The "aerial parts" of motherwort are gathered for medicinal purposes. I use it fresh or dried in homemade tinctures to control my heart arrhythmia. It is a tonic to the heart, strengthening its function.
Here at the Cottage, motherwort, Leonurus cardiaca - meaning "lion hearted", is ready for harvest. When this herb blooms that is the signal to harvest the upper portions - flowering stems with its tender leaves.
In the Back Garden is a small plot called the "Healing Garden" containing a nice stand of motherwort and a colony of horehound. Both are bitter-tasting herbs so the Chicken Girls leave them alone.
The pretty, pale-pink flowering bracts of motherwort are prickly, becoming burr-like upon drying. The stems and leaves are smooth and soft.
I cut the upper parts of the stems and handle these with bare hands avoiding the prickly flowers. These aerial parts are piled onto an old cookie sheet and taken into the house. The motherwort is placed into the sink, given a cool water rinse to remove dust and any bugs, shaken lightly, then placed on a large towel to sop up more moisture.
Laying the motherwort on a towel and patting them dry with another towel removes most of the excess moisture for tincture-making or drying.
I lightly pat the herbs dry with a cotton towel, then snip them into short, manageable lengths so I can insert them into a quart-size Mason jar.
I gently press the herb into the jar so I can fill it full or herb. Then I pour on 80 or 90 proof vodka (or brandy) to fill the jar. Use the cheap stuff (liquor, that is) as you won't be drinking it, only using the herb-laced tincture by the dropper full.
Using a butter knife I release any bubbles among the compacted herbs and pour on a bit more vodka or brandy to completely cover the herbs.
Two quarts of new motherwort tincture and a vial of tincture made last year.
After capping the jars they go into the pantry where they will macerate (soak) for six weeks. After six weeks I drain off the tincture, pressing the herb gently to release remaining tincture and discard the used herb onto the compost pile.
To use the completed tincture, I transfer some of it into a two- or four-ounce dropper bottle or vial. A dropper full two to three times a day in juice, water, wine, or tea is the usual dosage I take.
I store my tinctures in the pantry or a cupboard away from light and they do last for years! I do try to make only what I can use in a year, making fresh tinctures each Spring. Over time a tincture will begin to gradually lose its medicinal value if kept for too long.
To make a tincture from dried mugwort use one part dried herb to four parts vodka or brandy instead of the one to one ratio of a tincture made from fresh herbs.
I always dry some motherwort in case I need to make more tincture during the Winter when the plants are dormant in the garden. Too, I'll have dried herb available if someone requests a tincture.
I've been considering selling some of the herbs (dried) grown in my gardens on my etsy site - gailsgarden - for those wanting organic, hand-harvested plant material for use in tinctures, sachets, dream pillows, teas, potpourris, and crafts.
Regular use of motherwort entirely eliminates my heart arrhythmia and palpitations. I also feel that it soothes and calms the heart in a "tonic" manner. Motherwort is a recommended herb for women going through menopause as it promotes a peaceful feeling.
For women interested in going through their Change, naturally, I recommend, New Menopausal Years by Susun S. Weed. This book has herbal, dietary, and exercise recommendations for a happy, natural Change.
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