Botanical Name: Agrimonia eupatoria, A. grysopetela.
Other Common Names: Common agrimony, church steeples, cockeburr, philanthropos and sticklewort, Odermennig (German), aigremoine (French), agrimonia (Spanish), agermåne (Danish).
Habitat: Native to the Northern Hemisphere, it’s found in North America, England and Europe, Asia and in localized places in southern to central regions of Scotland.
Agrimony is a peripheral plant, best suited for hedge banks, field margins, roadsides, dry thickets, and other shrubby waste areas of temperate regions in sun and semi-shaded places in dry, alkaline soils. The seeds are hardy but need cold weather or stratification to germinate.
Plant Description: Agrimony is a medium-sized flowering plant standing 0.5 to 2 meters high. It is full, with a vibrant greenery of pinnate leaves and small yellow flowers growing from a single spike. The leaves and stems are covered with fine hairs with barb-like ends. Leaves have a resinous texture on the underside.
The whole plant is slightly aromatic even the roots, which have an apricot scent. The numerous yellow flowers are closely clustered on slender spikes, which tend to stretch when seed vessels mature.
Agrimony flowers from June to early September in most places. The long flower spikes are the reason the plant is known by the name church steeples in some areas and cockburr and sticklewort in others. Plant roots render a yellow dye.
Plant Part Used: Dried leaves, flowers, stem and oil.
The plant parts should be collected when in flower and before the seed capsules are formed.
Stems thicker than 5 mm should not be collected and the lower parts of the plant should be left alone so it regrows.
The herb is dried at a temperature up to 35 ° C and then stored in sealed containers that offer good protection from light and moisture.
The herb has a slightly aromatic fragrance and a spice-like, bitter taste and can be used in the form of extracts (herbal tea), tablets, capsules, liquid extracts, and tinctures.
Therapeutic Uses, Benefits and Claims of Agrimony
The dried flowers of agrimony are used to make a spring tonic or diet drink and are thought to purify the blood. In France it is served tableside as a beverage and also used as an herbal remedy for coughs.
This herb contains tannins believed to aid in ease of digestion and for mild and acute diarrhea. It is also beneficial for troublesome bowel issues and to help tone mucous membranes and improve function.
Because of its diuretic effect agrimony can help shed excess water weight and helps to flush the kidneys and bladder and helps to get rid of kidney stones. It is sometimes combined with corn silk to alleviate the symptoms of cystitis and urinary incontinence.
Due to its blood purification qualities, agrimony may help relieve symptoms of jaundice, liver ailments, and other blood conditions. This flushing aids in relieving the liver of built-up toxins and makes organ functioning better able to rid the body of disease.
From ancient times agrimony has been used for healing wounds and snake bites and for halting bleeding. Due to its high silica content, it’s still valued today as an astringent for cuts and abrasions.
It may have beneficial effects on coughs, sore throats, bronchitis,asthma and varicose ulcers. A gargle made from this herb can also reduce nasal mucus accumulation, helping to restore breathing to normal.
It is also used by women suffering from heavy menstrual bleeding and for urinary infections.
Dosage and Administration
Traditionally, agrimony tea is made of the dried leaves or a powder, using one teaspoon to one cup of boiling water and simmering for five minutes before drinking.
Germany’s Commission E has approved agrimony tea for controlling diarrhea and the cooled tea as a throat gargle to lessen inflammation and sore throat pain.
A poultice for topical conditions is made by boiling the herb in the water on low heat for 10 to 20 minutes to reduce it to a 10 percent water extract.
For prepared agrimony extracts and tinctures, 1 to 3 milliliters of liquid extract (of 1:1 in 25 percent alcohol) is considered a starting point for daily use for adults or by infusion of 2 to 4 grams dried herb three times daily.
Possible Side Effects and Interactions of Agrimony
Like all pharmaceutical and natural treatments, agrimony should be used with caution and understanding.
Individuals with known allergies or hypersensitivity to it should not use this herb.
It is considered safe for topical use and as a tea or beverage and it is listed by the Council of Europe as a natural source of food flavoring.
Due to its high tannin content, agrimony should be used in moderate doses on the skin and internally.
High amounts may lead to gastrointestinal upset and complications to underlying diseases.
Patients with a history of excessive bleeding or bleeding disorders should use it at milder doses.
Use of the plant during pregnancy or breastfeeding should be avoided because associated risks are yet unknown.
Bown, Deni: The Royal Horticultural Society New Encyclopedia of Herbs & Their Uses. London, Dorling Kindersley 2002.
Hoffmann, David: The Complete Illustrated Holistic Herbal. Shaftesbury, England. Element Books 1996.
Atkins, Rosie, et al.: Herbs. The Essential Guide for a Modern World. London. Rodale International Ltd. 2006.
Hoffmann, David: Medicinal Herbalism. The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine. Rochester, Vermont. Healing Art Press 2003.