Motherwort tincture is a gentle herbal remedy for for stress, anxiety and depression, as well as physical conditions like excess menstrual and postpartum bleeding and high blood pressure. Mother or not, if you’re feeling stressed and overworked, motherwort is a great herb to have on hand, and it’s the perfect thing for overwhelm. It’s easy to make at home with just a few simple ingredients!
They say motherwort is the perfect herb for mothers, or anyone who needs a little bit of mothering.
When the world is too much, and everything seems to be piling up (be it dirty diapers or just random things at work), motherwort is there to help soothe frazzled nerves and promote a calm, balanced way of being.
We grow this beautiful plant in our herb garden, and it’s available fresh when I need it about 6 months of the year here in Vermont, but sometimes I find myself overwhelmed when it’s out of season. The holiday season comes to mind….
Anyhow, during the rest of the year, I reach for motherwort tincture, and I find it incredibly effective in a pinch.
I’ll walk you through how to make your own motherwort tincture, with either fresh bark or dried motherwort, but if you’re just looking for a source for the tincture, it can be purchased ready made here. This is the basic process for making motherwort tincture, but if you’re looking for more details, I’d recommend the Herbal Academy’s Tincture Making Course which covers everything you could ever want to know about making more than 100 different herbal tinctures, as well as half a dozen tincturing methods.
If you want to try growing motherwort in your garden, seeds are available here. Be careful though, it grows 6-8 feet tall and it’s as vigorous as a weed…it’s known to take over if not kept in check. We grow it at the edge of our orchard where it can be mowed if it starts to get out of hand, but the patch still gets bigger every year.
It’s much loved by bees though, and has a long bloom season, so it’s a lovely addition to that out of the way part of the yard that doesn’t get much attention anyway. Motherwort will take over there, suppressing less desirable weeds, and feeding the bees at the same time.
(Always consult your doctor or a clinical herbalist before trying any new herbal remedy, as there’s always the possibility of unintended consequences, allergic reaction, or interactions with other medication. If you’re harvesting wild plant material, make sure you’re 100% confident in your identification and consult multiple sources for your ID. The following is based on my research and experience, but I don’t claim to have any certifications that would qualify me to advise you on your health. Please do your own research and always verify with multiple reputable sources.)
Benefits of Motherwort Tincture
Generally, motherwort tincture is used by herbalists to treat all manner of things that are common in women with children or of childbearing age, but necessarily uterine or menstrual issues (though it does treat those too). It’s used for anxiety and stress that are all too common when a new baby arrives, as well as the sleeplessness that comes with constant interruptions, worry and overwork. Those particular issues are common in mothers, today and historically, but they’re not just issues that birthing women face.
In general, motherwort is an excellent calming herb that helps ground frazzled nerves, lower blood pressure, promotes meaningful and restful sleep, and soothes depression and anxiety of any sort.
This herb also has physical benefits for women specifically.
Motherwort has been in parts of Asia through Chinese medicine for at least 1,800 years, where it has mainly been used as a treatment for menstrual cramps, lack of mensuration, and excessive postpartum bleeding. Today in China, motherwort continues to be widely available as a natural remedy, often in conjunction with pharmaceutical medicine, where it’s “used in the treatment of gynecological and obstetrical diseases, mainly including postpartum hemorrhage, postpartum lochiorrhea, irregular menstruation, and subinvolution of the uterus.”
One particularly interesting modern-day motherwort application (which is used in China) is when it is used to stop heavy bleeding after a natural birth or caesarean section. Oxytocin is often used to treat postpartum hemorrhage, but because it has a short half-life it isn’t always the most efficient or practical of drug choices. When an injection of motherwort is given simultaneously with oxytocin, bleeding is less severe and is shortened during the third stage of labour or during a caesarean section or after a natural birth.
Motherwort is also well-known as a source of powerful antioxidants and for its numerous anti-inflammatory properties. One study followed individuals for 28 days with high blood pressure who also suffered from anxiety, depression, and insomnia and the results were significant: At the end of the study, significant improvement in the areas of anxiety and depression were reported in 32% of patients, while 48% reported moderate improvement.
Another interesting study was conducted using rat cells and found that leonurine, a compound found in motherwort, acts as a calcium channel blocker — meaning it helps lower blood pressure. The antioxidants I mentioned above have also been linked to heart heart, in this case they help protect the heart from damage.
Although dosages may vary depending on their intended use, the recommended dose of motherwort tincture is roughly half- to three-quarters of a teaspoon up to 3 times a day.
How to Make Motherwort Tincture
To make a Motherwort tincture, you’ll need the following ingredients and equipment:
- Dried Motherwort
- Vodka* (or any other palatable alcohol that’s at least 80 proof/40 percent — there’s no need to splurge here, I always use Smirnoff because it’s inexpensive and has a neutral taste)**
- One-pint mason jar with lid (amber glass is ideal, but as long as you keep the tincture away from light at all times it won’t make a difference)
- Fine mesh sieve
- Amber glass tincture bottles (with dropper)
*The Herbal Academy’s tincture making course specifically recommends using 40% alcohol when working with Motherwort (though they recommend as low as 25% for mucilaginous herbs, and up to 95% when working with plant resins. Motherwort just happens to fall right in the middle, since it has both alcohol soluble and water soluble constituents).
**Never use isopropyl/rubbing alcohol for tinctures (or any other remedy you plan on ingesting). Even in small amounts, this type of alcohol is toxic and meant for external applications only.
To make the tincture, add fill a jar about 3/4 of the way full with fresh Motherwort (or about halfway full with dried Motherwort).
Cover the Motherwort with vodka, or whichever alcohol you’ve chosen, and seal the jar with its lid.
Keep the developing tincture in a cool, dark place and give the jar a gentle shake every few days (daily is even better, but tinctures are, fortunately very forgiving when it comes to precise shaking schedules).
After about 4 to 6 weeks, it’s time to decant the tincture.
To do this, you’ll need to line a funnel with a few layers of cheesecloth. Carefully strain the tincture into small amber glass tincture bottles, squeezing the roots to make sure all the liquid is expelled.
Once the tincture has been decanted, label the tincture bottles with the date and suggested dosages (I use a small piece of masking tape and a marker, it peels off easily when I’m ready to use the bottle for something else).
For more information on the general process, I’d suggest reading this guide to making herbal tinctures at home. Or, for an even more detailed guide, check out the Herbal Academy’s Tincture Making Course.
I know 4-6 weeks can be a long time to wait if you’re desperately needing relief now. There’s nothing wrong with buying a bottle of motherwort tincture to use while your homemade tincture infuses. Purchased tinctures are a lot more expensive than DIY homemade ones, but they have the benefit of being ready when you need them, like now.
Motherwort Tincture Dosage
For an exact dosage specific to your body and needs, I’d suggest consulting a clinical herbalist.
Generally, the dosage for motherwort tincture is 1 to 2 droppers full, taken 2 to 3 times per day, or as needed.
Motherwort is often combined with other soothing, relaxing herbs that will relieve anxiety and lower blood pressure. Good options are tulsi tincture, chamomile tincture and lavender tincture. When used to promote restful sleep, it goes particularly well with Valerian tincture.
If you’re interested in the science behind combining herbs to enhance their effectiveness, I’d recommend taking this online course in Mastering Herbal Formulations from the Herbal Academy. It covers the science of blending herbs into homemade formulations in detail.
A motherwort tincture is a homemade herbal remedy that's easy to make with just a few ingredients, and it's the perfect tonic for mothers (or adults in need of a bit of mothering).
- Neutral Spirit (such as vodka)*
- Pint mason jar (or any other jar with a tight-fitting lid)
- Cheesecloth (or fine mesh strainer)
- Dark amber dropper bottles
- Adhesive label or masking tape (for labelling tincture)
- Fill a clean, empty mason jar 3/4 full of fresh motherwort, or 1/2 full of dried motherwort. (Dried motherwort is often available from herbal supply shops.)
- Cover the fresh or dried motherwort with alcohol, making sure the contents of the jar are completely covered.
- Screw the lid on tightly and gently shake the contents of the jar. Place in a cool, dry location away from light, allowing the extraction to occur over the next 6 to 8 weeks.
- Give the contents of the jar a gentle shake every couple of days.
- Keep an eye on the alcohol level, adding more alcohol to cover the plant material if needed.
- Once the tincture is ready to be decanted, line a funnel with cheesecloth and place the tip of the funnel into the neck of a dark amber glass bottle. Pour the solvent and the **name into the cheesecloth-lined funnel, pressing to make sure all of the liquid makes it into the bottle.
- Label the tincture with its contents, date of production, recommended dosages, and suggested usages. Store in a cool, dry area away from light.
*Tinctures are usually made with vodka as a neutral spirit, but you can also use brandy, whisky or any other high-proof alcohol. Finished tinctures need to be at least 25% alcohol for preservation, and fresh herbs contribute some moisture to the mix. Be sure you use something that's 60-proof or higher.
Never use denatured alcohol or isopropyl alcohol to make tinctures, as it's unsafe for consumption.
To make an alcohol-free glycerite tincture (glycerite): cover dried plant material completely with a preparation of 3 parts glycerin to 1 part distilled water (instead of alcohol). Dried motherwort is available from herbal supply stores, and is often used in place of fresh. If using fresh motherwort, use all glycerine and skip the water. As the glycerite tincture develops, it will need to be shaken every day. Proceed following the same directions as if making an alcohol-based tincture.
The yield varies, but if you're using fresh plant material, you should expect to pull out ever so slightly more tincture than the vodka you add. If using dried plant material, the dried herbs will absorb some and you'll get slightly less than the alcohol added. The amount of vodka will vary based on how tightly you pack the jar, but you should need about 2-3 cups of vodka for a quart jar, or about 1 to 1 1/2 cups vodka per pint. Be sure the plant material remains submerged during infusion.
Disclaimer on Homemade Herbal Remedies
I’ve been foraging wild medicines and treating my family with herbal remedies for the past 20 years, but I’m self-taught. Be aware that I am not a clinical herbalist, and this is based on my own research and personal experience using medicinal plants. I do not claim to have the experience that’d qualify me to advise you on your health, and I’m only providing this as a reference to encourage a broader interest in medicinal plants.
Please use this as a jumping-off point, but always do your own research and verify anything you read with multiple sources.
It’s always possible to have an adverse reaction to any medicinal herb, and plenty of people are allergic to even gentle herbs like chamomile. Always consult your doctor or a certified herbalist before trying any new medicinal plant. Often, they can have unintended reactions in combination with other herbs and supplements, and many herbs have side effects even when they are effective for their intended purpose.
If you are seriously interested in herbal medicine, I’d suggest investing in a course in herbal medicine, and I’d recommend any of the online courses put out by the Herbal Academy of New England. Specifically, the introduction to herbal medicine course and the family herbalist group of courses.
For resources related specifically to tinctures,I’d recommend the Herbal Academy’s Tincture Making Course which covers everything you could ever want to know about making more than 100 different herbal tinctures, as well as half a dozen tincturing methods.
Interested in making other homemade herbal tinctures?
- Yarrow Tincture
- Chickweed Tincture
- Elderberry Tincture
- Dandelion Tincture
- Burdock Tincture
- Echinacea Tincture
Herbal Medicine Making
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