Meadowsweet is a tall and fragrant plant with flowers exuding a scent similar to that of almonds. In ancient times, the flowers of the meadowsweet plant were used to flavor mead, a drink that is made out of honey. Thus, the name meadowsweet became the common name of the herb, Filipendula ulmaria. The meadowsweet herb is found in abundance in Europe and Asia. In the North American regions, meadowsweet serves the purpose of an ornamental plant with a sweet fragrance in the garden where it is planted. Its stem is erect and in furrows. The leaves are dark green on the upper side and downy white on the lower side. It grows rapidly in damp meadows, and it flowers between June and early September.

Nutritional Information and Properties  

The green parts of the meadowsweet herb possess an aromatic fragrance, and hence, it was extensively used as a strewing herb. This implied that the leaves and flowers of the plant would be strewn on the floors or any other surface to ward off unpleasant odors. Since it was often used in wedding halls and churches, it earned the name bridewort. It is also widely used as a flavoring agent in wines, mead, or vinegar. The flowers add aroma to stewed fruit or jams, and when they are dried find their place in pot pourri. Meadowsweet is a good storehouse of salycilic acid, flavone glycosides, essential oils, and tannins. Hence, meadowsweet has become renowned for its medicinal properties as well. Queen Elizabeth I was intensely fond of this herb and advocated it to be strewn in her chambers. However, meadowsweet should not be used by persons who have a history of allergy to aspirin or salicylates.

Health Benefits and Therapeutic Uses

The health benefits and therapeutic uses of meadowsweet have earned it a place in the history of medical science. Meadowsweet was the main constituent in the synthesis of the analgesic aspirin. This also accounts for meadowsweet tea being taken as a remedy for headaches. Some of the other uses of meadowsweet are as follows.

  • The herb has a gentle action on the digestive system and is effectively used as a remedy for acidity, gastritis, peptic ulcers, and other stomach upsets.
  • Meadowsweet was also believed to relieve the pain due to inflamed joints.  
  • Meadowsweet is also commonly sought in case of high fevers and colds, owing to the analgesic properties of the herb. In children, meadowsweet is particularly helpful in bringing down high fevers.
  • After being soaked in rainwater, meadowsweet can be used as an astringent and to condition the skin.
  • Meadowsweet tea is made from the flower of the herb and is naturally diuretic in nature. While preparing the tea, allow it to stand for a while so that the salicylic acid seeps into the tea; this provides good relief from headaches.

Other Uses

Some of the other common uses of this herb are as follows.

  • Meadowsweet is widely used to impart fragrance and mask other unpleasant smells.
  • The herb is used as a flavoring agent in soups, mead, and wines.
  • The roots of meadowsweet are used in the preparation of a black dye along with copper.
  • The leaves of the herb have a sharp flavor and are enjoyed in a glass of wine.
  • The fresh leaves of meadowsweet are used as a flavoring agent in desserts and fruit salads.