Agrimony

Scientific Name(s): Agrimonia eupatoria L. Family: Rosaceae

Common Name(s): Cocklebur , stickwort , liverwort

Uses

Agrimony is used as a tea and gargle for sore throat, and externally as a mild antiseptic and astringent.

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Dosing

There is no published clinical evidence for a safe or effective dose; however, the German Komission E recommended a daily dose of 3 g of the herb for internal use. Agrimony also is used as a poultice from a 10% decoction of the herb.

Contraindications

Contraindications have not yet been identified.

Pregnancy/Lactation

Information regarding safety and efficacy in pregnancy and lactation is lacking.

Interactions

None well documented.

Adverse Reactions

Agrimony reportedly can produce photodermatitis.

Toxicology

No data.

Botany

Agrimony is a perennial herb with small, star-shaped yellow flowers. The plant possesses a short rhizome and is supported by a firm, hairy stem. The basal leaves are arrayed in a rosette and they, as well as the alternate sessile stem leaves, are pinnate, serrate and glabrous. 1 The flowers and fruit (achene) grow at the top of the stem in a long, terminal spike. Agrimony is common in grasslands throughout Europe. It is imported from Bulgaria, Hungary and the former Yugoslavia. 2

History

The name Agrimonia may have its origin in the Greek “agremone” which refers to plants which supposedly healed cataracts of the eye. The species name eupatoria relates to Mithradates Eupator, King of Pontus, who is credited with introducing many herbal remedies. Its ancient uses include treatment for catarrh (mucous membrane inflammation with discharge), bleeding, tuberculosis and skin diseases. 1 In folk medicine, it has been reported, without verification, to be useful in gallbladder disorders. Numerous other reported uses include use as a dye, flavoring, gargle for performers and speakers, antitumor agent, astringent, cardiotonic, coagulant, diuretic, sedative, antiasthmatic and for corns or warts. 3

Chemistry

The aerial parts of the plant contain 4% to 10% condensed tannins, small amounts of ellagitannins and traces of gallotannins. 2 , 4 Also reported are some 20% polysaccharides. 4 A triterpenoid, ursolic acid, has been isolated. Silicic acid, traces of essential oil, and the flavonoids luteolin and apigenin 7-O-β-D-glucosides are present. 4 Organic acids, vitamin B 1 , vitamin K and ascorbic acid are also found. The fresh herb contains agrimoniolide, palmitic and stearic acids, ceryl alcohol and phytosterols. Seeds contain 35% oil which contains oleic, linoleic and linolenic acids. 2 , 3

Uses and Pharmacology

Astringent

Agrimony is used widely in Europe as a mild astringent (externally and internally), particularly against inflammation of the throat, gastroenteritis and intestinal catarrh. Studies of ethanolic extracts have antiviral properties.

Animal data

Research reveals no animal data regarding the use of agrimony as an astringent.

Clinical data

Research reveals no clinical data regarding the use of agrimony as an astringent.

Other uses

This plant is often included in phytomedicine mixtures for “liver and bile teas,” again without true scientific verification. Agrimony extracts are often used in small amounts in prepared European cholagogues and stomach and bowel remedies (eg, Neo-Gallonorm -Dragees) and urological products (eg, Rhoival ). Agrimony is also a component of the British product Potter's Piletabs . 2 , 4 , 5 , 6

Dosage

There is no published clinical evidence for a safe or effective dose; however, the German Komission E recommended a daily dose of 3 g of the herb for internal use. Agrimony also is used as a poultice from a 10% decoction of the herb.

Pregnancy/Lactation

Information regarding safety and efficacy in pregnancy and lactation is lacking.

Interactions

None well documented.

Adverse Reactions

Agrimony has been reported to produce photodermatitis in man. 3

Toxicology

Research reveals little or no information regarding toxicology with the use of this product.

Bibliography

1. Bunney S, ed. The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs: Their Medicinal and Culinary Uses . New York, NY: Dorset Press; 1984.
2. Bisset NG, ed. Herbal Drugs and Phytopharmaceuticals . Stuttgart: Medpharm Scientific Publishers; 1994.
3. Duke JA. Handbook of Medicinal Herbs . Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press; 1985.
4. von Gizycki F. Pharmazie . 1949;4:276, 463.
5. Hoppe HA. Drogenkunde . 8th ed. Berlin: Walter deGruyter; 1975.
6. Drozd GA, et al. Prir Soedin . 1983;1:106.
7. Chon SC, et al. Med Pharmacol Exp . 1987;16:407.

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