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SCIENTIFIC NAME(S): Filipendula ulmaria L. Maxim., Spiraea ulmaria L. Family: Rosaceae
COMMON NAME(S): Meadowsweet, queen of the meadow, dropwort, bridewort, lady of the meadow
In 1682, meadowsweet was mentioned in a Dutch herbal. Holland called the plant "Filipendula," while in the rest of Europe, it was known as "Spiraea." Queen Elizabeth I adorned her apartments with meadowsweet. The flowers were used to flavor alcoholic beverages in England and Scandinavian countries.In the Middle Ages, meadowsweet was known as "meadwort" because it was used to flavor "mead," an alcoholic drink made by fermenting honey and fruit juices.
In 1838, salicylic acid was isolated from the plant. In the 1890s, salicylic acid was first synthesized to make aspirin."Aspirin" is derived from "spirin," based on meadowsweet's scientific name, "Spiraea."The plant was used in folk medicine for cancer, tumors, rheumatism, and as a diuretic. Today, it is used as a digestive remedy, as supportive therapy for colds, for analgesia, and other indications.
Botany :- Meadowsweet is a herbaceous perennial shrub growing up to 2 m tall. The plant is native to Europe but also grows in North America, preferring damp, moist soil. The erect stem is red-marbled and hollow. The toothed leaves are dark green in color. Meadowsweet's aromatic, ornamental wildflowers are creamy, yellow-white, and contain 5 petals.The flowers are 5 mm in length and have an aroma reminiscent of wintergreen oil. The dried herb consists of flower petals and some unopened buds, which are the parts used as the drug.
Uses of Meadowsweet
Due to its salicylic acid content, meadowsweet has been used for colds and respiratory problems, acid indigestion or peptic ulcers, joint problems, skin diseases, and diarrhea.
Side Effects of Meadowsweet
Few toxic events have been reported. Do not use in patients with salicylate or sulfite sensitivity, and use caution in asthmatics.
People with sensitivity to aspirin should avoid the use of meadowsweet. It should not be used to lower fevers in children as it may possibly lead to Reye's syndrome.
The German Commission E monograph recommends 2.5-3.5 grams of the flower or 4-5 grams of the herb-often in a tea or infusion-per day. Unfortunately, to achieve an aspirin-like effect, one would realistically need to consume about 50-60 grams of meadowsweet daily. This means that willow bark extracts standardized to salicin are a far more practical as a potential herbal substitute for aspirin for minor aches and pains or mild fevers. Tinctures, 2-4 ml three times per day, may alternatively be used.
The German Commission E Monographs lists no known side effects, contraindications (except those with salicylate sensitivity), or drug interactions with use of meadowsweet.The FDA has classified the plant as an "herb of undefined safety."
Use caution because of the toxicity profile of salicylates. Methyl salicylate can be absorbed through the skin, resulting in fatalities, especially in children.
Bronchospasm has also been documented from use of the plant; therefore, use caution in asthmatics. Uteroactivity has also been observed from meadowsweet, warranting avoidance during pregnancy and lactation.
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