Meadowsweet

Native to Europe and Western Asia, Filipendula ulmaria has been called many different names over the years – Meadow Queen, Pride of the Meadow, Bridewort, Meadsweet, Dollof, Lady of the Meadow, Meadow-Wort, Queen of the Meadow, Mead Wort – but is it most commonly known as meadowsweet.

Originally appreciated due to its fragrant smell and pleasant flavor, this wild flower has traditionally been used for inflammation, pain, rheumatic arthritis, and colds and flu Typically the delicate white flower itself is used, but there are also some references to using the root. Today, research has been done which supports the use of meadowsweet as an anti- inflammatory. This may also make it an effective therapy for pain, fever, and arthritis.

Anti-Inflammatory Properties of Meadowsweet: Salicylates

The primary components in meadowsweet are salicylates: salicin, salicylaldehyde, and methyl salicylate.1 These compounds are oxidized in the digestive tract, forming salicylic acid, which is similar to aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid). It is believed that this may be the reason for its anti- inflammatory effects, as well as its ability to reduce fevers and provide relief from the aches and pains associated with the common cold. And, since inflammation is often a factor for rheumatoid arthritis, it may be effective as a support agent as well.

One study by the UCD Institute of Food and Health in Ireland looked at three different European herbs and detected effective anti-inflammatory concentrations in meadowsweet as well as a protective effect against oxidative damage.2 Since oxidative stress is a common feature in nearly every single human disease (including cancer and cardiovascular disease), this is an incredibly useful effect to have, and could have implications that medical science hasn’t uncovered yet.

A Russian study looked at water-alcohol extracts from meadowsweet and also confirmed that it showed that it was able to inhibit the development of the symptoms of inflammation – exudation, pain, fever – in a way similar to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), such as aspirin. They believe that meadowsweet may be used to develop new therapies for different inflammatory conditions associated with severe pain syndrome.3

Arthritis and Salicylates

Salicylates are often prescribed as therapy for inflammatory arthritis, a group of diseases that includes rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, psoriatic arthritis and other types of spondyloarthritis. These diseases make your joints swollen, stiff, and painful. With rheumatoid arthritis, the joints in your hands and feet are particularly affected, and with ankylosing spondylitis, the joints of the spine are typically the main target.

Unfortunately, there is no cure for these diseases at this time so the goal is to improve patients’ ability to move by relieving pain and stiffness. Salicylates such as aspirin are still preferred by many doctors.4 They can reduce inflammation and relieve joint pain safely 5 by decreasing the production of prostaglandins which cause the pain and inflammation.

Since salicylates are main components of meadowsweet, they may be an effective alternative therapy to the traditionally prescribed aspirin.

Recommended Use of Meadowsweet

The German Commission E, an agency which regulates the medicinal use of herbs similar to how the FDA regulates drugs in the United States, recommends daily use of 4 to 5 grams of the herb or 2.5 to 3.5 grams of the flower, usually in a tea or infusion.6

Due to its similarities to the drug, those who have sensitivity to aspirin should avoid using meadowsweet, and it should also not be used by children since it may lead to Reye’s syndrome.

1 Newall CA, Anderson LA, Phillipson JD. Herbal Medicines: A Guide for Health-Care Professionals. London: The Pharmaceutical Press, 1996, 191–2.

2 Drummond, Harbourne, Marete, Martyn, Jacquier, O'Riordan, Gibney, Inhibition of Proinflammatory Biomarkers in THP1 Macrophages by Polyphenols Derived From Chamomile, Meadowsweet and Willow bark, 2012. http:// www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?term=meadowsweet%20arthritis

3 Nesterova, Povet'eva, Aksinenko, Suslov, Gai(damovich, Nagorniak, Popova, Kravtsova, Andreeva, Evaluation of anti-inflammatory activity of extracts from Siberian plants, 2009. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20017405

- Ingredient used in Human formula

- Ingredient used in Canine formula