Parts used: leaves and flowers, harvested when in flower
Taste: bitter, astringent, sweet
History: Meadowsweet has a long history of use in Europe where it was often used as a strewing herb in summertime, along with other aromatic herbs, to release fragrance when trod upon and hide unpleasant odors. The name Meadsweet was common in the 14th century when it was used in the making of mead, or honey wine. Herbalist John Gerard, writing around 1600, claimed that meadowsweet was useful for treating boils, malaria, burning and itching eyes (the distillate), and to “make the heart merrie”.
Maude Grieve, writing in the 1930s, states that it is helpful for suppressed urination, edema, and diarrhea (especially in children).
Clinical uses: Meadowsweet excels as a digestive system normalizer. It is helpful in cases of indigestion, even when there is belching and bloating. David Hoffman writes that meadowsweet “protects and soothes the mucous membranes of the digestive tract, reducing excess acidity and easing nausea”. It can be used both as an antacid and in cases of over alkalinity. This can be especially helpful for folks taking commercial antacids, which suppress stomach acid. Because stomach acid plays an important role in digestion and protecting the GI tract from infection, meadowsweet offers a better alternative for symptom relief. Its astringent properties make it useful for cases of diarrhea. And though large doses may cause nausea, smaller doses are helpful for settling an upset stomach. Meadowsweet is also helpful in healing stomach ulcers. Whereas the isolated or synthetic salicylic acid found in aspirin can cause ulcers, this constituent in the whole plant is buffered by the plant’s other properties, making it not only safe but anti-inflammatory and healing to the stomach lining.
Externally, meadowsweet can be used as a wound antiseptic and to promote healing. It may also be helpful to reduce acne and to treat boils.
Dosage and method of delivery:
Regular infusion or standard infusion: up to one cup taken up to 4 times a day.
Tincture: fresh leaf and flower (1:2, 95% alcohol): dried leaf and flower (1:5, 50% alcohol), 1 to 5 mls. up to 4 times a day.
Hydrosol: one tablespoon diluted in water taken up to 4 times a day.
Capsules: 1,000 to 2,000 mg up to 3 times a day.
Personal observations: I have had patches of meadowsweet growing in the garden for many years. It is such a beautiful plant, even before it flowers. When it does flower, the clouds of sweetly scented blooms attract so many pollinators. I really do have a hard time harvesting this plant. I don’t want to cut down those flowers and take all that beauty out of the garden and away from the insects that love it so much.
Cautions and considerations: Large doses can cause nausea and vomiting. Avoid using it with children experiencing fevers. Avoid in cases of salicylate sensitivity.
Easley, T., and Horne, S. (2016). The Modern Herbal Dispensatory. California: North Atlantic Books
Hoffman, D. (2003). Medical Herbalism. Rochester, Vermont. Healing Arts Press.
Wood, M. (2008). The Earthwise Herbal (Old World edition). Berkeley, California: North) Atlantic Books.
Grieve, M. (1982 reprint). A Modern Herbal. New York: Dover Publications.
Bone, K. Mills, S. (2013). Principles and Practice of Phytotherapy. Elsevier Ltd.
Filipendula ulmaria - Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Filipendula_ulmaria. retrieved July 2, 2021