Filipendula ulmaria, Spirea ulmaria
This beautiful shrub which graces our meadows with clusters of white and pink flowers during the midsummer months is a member of the Rose family, the Rosaceae. It grows in many different situations, taking on diverse forms: from diminutive plants along woodland trails, to tall and strong bushes when out in the sun on a fertile meadow. It is abundant in the wild, where we obtain the stems, leaves and flowers needed for medicine.
Elemental associations: Air
Phytochemistry: Tannins, salicylates, flavonoids
Actions: Astringent, anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic
Specific systems: Lower digestive, muscolo-skeletal
Aspirin was originally isolated from this plant (along with the Willows), and this points to its strong anti-inflammatory powers. It does quite well in cases of muscle soreness and strain; less so for tension headaches, as it requires some time to take effect. It can be helpful, when used occasionally, in cases of osteoarthritis or other generalized inflammatory conditions.
It is a strong astringent (evident upon tasting this herb either fresh, dry, or tinctured), serving quite well as a remedy for diarrhea in both children and adults. Also, is anti-inflammatory power coupled with its high-tannin, astringent action makes it very effective in managing the spasmodic lower digestive inflammation known as ulcerative colitis, or irritable bowel syndrome (being a specific remedy for these latter conditions).
Be aware than many people have allergies to salicylate compounds: ask if there is an allergy to aspirin, in which case this herb should not be used. Also, ensure that there are no upper digestive disturbances such as ulcers: salicylates used long-term can disrupt the production of the all-important stomach lining, aggravating peptic and potentially duodenal ulcers.
Indications: Generalized pain and inflammation, diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome
Contraindications: Allergy to salicylates, ulcers of the upper digestive tract, late pregnancy, poor blood clotting (haemophilia).
Preparation/Dosage: The tea is quite strong and effective, especially for diarrhea. It is prepared using 3-4 TBS of the fresh or dry leaves, stems, and flowers (or any portion thereof), steeped in a quart of water. The tincture is made from the same parts, 33% alcohol, 1:3 to 1:5. Take ¼ tsp. 3 times daily.