Agrimony Aerial

The name Agrimony is derived from the Greek ‘argemone’ which was a word that was used to denote a herb that was good for the eyes. Agrimony has been used as a ‘spring drink’ to help with cleansing and in some parts of the world it is drunk with meals as a refreshing and pleasant beverage.

Pliny the Elder described Agrimony as a ‘herb of sovereign power.’ The English herbalist Gerard said of Agrimony ‘a decoction of the leaves is good for them that have naughty livers’ and the Roman physician Dioscorides said that it was ‘not only a remedy for them that have bad livers but also for those who are bitten by serpents’

From King’s Dispensatory, 1898; Agrimony is a mild tonic, alterative, and astringent. A decoction of it is highly recommended in bowel complaints, leucorrhoea, chronic mucous diseases, chronic affections of the digestive organs, profuse bleedings, of an asthenic character, certain cutaneous diseases, icterus, etc. A strong decoction, sweetened with honey, is reputed curative in scrofula, if its use be persisted in for a length of time; and it has also been highly extolled in the treatment of gravel, asthma, coughs, and obstructed menstruation.
Dr. D. C. Payne speaks highly of a continued use of a decoction of this plant in the treatment of erysipelas and scrofulous affections, to be used freely, in connection with diet and regularity of the bowels. It is also reputed to be valuable as a diuretic, and has been considered a specific in dropsy and in gonorrhoea. As a gargle, the decoction is useful in ulcerations of the mouth and throat.

David Hoffmann writes that ‘the combination of astrigency and bitter properties makes this herb a valuable remedy… Agrimony may be used to treat indigestion, and is a specific for childhood diarrhoea. It is the herb of choice for early-stage appendicitis, and its properties give it a role in the treatment of mucous colitis’

Thomas Bartram says of Agrimony that it ‘helps the assimilation of food and is good for indigestion, weak acid stomach and a sluggish liver.’ Simon Mills says Agrimony is good for ‘irritations and infections of the intestinal tract, especially in children, and for gall-bladder disease associated with gastric hyperacidity’

Priest and Priest described Agrimony as ‘a gently stimulating tonic with a gastro-intestinal emphasis that is suitable for both infants and the elderly. It influences mucus membranes, promotes assimilation and restores debilitated conditions’ They also cite Agrimony as combining well with Shepherd’s purse and Corn Silk for weak or stressed kidneys or for bedwetting and with Meadowsweet for hyperacidic dyspepsia.

The great physiomedicalist T. J. Lyle wrote of Agrimony that ‘The herb is a gently stimulating, aromatic astringent, acting mainly on the mucous membrane. In hot infusion it influences diaphoresis. Cold preparations influence the kidneys and other urinary apparata, imparting a gentle tonic influence’

Although these days it is hardly thought of as having properties that affect the nerves Agrimony was once upon a time highly regarded for its ability to help achieve a deep and restful sleep. An ancient rhyme went:
‘If it (Agrimony) be leyd under mann’s head,
He shal sleepyn as he were dead;
He shal never drede ne wakyn
Til fro under his head it be takyn.’


Science on Agrimony

~ A member of the Rose family; Agrimony is rich in bitters, mucilage, phytosterols and tannins. The constituents of agrimony include acids such as palmitic acid, salicylic acid, silicic acid and stearic acid; flavonoids such as apigenin, glycosides, kaempferol, luteolin-7-glucoside, quercetin, and quercitrin; tannins (3-21%) such as agrimoniin, ellagitannin and gallotannin.

~ Studies have shown that agrimony has insulin-like effects and helped to reduce symptoms of hyperglycemia. Results demonstrated the presence of antihyperglycemic, insulin-releasing and insulin-like activity in Agrimony eupatoria (Gray AM, Flatt PR. Actions of the traditional anti-diabetic plant, Agrimony eupatoria (agrimony): effects on hyperglycaemia, cellular glucose metabolism and insulin secretion. Br J Nutr 1998;80:109-14)

~ Agrimony extraherbs traditionally used in southern mainland Chincts were shown to have antiviral activity against human herpes simplex virus, attributed to polyphenols in the herb. ( Li Y, Ooi LS, Wang H, et al. Antiviral activities of medicinal a. Phytother Res 2004;18(9):718-722)

~ Many skin conditions, wounds and bruises, have been anecdotally treated with agrimony. However, there have been few clinical trials in humans to support these claims A study in a group of 20 patients found agrimony infusions to be successful in treating cutaneous porphyria, a rather gnarly chronic, skin condition. A significant improvement in skin eruptions together with a decrease in urinary porphyrins was noted (Patrascu V, Chebac PI. [Favorable therapeutic results in cutaneous porphyria obtained with Agrimonia eupatoria]. Revista De Medicina Interna Neurologie Psihiatrie Neurochirurgie Dermato Venerologie Serie Dermato Venerologia 1984;29(2):153-157)

~ Anecdotally, agrimony has been used for many gastrointestinal conditions such as appendicitis, mild diarrhea, stimulation of appetite and ulcers. A clinical trial using a compound herb preparation with Agrimonia eupatoria, Hipericum perforatum, Plantago major, Mentha piperita, and Matricaria chamomila was used to treat 35 patients suffering from chronic gastroduodenitis. After 25 days of therapy, 75% of patients claimed to be free from pain, 95% from dyspeptic symptoms and 76% from palpitation pains. Gastroscopy was said to indicate that previous erosion and hemorrhagic mucous changes had healed. No side effects or signs of toxicity were documented. (PETROVSKII GA, ZAPADNIUK VI, PASECHNIK IK, et al. [Cholagogue effect of Bupleurum exaltatum, Agrimonia asiatica, Leontopodium ochroleucum, and Veronica virginica.]. Farmakol Toksikol 1957;20(1):75-77)