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Agrimony

What Is It?

The yellow, star-shaped blossoms of Agrimonia eupatoria, an herb found throughout the northern hemisphere, have long been used as a remedy for diarrhea and a host of other ailments. Legend has it, for instance, that the ancient Greeks soothed eye problems with agrimony, and the Anglo-Saxons treated wounds with it as well.

Modern science has found a sensible explanation for the long-time worldwide popularity of this herb: Agrimony contains high concentrations of tannins. These astringent compounds gently tighten and constrict the tissues with which they come into contact.

Because of the tannins, the medicinal uses of agrimony are extensive. When sipped as a tea, for example, agrimony will help control the loose stools of diarrhea. Once cooled, the tea works as a throat gargle to reduce inflammation and relieve sore throat pain. Interestingly, Germany’s prestigious Commission E approves of using the herb for these purposes.

Applied topically in the form of a compress or poultice, agrimony can minimize certain types of skin inflammation, such as inflamed hemorrhoids, oozing wounds and rashes, and varicose veins.

Other health-promoting components in agrimony include flavonoids and vitamin C (both antioxidants) as well as certain volatile oils. These substances are credited in test-tube studies with producing mild antiseptic activity against certain disease-causing bacteria and fungi. In lab animals, extracts of the herb have even shown anti-diabetic actions; unfortunately, there has been little research to explore its effectiveness in humans with diabetes.

To prepare a cup of soothing agrimony tea, infuse one to two teaspoons of the dried leaves, stems, or flowers in a cup (8 ounces) of hot water and let it steep for 5 to 15 minutes. To help control diarrhea, drink one cup of agrimony tea up to six times a day.

For topical use, prepare a very strong decoction (boiled tea) and allow the mixture to cool before soaking a compress in it and applying it to the affected area several times a day.

General Interaction

There are no known drug or nutrient interactions associated with agrimony.

Cautions

There is very little information on the potential risks associated with agrimony. Allergic reactions are always possible, however, so stop taking (or applying) the herb if one appears to develop.

Only use agrimony for simple diarrhea, not for loose stools caused by an underlying disease.

Because agrimony has so long been used for diarrhea, it would make sense to avoid it (for any purpose other than diarrhea) if you tend to develop constipation easily.

Always clean a wound thoroughly before applying agrimony or any other substance to it.

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