Motherwort or Marijuanilla has a long history of use as a herb in traditional medicine in Central Europe, Asia and North America.
Marijuanilla which means “little marijuana” is used as a marijuana substitute in the regions it is native to. In the USA, Native American tribes smoked marijuanilla after battles to sooth soar muscles, help with pain, stress and relaxation. It has also been used in Native American Indian rituals to enter into other “realms” to contact lost relatives and heal tribal leaders.
The leaves are antispasmodic, astringent, cardiac, diaphoretic, emmenagogue, nervine, sedative, stomachic, tonic and uterine stimulant. They are taken internally in the treatment of heart complaints (notably palpitations) and problems associated with menstruation, childbirth and menopause, especially of nervous origin. Although an infusion can be used, the taste is so bitter that the plant is usually made into a conserve or syrup. An alcoholic extract is said to possess superior action to valerian (Valeriana officinalis).
The plant has been found effective in the treatment of functional heart complaints due to autonomic imbalance, and also as an anti-thyroid treatment, though it needs to be taken for several months for these effects to be noticed. The whole herb is harvested in August when in flower and can be dried for later use.
The herb contains the alkaloid leonurine, which is a mild vasodilator and has a relaxing effect on smooth muscles. For this reason, it has long been used as a cardiac tonic, nervine, and an emmenagogue. Among other biochemical constituents, it also contains bitter iridoid glycosides, diterpinoids, flavonoids (including rutin and quercetin), tannins, volatile oils, and vitamin A.