Scientific Name(s): Alchemilla mollis., Alchemilla vulgaris., Alchemilla xanthochlora.
Common Name(s): Alchemilla, Common lady's mantle, Ladder brake, Lady's mantle, Lion's foot
Alchemilla, an aggregate of species collectively referred to as "lady's mantle," is native to cool, temperate regions of Europe and Asia, with some species cultivated in North America, and grows in meadows, woodland clearings, and pastures. It is a perennial herb that grows up to 40 cm in height and consists of a short rhizome carrying ascending or sprawling stems and large (up to 8 cm in width) circular or kidney-shaped grey-green leaves at the base. The main ribs of the leaf protrude to the lower face and have small teeth at their tips. The inflorescence is a compound terminal cyme of dense clusters of small, yellow-green flowers, with sepals occurring in 2 rings of 4 without petals. The fruit is of the achene type (formed from one carpel). The entire plant is covered in fine, soft, short hairs.1, 2, 3 A synonym is Alchemilla vulgaris.
In the Middle Ages, alchemists used rain water or dew collected in the leaf center for its purported magical and medicinal powers, a custom derived from the plant's generic name "alchemilla," which is from the Arabic word "alkimiya," meaning "universal cure for disease." The plant has long been associated with the Virgin Mary due to the shape of its leaf lobes, which resemble the edges of a mantle, and was one of several herbal plants used in wreaths during Corpus Christi celebrations. Traditional uses for lady's mantle include as a mild astringent, anti-inflammatory, antidiarrheal, diuretic, menstrual cycle regulator, treatment for digestive disorders, and relaxant for muscular spasms. Externally, lady's mantle has been widely used in bath preparations, wound healing, skin bruises, and as an herbal cosmetic.2, 3, 4, 5
Lady's mantle, similar to most members of the Rosaceae family, contains flavonoids and phenolic acids, which may account for its antioxidant activity.6, 7, 8, 9 The flavonoids quercetin, rutin, and kaempferol have been identified, as well as the phenols gallic acid and caffeic acid, although concentrations among species vary.3, 5, 8, 9, 10, 11 The presence of tannins (elagitannins such as pedunculagin and alchemillin) at concentrations of 6% to 8% has also been described.2, 3 Aldehydes, alcohols, terpenes, esters, acids, and hydrocarbons have been identified in the essential oil.12
Uses and Pharmacology
In one study examining the vascular effects of methanol and aqueous extracts of A. vulgaris in rats, the methanol extract was high in quercetin and had a relaxant effect on aortic tissue, while the aqueous extract was higher in gallic acid content and resulted in enhanced contractility.11, 13 Oral administration of the methanol extract had a hypotensive effect.13
No clinical data exist regarding the use of lady's mantle for hypertension or other cardiovascular diseases.
Despite the plant's purported use in diabetes, lady's mantle showed no effect on hyperphagia, polydipsia, body weight loss, hyperglycemia, or hyperinsulinemia in a study involving mice with streptozotocin-induced diabetes.14
No clinical data exist regarding the use of lady's mantle in diabetes.
Inhibition of the activity of the proteolytic enzymes elastase, trypsin, and alpha-chymotrypsin has been attributed to the tannin content of lady's mantle extracts.3, 15, 16 Promitotic activity in epithelial cells and myofibroblasts was demonstrated in rats administered A. vulgaris extract.17 In a study of rats with induced endometrial adhesions, A. mollis aerial plant parts administered daily by gavage resulted in modulation of inflammatory cytokines (including tumor necrosis factor, endothelial growth factor, and interleukin 6).18
In vitro, lady's mantle leaf extract demonstrated some activity against human bacterial and fungal pathogens, including Helicobacter pylori.9, 21 An inhibitory effect against influenza viruses was also observed in vitro.22 In a rat model of endometriosis, A. mollis extract significantly reduced adhesion scores and reduced mean endometrioma volume (from 101.35 to 11.87 mm3).18
A. vulgaris administered as part of a mixture of 4 plants was studied for its potential weight loss properties in humans. Significant and progressive weight reductions were observed over 3 months, with higher levels of weight loss observed in subjects with body mass index (BMI) 25 to 30 kg/m2 compared to those with BMI greater than 30 kg/m2.23
Pregnancy / Lactation
Avoid use. Information regarding safety and efficacy in pregnancy and lactation is lacking.24
None well documented.
Information regarding toxicity of lady's mantle is limited. No morphological changes or cytotoxicity were observed in an in vitro study.17 The tannin content of lady's mantle extracts may be toxic at higher than usual doses.24 In another study, the quercetin content of lady's mantle was too low to be mutagenic.25
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