Botanical: Filipendula ulmaria (also known as Spiraea ulmaria)
Family: Rosaceae (rose)
Other common names: Pride of the Meadow, Spiraea, Bridewort, Lady of the Meadow, Meadsweet, Dolloff, Queen of the Meadow*
"The smell thereof makes the heart merry and joyful and delighteth the senses."
John Gerard, Apothecary and Surgeon
Herball or Generall Historie of Plantes, 1597
*Note: Meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria) is also called "Queen of the Meadow" and should not be confused with Boneset (Eupatorium purfoliatum) or Gravel Root (Eupatorium purpureum), two entirely different herbs that are frequently also called Queen of the Meadow, but have entirely different properties and applications.
Suffering from headache, fever, arthritic and joint pain? Rather than reach for aspirin, why not try Meadowsweet instead? It is the natural version of aspirin without the digestive upsets that may accompany the synthetic product. It is even said to soothe digestive upsets, as well as the pains and aches of inflammatory ailments.
The information presented herein by Herbal Extracts Plus is intended for educational purposes only. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent disease. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.
Meadowsweet is a stout perennial wildflower that thrives in the rich, wet soils of marshes, bogs, ditches, damp meadows and moist woods in sun or partial shade. The plant, with its fernlike foliage, pinnate leaves and fragrant, cream-white flower clusters, dislikes acid soil and grows up to six feet in height with a creeping, underground root. Meadowsweet was introduced to North America from Europe and now grows wild throughout eastern Canada and the United States. Meadowsweet's name is derived from its older name, Meadsweet, which, like Meadwort (its oldest English name from Anglo-Saxon times), refers to the plant's use as a flavoring for mead, a honeyed liquor. Its botanical specific, ulmaria, is derived from the Latin, ulmus, meaning "elm," referring to the resemblance of Meadowsweet's leaves to those of the elm tree. Meadowsweet was one of the three most sacred herbs of the Druids, the others being water mint and vervain; and in medieval Europe, the fragrant plant was considered an important strewing herb. The sweet fragrance of the plant made it a favorite of Queen Elizabeth I of England, who favored the herb above all others as the strewing herb on the floors of her chambers. Meadowsweet is an astringent, aromatic herb, and the entire plant and flowers are used in herbal medicine. In 1653, the pharmacist, Nicholas Culpeper, noted the use of the herb as a remedy for fevers, colds and flu. Meadowsweet is the mother of aspirin. From this herb and white willow bark, salicylic acid was first isolated in 1838, and the salicylates are the basis of the herb's reputation as a reliable remedy. Some sixty years thereafter, the pharmaceutical company, Bayer, produced acetylsalicylate, a synthetic substance with the same properties as its natural forerunner, and they called it aspirin, referring to Meadowsweet's oldest botanical name, Spiraea ulmaria. Herbalists consider the plant to be one of the best remedies to soothe digestive problems, and the natural salicylic acid content is a longtime favorite for the symptoms of cold, flu, headaches and rheumatic pains and aches. The leaves and flowers have a wonderful fragrance (and pleasant taste, too), and they are often included in potpourris. The whole plant yields a greenish-yellow dye, and the roots produce a black dye. Some of the constituents in Meadowsweet include salicylic acid, flavonoids (quercetin, rutin), tannins, mucilage, anthocyanidin, avicularin, coumarin, essential oil (methyl-salicylate, hyperoside), salicin, vanillin, glycoside and citric acid (vitamin C).
Probably the most famous use of Meadowsweet is for its aspirin-like qualities without the unpleasant side effects of synthetic acid. The salicylic acid content provides natural relief for colds, flu, fevers and headaches. It is a great overall herbal pain reliever.
Meadowsweet's anti-inflammatory qualities help to soothe and reduce inflammation and are beneficial for the relief of rheumatic pains and the pain of arthritis, aching joints and muscle cramps.
Some herbalists regard Meadowsweet as the best herbal remedy for hyperacidity and heartburn. It is an antacid herb that heals and soothes the digestive tract and strengthens and tones the system. It also helps to control peptic ulcers and gastritis. Unlike synthetic aspirin, Meadowsweet offsets the acidic effects of salicylic acid. Long use of aspirin can lead to gastric ulceration and bleeding, but Meadowsweet does not produce these side effects and is actually a gentle digestive remedy for acidity.
Meadowsweet is considered a diaphoretic, which promotes sweating, and as such, helps to reduce fevers and clear the body of toxins through the skin.
As an antiseptic, Meadowsweet is said to be effective against organisms that cause diphtheria, dysentery and pneumonia.
Meadowsweet is an astringent that is believed to tighten and tone tissues. The tannins in the herb have been helpful in relieving diarrhea.
As a mild diuretic, Meadowsweet promotes the flow of urine and is beneficial for the elimination of excess fluid in the system. This action is said to be helpful in cases of certain urinary infections and cystitis, possibly assisted by its antiseptic properties.
Used externally, Meadowsweet has been used as a natural analgesic in a compress for rheumatic pains, neuralgia and sore, aching joints and muscles. It has also been used as a cooling eyewash that relieves conjunctivitis and other eye complaints.
Those who are allergic to aspirin should not use Meadowsweet Herbal Supplement. It is not recommended for pregnant or nursing women without first consulting a physician, and children under the age of sixteen years of age with symptoms of flu, chicken pox or other types of viral infection should not use Meadowsweet, because, like aspirin, there may be a risk of developing Reye's syndrome. Do not take Meadowsweet and bloodthinning medicine together, including nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents, as this may cause your blood to be too thin, making you bleed or bruise more easily.