Agrimony: … also called Sticklewort, Cocklebur (because of the burrs,) Garclive (Anglo Saxon,) and Tall Hairy Agrimony.
Scientific name: Agrimonia Eupatoria, from the Rosaceae (Rose) family of plants.
Where found: In the woods and way-places such as roadsides and the edges of meadows and fields. Originally from Europe. Now common in the USA and parts of Asia as well. To gather Agrimony I’d look in the Southern California mountains or north-central Arizona.
Root system: Reddish, creeping
Stem: Hairy, 1′ to 4′ or even 5′ high, rough, only a few stems per plant,
Leaves: Alternate, odd-pinate, far apart on stem, deep green, sharply toothed, alternating large and small oval leaflets, 5 to 9 lanceolate or oblanceolate, crenate-serrate leaflets, resinous underneath and slightly hairy or downy along the stem. The lower leaves can be 7 inches in length with more leaflets while upper leaves are about 3 inches in length with fewer leaflets.
Flowers: Small, about 3/8 of an inch across, five petals, petals are notched at the end, 5 to 12 stamens in the center, yellow, they grow in long spike racemes at the top of each stem, tiny, close together, and profuse on the stem, blooming in late summer, stems near flowers grow bristles that cling to whatever touches them, with a spicy scent.
Fruit: Hard, oblong, bristly, hooked burrs. (Thus named Cockleburr in some herbals.)
Scent: The entire plant is slightly aromatic, and may remind you of apricots. The flowers are spicy-scented.
Internal Uses for Agrimony
Agrimony is an astringent, especially the root.
It is used as a styptic or antihemhoragic (to stop bleeding from nosebleeds, wounds, or internally).
Contains 8% tannins, coumarins, flavonoids.
Used as a gargle for mouth inflammations, sore throat, laryngitis, coughs, colds, fevers, and the flu.
Gargling with Agrimony is also popular with singers and speakers who use Agrimony water gargles to freshen their throats before performing.
Agrimony tea is used for liver, spleen, kidneys, gallstones. It is recommended for gallbladder pain accompanied by stomach acidity.
It is also used as a digestive stimulant.
Until the late 1800s doctors in the USA recommended Agrimony tea for asthma, coughs, sore throats, and digestive problems including bowel complaints, especially loose bowels since the tea has astringent properties.
The English herbalist, Culpeper, stated that Agrimony helps clear blood from urine.
The tea has also been prescribed by Chinese doctors for internal bleeding including bleeding intestines, bleeding from lungs, urinary tract, blood cells in urine, relief of menstrual bleeding between periods, gums, post-operative bleeding, and nosebleeds. (Var. japonica (Nakai) is the Chinese drug “Xian He Cao”.
Some have advised steeping it in wine then drunk for kidney or bladder. However doing so in water is also recommended.
Cherokees used Agrimony root tea to build the blood. They also used a tea of the burrs for diarrhea, vaginal discharge, and fever.
Agrimony root tea was given to children to stave off hunger.
Iroquois natives also gave it to children for diarrhea and vomiting.
Zulu doctors recommend Agrimony tea for tapeworms.
Also used to kill Trichomonas Vaginalis protozoan parasites.
“Trichomoniasis, a sexually transmitted infection of the urogenital tract, is a common cause of vaginitis in women, while men with this infection can display symptoms of urethritis.”
If you have any of these ailments, see your doctor! Folk medicine remedies can be used as supplements to good medical care if your doctor agrees.
“Agrimony Tea — One pint of boiling water poured on to a handful of the stems, flowers, and leaves. Leave till cold and then strain. In France this is drunk as an ordinary beverage when Agrimony is in flower, and the peasants have a great belief in its health-giving properties.”
— From A Garden of Herbs by Eleanour Sinclair Rohde
The root is soaked to make tea that strengthens the liver and relieves constipation. (European folk medicine.)
Infusion/tea: Steep 2 to 4 teaspoons dried leaves in 1 cup water. Take one cup daily, unsweetened.
A US Dept. of Agriculture botanist, James Duke, Ph.D., considers this tea as safe as coffee and said he wouldn’t be worried about drinking one or two cups a day. (Rodale)
External Uses for Agrimony
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An Old English medical text suggested:
If Agrimony be laid under a man’s head,
He shall sleep as if he were dead.
He shall never “drede” nor waken,
Till from under his head it be taken.
This is my edited version of the original:
If (it) be leyd under mann’s heed,
He shal sleepyn as he were deed;
He shal never drede ne wakyn
Till fro under his heed it be takyn.
If you can suggest what is meant by “drede” I’ll take interest… I do hope it didn’t mean “dream”.
It is useful to note, however, that no sedatives have been found in Agrimony, so this advice is of questionable value!
Agrimony may cause your skin to react to sunlight, so keep in mind that if you treat your skin with Agrimony, you may need to shield your skin from exposure to sunlight for a while, or a rash might develop.
Tea or poultice of leaves heal varicose veins and wounds. The Anglo-Saxon warriors used this to treat wounds received in battles.
A decoction of Agrimony can be used on skin eruptions such as acne or rashes.
Test to see if it helps, then proceed with caution in using this on your skin or anywhere on or in your body.
Agrimony decoction or tea can also be used to stop nosebleeds. It is considered by some to be a styptic or antihemhorrhagic.
For back pain, mix the decoction with Mugwort decoction and apple cider vinegar. Soak a wash cloth in this and lay it across the affected area while you rest or take a nap.
Agrimony can be made into a salve for external use.
Agrimony is also an excellent addition to cosmetic skin creams.
Good for gout, rheumatism, and arthritis as a salve or oil rub.
Good for old, non-healing sores as a salve or oil rub poultice.
Has been used on eyes – a bit of the decoction on cotton, covering the eyes during a brief rest could freshen them.
A decoction of agrimony will make a healing footbath for tired feet.
Or, use agrimony in your bathwater! Great for soothing tired muscles at the end of a hard day.
Yellow dye can be made from the root, leaves, and stems harvested in late fall.
Infusion: Steep 2 to 4 teaspoons dried leaves in 1 cup water. Take one cup daily, unsweetened.
Decoction: Boil 2 to 4 ounces dried agrimony leaves in 1 quart water. Use externally only.
Powder: Take 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon plant powder daily.
For Herb Gardeners
Agrimony is a great addition to the herb garden. Since it grows to 5′ and looks rather weedy with flowers that are tiny and not showy, you might want to put it at the back. Plant hardiness to Zone 7. pH tolerant. Good in average, dry soil and full sun, light shade, or partial shade. Susceptible to powdery mildew. Easy to start from seed, and as a perennial, it will keep going year after year from dropped seeds and creeping rootstock. Plant seedlings in groups of six to eight, with six inches between each grouping. You may be able to find Agrimony in a nursery, but it is easy to start the seeds. You can also propagate Agrimony from cuttings.
A Bach Flower Remedy: Agrimony