Meadowsweet

Bridewort, dolloff, dropwort, Filipendula ulmaria, lady of the meadow, meadow queen, meadow-wort, meadsweet, meadwort, queen of the meadow, Spireaea ulmaria

Meadowsweet is a perennial plant found in northern and southern Europe, North America, and northern Asia. The leaves have a very pleasant, almond-like fragrance and smell quite different from the flowers. The medicinal components consist of the dried flowers, the dried aerial parts of the flowering plant, and the fresh underground and aerial parts of the flowering plant.

Meadowsweet contains flavonoids, salicylates, coumarins, tannins, methyl salicylate, mucilage, ascorbic acid, and carbohydrates. It displays analgesic, antipyretic, antiemetic, antiulcer, antirheumatic, anti flatulent, laxative, sedative, diuretic, and anti-inflammatory actions. A heparin complex found in the plant demonstrates in vitro fibrinolytic and anticoagulant properties. Extracts from the flower exhibit in vitro bactericidal activity against Staphylococcus aureus, S. epidermidis, Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Proteus vulgaris. Astringent properties have been attributed to the tannins in the plant. Extracts demonstrate antitumor, sedative, and urinary antiseptic properties as well. Meadowsweet is available as tablets, infusion, powder, liquid extract, and tincture, in products such as Arkocaps, Artival, Neutracalm, Rheuma Tee, Rheumex, Santane, and Spireadosa.

Reported uses

Meadowsweet is used as an analgesic and anti-inflammatory for conditions such as toothache, rheumatoid arthritis, headache, tendinitis, and sprains. It’s also used for GI complaints such as gastritis, diarrhea, peptic ulcer, heartburn, and irritable bowel syndrome. Meadowsweet is used as a diuretic or astringent and to relieve cough, colds, and bronchitis.

Safety RiskĀ Meadowsweet contains methyl salicylate, which is fatal in high doses.

Administration

  • Dried flowers: 2.5 to 3.5 g by mouth every day
  • Dried herb: 4 to 5 g by mouth every day
  • Infusion (3 to 6 g in 100 ml boiling water, strained after 10 minutes): three times a day by mouth, as needed
  • Liquid extract (1: 1 in 25% alcohol): 1.5 to 6 ml by mouth three times a day
  • Tincture (1:5 in 25% alcohol): 2 to 4 ml by mouth three times a day.

Hazards

Meadowsweet may cause nausea and bronchospasm. Tinctures or extracts prepared with alcohol may cause a disulfiram like reaction.

Meadowsweet shouldn’t be used by patients with a history of salicylate or sulfite sensitivity, patients taking warfarin, or patients with cardiac conditions who take aspirin. It shouldn’t be used by children or by pregnant or breast-feeding patients.

Clinical considerations

  • Although no chemical interactions have been reported in clinical studies, advise patient that herb may interfere with therapeutic effect of conventional drugs.
  • Caution patient to avoid use if he has a history of asthma or sensitivity to aspirin.
  • Tell patient to stop using salicylates if using meadowsweet.
  • Warn patient not to take herb for chronic or unexplained pain before seeking appropriate medical evaluation because doing so may delay diagnosis of a potentially serious medical condition.
  • Advise patient to avoid use during pregnancy and while breast-feeding.
  • Tell patient to keep herb out of reach of children because of risk of salicylate poisoning.
  • Advise patient to notify health care provider of darkened stools, bleeding gums, or excessive bruising.
  • Tell patient to remind prescriber and pharmacist of any herbal or dietary supplement that he’s taking when obtaining a new prescription.
  • Advise patient to consult his health care provider before using an herbal preparation because a treatment with proven efficacy may be available.

Research summary

Meadowsweet has been studied for its antibacterial effect and for its astringent and anticoagulant properties. It has a low toxic profile.

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