Motherwort -- Chinese
January 19 2016 by Ray Sahelian, M.D.

J Ethnopharmacol. 2014. Leonurus japonicus Houtt.: Ethnopharmacology, phytochemistry and pharmacology of an important traditional Chinese medicine. Leonurus japonicus Houtt. (Labiatae), commonly called Chinese motherwort (), is an herbaceous flowering plant native to Asia. For thousands of years in China, the aerial part of Leonurus japonicus has been used to treat menoxenia, dysmenorrhea, amenorrhea, lochia, edema of the body, oliguresis, sores, ulcerations and other diseases in women. Now, Leonurus japonicus is listed in the Pharmacopoeia of the People's Republic of China. The present paper reviewed the ethnopharmacology, phytochemistry, biological actions and toxicology of Leonurus japonicus. Information on Leonurus japonicus was gathered via the Internet (using Elsevier, ACS, Medline Plus, CNKI, VIP, Web of Science, Google Scholar and Baidu Scholar) and libraries. Approximately 140 chemical compounds have been isolated from Leonurus japonicus, and the major components have been determined to be alkaloids, diterpenes and flavones. Among these active compounds, the effects of leonurine and stachydrine have been widely investigated. The primary active components in Leonurus japonicus possess wide pharmacological actions, such as effects on the uterus as well as cardioprotective, anti-oxidative, neuroprotective and anti-cancer activities. Modern pharmacological studies have demonstrated that Leonurus japonicus has marked bioactivities, especially on the uterus and as a cardioprotective agent. These activities are related to its traditional use and provide prospects for the development of novel drugs, therapeutics and health care products for women. However, the toxicity of Leonurus japonicus will require further study, and the nomenclature for Leonurus japonicus will require additional clarification.

See a list of herbs used in Chinese medicine.

Motherwort Herb Research
A contribution to our knowledge of Leonurus, i-mu-ts'ao, the Chinese motherwort.
Am J Chin Med. 1976.
This article deals with the ethnobotanical aspects of the Chinese motherwort. Since time immemorial the Chinese people have used various parts of motherwort to meet different physical needs. By the time a written language was developed and the medical uses were recorded. , motherwort was treated as an article of superior quality. At present, under the name of i-mu-ts'ao, the plant is used for improving bloodflow both by official physicians and herbal practitioners throughout the country as well as by villagers in isolated areas. According to Chinese classical literature on materia medica, the early uses were limited to the parts of the plant which met the most obvious needs of the prehistorical people in their struggle for existence-food and pain reliever. Evidently, in their search for food, the ancient people found that the four nutlets contained in the dry and spinose calyx of the Chinese motherwort resemble the seasame seed in size and oil content. They gathered them and used them for food in similar manner as with the sesame. Consequently, they discovered the good effects to the eyesight, the improvement of strength, and the uplift of spirit. These discoveries led to the use of the seed of the species as an eye medicine for improving the eyesight, and as a tonic for the increase of strength and the elevation of spirit. Contagious skin diseases caused serious problems for the ancient people. The use of the leafy shoot for a bath to release the discomfort of itches and shingles was also recorded in the 42-word first medicinal record of the species in the earliest known Chinese materia medica-the Shen-nung pen-ts'ao-ching. Translators of the Chinese classics have included the records of i-mu-ts'ao. According to my knowledge, these works are all partial translations with the selections of the medicinal properties and the omissions on the methods of preparation. They have the outline and abandon the details. Consequently most of them are not clear. In order to provide complete information on the discoveries of the ancient Chinese people on the uses of i-mu-ts'ao, all the records up to the end of the sixteenth century are organized and translated under the following headings: (1) ecological and morphological observations; (2) preparations; (3) physical and therapeutical properties; (4) special prescriptions for internal and external uses-including pills for pregnant women, for mothers post partum, as an emmenagogue, and as a corrective agent, condensed liquid, powder, fresh juice, baby bath and washes, poultices, charred shoots, gargles, drops and cakes; (5) other economic uses-including cosmetics and food; and (6) etymology. The distribution of i-mu-ts'ao is significant in photogeography and in the nomenclature of the species. I-mu-ts'ao was purposely introduced from South China to Linnaeus in Sweden before the publication of the Species Plantarum in 1753. Linnaeus planted the seed in the botanical garden of the University of Uppsala.

Zhongguo Zhong Yao Za Zhi. 2014. Coumarins from Leonurus japonicus and their anti-platelet aggregative activit. Chemical constituents of Leonurus japonicus were isolated and purified by a combination of various chromatographic techniques including column chromatography over silica gel, Sephadex LH-20, MCI, and Rp C18. Structures of the isolates were determined by spectroscopic analysis as 10 coumarins: bergapten (1), xanthotoxin (2), isopimpinellin (3), isogosferal (4), imperatorin (5), meransin hydrate(6), isomeranzin(7), murrayone(8) , auraptenol(9), and osthol(10). In addition to compound 9, the others were isolated from the genus Leonurus for the first time. In the in vitro assay, compounds 4 and 8 significantly inhibited the abnormal increase of platelet aggregation induced by ADP.