb.
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