Friday, May 6, 2016
Agrimony: Agrimonia Eupatoria, Agrimonia Pilosa, Agrimonia Gryposepala, Agrimonia Incisa, Agrimonia Corcana, Agrimonia Microcarpa, Agrimonia Parriflora, etc.
Also known as: Cocklebur, Sticklewort, Church Steeples, Da Hua Long, Ya Cao, Philanthropos, Liverwort, Burr Marigold.
Parts Used: Aerial Portions
Systems/Organs affected: liver, kidney, bladder, lungs, stomach, blood, intestines, spleen, female reproductive, heart.
Properties: astringent, analgesic, hemostatic, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, digestive bitter, antispasmodic, diuretic, tonic, promotes bile flow (cholagogue), depurative, emmenogogue, hepatic, vulnerary, anti-carcinogenic, anti-parasitic, cordial, deobstruent
Agrimony is a showy plant. The cylindrical shaped stems are slightly rough and can get up to 24 inches or more in height. Depending on the variety, it can have some branches or no branches. It has an abundance of leaves that are bigger near the bottom and taper off as they grow up the stalk. The leaves can be anywhere from 3-8 inches in length, are pinnately formed and divided into pairs of leaflets. They are oblong and oval in shape, are toothed and kind of downy. The stems terminate in lovely spikes of yellow flowers that are slightly aromatic and smell of apricots. When it goes to seed, agrimony develops little burrs that stick to one's clothing, which is why it has the cocklebur reference.
Agrimony is a member of the Rose family and blooms from June to September. It can be found in meadows and along roadsides and grassy places. It is believed that there are at least 15 species of agrimony just in the Americas.
Agrimony has roots in ancient times, as many plants do. The word 'argemone' is Greek and means 'healing to the eyes'. Eupatoria comes from Mithridates Eupator, a king once known for his herbal remedies. In Chaucer's time agrimony was often mixed with vinegar and mugwort to help with back issues and wounds in general. One old reference said it could heal internal bleeding if mixed with 'pounded frogs and human blood'. Witches would use it to ward off hexes and negative energy. The French used it for gunshot wounds as early as 1476 and are still using it today for sprains and bruises. It was once in the London Materia Medica and Gerard actually said that a decoction of the leaves was good for liver complaints. Pliny referred to it as an 'herb of princely authoritie' and Dioscorides claimed it was useful for snake bites. In the middle ages, agrimony was believed to have magical power and would often be put under one's pillow to induce sleep. In fact, they believed that a person would sleep until the herb was removed from underneath the pillow. (Now I can understand the "Sleeping Beauty" story even better...).
Culpeper used it for gout, sores, bruises, colic, coughing, general wound healing, malaria, snake bites, and as a drawing herb. Green compared the root of agrimony to that of Peruvian bark and that if taken in large amounts it never fails to cure fevers. It was once quite popular as a tea and was part of a 'spring drink' often consumed to purify the blood. The ancient Greeks used it for eye disorders, diarrhea, and for problems with the kidneys, gall bladder and liver. They also used it as a foot soak for tired feet. In Austria, it has been used for gastrointestinal issues and problems related to the liver and bile and the respiratory system. The French drink the tea for blood disorders, colds, hepatitis, gallstones, jaundice, acne, indigestion, sore throat, fevers, conjunctivitis, gout, snake bites and worms. (Whew!) A poultice of fresh leaves has been used for ulcers, sores, wounds and to draw out splinters. The Native Americans used it up until the late 19th century for coughs, diarrhea, sore throats and skin conditions. In some cases, agrimony has been used as a suppository to help with tapeworms, diarrhea and hemorrhoids. The Chinese consider it to be an important herb for cancer and it has been used in combination with a number of other plants for just that purpose. This plant has a significant silica content and as such has been used for a variety of skin conditions and to curtail bed-wetting.
Agrimony has a number of beneficial elements in its makeup. It contains thiamine, catechin (a water-soluble polyphenal and antioxidant) as well as quercetin (another well known antioxidant and anti-inflammatory). It also contains a significant amount of palmitic, ursolic and silicic acids. Palmitic acid has recently been found to help with skin cancer. Ursolic acid is a well known diuretic and anti-inflammatory. Silicic acid is needed for healthy nails, skin and hair. Agrimony is a source of vitamin K, vitamin C, iron and polysaccharides as well.
Agrimony is one of the Bach flower essences. It is for those who tend to hide their trouble under a mask of happiness. They often turn to alcohol or drugs to make them happy. They dislike being alone and seek out parties and friends. Dr. Bach said, "Though generally they have troubles and are tormented and restless and are worried in mind or in body, they hide their cares behind their humour and jesting and are considered very good friends to know. They often take alcohol or drugs in excess to stimulate themselves and help themselves bear their trials with cheerfulness."
Today this herb is used in China for excessive bleeding. Chinese research has found that it can increase blood clotting up to 50%. This explains multiple references to it being used for hemorrhages in a number of cultures. The Germans use it to help treat cirrhosis and gallstones.
Agrimony interferes with the following medications: diabetic drugs, ace inhibitors, aspirin, calcium channel blockers, beta blockers, anti-platelet or anticoagulant medications and diuretics. It also may affect those who suffer from chronic constipation or have serious liver and/or kidney issues. DO NOT USE if pregnant or nursing and always consult a physician before starting any herbal supplement or regimen.
As is customary with my posts I am including some links below for your perusal. Use them as you see fit. Stay strong and healthy!