Chinese Name : 益母草
Latin Name : Herba Leonuri
This herb is the entire plant of Leonurus heterophyllus Sweet of the family Labiatae. It is grown in all parts of China, as well as in Asia, Africa, and the United States, harvested in the summer, cleaned, dried in the sun, and used unprocessed.
Leonurus is also called Chinese motherwort. The name of the herb in Chinese means “benefits the mother.” Traditionally, it was used for fevers, postpartum hemorrhage, menorrhagia, and loss of virility. Prolonged use promotes fertility. The juice is used internally for dropsy, difficult labor, dysmenorrhea, fluxes, and constipation, and externally for boils, cancer, ear abscesses, and serpent and insect bites. The extract is administered in cases of complicated or difficult labor.
Today, the herb is prescribed to normalize blood circulation, regulate menstrual flow, and for other gynecological ailments, and as an effective diuretic for nephrotic edema. Leonurus is a good antiaging medicinal herb.
Use of Leonurus in TCM
Pungent and bitter in taste, and slighlty cold, it acts on the heart, liver, and urinary bladder meridians.
Effects, Medicinal Uses, and Combinations
- Invigorates blood circulation and normalizes menstruation: for irregular or stagnant menstruation, distending pain in the lower abdomen, amenorrhea, and postpartum abdominal pain, leonurus can be used alone or with Chinese angelica root (dang gui), enidium rhizome, and red peony root (chi shao), as in Yi Mu Wan. Leonurus extract is therapeutic for dysmenorrhea and amenorrhea caused by blood stasis.
- Dissipates blood stasis and alleviates pain: leonurus is dispensed in a decoction to treat traumatic injury, bruising, and soft-tissue damage with accumulation of blood, swelling, and pain.
- Reduce edema by inducing diuresis: leonurus can be taken alone in a decoction or with hoelen (fu ling) , imperata rhizome (bai mao gen). Plantain herb, and white atractylodes rhizome (bai zhu). It also can be used when urination is difficult because of nephrotic edema and urination with hematuria.
- Treat hypertension: to treat hypertension, leonurus is blended with prunella spike, scute root, gambir, eucommia bark, licorice root and loranthus. For primary (essential) hypertension, it is combined with siegesbeckia, prunella, and gambir in a decoction.
In a decoction of 10 to 15 g.
People who are yin deficient, anemic, or pregnant should not use leonurus herb. Do not overdose.
Side Effects and Toxicity
The herb has low toxicity. Multiple and long-term oral use produced no toxic reactions. Intramuscular administration of the injection solution of the herb did not cause any side effects except dry mouth or shortened sleep. Toxicological studies showed that the LD50 value of the injection solution of the herb was 30 to 60 g/kg in mice by intravenous administration.
Leonurus contains the alkaloids leonurine, stachydrine, leonurine A and B, leonuridine, and leonurinine. Other ingredients include rutine, fumaric acid, lauric acid, linolenic acid, sitosterol, stachyose, 4-guaridino-1-butanol, 4-guanidino-gutyric acid, carotene, and vitamins A,B,C and K.
- Action on the uterus : the aqueous decoction, alcohol extract, and alkaloid leonurine decoction was excitatory on rat, rabbit, dog, and cat uteruses. It increased the tension and contractions of the uterus, and speeded up the frequency of contractions.
- Action on blood pressure: an oral leonurus decoction lowers blood pressure, dilates blood vessel (particularly on peripheral blood vessels) and is a diuretic.
- Inhibits blood coagulation and fibrinolysis, and prevents blood clots.
- Demonstrated inhibination on the CNS in experimental frogs and stimulated respiration.
- Antimicrobial and antifungal.
A decoction of leonurus was given to patients with acute glomerulonephritis, and all were healed. The shortest recovery was within five days; the longest recovery was within thirty-six days. The cases were followed up for five years and there was no recurrence sequelae.