Botanical: Agrimonia eupatoria
Family: Rosaceae (rose)
Other common names: Church Steeples, Cocklebur, Cockburr, Philathropos, Liverwort, Sticklewort, Stickwort, Agrimonia
Agrimony was revered by the Anglo Saxons as a "heal all" with almost magical powers that corrected eye disorders andhealed wounds and snakebites. Today it is recommended foralleviating skin disorders and is often prescribed for gastrointestinal complaints (notably diarrhea), coughs, cystitis and as a gargle for sore throats. The herb is still highly praised as an eyebath to add sparkle to tired eyes.
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Agrimony grows throughout England and in the United States and southern Canada. It is a perennial plant with graceful yellow flowers on slender stalks that may reach a height of three feet. The plant grows as a crop in well-drained soil in full sun and will tolerate dry and alkaline conditions. Agrimony has a delicate flavor and the scent of apricot and was often brewed as a Spring Tonic and table drink. All the aboveground (aerial) parts of the plant are used in herbal medicine, and plants are cut when flowering, avoiding flower spikes that have started to develop spiny burs, and then dried for use. Its botanical genus and species name, Agrimonia eupatoria, is derived both from the Persian King, Mithridates Eupator, who was known to be a "concoctor" of herbal medicine and the Greek word, argemone, meaning "healing to the eyes." Medical references date back as early as the first-century Roman scholar, Pliny; and then later, Dr. Hill in the mid-1700s, who praised the use of Agrimony for liver disorders, serpent bites and skin eruptions. An astrigent herb, it was once an important wound herb, known in Anglo-Saxon times as "garclive." Because of its tannin content, which acts as a natural astringent, it was employed in the tanning of leather, and the flowers also used as a yellow dye. In France, Agrimony is included in Eau d'arquebusade, an all-purpose lotion that was originally applied to wounds caused by an arquebus, a fifteenth-century, long-barrelled gun. Some of the constituents in Agrimony include polysaccharides, agrimophol, tannins, flavonoids, coumarins, silica, malic acid, phytosterols, vitamins B and K and iron.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Agrimony is used to halt excessive menstrual bleeding. Its natural astringency is used to heal skin disorders and has been effective both internally and externally for thousands of years to stanch bleeding and bruising by "tanning" skin cells, making them impermeable to bleeding. Further, its vitamin K content works by promoting blood clotting that also controls bleeding. When used externally, this action also inhibits bacteria from entering the wound.
Agrimony helps to stop irritation of the urinary tract that may increase a child's urge to urinate and, therefore, may be useful in the treatment of bladder leakage (cannot hold urine), bed-wetting, adult incontinence and other urinary tract disorders.
Further supporting the bladder, Agrimony's diuretic properties are also thought to promote the flow of urine and help in cases of bladder infections, including cystitis.
The chemical compound agrimophol, which is a component of Agrimony, has the ability to expel parasites by causing them to lose their hold on the lining of the bladder or intestine and become evacuated with urine and stool. That same substance also kills the organism that causes river blindness and many common bacteria such as Escherichia coli (E. coli), Staphylococcus and other bacteria that cause dysentery and typhoid fever.
Agrimony's astringency is effective against diarrhea, especially in small children, and because of its low toxicity, the herb is particularly suitable for children's illnesses. Its gastrointestinal qualities are also believed to control mucous colitis (swelling of the colon) and other gastrointestinal problems.
Further supporting its gastrointestinal effects, Agrimony works as a "bitter" and has long been used to improve digestion, giving tone to the digestive system and promoting the assimilation of food. It is said to relieve dyspepsia and inhibit food allergies. Moreover, it has a reputation for improving liver and gallbladder function, helping to ease jaundice, cirrhosis, gallstones and other complaints.
The herb is said to be effective for the immune system by stimulating the body to produce immune bodies known as B-cells. These cells produce complex chemicals known as antigens that attack invading microbes.
Agrimony is fully appreciated in herbal practice as a mild astringent and a tonic that is useful for alleviating the symptoms of coughs, bronchitis and asthma. It has also been used in combination with other herbs (Sanguisorba and Bletilla) to help in cases of silicosis, a serious lung disease, under the case of a healthcare practitioner.
Used externally, the tannins in Agrimony have also been used to ease hemorrhoids and stanch bleeding. In a gargle, it has been used to relieve sore throat. As an eyebath, it can help to add sparkle to tired eyes and alleviate conjunctivitis. As a wash, it is thought to improve minor injuries and chronic skin conditions.
While Agrimony Herbal Supplement is effective treatment for diarrhea, it may aggravate constipation, and blockage can result if Agrimony is taken at the same time as psyllium powders (Metamucil) or with prunes or prune juice. It is not recommended during pregnancy. People with lupus, myasthenia gravis or any other autoimmune disease should avoid Agrimony. Do not exceed recommended dosage, as high doses (many times the recommended dosage) may slow heartbeat. Tell your doctor if you have any other health problems, such as high blood pressure or heart or blood vessel disease.