Meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria) is one of my favourite herbs when it comes to digestive disorders or anything anti-inflammatory.

It’s best known for its salicylates.  Salicylates are nature’s non steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) but they’re packaged a little more helpfully in herbs like Meadowsweet which comes with mucilage.  This means you don’t get the gut-based side effects associated with NSAIDs of the pharmaceutical kind.

How Aspirin Got It’s Name

Aspirin gets its name from our ‘Queen of the Meadows’ as it was created from isolating and then combining the volatile oil, acetylsalicylic acid, and the phenolic glycosides, spiraein.  Meadowsweet used to be called Spiraea ulmaria.

Filipendula ulmaria

Meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria) was also known as Queen of the Meadows

Although Willow was long used to reduce fever and pain, it was from Meadowsweet that spiraein was isolated.  The Swedish pharmacist, Johann Pagenstecher, isolated a substance from Meadowsweet in 1831.  In 1835 the German chemist, Karl Jacob Lowig, isolated a substance from Pagenstecher’s substance and called it salicylic acid.

In 1897, the Chief Pharmacist at Frederick Bayer & Co changed the chemistry of salicylic acid slightly and created acetylsalicylic acid, a substance that reduced fever and pain but was less harmful on the stomach.  Hence the name, aspirin is a combination of the a from acetyl; spir in honour of the plant the compound was first found; and ‘in’ was used to denote a medicine in the late 19th century.

Meadowsweet Is Helpful If You Have Chronic Diarrhoea

As well as bringing down fevers, reducing pain and inflammation, Meadowsweet cools things down and has astringent tannins which dry things out (helpful if you have diarrhoea of the chronic kind).  When taking astringents for your diarrhoea, it’s important to know which diarrhoea you are dealing with.

Chronic diarrhoea is traditionally referred to as being cool.  Diarrhoea as a result of infection is traditionally referred to as hot (on account of its explosive behaviour, as well as its temperature).  If you have hot diarrhoea, work with your body to eliminate the cause, ensuring you don’t become dehydrated.  There are a number of herbs that are antibacterial or antiviral as well as being astringent.

Diarrhoea is potentially very serious, particularly if there is no obvious cause so seek advice from a medical professional if you are suffering for more than 3-days; or immediately if it is accompanied by a fever or any blood.

Meadowsweet also acts as an antacid and because it comes packaged with mucilage is soothing and protects mucus membranes in your digestive tract

Who Should Avoid Meadowsweet?

It’s high in salicylates so avoid this herb if you have an aspirin allergy.  Don’t take alongside warfarin because it also reduces coagulation (this is theoretical and is based on animal studies).