Meadowsweet – Filipendula ulmaria
Meadowsweet was the key headache-busting ingredient from which aspirin was synthesized; Bayer Pharmaceuticals used dried meadowsweet leaves for its original methyl salicylic acid formulation. In Colonial times, meadowsweet was used as an anti-inflammatory to reduce the symptoms of arthritis and rheumatism. And, because the herb is gentle on the stomach, it also was used to treat stomach upsets, feverish colds, diarrhoea and heartburn.
Meadowsweet belongs to the rose family (Rosaceae) and was Queen Elizabeth I’s favourite strewing herb. The 16th-century herbalist Gerard believed it outranked all other strewing herbs because its aromatic leaves didn’t cause headaches, unlike many other strongly scented leaves. Meadowsweet’s popularity as a strewing herb at weddings earned it its alternate name, bridewort.
Meadowsweet was one of the three most sacred herbs used by ancient Celtic Druid priests. It is mentioned in the Knight’s Tale by Geoffrey Chaucer (fourteenth century C.E.), and described in old European herbals, including those of John Gerard (The Herball, 1597) and Nicholas Culpepper (The English Physitian, 1652). -Commission E Monograph
astringent, diuretic, aromatic, anti-inflammatory, diaphoretic
Key Health Benefits:
diarrhoea, ulcers, headaches, pain, rheumatism, stomach aches, fevers, indigestion, gout, cervical dysplasia.
tea, tincture, bath, glycerite, oil infusion, strewing herb
Preparing a remedy for pain:
This is a home remedy for pain recipe on how to make meadowsweet elixir. This recipe extracts the medicinal properties of the meadowsweet with alcohol and glycerin. Glycerin is added to this recipe because it does a good job of extracting tannins found in the plant. If you avoid alcohol, you can also enjoy the benefits of meadowsweet by simply making a tea from it.
To make this recipe you’ll need…
- 100 grams (or roughly two cups) meadowsweet flowers
- 400 ml vodka (50% is best)
- 100 ml glycerin
- Place the meadowsweet flowers in a jar.
- Add the vodka and glycerin to the jar. Shake well. Let this macerate for 4-6 weeks and check on it often.
- You may find that as the flowers soak up the alcohol and glycerin, the liquid will no longer cover the herb. To remedy this you can take a clean stone or weight and use it to weigh down the flowers below the liquid. If necessary, you can add a bit more alcohol to cover the herb. Opened the jar frequently and push down the flowers and that should work just fine.
- Once you are done macerating the herb, it’s time to strain off the mixture. The easiest way to do this is straining it through a cheesecloth which you then squeeze the dickens out of until you get all the moisture from the flowers. A tincture press works well too.
- Once it is strained you can bottle and label it.
A quick and simple tea
Alternatively, a quick an effective way to use the herb is to dry them out, place them in a jar for 1 to 2 months and then place a good amount in a teapot with boiling water. Leave to stew for around 10 minutes and pour yourself through a tea strainer a lovely healing, relaxing cup of meadowsweet tea.
Cooking with Meadowsweet
1) Stir 4 sprigs of meadowsweet together in a bowl with 100g of strawberries into quarters & 1 tbsp of sugar. Cover the mix and leave in the fridge to soak while you get on with the rest.
2) Steep Another 8 heads of meadowsweet & 4 large sweet cicely leaves in 2 pints of whole milk in a pan. Turn on the heat to boil. Just as it begins to simmer take the pan off the heat & leave to infuse for 15 mins.
The sweet cicely adds a very mild hint of aniseed, but more importantly, it has the almost miraculous ability to significantly reduce the amount of sugar needed to sweeten the recipe – in fact by up to 50%!
3) Strain the steeped milk through a sieve to remove the spent flowers and leaves & return this milk to the saucepan. This infused milk also makes a wonderful base of custards, ice creams, Panna cottas, creme brûlées and cream caramels.
4) Stir in 100g of pudding rice into the infused milk (this will look way too little – but keep the faith!) & simmer gently over a medium / low heat for 30 mins or so until cooked, stirring occasionally.