Meadowsweet (aka Filipendula ulmaria) is a clustered, white flower that grows in damp, marshy areas or riverbanks in Europe and parts of Asia and North America.
This pretty plant isn’t just easy on the eyes. It’s also a sweet herb that’s used in teas and as an ingredient in traditional medicine to ease inflammation, kill germs, and decrease mucus. But does it really work? We found out what the science has to say.
What’s the deal with meadowsweet herb?
Meadowsweet herb is a flowering plant that grows in marshy areas. It’s been used for centuries to brew tea and as part of traditional medicine.
It has some compounds in it that are known to reduce inflammation, kill bacteria, and ease pain. But that doesn’t necessarily mean taking this herb can treat or cure any disease. We need more research before we know for sure whether it can be used safely and effectively.
Meadowsweet is a flowering herb, that smells — you guessed it — sweet. It originally came from Europe and parts of Asia, but now it’s all over England, Ireland, and even parts of North America.
The herb itself has been used to make teas, while the flower pollen has been used to flavor mead. That’s an alcoholic beverage created by fermenting honey with water.
It may have pain-relieving, anti-inflammatory and anti-mucus properties. That’s why it’s been used in traditional medicine to treat a bunch of things, including:
- upset stomachs
- peptic ulcer disease
- joint disorders
- bladder infections
What’s in meadowsweet herb?
Meadowsweet has two key plant compounds that both have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Each might decrease swelling and mucus in your body.
- tannins (like rugosin)
- flavonoids (like kaempferol and quercetin)
Meadowsweet has small amounts of salicylic acid. That’s the same component that aspirin, commonly used to ease pain and inflammation, is derived from.
Meadowsweet has been used in traditional medicine for centuries, but there hasn’t been a lot of scientific research into its benefits. Here’s what we know so far.
1. May act as an anti-inflammatory
Older studies do support the idea that meadowsweet can reduce inflammation. For example, one 2009 study suggests that the compounds in meadowsweet can block xanthine oxidase. That’s an enzyme that produces uric acid, a waste product in the blood that can lead to gout.
But before you get too excited, keep in mind that all of these studies were done in rats or in test tubes. It will take more research before researchers are able to confirm that these same anti-inflammatory effects apply to humans.
One 2013 study did involve humans, but it didn’t find any anti-inflammatory effects. Until there’s more research, meadowsweet’s anti-inflammatory benefits in humans remain mostly anecdotal.
2. Might have some promise as an acne treatment
Meadowsweet has salicylic acid and tannin compounds in it. Why’s that important? Salicylic acid is often used on the skin to help exfoliate and improve acne, sun damage, and brown spots. Plus, tannins have astringent properties that help remove oil from pores.
That leads many people to believe that it could be used in acne treatments to reduce inflammation, redness, or pimples. There really isn’t any research to support the use of meadowsweet in acne treatments, though.
3. Could work as an antibacterial
In traditional medicine, meadowsweet was used to kill bacteria. For example, it was often given to people who had bladder infections.
There are some studies that explored whether this herb has any antibacterial properties. But this is another claim that just doesn’t have enough scientific evidence behind it to know for sure.
4. May have anti-tumor properties
Studies have found that meadowsweet extracts reduced tumor development in rats exposed to cancer-causing agents. Does that mean meadowsweet is the cure for cancer? No.
It will take a lot more research before we understand whether this would be the same in humans.
Since there isn’t a lot of research into meadowsweet, it’s best to talk with your doctor before you use it as a medicine. Don’t substitute this herb for any of your medications or treatments without consulting your doc.
FYI: It’s also a good idea to avoid meadowsweet if you’re taking aspirin because they share related active ingredient.
It’s likely safe for most folks to drink it as a tea. But there isn’t any evidence if it’s safe for children, pregnant people, or breastfeeding people to drink meadowsweet tea.
Meadowsweet tea recipe
Want to give it a try? Here’s how to make yourself a cup.
- Bring water to boil.
- Mix 1 to 2 tablespoons of dried meadowsweet with 1 cup of hot water.
- Let steep for 10 to 15 minutes.
- Strain the meadowsweet.
- Sip away!
Meadowsweet has been used a long time in traditional medicine because it’s said to have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and pain-relieving properties. There hasn’t been a ton of research into the herb’s safety or effectiveness, though. It’s best to talk with your doctor if you’re planning to use it medicinally and enjoy in moderation if you’re sipping on it as a tea.