Chinese Motherwort

yì mǔ cǎo | Chinese Motherwort
COMMON NAME (Chinese Name)

Chinese Motherwort (Yì Mǔ Cǎo)


Leonurus Japonicus


Supplements derived from the roots and aerial parts of Chinese motherwort plants have a long history of use as women’s supplements, as their most significant and measurable bioactivities affect the uterus. In both traditional and contemporary applications, Chinese motherwort plant extracts are well-known for their positive effects on a variety of obstetric and gynecological conditions, with significant anecdotal and empirical evidence supporting notions of its effectiveness even in high-stakes medical situations where Western medicine is often considered preferable to (and safer than) herbal supplements. For example, studies prove that oral Chinese motherwort plant supplements can safely amplify the effects of traditional medications for controlling postpartum bleeding and preventing uterine infection following c-section deliveries.

Chinese motherwort plant extracts also have demonstrable antibacterial and antioxidant properties. That said, by far the most common reason for use (today) is treating irregular and/or painful menstruation.

Chinese Motherwort is classified in Chinese medicine as an herb that regulates and invigorates the blood. It is categorized as pungent, bitter and cool and affects the Heart, Liver and  Bladder meridians.


This variant* of Chinese motherwort is produced via hot-water decoction of the dried aerial parts and roots of the plant. Specialty stores may carry both the raw/dried plant and already-processed extracts, oils, and granules. As with most herbal supplements, decoctions, oils, and extracts are likely more bioavailable in oral use than pills, granules, or powders.

*It is worth noting that Chinese motherwort supplements fall into two categories depending on the composite parts of the plant used for decoction — the aerial parts and roots, or the fruit. Though these extracts are derived from the exact same plant, they go by different traditional names (“yimucao” and “chongweizi”) and are treated as completely separate remedies. This is because yimucao and chongweizi have dramatically different active components and, consequently, dramatically different medicinal effects. Only yimucao is discussed here.


There is relatively limited information available about the potential side-effects, drug interactions, and contraindications for the oral use of Chinese motherwort plant extracts. In most clinical settings few (if any) side-effects are reported, though there is some risk of stomach upset/abdominal discomfort when taking any new supplements. That said, women who are pregnant should not take Chinese motherwort supplements, as they may cause uterine contractions and increase the risk of having a miscarriage. Additionally, some research suggests that Chinese motherwort plant extracts can have a sedative effect, so they are not recommended for use by people who are already taking sedative medications.

You should consult with a certified herbalist, physician or other qualified healthcare professional before taking Chinese Motherwort.


Miao, Lu-Lin, et al. “Leonurus Japonicus (Chinese Motherwort), an Excellent Traditional Medicine for Obstetrical and Gynecological Diseases: A Comprehensive Overview.” Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy, vol. 117, 2019, p. 109060., doi:10.1016/j.biopha.2019.109060.

Qiu, Ruijin, et al. “Comparison of the Efficacy of Dispensing Granules with Traditional Decoction: a Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.” Annals of Translational Medicine, vol. 6, no. 3, 2018, pp. 38–38., doi:10.21037/atm.2017.10.22.

Shang, Xiaofei, et al. “Leonurus Japonicus Houtt.: Ethnopharmacology, Phytochemistry and Pharmacology of an Important Traditional Chinese Medicine.” Journal of Ethnopharmacology, Elsevier, 8 Jan. 2014, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378874114000026.

Sitarek, Przemysław, et al. “The Effect OfLeonurus SibiricusPlant Extracts on Stimulating Repair and Protective Activity against Oxidative DNA Damage in CHO Cells and Content of Phenolic Compounds.” Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity, vol. 2016, 2016, pp. 1–11., doi:10.1155/2016/5738193.

Xiong, Liang, et al. “Chemical Composition and Antibacterial Activity of Essential Oils from Different Parts of Leonurus Japonicus Houtt.” Molecules, vol. 18, no. 1, 2013, pp. 963–973., doi:10.3390/molecules18010963.

ZHANG, et al. “Efficacy and Safety of Compound Yimucao Oral Liquid Combined with Oxytocin in the Prevention of Post-Partum Hemorrhage and Promotion of Uterine Involution for Puerpera of Vaginal Delivery.” China Pharmacy, vol. 26, no. 33, 2015, pp. 4629–4631.

Zhang, Rui-Han, et al. “Phytochemistry and Pharmacology of the Genus Leonurus : The Herb to Benefit the Mothers and More.” Phytochemistry, vol. 147, 2018, pp. 167–183., doi:10.1016/j.phytochem.2017.12.016.


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