Digestive Herbs: Soothing Meadowsweet & Heartburn Relief Tea
Meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria; formerly known as Spiraea alba or ulmaria)
Energetics: cool, dry; bitter (leaf), sweet (flower)
Therapeutic Actions: analgesic, antacid, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, anti-rheumatic, antiemetic, astringent,anti-ulcerogenic, carminative, diaphoretic, diuretic, febrifuge, immune-modulate, tonic
Meadowsweet. Known as the Queen of the Meadow in some traditions. Quite possibly the herbal godmother to the digestive system.
I could simply end my blog post here and you would already be armed with some decent information on meadowsweet. But that’s not what you have come to expect from me.
Meadowsweet comes by its praise rightfully. This is a truly remarkable herb, my friends.
Meadowsweet Medicinal Benefits
Among the greatest of its virtues are meadowsweet’s benefits on the digestive system. A monograph on the herb is simply not complete without extolling its many digestive comforting merits.
Meadowsweet acts to tone the stomach, effectively eliminating that food-stuck-in-the-belly fullness due to poor digestive action. As a veritable herbal antacid, it has a tremendous neutralizing effect on a hyper-acidic stomach and may relieve the intense discomforts associated with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Conversely, with instances of low stomach acid, meadowsweet also promotes the secretion of gastric juices. This herb has a long-standing tradition of use for colic, spasm, nervous stomach, and diarrhea – even in children. It is the traditional herbal remedy to help prevent and address peptic ulcers. It is also an excellent herb to turn to in cases of food poisoning with nausea and vomiting (however, please seek medical attention if symptoms are unrelenting as more serious causes may be at play).
Meadowsweet should be thought of as a “heat clearing herb”. It is indicated for fever with a red face and restlessness (I would not use this herb for somebody with pale face and chills with fever). It helps to relieve the pain and heat associated with gout, rheumatism, and arthritis. Some sources indicate that this herb is helpful for cystitis associated with a weak bladder, mucus, and excessive urine retention. I have seen an indication of meadowsweet for kidney stones; however, I have not been able to confirm that with multiple sources. Some evidence supports its use for cervical dysplasia and acne.
Meadowsweet Identification & History
Meadowsweet is native to the damp meadows of Europe and Asia. However, was introduced to North America and has since naturalized to most of the Northeast and into the Midwest regions. It is characterized by its white (sometimes purple in Europe), frothy, fragrant flower clusters that grace the meadow from June through September. These tall plants (3-6 feet in height) have dark green, veiny, pinnate leaves with a lighter downy underside, and the individual flowers have five petals and sepals each with up to 20 stamens.
As previously mentioned, common names include “queen of the meadow”, as well as bridewort, mead wort, dollof, and meadow-wort. It was one of three sacred herbs in the Druidic tradition, besides water mint and vervain. Old literature often refers to the herb as one that helps the heart to be merry (perhaps as an ingredient in meads, ales, and wines). It was thought to protect one from evil and promote a harmonious home in Druidic tradition.
Meadowsweet Safety & Precautions
Meadowsweet owes most of its cooling, anti-inflammatory, and pain relieving action to its aspirin-like constituent, salicylaldehyde (up to 70%). As such, it should be avoided by those with aspirin allergy/sensitivity, pregnant women, and those with chicken pox or bleeding disorders. Scientific literature cautions against its use for gastritis (inflammation of the stomach lining associated with long-term NSAID use) in theory due to its aspirin-like action. However, many traditional herbalists feel that there is a specific buffering action in whole plant use that prevents further aggravation of this condition or gastric bleeding. Use with extreme caution with these complaints.
Typical meadowsweet dosage is 2-4mls tincture, up to three times daily. Teas and infusions can be consumed as needed (do avoid excessive use; i.e. continous drinking without water or other liquids) using 1-2 teaspoons of the herbs in 8-10oz of water. German Commission E considers up to 3.5 grams of the dried flower or up to 5 grams of the whole herb is safe for regular use.
Meadowsweet Heartburn Tea
Heartburn is something that hits us all at some point or another – save those precious few with impeccable eating habits. Brought on by stomach issues, hot spicy foods, fatty, and/or acid foods, heartburn (and GERD) are characterized by a hot, burning sensation in the chest, sometimes with a sense of acidity in the esophagus. Meadowsweet, calendula, marshmallow, and licorice combine to make a tea that is at once both cooling and soothing while also promoting good digestive action in the belly. This same tea may be incredibly healing after a bout of vomiting and/or diarrhea. Please note that licorice root is contraindicated for hypertension. This formula may not be appropriate for those with uncontrolled high blood pressure. That being said, meadowsweet and calendula are both hypotensive, theoretically balancing out the licorice. Use with caution as long as HBP is well controlled and stop use immediately if symptoms flare.
Meadowsweet Heartburn Tea
Meadowsweet, Queen of the Meadow, is a fabled herb that offers extraordinary digestive support, as well as pain and fever reducing benefits.
- 2 ounces meadowsweet dried leaf & flower
- 1 ounce calendula dried
- 1 ounce marshmallow root dried
- .5 ounce licorice root dried
Combine dried herbs and store in an airtight container in a cool dark place.
To prepare the formula, steep 1-2 teaspoons of the mixture in 8-10 ounces of freshly simmered water for 5-7 minutes (tea), or 10-15 minutes (infusion). Strain and serve.
Bone, K., & Mills, S. (2013). Principles and practice of phytotherapy: modern herbal medicine. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone/Elsevier.
Hoffmann, D. (2003). Medical herbalism the science and practice of herbal medicine. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press.
Wood, M. (2016). Earthwise herbal repertory: traditional western herbalism. North Atlantic Books.
Learning Herbs, Rosalee de la Foret. Meadowsweet Elixir
A Modern Herbal. Meadowsweet