Meadowsweet (Spiraea ulmaria)
Meadowsweet, a member of the rose family, is native to Europe and Asia, although it readily grows in North America as well. Other names by which this herb is known include Bridewort and Queen-of-the-Meadow. Along with vervain and watermint, this was one of the three sacred herbs of the Druids. Due to its sweet honey and almond scent, it was often used as a strewing herb in Elizabethan times. It is a perennial that likes a spot with part shade during the day and moist soil. It grows to a height of two to four feet. The plant can be grown by seed or by dividing an existing clump. This is an easy plant to grow in the garden. An interesting fact is that in 1899, the Bayer Company formulated aspirin from salicylic acid. The name "aspirin" was derived from the herb's scientific name of Spiraea ulmaria.
Key Medicinal Uses
Internally Meadowsweet has mild antiseptic and astringent qualities and is generally prescribed for digestive problems like gastritis, hyperacidity, nausea, irritable bowel syndrome, gastritis, dropsy, heartburn and peptic ulcers. It is helpful in bringing down fevers and for the discomforts of the common cold. It can soothe rheumatism and arthritis and can be used as a diuretic. It is also used sometimes for diarrhea, cystitis, urethritis and kidney stones.
Externally Not used externally
Other Uses Meadowsweet's flowers are used as a natural sweetener for herbal tea, food and beverages. The roots have also been used for dye.
Herbs to Combine/Supplement
Meadowsweet may be combined with chamomile and marshmallow for dyspepsia and acid stomach. Combined with black cohosh, willow bark and celery seed, it makes an effective anti-inflammatory remedy for aching joints.
Leaves, aerial parts The leaves and aerial portions are used medicinally. The flowers and leaves are harvested between June and August while the plant is flowering.
Meadowsweet contains salicylate, so if you are sensitive to aspirin, you should not use this herb. Likewise, it should be avoided in children under the age of sixteen who have high fevers due to the risk of Reyes syndrome. This herb is not recommended to those taking blood thinning medicine. Pregnant women should avoid.
Preparation and Dosage
Meadowsweet can be taken as an herbal tea, in capsule-form or as an extract. For a tea, add 1 to 2 teaspoons of the herb to one cup of hot water. Steep the herbal tea for 10 minutes before straining the liquid. For tincture, take 40 drops three times per day to treat arthritis. A compress can be made from the diluted tincture and applied to arthritic joints. The herbal tea can also be used as an eyewash for conjunctivitis.