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The Meadow queen bears many names: wild lilac, midsummer herb, meadow goatee or rüsterstaude. The common name "meadow aspirin" refers to its effect as a pain reliever and is not just a metaphor: meadowsweet contains acetylsalicylic acid, the basic ingredient of aspirin. It is called meadowsweet from old Germanic times: our ancestors used it to sweeten mead, an alcoholic drink that they loved as much as beer - a smart idea, because it prevented the hangover during breeding.
Salicylic acid was even isolated from meadowsweet and white willow, and from this the artificially synthesized aspirin was created. Salicylic acid relieves pain, lowers fever, relieves cramps and stimulates urine flow. It stimulates the heartbeat, drives sweat, heals external scars and contains high amounts of vitamin C and flavonoids.
The British still season beer and wine with the queen of the meadows. Beekeepers rubbed their beehives with the flowers and believed that the bees would stay in the hive. They rubbed themselves with meadowsweet to keep the bees from stinging.
Queen of the meadows
The British call it "queen of the meadows", the Italians Olmaria, the Danes Engdronning, the Poles Tawula and the Russians Tawolga. In Scandinavia it used to be called mjödurt, the mead herb. The ancient Greek name Spiraea means thread and probably refers to the custom of braiding the plants into garlands. In the early modern period it was called goat's beard or goat's beard in Germany - probably the cream-white flowers reminded contemporaries of goat hair. Or maybe the name came from the fact that goats ate the leaves and flowers.
Another name, Waldbart, suggests that the flowers, which look almost like cotton candy, are reminiscent of a beard, beekeeping that it is an excellent bee pasture. The less romantic term stop ass, however, emphasizes the effect against diarrhea.
Popular and medicinal names
Some common names show that the medicinal properties of the plant were known. That was her name in Gotha Frauenkraut, in Alsace Krampfkrut, in Böhmerwald Bärmutterstrauß. However, there were also wrong ideas about the healing effects: So the Russians used the root against the bite of rabid dogs - an idea that was as useless as it was senseless.
In the early modern period, the "goatee" was used as a means to clean the bile, the herb was supposed to work against ulcers, drive thorns out of the skin, and the leaves should drive the urine.
In Bremen it was called Brannwiensblome, obviously the smell of the flowers reminded of brandy; in Westphalia spring flower, in the Giant Mountains honey blossom, in Switzerland goat ladder.
Meadowsweet in mythology
Meadowsweet was considered a love plant and served to ward off evil spirits. It was collected on the solstice night and hung on the beams of houses and stables, or sprinkled on the floor of the house to create a pleasant smell. Brides wore them to protect the Virgin Mary.
In the Celts, Gwydyon and Math created oak, gorse and meadowsweet blodeuwedd, the flower face, a girl who married Gwydyon's nephew, Llew Llaw Gyffes.
The name may queen refers to the flower elves, mythical creatures that should live in and around the flowers on the meadows, and which played an important role in religion, especially among the island Celts. However, this connection has not been proven. These fairies are supposed to play with the flowers at night and take care of them. The flowers are her beds.
The flowers contain essential oil with salicylaldehyde, the most important medicinal substance of the plant, the plant also contains free salicylic acid, tannins, and the dye spiraein. The rhizome contains essential oil with methyl salicylate.
There are also heliotropin and citric acid.
Application of the meadow queen in folk medicine
Meadowsweet has served against various ailments since ancient times: gout such as rheumatism, heart disease, irregular pulse, diseases of the bladder and kidneys, fever, cold and flu.
It has been used to treat biliary colic such as gallstones and in the treatment of wounds.
The British scientist John Gerard recommended a wine with meadowsweet flowers against the four-day fever in the 16th century.
What does meadowsweet really work against?
The medicinal plant works against digestive problems and overacidification, it relieves nausea such as nausea, heartburn and inflammation of the stomach. The effect of salicylic acid against fever, joint and muscle pain is undisputed. Generally meadowsweet fights bacterial and other inflammations.
The widespread notion that the plant prevents cancer has not been scientifically confirmed.
The queen loves it wet
The meadow queen grows on damp meadows, on river banks and moats, in alder forests and at the foot of ash trees. There we find them along with willowherb, loosestrife, valerian and waterdost.
It is not without reason that it bears its name: it reveals itself from a distance due to its sweet smell, and the creamy-white flowers of the rose family stand out from the vegetable competition. An angular stem with a reddish color grows from the strong rhizome, the leaves are finely sawn, the underside is silvery. The leaves are pinnate (feather flower) and divide into several lobes at the top.
The flowers smell a little of vanilla and strongly of almond. The calyx consists of five triangular leaves and approximately five petals.
We are currently experiencing a bumble bee and bee death. This can be prevented with meadowsweet. The meadow queen is an excellent bee pasture. It doesn't give nectar, but pollen abounds and insects are "addicted" to it.
The caterpillars of the meadowsweet mother-of-pearl butterfly even live exclusively on and from the meadow queen.
The queen of the meadows shows its flowers from June to October, and it reaches its peak in July and August. The leaves already sprout at the end of February.
Collect for the medicine chest
We collect the flowers and shoot tips from June to August, we dig up the roots in November.
The meadow queen is ideal for teas that do not need any additional sweetness. We use either the flowers or the leaves, fresh or dried. For a tea, we leave a teaspoon of meadowsweet in 250 ml of hot water for five minutes.
For a headache, we mix a handful of meadowsweet flowers with a handful of lady's coats, a handful of gooseberries and half a handful of cowslip flowers. We pour a liter of hot water over it, let everything steep for 10 minutes and strain the tea.
Bathing with the queen
We can also set up a spa with the Queen. You can also simply add a few handfuls of flowers to the hot full bath. However, it is better to briefly boil about two large handfuls of flowers in a liter of water, then take them off the plate, let them steep for 10 minutes and add this brew to the bath water.
Alternatively, you can also dip wraps around wounds or fresh scars, or on aching joints, the temples for headaches or around the shoulders if you have them tight.
Meadowsweet in food
Meadowsweet refreshes in summer when you put some flowers and lemon slices in a jug of cold water. Let them steep for 15 minutes. You can vary this simple drink if you add ginger sticks and / or mint leaves instead of lemon slices. The medicinal plant also tolerates elderflower.
The flowers fit well in a fruit salad with apple and pear slices, raspberries and elderberries. You can use it to season a jam or sprinkle it over dessert.
The roots are not only suitable for diarrhea, they also cause constipation when eaten in large quantities. There is a porridge cooked from the "soft parts" of the plant, which our ancestors ate as a dessert.
Most parts of the queen of the meadows are edible, but the woody structure makes them unsuitable as whole-cooked vegetables. The taste of the red root is also reminiscent of medicines, more specifically mouthwash. This is not for everyone. The medically active substances also restrict the use as food.
For survival freaks, however, a meadowsweet stew is ideal for firstly to satisfy hunger and secondly to prevent infections.
Queen of meadows contains the basic substance of aspirin. It has a thinning effect on blood. So the same applies as with aspirin tablets: hemophiliacs should avoid meadowsweet; if you have just had a recent operation, the same applies if internal bleeding is healing.
Plant meadowsweet yourself
Dried meadowsweet, meadowsweet teas, meadowsweet powder and meadowsweet flowers are available in health food stores, as well as meadowsweet capsules or meadowsweet incense. The latter consists of the dried whole herb with flowers and seeds.
Meadowsweet seeds are available at nurseries, especially those that specialize in natural gardens. Developed plants can be found in aquatic plant nurseries and grow well in the swamp zone of the garden pond or in a swamp bed. We sow from January to March and plant the meadow queen outdoors from mid-May.
Meadowsweet is ideal for a farm garden and the wet zone of a herb spiral.
A mortar tub filled with water, a wooden barrel or even a bucket also serves as a swamp bed if you do not have your own garden, but only a balcony. The cream-white flowers stand out particularly well alongside aquatic plants such as the red loosestrife, the yellow swamp lily and iris. Meadowsweet is a typical bank herb and thrives neither in open water nor in the dry plains. Visit an alluvial forest and see where the white beauty thrives.
Hardy swamp dwellers
Real meadowsweet is tough and absolutely hardy. Unlike many other medicinal herbs, however, it loves nutrient-rich humus and does not like it when it is too dense. As a swamp plant you like a slightly acidic pH value, but it can also be neutral. The location should be sunny to shade, the soil moist or wet without waterlogging.
If you do not plant the meadow queen in a swamp bed or in the background of a garden pond, then note the following: Do not let the plant dry, a well-grown plant can compensate for this imbalance in the water balance, but not a newly planted one. So keep the meadowsweet always moist.
Cut grass and horse apples
Please pour in pots every morning or evening in the summer. Garden compost is a suitable fertilizer. Since meadowsweet naturally settles in the bank area, where the humus consists largely of dead plant parts, the green waste that has become compost is almost ideal. This also applies to horse apples or cow pats as fertilizer.
For the balcony, give preference to a ceramic pot. The advantage of clay pots that they are so porous that the earth can breathe and excess water evaporates is fatal to this riparian plant. Even a warm summer day can dry out the root ball and trigger the death of the plant in an emergency.
We can increase the humidity in the garden as well as in the bucket by inserting grass clippings as the bottom layer.
The cut depends on what you want. Do you want to harvest the meadow queen as a medicinal herb? Then cut right after flowering. Do you want to enjoy an ornamental plant? Then cut to ground level in October / November. Do you want the seeds to spread? Then cut in March. (Dr. Utz Anhalt)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.
Dr. phil. Utz Anhalt, Barbara Schindewolf-Lensch
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