Rosaceae family (Rose family)
Meadowsweet is a plant in sunny damp habitats. In the Finnish nature, it grows traditionally on the coasts, brook sides and in groves, and nowadays also in damp and wet field and road ditches. Meadowsweet is common throughout the country.
The rhizome lasts for several years. In spring, first a slender rosette appears on meadowsweet, with pinnate leaflets resembling, to some extent, rowan leaves, and often having a reddish shade. The deep-green plant can grow up to a couple of meters height. Large foam-like yellowish-white flower-heads emerge at the top which continue blooming until late summer.
Leaves are gathered in early summer before blooming, and flower heads immediately after the blooms have opened. Flower heads are dried as they are. Leaves are best if dried in a warm place, not in the sun or in the oven.
Tea made from young meadowsweet leaves is recommended for headache as well as stomach and urinary tract disorders.
The salicylates contained in the plant promote perspiration and their anti-inflammatory action i.e. capacity to remove symptomatic inflammation is indisputable. The plant is used for arthritis, rheumatic pain, gout, and connective tissue inflammation.
Meadowsweet has an antiseptic and invigorating effect. When used externally and internally, it helps pains, headache, neuralgia and cramps. It is also used to strengthen the heart, treat the calcification of blood vessels and hypertonia arterialis, and to thin the blood, similarly to aspirin.
Researchers in the Soviet Union found ‘heparin’ in the flowers of meadowsweet, which is bound to the proteins of the plant. Heparin is a socalled mucopolysaccharide with an anticoagulant property, based on its ability to form complexes with blood coagulation proteins. For example, heparin is used in surgery to prevent the formation of blood clots.
Meadowsweet flowers are used externally as a compress for suppurative wounds and loss of hair.
The active agents in meadowsweet are salicylates, flavonoids (1-2%, mainly rutin, isoquercitrin, spiracoside), essential oils (spireoside, spiraein, salicin, gaultherin glycoside, salicylaldehyde and methyl salicylate), pyrogallol-type tanning agent (in the rhizome), heliotropin, mineral salts, vitamin C and tannins.
Meadowsweet oil is used in natural cosmetic and skin care products. Salicylates act as nature’s own aspirin in alleviating pain. Overdosage of salicin and gaultherin may cause nausea and stomach ache.
Blooming sprig is used as a medicinal herb and extracted fragrance is used, for example, in bath salts and as an ingredient in perfumes.
Source: Sankelo, Terhi – Siivari, Jari 2001–2003: Bioteollisuuteen soveltuvia Lapin erikoiskasveja. Kirjallisuus- ja tietokantakatsaus. Hanke – luonnosta teolliseen tuotantoon, MTT-Rovaniemen tutkimusasema.