How to use Meadowsweet

The elegant meadowsweet flower with its sweet almond scent lives in damp fields and by rivers and streams. The plant well deserves its country name of queen or lady of the meadow. It was also know as bridewort, as its feathery white plumes and attractive red-stalked leaves were strewn in churches at weddings and made into garlands and posies for brides and bridesmaids. In Anglo-Saxon times it was used for sweetening mead and it was a favourite strewing herb in Tudor times. Gerard said that when strewed the smell of meadowsweet ‘makes the heart merrie and joyful and delighteth the senses’. Along with vervain and watermint it was one of the most sacred herbs to the Druids. When gathered on St John’s Day it was said to reveal a thief. In Iceland, where it also grows, not only is it believed to do this but also to indicate the sex of the robber by sinking in water for a man and floating for a woman!


Herbal remedy

The medicinal virtues of meadowsweet are very simi­lar to those of aspirin. When crushed, meadowsweet flowers give off the characteristic smell of the salicylic aldehyde, which when oxidized yields salicylic acid, from which acetyl-salicylic acid or aspirin can be derived. The name aspirin comes from the old Latin name for meadowsweet, Spiraea ulmaria. Unlike aspirin, meadowsweet contains tannins and mucilage which protect the stomach lining and have an anti-inflammatory action.

Meadowsweet is one of the best antacid remedies for acid indigestion, heartburn, gastritis, peptic ulcers and hiatus hernia. It relieves wind and flatulence, and can be used in any inflammatory condition of the stomach or bowels. The astringent tannins protect and heal the bowel’s mucous membranes and make it an excellent remedy for enteritis and diarrhoea, espe­cially for children and the elderly. Its mild antiseptic action is helpful where there is infection, and its relaxant properties soothe griping and colic.

For aches and pains, rheumatism, arthritis and gout, meadowsweet offers welcome relief. The salicylates and gaultherine contained in the flowers have a pow­erfully anti-inflammatory action for hot, swollen joints and the diuretic properties of the plant help eliminate toxic wastes and uric acid from the system. Meadowsweet’s analgesic properties soothe arthritic pain, headaches and neuralgia, and its relaxant prop­erties release spasm and induce restful sleep.

Its cleansing diuretic effect has given meadow­sweet a reputation for clearing the skin and resolving rashes. Given its mild antiseptic action it makes a good remedy for cystitis and urethritis, fluid retention and kidney problems. The salicylate salts soften deposits such as kidney stones and gravel as well as atherosclerosis in the arteries. Meadowsweet is a cooling diaphoretic, bringing blood to the surface of the body and causing sweating, making it useful for colds and flu and all eruptive infections.

Externally, the flowers which are rich in vitamin C, iron, magnesium and silica, speed healing of con­nective tissue and help to resolve inflammation. This may explain the folk use of meadowsweet of apply­ing it to cuts and wounds, ulcers and skin irritations. The astringent tannins also promote healing and staunch bleeding. A decoction of the flowers can be used in a compress to promote tissue repair and for painful arthritic joints. It can also be used as a mouthwash for mouth ulcers and bleeding gums.


Homeopathic remedy: Spiraea ulmaria

Spiraea is indicated by symptoms of heat which can be general as well as local. There may be heat in the cheeks with fever, vertigo, or headache, or a feeling of blood rushing to the face. It is also given for cramp and heaviness in the limbs with sleepiness and a feeling of dullness or heaviness in the head.

The flower essence

People who feel anxious and tense, and as a result suffer from tightness and tension in the head and neck muscles, benefit from the flower essence. It helps you relax and drift peacefully, as on a lazy summer’s day on the banks where the plant grows.

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About the Author: Greenery always attracts Arthur Kunkle. He has a big garden where he plants many fruits and vegetables. His passion for gardening motivates him to write and share different tips on gardening.

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