Leonurus spp.



Marihuanilla; Lions Ear.

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Leonurus spp.

Botanical information

Leonurus sibiricus: A tall annual herb/shrub, it grows to a height of 1.5m with a spread of 1m. The stem is erect, with upward branches; the leaves are dull green, 10cm long, round and 3 to 7 lobed; the flowers are pink, short tubular, sessile and arranged in terminal spikes. Please note, that C. Raetsch has in his excellent Encyclopedia of psychoactive plants mistakenly identified the picture of Leonurus cardiaca as being Leonorus sibiricus.

A native of South Africa, marihuanilla prefers light to medium, well drained soils in an open, sunny position, and is drought resistant, but frost tender.

Propagation is by seed or cuttings taken in spring. Seed should be sown into very well draining seeding mix and watered sparingly throughout the seedling development. Plants are heavy feeders and will grow very quickly in the right conditions. Very hardy.


Leonurus cardiaca: A tall annual herb/shrub, it grows to a height of 1.5m with a spread of 0.5m. The stem is erect, with upward branches; the leaves are dull green, 7cm long, ovate, 3 to 5 lobed and toothed; the flowers are pink to whitish on the outside, while pink to purplish on the inside, short tubular, sessile and arranged in successive whorls up the stem. Leonurus cardiaca is very similar in both growth habit and leaf shape to Artemisia vulgaris (Mugwort) and can easily be confused with it unless they are flowering.

A native of South Africa, motherwort prefers light to medium, welldrained soils in an open, sunny position, and is drought and frost tender.

Propagation is by seed or cuttings taken in spring. Seed should be sown into very well draining seeding mix and watered sparingly throughout the seedling development. Plants are heavy feeders and will grow very quickly in the right conditions. Very hardy.


Traditional uses

Most species of Leonurus have some traditional use as calming or sedating tea herbs. Leonurus sibiricus and L.cardiaca have very similar activity and are often used interchangably either by intentional or accidental substitution. No sideeffects or contraindications are known for either species, however they should be avoided by pregnant women due to the effects on the uterus


Leonurus sibiricus: In chinese medicine the whole plant is utilised for the relief of menstrual pain and excessive menstrual bleeding. Similarly, in Mexico a tea made of the leaves is used to initiate menstruation. Leonurus sibiricus also has been used as a smoking herb. The herb and flowers are dried and either used as a smoking herb or extracted to make a resin which can be smoked. The effects are often said to be somewhat comparable to mild cannabis smoke.


Leonurus cardiaca: In modern herbalism it is used to reduce bloodpressure and calm the nerves as well as for the relief of menstrual pain and excessive menstrual bleeding. In europe in the middle ages the herb was used to calm the nerves in cases of hysteria or worry. The tincture is also used to relieve rheumatism.


Pharmacology

Leonurus sibiricus: Several alkaloids and diterpenes have been extracted in minute quantities from the herb tops of Leonurus sibiricus. While it was previously assumed that the alkaloid leonurine was solely responsible for the physical effects of Leonurus sibiricus, it is now more likely that at least part of the effect is due to any or all of the diterpenes leosibiricine, leosiberine and isoleosiberine. Diterpenes are common in the labiatae family and are responsible for the psychoactive effect of Salvia divinorum and other salvias.


Leonurus cardiaca: Constituents include the alkaloids stachydrine, betonicine, turicin, leonurine, leonuridin, and leonurinine, as well as the flavonoids apigenin-glycoside, kaempferol, and quercetin. Furthermore the iridoids ajugol, ajugoside, galiridoside, and leonurid, and the terpene/oids ursolic acid, leocardin, a diterpene lactone similar to marrubiin, and the phenolic glycoside caffeic acid 4-rutinoside. The alkaloid leonurine was found to be uterotonic while the alkaloid stachydrine may promote the release of oxytocin. Their activity explains much of the traditional use for menstrual complaints. Leonurine has been shown to have nervous depressant and hypotensive activity which explains the herbs relaxing and calming effect.

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