Motherwort Herb Eases Bleeding and Birth Complications
Research is confirming that the motherwort herb (Leonurus japonicus) can reduce bleeding and other complications for mothers during the birthing of their children.
This natural therapy has been used in traditional medicines for childbirth for at least 1,800 years. Now we find its use is backed up with considerable research evidence.
In this article
Savings lives of mothers
Hundreds of thousands of women die every year from complications giving birth. In 2015, for example, about 830 women died every day on average, of pregnancy or childbirth complications. That adds up to over 300,000 women dying around the world each year.
Yes, many of these occurred in second and third-world countries. But women do still die from childbirth in first-world countries.
Most of these deaths – approximately two-thirds – will die as a result of what is called postpartum hemorrhage. Postpartum hemorrhage simply refers to bleeding that occurs directly after the baby is delivered.
The motherwort herb (Leonurus sp.) has been used by traditional medicines – primarily in Asia – specifically to reduce postpartum bleeding, and complications in general. The herb has hundreds of medicinal constituents, and thus works in a multifaceted way to reduce anxiety and increase blood clotting at the same time.
Let’s look into the evidence for this amazing, appropriately-named herb.
Motherwort reduces postpartum bleeding
In a 2019 study from the School of Preclinical and Forensic Medicine at China’s Sichuan University, researchers analyzed the clinical experience from 7,887 mothers who were part of 37 different randomized controlled studies.
The research investigated the rate of blood loss among the mothers receiving Chinese motherwort herb (mostly through injection) to those not given the herb during labor.
Many studies compared motherwort injection to the conventional injection of oxytocin stimulators. In some studies, motherwort plus oxytocin injections were compared to oxytocin injections alone.
The research found that those mothers given motherwort had an average of 55 milliliters less blood loss within the first two hours of birth and more than 85 milliliters less blood loss in the first 24 hours after birth.
Furthermore, motherwort reduced postpartum bleeding occurrence by 71 percent. The herb also reduced other adverse events of birthing by 47 percent.
Another 2019 study, from China’s Affiliated Hospital of Inner Mongolia Medical University, calculated the results of 1,276 pregnancies. Their research compared mothers given carboprost tromethamine (an oxytocin inducer) injections with this injection plus motherwort injections.
The researchers found the motherwort injections reduced bleeding by an average of 127 milliliters in the first two hours and 146 milliliters during the first 24 hours.
The herb extract injections also significantly decreased the length of labor in the third stage, by an average of 3.41 minutes. It also reduced lochia – the ongoing discharge that occurs for several weeks after birth – by an average 7.13 days.
Yes, that is a significant decrease in lochia discharge.
Motherwort decreases caesarian blood loss
One study from 15 hospitals in China tested motherwort with oxytocin injections and oxytocin injections alone among mothers who gave birth with caesarian section.
In this research, mothers given the oxytocin injections plus the herbal extract had the least amount of blood loss. This was compared to both the oxytocin alone and the herb alone.
The oxytocin alone did perform better than the motherwort alone, however. But adding the motherwort added additional effectiveness.
Motherwort decreases anxiety
The traditional use of motherwort for anxiety has been a practice for centuries. This was illustrated by a 2016 study from Germany’s Ruhr University. The researchers found that motherwort was effective in binding with GABAA receptors, notably the 5-HT receptor.
This means that motherwort reduces anxiety and helps the body relax. This of course is critical during labor.
In a 2011 study from Russia’s Saint-Petersburg Institute of Pharmacy, researchers studied 50 patients for a month. They gave them 1200 milligrams of motherwort extract oil. At the end of the month, 32 percent of the patients showed significant improvement in anxiety and depression symptoms, and 48 percent showed moderate improvement.
The patients also showed improvements in their blood pressure.
Only 12 percent did not respond to the therapy. Side effects were minimal according to the researchers.
This herb contains many compounds
One of the amazing things about herbs is their complexity. While pharmaceutical medicines might have one or two active constituents, medicinal herbs can have hundreds.
In a 2019 study from China’s Chengdu University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, researchers analyzed motherwort herb in the laboratory and found it contained no less than 280 medicinal compounds.
Jiajie Yu, Yujia Cai, Guanyue Su, and Youping Li, “Motherwort Injection for Preventing Postpartum Hemorrhage in Women with Vaginal Delivery: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Evidence,” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, vol. 2019, Article ID 1803876, 9 pages, 2019.
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Meng W, Li R, Zha N, E L. Efficacy and safety of motherwort injection add-on therapy to carboprost tromethamine for prevention of post-partum blood loss: A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. J Obstet Gynaecol Res. 2019 Jan;45(1):47-56.
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