Leonurus Cardiaca. Motherwort.

Botanical name: 

Description: Natural Order, Labiatae. Genus LEONURUS: Perennial roots, with annual and herbaceous stems. Stem two to four feet high, minutely downy in .young plants; square, smooth, light brown, and shining when older. Leaves cut-lobed, with close clusters of flowers in their axils. Calyx top-shaped, five-toothed, teeth awl-shaped, sharp and rigid in full-grown plants. Corolla purplish-white, upper lip arched and entire, lower lip spreading and three-lobed. Stamens four, ascending in pairs under the upper lip, anthers approximating in pairs. Fruit of truncate and sharply three-angled nutlets, very small. L. CARDIACA: Leaves on petioles half an inch or more in length; lower ones nearly rounded, round-lobed on the margins; middle ones wedge-shaped at base, and in three acute lobes toward the apex; upper ones undivided. July to September.

This plant is said to be naturalized from Europe, but is now common in all parts of this country, usually growing near dwellings, by the side of fences, in rich soils. The roots send up a number of slender, erect, grooved, and tough stems in a clump, which are sparsely branched above. The whole herb is medicinal, and yields its properties to water and alcohol. It has a faint and not unpleasant odor, and a mildly bitter taste. A high heat injures it.

Properties and Uses: This herb is a pleasant and moderately strong tonic, somewhat diffusive in action, and combining relaxing properties with a slight excess of stimulation. The nerves receive the most benefit of its influence, whence it is classed as a nervine tonic and antispasmodic. The stomach is braced by it; and the uterus decidedly acted upon. In warm preparations, it maintains a gentle outward circulation, and promotes the menstrual and lochial flow; and in this form proves of value in recent suppression of the catamenia, painful menstruation, and hysterical forms of nervousness and palpitation. In cold preparations, it promotes appetite and digestion, strengthens the uterus, is of superior value in hysteria, facilitates and increases the menses, and relieves uterine pains dependent upon neuralgic or semi-rheumatic conditions. As a tonic for nervousness, pains and palpitation of the heart, the sufferings peculiar to women, and habitual restlessness, it is an agent deserving of the first consideration. It may also be used in convalescence from typhoid and other low conditions; but is not advisable when the menses are too free, or high febrile tendencies are present. Though usually classed as an emmenagogue, it is not very positive in its influence on the catamenial function; yet is quite reliable when the menses have failed from local feebleness, and especially if combined with more specific emmenagogues. The profession will find in it an antispasmodic tonic of the first order. The powder is not used; but half an ounce may be digested for twenty minutes in a pint of warm water, in a covered vessel, and given in doses of a fluid ounce or more every two or four hours.

Pharmaceutical Preparations: I. Extract. By the exercise of sufficient care, a good extract of this agent may be prepared by the combined use of water and alcohol, after the method commonly pursued for hydro-alcoholic extracts. It represents the qualities of the herb very well; and may be combined with emmenagogues and used for insufficient and painful menstruation, or with laxatives or cathartics to prevent griping and sustain the tone of the bowels. It is customary to use this softened extract as a base, and combine with it such concentrated articles as cimicifugin, senecionine, caulophyllin, leptandrin, etc., according to the objects sought. Combined with extract of euonymus, and stiffened with helonias and xanthoxylum, it forms a good laxative and uterine tonic pill. From three to six grains of the extract may be used every six or four hours.

II. Fluid Extract. Macerate a pound of the well-bruised herb in a sufficient quantity of diluted alcohol, for twenty-four hours; transfer to a percolator, and treat with diluted alcohol till eight fluid ounces pass; set this aside, and continue the percolation with water till exhausted; evaporate on a water-bath, at a moderate heat, to eight fluid ounces, and mix the two products. This is an elegant antispasmodic and tonic preparation; and may be used in doses of half a fluid drachm to three times that quantity, every six or four hours; or thirty drops may be given in a warm tea of ginger or other aromatic every hour, in palpitation, acute nervousness, periodic pains, etc.

Leonurus enters into various combinations with angelica, anthemis, liriodendron, lavender, and similar nervines and tonics. A preparation embracing it is also given under epigea repens. It is an ingredient in the Carminative Drops.

The Physiomedical Dispensatory, 1869, was written by William Cook, M.D.
It was scanned by Paul Bergner at http://medherb.com