There’s a type of wild plant that grows in shady, scrubby land all over downtown Ottawa. I started noticing it last year while I was rambling around the neighbourhood in search of wild/accessible/scrub food plants that I could glean/nick/harvest.
I figured: Square stem; tufty, spiky, pinky-purple flowers; the leaves are kind of positioned right, even if they do look really… weird… Probably some weird kind of wild mint.
… And I was right! 😀
Motherwort, which is a (very) common name for Leonurus cardiaca which, yes, is part of the Mint family. It’s not the type of mint you use for seasoning, though.
As I once said to my wife, “There are plants for food, plants for medicine, and plants that you don’t put in your mouth”. This is, as far as I can tell, the kind of plant that, while it’s okay to put in your mouth, probably isn’t the kind of thing you’d put in a salad.
This website tells me that a tincture of Motherwort (taken at 1 tbsp per day) can be used to stimulate milk-flow in new moms (galactagogue), and also to stimulate uterine contractions (before or after birth) thanks to the leonurine (see footnote ) in the leaves. For the same reasons, and prepared in the same way, it can work to promote/regulate menstrual flow (emmenagogue; see: uterine contractions…) so it comes with all the usual warnings about “Don’t take this during your first trimester”.
Reverse-engineer that one as you will.
Beyond its obvious associations, though, the “Cardiaca” in its Latin name is there for a reason. Two reasons, actually. Motherwort (apparently) has been long used as an antianxiety medication (as a tea, in this case?), noted for calming heart palpitations and nervousness, and helping with insomnia… but also acting as a bit of an anti-depressant. Given its other uses, some herbalists suggest it for helping with post-partum depression.
NOTE: There’s some suggestion that “it may be habit-forming” as a sleep aid (now I’m thining of “Mommy’s Liquid Refreshment”…), ALSO Motherwort is a bit of a blood-thinner, so if you have endometriosis or problems with (not) clotting, you might want to skip this one. Lastly, if you use it a lot, it may make you prone to sunburns. It can also make you sleepy (duh) so… exercise caution around driving and similar if you don’t yet know how heavy an effect it will have on you.
Magically speaking, Motherwort is (shocking!) handy for rituals and spells pertaining to motherhood, children, or fertility. It’s a herb of protection (particularly for moms and little kids, but also in general); plant it near your doorway (or steep it as a tea and then use it as a floor-wash or add it to your laundry water) to promote peace in the home and to discourage unwanted guests (corporeal or otherwise) from turning up. Alterantively, add it to a protective Bottle Spell in order to reverse a curse that’s been sent your way.
Used as an incense it can help with astral projection.
And that’s Motherwort. 🙂
Meliad the Birch Maiden
 Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong on that one, though.
 As in: steeped in alcohol, NOT steeped in water. The folks at Red Root Mountain say this is because alkaloids in the leaves are not water-soluable – so if you’re taking this for uterus-related stuff, don’t bother with tea. Tea is, apparently, just fine if you want to use for its anti-anxiety properties, though.
 Not that I know how much of the plant goes into how much vodka to make said tincture… Hmmm.
Use 1-2 teaspoons of dried herb in 1 cup of boiling water no more than twice per day or up to 1 teaspoon of tincture per day. Motherwort should not be given to young children.
(From this site)
So… maybe 2tbsp finely chopped fresh herb per cup of vodka? Alternatively, steep as for mugwort or scullcap? Anyone who knows how to make herbal tincures want to weigh in on this? Anyone? Beuler?