Motherwort for the Heart

The common herb motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca) has long been known for "gladdening and strengthening the heart." Among many other recommended uses, Rudolf Weiss, M.D., in Herbal Medicine, confirms this use, stating, "My own investigations have shown that there is indeed a medicinal action mainly for functional heart complaints." Weiss also comments that further research is needed. A recent article in the American Journal of Chinese Medicine, Vol. XVII, Nos. 1-2, 1989, 65-70, presents the results of some further research on the species of motherwort used in China (L. heterophyllus). The clinical research, involving 105 patients, focused on the effects of the motherwort extract on blood viscosity and for diseases related to circulatory disorders. The extract, administered by injection, caused a significant improvement in blood viscosity, fibrinogen content, deformability of red blood cells, and a reduction in the platelet aggregation rate. In other words, the extract functioned as a "blood thinner," reducing the tendency of blood to clot.

There was also a dramatic reduction in reported symptoms, including 82% recovery from numbness in the limbs, 81% recovery from insomnia, 62.5% recovery from headache, and 62.8% recovery along with 28.5% improvement in vertigo. The effects on blood viscosity of the Leonurus extract were found to be nearly identical to that of synthesized leonurin, which is considered to be the most active component of Leonurus in decreasing blood viscosity. This extract was superior to Panax notoginseng, Salvia miltiorrhiza, Ligusticum wallichii, and dextran. The authors conclude, "The result of the present study indicated that MW is a potential drug for reducing hemoviscosity and an inhibitor of platelet aggregation...Therefore MW can be recommended as an effective drug for homohyperviscosity treatment in the clinical patient." This study was authored by five M.D.s from People's Hospital, Guangdong, China.

American Botanical Council.

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By Rob McCaleb

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