Meadowsweet

Scientific names: Filipendula ulmaria

Common names: Meadowsweet is also known as queen of the meadow, dropwort, bridewort, and lady of the meadow.

Efficacy-safety rating:

ÒÒ...Ethno or other evidence of efficacy.

Safety rating:

...Little exposure or very minor concerns.

What is Meadowsweet?

Meadowsweet is a herbaceous perennial shrub native to Europe, but also found in North America. Meadowsweet's ornamental wildflowers are creamy, yellow-white, and have an aroma similar to oil of wintergreen. The medicinal product consists of flower petals and some unopened buds, which are used as the drug.

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What is it used for?

Traditional/Ethnobotanical uses

In 1597, botanist John Gerard noted that the smell of meadowsweet “delighteth the senses.” In 1652, English physician Nicholas Culpeper wrote about the plant's therapeutic effects on the stomach. In 1682, meadowsweet was mentioned in a Dutch herbal. 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, first synthesized in the 1890s to make aspirin, was isolated from the plant. The word “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 for other indications.

Miscellaneous uses

Meadowsweet has been used for colds, respiratory problems, acid indigestion, peptic ulcers, arthritis and rheumatism, skin diseases, and diarrhea.

What is the recommended dosage?

Doses of flower 2.5 to 3.5 g/day and herb 4 to 5 g are considered conventional. However, no clinical trials support the safety or efficacy of these dosages. A tea may be prepared from 4 to 6 g of the dried herb and taken 3 times daily.

How safe is it?

Contraindications

Should not be used in patients with salicylate or sulfite sensitivity. Use with caution in patients with asthma.

Pregnancy/nursing

Documented adverse effects. Avoid use during pregnancy and lactation.

Interactions

Because meadowsweet contains salicylates, it may increase the risk of bleeding when given with antiplatelet or anticoagulant drugs, with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or with any alternative medicines with antiplatelet properties.

Side Effects

Meadowsweet may cause GI bleeding.

Toxicities

Few toxic events have been reported.”

References

  1. Meadowsweet. Review of Natural Products. Facts & Comparisons [database online]. St. Louis, MO: Wolters Kluwer Health Inc; May 2012.

Copyright © 2009 Wolters Kluwer Health

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