Monday, April 6, 2009

MotherWort , Herb of life

Motherwort, Herb of Life

by Lou Jonas

Motherwort (Leonurus Cardiaca) was a favored herb among the pioneers in the Piedmont, and its hardiness is indicated by the fact that it is still found growing wild around many old houses, where the soil stays somewhat moist all the growing season, and especially where it is fertile. It is also found along gthe road which parallels the C & O Canal, but the best, most luxurious example of the plant I have seen is growing under Mr. C. A. Ellwanger's plum tree, near New Baltimore ( the same organic gardener featured in an article in the Aug. 18 issue of the Piedmont Virginian.) I gave him the start a year or more ago, and it has really appreciated that good organic soil.

The " cardiaca" part of its scientific name refers to its use by herbalists to strengthen the heart. It has long been called the "herb of life", and Richard Lucas qoutes an old proverb, " Drink motherwort and live to be a source of continual astonishment and grief to waiting heirs!" Lucas says the Japanese dedicate one of their four great festivals to this herb, probably in memory of an emperor who wasn't expected to be 15 years old, but after drinking a daily cup of motherwort flower tea, lived to be 70.

Scientists have been reported to have found much calcium chloride in this plant, and that amy account for its effectiveness, since that compound is necessary for muscle strength, and the heart is, after all, mostly muscle.

The taste of the raw leaf is so strong and so bitter that I can well believe it will kill worms in the digestive system, as it is credited with doing. A tea made from the leaves or flowers can be diluted, of course, to a strength more to one's liking.

I have been troubled occasionally during the last 25 years, with a low backache. I discovered long ago that, if I drank a cup of tea made from dandelion roots or leves, plus motherwort leaves or flowers, the backache stops within a few hours. These backaches may be caused by infected kidneys or prostate gland, and both these herbs are considered good for these ailments. Whenever I have been using the tea as a usual morning drink, I have never been bothered with the ache.

Motherwort is just one of the many interesting plants now considered "weeds" by most people. things have changed greatly since country folks had to rely upon themselves or a wise neighbor to stay healthy. Interest has been increasing tremendously in the last ten years, as anyone can see if he stops in a large book store, and looks at the stock. In fact, I have seen many books related to ecology and natural health, in the drug stores of the Piedmont.

(This was presumably written for the Piedmont Virginian newspaper, although the date is unclear. We have been drinking motherwort tea mixed with peppermint and stevia, which help to cut the extreme bitterness. We don't know how effective it will be in the long run, but it does seem to impart an overall feeling of well-being.)


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