Herb Profile: Agrimony

Botanical Name: Agrimonia eupatoria, A.procera (Fragrant Agrimony) Common Names: Cocklebur, Church Steeples, Sticklewort Family:  Rosaceae Parts Used:  Aerial parts, (also the root & seed according to some authors)

Botany & Identification:    Upright perennial with spikes of yellow flowers reaching up to 60cm. Prefers to grow in meadows and grassy roadsides, found throughout the UK except for uplands and the North of Scotland. It is more common in the South.

Growing & Harvesting:  Agrimony is harvested while in flower in the summer. It is considered best to only use the herb freshly dried, and not store it for too long.

Constituents: coumarins, tannins, flavonoids, phytosterol, bitters, volatile oils, nicotinic and silicic acids, phytosterol, vitamins B & K, minerals including iron & silica

Energetics & Qualities: Cooling & Drying, Restoring, Softening

Tastes: Astringent tonic, slightly bitter

Medicinal Actions:  Astringent, Bitter Tonic, Cholagogue, Diuretic, Haemostatic, Hepatic, Vulnerary

Uses:  “ a gentle herbal remedy whose therapeutic role is often misunderstood as a characterless remedy that because it seems to do everything, ends up doing nothing”  (Peter Holmes)

Gentle Astringent & Wound Healer

  • As a Rose family astringent, Agrimony can be used to stop bleeding of all sorts, and to tone and tighten tissues. It is used as part of trauma treatment and post-surgery treatment in Chinese hospitals.
  • It has a high vitamin K and tannin content, helping to coagulate blood and slow down/stop bleeding.
  • It is restoring and prevents leaking of fluids. Old Eclectic herbal practitioners considered it a specific for diarrhoea, bedwetting and incontinence in the elderly.

Relieves Tension

  • Agrimony is an appropriate remedy to aid the release of tension from the body, whether physical, emotional or mental. Matthew Wood writes that it helps the body recover a working balance between extremes of tension, or e.g. alternating constipation and diarrhoea brought about by stress.
  • It releases pain brought about by constriction, helping blood and energy flow again
  • It is specific for any condition where the person holds the breath to stop the pain, and where they need to learn how to breathe through the pain.

Liver & Gallbladder Tonic

  • Agrimony has an affinity to the liver & gallbladder, and can be useful in hepatitis and cirrhosis from chronic alcoholism
  • Tension and suppressed anger are emotions associated with the liver and gallbladder.

Relieves Kidneys & Bladder Pain

  • Due to the presence of silica in the plant, Agrimony acts strongly on the kidneys, and can ease the pain of passing kidney stones, an irritable bladder and in chronic cystitis.
  • It can be used safely in children with bedwetting and anxiety about potty training, and to the elderly for incontinence.

History & Folklore:

  • Agrimony was a significant herb in the European tradition, known to the Anglo Saxons as the herb ‘Garclive’
  • Dr Edward Bach chose it as one of his 38 flower essences. It is indicated for those who put on a ‘brave face’, soldiering on and hiding inner turmoil, ignoring the darker side of life.
  • In the 1400s, Agrimony was picked to make ‘arquebusade water’ to staunch bleeding inflicted by the arquebus or hand gun.

Similar Herbs:  Tormentil (Potentilla erecta) has very similar medicinal properties.

Preparations & Dosages:

Infusion: 3 cups of tea a day

Tincture – 1:5 in 45% alcohol, 1-4ml three times a day (Bartram)

Peter Holmes writes that the tea has a general, mild action as an astringent tonic, and the tincture has the broader spectrum of action.

Agrimony is also suitable for external preparations like washes, compresses, douches, pessaries, eye baths for stopping discharges and inflammation.

Cautions & Contraindications:  Agrimony is an astringent herb so its use should be avoided in cases of constipation or an overly dry constitution.

References:

Thomas Bartram (1998) Bartram’s Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine

Julian Barker (2001) The Medicinal Flora of Britain and Northwest Europe

Anne McIntyre (2010) The Complete Herbal Tutor

Matthew Wood (2008) The Earthwise Herbal: A Complete Guide to Old World Medicinal Plants

Bruton Seal, Julie (2008) Hedgerow Medicine

Holmes, Peter (1998) The Energetics of Western Herbs Volume 2

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