Agrimony. Agrimonia eupatoria L.
Description: “Perennial with upright, often hairy, stems and downy leaves with 3-5 pairs of leaflets. Racemes of faintly scented, yellow flowers appear in summer, followed by bristly fruits. H 30-60cm, S 20-30cm. Fully hardy.” (Bown, 1995)
Habitat: Found widely in hedges, fields and by ditches in Europe, western Asia and northern Africa.
Harvest: Plants are cut when flowering, avoiding flower spikes that have stared to develop spiny burs, (Bown, 1995).
Parts used: Aerial parts.
Dosage: 1:5 Tincture: 1-4ml tds, Fluid Extract: 1-3ml tds, Dried: 2-4g tds.
Character: Cool, drying; bitter, astringent taste, (Ody, 1993).
-stimulates bile flow, (Ody, 1993);
Organ systems: URINARY; Digestive;
-Asthenia; spring tonic;
-Diarrhoea; IBS; abdominal pains; indigestion;
-Catarrh of upper respiratory tract; bronchitis;
-Liver and gallbladder problems;
-Skin inflammations and ulcers; wounds and bruises;
-Sore throats and laryngitis (as a gargle);
Safety: Generally safe. Good for children, (GT);
Contra-indications: Constipation (due to astringent action).
Key Constituents, (Wren, 1988):
-Tannins, up to 8%;
-[Bitter principles, (Ody, 1993)];
-Flavonoids, incl. luteolin, quercetin, apigenin;
Pharmacology: Infusion has been used clinically with some success in cutaneous porphyria. Aqueous extracts inhibited Mycobacterium tuberculosis, in vitro and ethanolic extracts have shown anti-viral effects in mice, (Wren, 1988).
History: Used since Saxon times for wounds; prime ingredient of “arquebusade water,” a 15th century battlefield remedy for gunshot wounds; healing powers now attributed to high silica content, (Ody, 1993). Used traditionally in some parts of Britain as an alternative to ordinary tea, (Smith, 1977).
Traditional and Practitioner sources:
“It opens and cleanses the liver, helps the jaundice, and is very beneficial to the bowels, healing all inward wounds, bruises, hurts and other distempers…The liver is the former of the blood, and blood the nourisher of the body, and Agrimony a strengthener of the liver.” Culpeper, (1995: 6)
“Combined with equal parts of Centaury and Barberry bark, it is a proven remedy for liver disorders and indigestion.” William Smith, (1977: 6)
“INFUSION A gentle remedy, ideal for diarrhoea, especially in infants and children. Can be taken by breastfeeding mothers to dose babies.
TINCTURE Effective if condition involves excess phlegm or mucous. Use for cystitis, urinary infections, bronchitis and heavy menstrual bleeding.
[Externally,] use infusion as a wash for wounds, sores, eczema and varicose ulcers; as a gargle for sore throats and nasal mucous; use a weak infusion (10g to 500ml water) as an eyewash for conjunctivitis.” Penelope Ody, (1993: 31)
“Gently stimulating tonic with gastro-intestinal emphasis: suitable for infants and elderly. Influences mucous membranes, promotes assimilation, and restores debilitated conditions. Indications:
-General alimentary weakness;
-Enuresis (atonic), relaxed bowel, leucorrhoea (relaxed states), urinary incontinence;
-Rheumatism and arthritis -with Chelone glabra.” Priest and Priest, (1983: 76)