What is Meadowsweet?

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  • Written By: wiseGEEK Writer
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 16 October 2019
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Meadowsweet, alternately named meadowwort, bridewort, or Queen or Pride of the Meadow is an herb that grows wild in Europe and Asia, and that quickly became a popular perennial in North America. When left alone, you’ll typically find this plant in open meadows. Its stalks of green leaves, about 3-6 feet tall (1-2 m approximately), give birth to fragrant and tiny white flowers in late spring to early fall.

Meadowsweet is part of the rosacaceae family, which includes other well-known plants like roses and blackberries. Its scientific name is Flipendula ulmaria. It’s long been used as an herbal remedy for conditions like diarrhea, or as a painkiller. There are excellent reasons why meadowsweet works as a painkiller, since it contains salicylic acid, the principal ingredient in aspirin.

In fact, aspirin was initially created from meadowsweet. Other forms of salicylic acid tended to create digestive upset, but meadowsweet’s form of the acid proved slightly less irritating to the stomach. This inspired Felix Hoffman to duplicate the chemical form of salicylic acid and add some chemical alterations to invent aspirin in the late 19th century.


As a remedy for diarrhea, this herbal remedy is equally effective. If you’ve ever looked at a bottle of Pepto-Bismol® you’ll note the first ingredient is salicylic acid. The acid can help prolonged diarrhea and may also help to reduce stomach acid. Yet given the chemical constituents of meadowsweet and aspirin, it’s very important to treat the herb as if it were aspirin. You should not give the herb to children under twelve, especially if they exhibit signs of getting stomach flu or chicken pox. This could cause the complicated and difficult Reye’s syndrome, which can be fatal.

People have used this herb to flavor foods and drink. It could be added to beer, wine, jams, jellies, or preserved fruit to give extra flavor. All parts of the plant are edible. The herb is also a popular ingredient in potpourri. Leaves of the plant, petals and rushes might be strewn on the floor, as far back as the Middle Ages to sweeten the smell of a house. Additionally, there’s magical lore associated with the use of meadowsweet in this manner. It’s supposed to create an environment of peace and love in a home.

There’s evidence meadowsweet may have covered the graves of loved ones, and may have been added to peoples’ remains when they were cremated. The uses of this pretty herb are extensive. It continues to be prized for all its medicinal qualities and for its sweet smell and taste.


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Post 3

When it's the season for meadowsweet, I love putting some of the flowers in milky and creamy desserts like rice pudding and panna cotta. You just need to let the milk or cream simmer with its flowers for a little bit for the scent to be absorbed, then go ahead with the regular recipe.

Post 2

I think that meadowsweet should be used in skin care products if it is not used already, because salicylic acid is what is used in cleansers and lotions for problem skin. It helps clear up and prevent acne. I've been using products with salicylic acid for years. There is even something called an aspirin mask that people with acne sometimes make at home and use.

I wonder if I can buy meadowsweet in liquid form, dilute it with water and use it on my skin? It should do the same thing as the products I buy from the store and the aspirin mask, right?

Post 1

I always keep the liquid extract of meadowsweet at home. I feel that it's a little safer to use than aspirin as it doesn't have the same side effects that aspirin does. I have a sensitive stomach for example, and I am not able to take much aspirin because it gives me heartburn.

Meadowsweet, on the other hand, can actually be used to treat stomach acidity. So I can take that as a pain reliever for headaches if I need to. My dad lives with us and he has arthritis which he sometimes takes meadowsweet for. I give a little meadowsweet to my kids if they have diarrhea. I think that this is the best multi-purpose medicine that moms should have at home.

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