Agrimonia eupatoria

A. gyrosepala, A. parviflora, A. pilosa


I love growing this dear yellow flowering plant and love even more coming upon it in the wild, sometimes at an old abandoned homestead deep in the woods, the still living remnant of an herb garden tended by a grandmother long passed from this earth. Agrimony is a humble plant and yet at the same time so vibrant, magical and potent. Agrimony’s renown can be traced back to the ancient Egyptians, who used it as an herb for the eyes. Anglo-Saxons called this herb garclive, considered it sacred and used it to heal wounds and snakebite.

Fifteenth century Europeans employed it as a primary ingredient in Arquebusade water, a battlefield remedy for gunshot wounds. Agrimony is still commonly used throughout France to heal bruises and sprains. Agrimony possesses healing virtues for the throat and mouth and has been much used by our grandmothers for these purposes.

Encouraging healing with its rich supply of silica and flavonoids, and an abundance of vitamins B and K, an infusion of dried agrimony makes an excellent wash on a hard-to-heal sore, wound or varicose veins. Use the well-strained infusion as a healing mouthwash for tender gums or canker sores. Used as a gargle it soothes a sore throat. Call upon agrimony as an ally to help heal conjunctivitis (pink eye).

Tannin-rich agrimony is highly astringent. Since astringents dry things up, agrimony is used to help curb excessive menstrual flow, to clear phlegm and excess mucus and as a gentle remedy for diarrhea. A cup of dried agrimony infusion, or 20 drops of fresh plant tincture in a bit of water, twice daily, is the usual dose.

European grandmothers drank bitter agrimony infusion as a spring tonic. It helps stimulate the flow of bile and tones the liver, gallbladder, spleen and kidneys. Many old herbals suggest agrimony as a reliable remedy for relieving infant jaundice. Nursing mothers drank a cupful of agrimony infusion before breastfeeding and the medicinal action of the herb, passed through the milk, reversed the baby’s jaundice.

My Southern Italia neighbors have a long history of using agrimonia as a tonic for the digestive system. They make use of its anti-inflammatory and astringent properties in cases of tonsillitis and to ease varicose veins and heal sores.

First Nations use two native species of agrimony as medicine. The root of A. gyrosepala is used by the Fox and Potawatomi to stop nosebleed and by the Ojibwa as an ally against urinary ailments. The Cherokee use an infusion of the burs of A. parviflora as a diarrhea remedy and the root of this plant to strengthen the blood.

Bitter agrimony is an excellent tonic for the entire gastrointestinal system. A woman I consulted with, whose digestive system went into a tizzy as soon as she ate anything (sending her repeatedly to the bathroom), experienced on-the-job stress and was becoming reclusive. She took 20 drops of agrimony combined with blessed thistle and dandelion root tincture three times daily. Two weeks later her spasms were under control, food stayed longer in her system and she felt much stronger. Agrimony has shown antiviral activity in laboratory tests. A Chinese variety, A. pilosa, possesses antibacterial and antiparasitic action and is used to treat dysentery, tapeworm and malaria.

Flower Essence Agrimony flower essence brings brightness and fosters a more positive worldview to those besieged by upsetting thoughts.

Magical Lore tells us that agrimony is an herb of protection associated with masculine energy and the element air. Burning agrimony as incense is said to banish unwanted energies; you could also hang a bunch in your home or on your door. The ancients used agrimony to break hexes and reverse spells, returning them to the sender.

Culture Agrimony is quite a hardy perennial plant and grows well in any ordinary garden soil, in full sun or part shade. It is easy to start from seed in the early spring. We transplant seedlings to the garden when they are six to eight weeks along. The mature plant reaches about 2 to 3 feet high with deeply cut green leaves, which are about seven inches long on the bottom, gradually shortening as they rise up the stem.

Near midsummer, agrimony puts up a tall, graceful spike, filled with tiny, five-petaled, bright yellow flowers that look up towards the sun. It looks especially pretty as a background plant, or reaching up out of a mass of other herbs. When agrimony’s flowers fade, they transform into sticky seeds that cling to clothing like burdock burs. The whole plant is covered with tiny hairs and has a distinctive, mildly spicy aroma.

I appreciate agrimony medicine for its bitter qualities. I primarily use it in digestive health formulas and include it as an ingredient in a tasty bitters blend we call Blessed Bitters. I tincture agrimony’s fresh leaves and flowers in alcohol or vinegar, and dry them for teas and infusions. For a throat soother, I infuse fresh agrimony leaves and flowers in honey.

“The medicines in herbs are derived from the cosmic forces of sunlight, moonlight, and starlight; from rain and dew and the minerals of the earth's soil layers, as well as the hereditary properties. Any herb can have its medicinal properties analyzed to a certain extent; only the cosmic and the hereditary cannot as yet be measured, which is most unfortunate, for it is in this ‘streaming spirit’ of the herb that most of the healing powers are contained.” Juliette de Bairacli

Return to Materia Medica