The Heart Center Herb


One of the characters in my novel is a master herbalist. While I’d tinkered with herbs for years, I wanted to factcheck what I’d written about this character and get the terminology and methods right. So I attended a lecture on “Reproductive Herbs” by two local herbalists. Turned out attending that lecture improved parts of the story as well as my state of mind

One of the herbs they presented is Motherwort, officially named Leonarus cardiaca. It means lionhearted. The juxtaposition of mother and lionhearted intrigued me. Would it cause me to become more nurturing, or a strong warrior, like Richard the Lionhearted? The plant is said to strengthen the physical heart and is considered one of the best heart tonics. It also calms the heart and nerves, a sedative and nerve tonic used for women’s problems, especially of nervous origin. (Not given to pregnant women, however.)

I knew I had to try it. Attending the lecture was research, but the idea of an herb to calm the heart got me. I’ve used many herbal teas and tinctures over the years for minor ailments and have experienced their benefits, but it’s trial and error until I find the ones that suit my particular constitution. I’ve taken Motherwort at night for months now and I am calmer, less easily agitated, and sleep better.

What does this have to do with writing and yoga? Being in a more peaceful place makes writing and yoga easier to do. I am less distracted and can dive into these activities more deeply, and, with fewer mental distractions, it possible to move more confidently through a story or a pose. I’m more patient, less rushed.

I’m not trying to sell you on this herb, or any others. I just know from years of yoga practice that quieting the mind (advised in the second Yoga Sutra) is not simple and takes years of practice. Motherwort has helped soothe me in a way I didn’t know was possible. I didn’t take it because I had a problem, yet it revitalized me in a subtle way. I like the idea of remedies like this.

About Margaret Graw

At the intersection of writing and yoga
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