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Motherwort Herb (Yi Mu Cao)

Close up of Motherwort Herb (Yi Mu Cao)

What is Motherwort Herb (Yi Mu Cao)?

Motherwort Herb (yi mu cao, 益母草), also known as Herba Leonuri, comes from Leonurus japonicus, a herbaceous flowering plant native to Asia that is commonly called Oriental motherwort or Chinese motherwort. This plant consists of a long stem with pointed green leaves, red and white flowers, and an exceptionally bad odour.

Motherwort Herb is a powerful herb that frequently appeared in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) records. With its first appearance dating back to more than 1800 years ago, Motherwort Herb is still widely used in China and growing in popularity in the West today. With a Chinese name that means ‘herb that benefits the mother’, Yi Mu Cao has many benefits for women’s health. 

The Ancient Greeks gave Motherwort Herb to women to reduce anxiety. The 17th century English herbalist, Nicholas Culpepper, used the herb to treat depression. The herb was also often used in Europe to help treat cattle from a variety of diseases. In addition, Motherwort has a long history as a guard against dark spells or repelling negative energies and bad luck. In occult worlds, the herb is said to have powers that work through energies to help heal and exorcize evil energies or entities. It is valued as a highly protective herb and is associated with immortality and spiritual healing.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Motherwort Herb falls under the category of ‘Herbs that invigorate the blood’. Such herbs tend to stimulate the blood flow to aid blood circulation in cardiovascular conditions and menstrual irregularities, and to treat acute pain caused by Blood Stagnation.

Cool in nature, Motherwort Herb can help individuals with too much Heat in their body, such as those experiencing a Yang Excess or a Yin Deficiency, to restore a harmonious yin-yang balance in the body. Bitter and pungent in taste, Motherwort Herb can cleanse the body by clearing Heat, drying Dampness and promoting elimination via urination or bowel movements. Also, the herb can promote the circulations of qi and body fluids. In particular, Motherwort Herb targets the Heart and the Liver.

Functions and Benefits of Motherwort Herb (Yi Mu Cao)

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) shows that Motherwort Herb has the following health benefits.

Motherwort Herb can activate blood to dispel blood stasis and generate new blood to address various syndromes caused by blood stasis. For example, Motherwort Herb can treat amenorrhea, dysmenorrhea (menstrual cramps), postpartum abdominal pain, abdominal masses, infertility and regulate menstruation. By eliminating blood stasis and blood clotting, Motherwort Herb can help with pain symptoms such as headaches and spasms

In fact, Motherwort Herb is a key herb that is used before and after pregnancy and delivery in gynecology. This herb is mainly indicated for various gestational and labor diseases caused by Heat accumulation and Blood Stasis. Motherwort Herb is also indicated for other syndromes of Blood Stasis such as traumatic injuries, swelling and chest oppression.

Motherwort Herb can promote diuresis to relieve edema as well. In addition, Motherwort Herb can clear Heat, relieve toxicity, cool blood and resolve swelling. Thus, this herb is often used to address sores and abscesses. For example, Motherwort Herb is used to treat itchy rashes caused by Damp-Heat in the muscles and surrounding tissues. As Motherwort Herb contains natural antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, Motherwort Herb may detox internal Heat to treat skin disorders and increase blood circulation in the skin too.

Motherwort Herb has been used to reduce rapid or irregular heart rate caused by stress or anxiety. The herb may promote the relaxation of blood vessel walls, relax muscles, and slow heart palpitations. Motherwort Herb can thus induce tranquilization and has a calming effect to relieve anxiety. The antioxidants in Motherwort Herb may protect the heart from damage too.

Motherwort Herb (Yi Mu Cao) plant
Motherwort Herb (Yi Mu Cao) is effective in easing painful periods.

How to Use Motherwort Herb (Yi Mu Cao)

The recommended daily dosage of Motherwort Herb is 10 – 30g, when consumed as a decoction. Motherwort Herb is also used in other supplements such as ointment, pills, powders and tinctures.

Fresh cut Motherwort Herb may be found in herbal stores and specialty shops.

Cautions and Side Effects of Motherwort Herb (Yi Mu Cao)

Motherwort Herb should not be used by individuals who are pregnant as it may induce miscarriages. Also, Motherwort Herb should not be used by individuals experiencing Yin, Blood, or Yang Deficiency with prolapse.

Do use Motherwort Herb with caution if you are taking anticoagulants, such as heparin, warfarin and enoxaparin, or antiplatelet drugs such as aspirin. Concurrent use of Motherwort Herb with these medications may have an additive or synergistic effect.

Motherwort Herb may cause side effects such as diarrhoea and stomach irritation.

We strongly encourage you to consult your healthcare provider before deciding to add Motherwort Herb to your healthcare routine!


Here is a summary for Motherwort Herb (Yi Mu Cao):

  • Herb name (Chinese): 益母草
  • Herb name (Pin Yin): yì mǔ cǎo
  • Herb name (English): Motherwort Herb
  • Herb name (Botanical): Herba Leonuri
  • Origin of species: Leonurus japonicus Houtt.
  • Part(s) of herb used: Plant parts above ground
  • Geo-specific habitat(s): Many parts in China
  • Taste(s) & Properties: Pungent, bitter; Slightly cold; Administrates the Heart, Liver and Bladder Meridians
  • Actions: Helps ease painful periods or related abdominal discomforts; Relieves water retention or urinary difficulties; Relieves bruises in physical injuries or skin irritations

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