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Scientific Name(s): Filipendula ulmaria (L.) Maxim.
Common Name(s): Bridewort, Dropwort, Lady of the meadow, Meadowsweet, Queen of the meadow

Medically reviewed by Last updated on May 16, 2022.

Clinical Overview


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


Doses of 2.5 to 3.5 g/day of flower and 4 to 5 g of herb 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.


Patients with salicylate or sulfite sensitivity. Use with caution in patients with asthma.


Documented adverse effects. Uteroactivity from meadowsweet has been observed in vitro; avoid administration during pregnancy and lactation.


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

Adverse Reactions

Meadowsweet may cause GI bleeding.


Few toxic events have been reported.

Scientific Family

  • Rosaceae


Meadowsweet is an herbaceous, perennial shrub growing up to 2 m tall. The plant is native to Europe, but also grows in North America, preferring damp, moist soil. The erect stem is red-marbled and hollow and the plant has 3 to 9 pairs of dark-green, toothed, dentate leaves. Meadowsweet's aromatic, ornamental flowers are creamy and yellow-white with 5 petals. The flowers are 5 mm in length and have an aroma reminiscent of wintergreen oil. The medicinal product consists of flower petals and some unopened buds.(Bisset 1994, Blumenthal 2000, Bruneton 1995, Chevalier 1996, Newall 1996, Schulz 1998, Van Wyk 2004, Zeylstra 1998) It was formerly known as Spiraea ulmaria.(Gainche 2021)


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.(Chevalier 1996) In 1682, meadowsweet was mentioned as a Dutch herbal. In Holland, the plant was called filipendula, while in the rest of Europe, it was known as spiraea. Queen Elizabeth I adorned her apartments with meadowsweet. The flowers were used to flavor alcoholic beverages in England and Scandinavian countries.(Zeylstra 1998) 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.(Chevalier 1996)

In 1838, salicylic acid was isolated from the plant, and in the 1890s, it was first synthesized to make aspirin.(Chevalier 1996) The word "aspirin" is derived from spirin, based on meadowsweet's former scientific name Spiraea.(Zeylstra 1998)

The plant was used in folk medicine for cancer, tumors, and rheumatism, and as a diuretic.(Bruneton 1995, Duke 2001) Today, it is used as a digestive remedy, as supportive therapy for colds, for analgesia, and for other indications.


Flavonoids in meadowsweet include the flavonol glycosides rutin, hyperin, and spiraeoside.(Bisset 1994) Spiraeoside has been evaluated in the plant's flowers.(Poukens-Renwart 1992) Glycoside spiraein (quercitin glycoside and salicylaldehyde primveroside) is present, as are phenolic glycosides including gaultherin.(Blumenthal 2000, Zeylstra 1998) A phenolic glycoside from meadowsweet flowers has been reported.(Thieme 1966) Quercetin and kaempferol derivatives have also been found in the plant, and hyperoside is present primarily in the leaves and stalks.(Bisset 1994) A report is available on 7 flavonoids isolated from meadowsweet flowers, fruits, leaves, and stalks.(Lamaison 1992)

Constituents in meadowsweet include 10% to 20% of hexahydroxydiphenic acid esters of glucose and tannins.(Bisset 1994, Bruneton 1995, Chevalier 1996, Zeylstra 1998) One report found tannin content to be high compared with that of other Rosaceae species.(Lamaison 1990)

The essential oil contains primarily salicylaldehyde (75%), as well as phenylethyl alcohol, benzyl alcohol, anisaldehyde, methyl salicylate, salicin, gaultherin, spiraein, spiraeoside, heliotropin, phenyl acetate, and vanillin.(Bisset 1994, Duke 2001, Newall 1996)

Salicylates in the plant include salicylic aldehyde, salicylic acid, salicin, methyl salicylate, and others.(Bisset 1994, Bruneton 1995, Duke 2001, Newall 1996) High-performance liquid chromatography and thin-layer chromatography assays for meadowsweet salicylates have been developed.(Meier 1987)

Meadowsweet flowers contain heparin, which binds to the plant's proteins, forming a complex.(Kudriashov 1990) Heparin isolated from meadowsweet shows some similarity to heparin of animal origin.(Kudriashov 1991)

Other constituents in meadowsweet include mucilage, carbohydrates, ascorbic acid, sugars, and minerals.(Newall 1996, Zeylstra 1998)

A phytochemical study of meadowsweet is available.(Henih HIa 1980)

Uses and Pharmacology


Animal and in vitro data

Aqueous and ethanolic extracts of the above-ground parts of meadowsweet were found to possess antioxidant activity.(Shilova 2006) In a murine model, 100 mg/kg of meadowsweet extract given intragastrically for 5 days was found to possess antioxidant properties as well as hepatoprotective effects. The extract in 70% ethanol had the most potent effects with the lowest toxicity.(Shilova 2006) In rats, systemic toxicities induced by chronic exposure to nano-calcium phosphate compounds (ie, hydroxyapatite, tricalcium phosphate, amorphous calcium phosphate) that are used in biomedicine for bone substitution and in numerous dental treatments was significantly reduced with administration of F. ulmaria. Significant alterations in serum calcium, lipid status, testosterone levels, nephrotoxicity, hepatotoxicity, testicular tissue, and pro-apoptotic markers was significantly improved by not only a decrease in reactive oxygen species induced by F. ulmaria, but also by increased antioxidant capacity.(Scepanovic 2021) Neuroprotective effects of F. ulmariahave also been reported to result from its antioxidant activities.(Arsenijevic 2021, Arsenijevic 2021).

Bacteriostatic effects

In vitro data

Bacteriostatic activity from meadowsweet flower extracts includes actions against Staphylococcus aureus, Staphylococcus epidermidis, Escherichia coli, Proteus vulgaris, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa.(Newall 1996) The salicylic acid in the plant is a known disinfectant used to treat ailments such as skin diseases.(Duke 2001) Meadowsweet is also a urinary antiseptic.(Zeylstra 1998) Another study found meadowsweet to inhibit the growth of Helicobacter pylori.(Cwikla 2010) Meadowsweet did not demonstrate antiadhesive activity against Campylobacter jejuni.(Bensch 2011)


Animal data

Local administration of a meadowsweet decoction resulted in a 39% decrease in the frequency of induced squamous cell carcinoma of the cervix and vagina in mice; 67% of mice had a positive response.(Peresun'ko 1993)

Clinical data

Meadowsweet was found to exert cytotoxic effects on cultured human lymphoblastoid Raji cells.(Spiridonov 2005)


Animal data

Anxiolytic(Arsenijevic 2021) as well as antidepressant and cognitive improvement(Arsenijevic 2021) have been demonstrated with administration of F. ulmaria in animal models. Neurotoxic effects of nano-calcium phosphate compounds that produced anxiogenic responses in rats were significantly reduced and/or reversed by antioxidant and anti-apoptotic effects of F. ulmaria extract supplementation (P<0.05).(Arsenijevic 2021) Similarly, the prodepressant effects and spatial memory impairment induced by administration of nano-calcium phosphate compounds was prevented with administration of F. ulmaria extract supplementation in rats (P<0.05).(Arsenijevic 2021)


In vitro data

The nonglycosylated flavonoids quercetin and kaempferol extracted from F. ulmaria aerial parts demonstrated strong xanthine oxidase inhibitory activity with respective IC50 values of 1.07 and 3.7 microg/mL, whereas the glycosylated flavonoid spiraeoside exhibited very strong activity (IC50 0.31 microg/mL) that was greater than the positive control (allopurinol, IC50 of 2.9 microg/mL).(Gainche 2021)


The plant is used as a digestive remedy for acid indigestion or peptic ulcers. It protects the inner lining of the stomach while providing the anti-inflammatory benefits of salicylates.(Chevalier 1996)

Animal data

A reduction in ulcerogenic action has been documented in rats, promoting the healing of induced chronic ulcers and preventing acetylsalicylic acid–induced lesions in the stomach.(Barnaulov 1980) However, meadowsweet has been reported to potentiate ulcerogenic properties in animals.(Newall 1986)


Meadowsweet had no effect on glycemic control when studied in mice for treatment of diabetes.(Swanson-Flatt 1989)

A heparin-plant protein complex in meadowsweet was found to have anticoagulant and fibrinolytic properties.(Kudriashov 1991) Meadowsweet flowers and seeds demonstrated an increased level of anticoagulant activity in vitro and in vivo in another report.(Liapina 1993) In vitro complement inhibition from the plant's flowers has been studied.(Halkes 1997)

The tannins in the plant possess astringent properties. Root preparations have been used in the treatment of diarrhea.(Newall 1996, Duke 2001)

Meadowsweet has been used as a sedative and to soothe nerves.(Duke 2001) Reduction of motor activity and potentiation of narcotic action has been observed in animals given the herb.(Newall 1996)


Doses of 2.5 to 3.5 g/day of flower and 4 to 5 g of herb are considered conventional; however, no clinical trials support the safety or efficacy of these dosages.(Blumenthal 2000)

Pregnancy / Lactation

Documented adverse effects. Uteroactivity from meadowsweet has been observed in vitro; avoid administration during pregnancy and lactation.(Newall 1996)


Because meadowsweet contains salicylates, it may increase the risk of bleeding when given concomitantly with antiplatelet, or anticoagulant drugs, with NSAIDs, or with any herbals with antiplatelet properties.(Abebe 2002, Heck 2000, Roumie 2004)

Adverse Reactions

Meadowsweet may possibly cause GI bleeding. A case report describes a 4-year-old boy admitted with hypovolemic shock caused by severe GI bleeding. Specifically, he experienced dark stools with episodes of hematemesis the day before admission. Findings from an esophagogastroduodenoscopy revealed hiatus hernia, erosions and ulceration of the lower esophagus, and a small duodenal erosion. Two days prior to admission, he received an herbal syrup containing meadowsweet along with several other herbals for a mild cold and began bleeding that evening. The child recovered after discontinuation of the product.(Moro 2011) Another case report described a dog that ingested a horse supplement containing meadowsweet and willow. Following its ingestion, the dog experienced acute weakness, hematemesis, melena, a painful abdomen, and pale mucosal membranes. The supplement was speculated to be the cause of the dog's GI bleeding.(Rohner 2004)


The Complete German Commission E Monographs lists no known contraindications (except in people with salicylate sensitivity) for meadowsweet.(Blumenthal 2000) The US Food and Drug Administration has classified the plant as an herb of undefined safety.(Duke 2001) Use caution because of the toxicity profile of salicylates. Methylsalicylate can be absorbed through the skin, resulting in fatalities, especially in children.(Newall 1996, Duke 2001) Bronchospasm has been documented with the use of the plant; therefore, use with caution in patients with asthma.



This information relates to an herbal, vitamin, mineral or other dietary supplement. This product has not been reviewed by the FDA to determine whether it is safe or effective and is not subject to the quality standards and safety information collection standards that are applicable to most prescription drugs. This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take this product. This information does not endorse this product as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about this product. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to this product. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from your health care provider. You should talk with your health care provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using this product.

This product may adversely interact with certain health and medical conditions, other prescription and over-the-counter drugs, foods, or other dietary supplements. This product may be unsafe when used before surgery or other medical procedures. It is important to fully inform your doctor about the herbal, vitamins, mineral or any other supplements you are taking before any kind of surgery or medical procedure. With the exception of certain products that are generally recognized as safe in normal quantities, including use of folic acid and prenatal vitamins during pregnancy, this product has not been sufficiently studied to determine whether it is safe to use during pregnancy or nursing or by persons younger than 2 years of age.

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Arsenijevic N, Selakovic D, Katanic Stankovic JS, et al. Variable neuroprotective role of Filipendula ulmaria extract in rat hippocampus. J Integr Neurosci. 2021;20(4):871-883. doi:10.31083/j.jin200408934997711
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