Agrimony (also known as Liverwort) is an “Old English Herbal” valued for its astringent properties.
Agrimonia eupatoria L.
Common name: Agrimony
Synonyms: church steeples, cocklebur, stickwort, liverwort, yerba de agrimonia (Spanish)
The Plant: A member of the Rose family, agrimony gets some of its common names (cocklebur, stickwort) from the hooked bristles found on the flowering stalk that cling to clothing and animal fur. Agrimony starts out as a rosette of leaves that are coarsely toothed and covered with fine hairs. In mid to late summer, the plant shoots up a 2 to 3-foot flowering stalk. Small, yellow flowers cover the top third of the spike.
Constituents of Significance: 5 to 10% condensed tannins account for the astringent properties of agrimony herb.
Quality: The above ground parts of the plant are harvested and dried just as the herb begins to flower. Agrimony is usually sold in cut form, suitable for making a tea. The dried herb should be free of seeds which indicate the herb was harvested too late. Agrimony herb consists of green leaves with a grey underside and tan to brown-yellow stems and may include bits of the yellow flowers. At least half of the herb should be leafy material. Higher levels of stem pieces signify excessive leaf loss through over-drying or poor handling that causes the leaves to shatter and sift out of the herb.
Regulatory Status: Dietary Supplement
Did you know: Tannins, a valued group of constituents in agrimony, derive their name from their use in the tanning industry. Tannins react with protein molecules to cure or tan hides. They have a similar action on body issues, creating a kind of temporary leather coating on tissues. Some other herbs known for their tannin content are witch hazel, oak bark, and shepherd's purse.
Directions: To make a tea, pour one cup of boiling water over 1 to 2 teaspoons of agrimony herb, let steep for 5 minutes, then strain. Drink two or three times a day. Adding a teaspoon of chamomile or peppermint to the tea will improve the flavor and can increase the effectiveness of the tea.
Suggested Uses: The herb was popular in European herbal traditions and is still used today. The herb is valued for both it astringency and as a bitter tonic. As tannins are water soluble, agrimony is often made into an infusion (tea). A strong tea is also used as a gargle or a skin or hair wash. Other preparations include tinctures and skin ointments.
Caution/safety: Per the German Commission E Monograph* there are no known side effects, contraindications or drug interactions listed for agrimony herb.
The Botanical Safety Handbook** classifies Agrimony Herb as:
Class 1: herbs which can be safely consumed when used appropriately
*Mark Blumenthal, ed., The Complete German Commission E Monographs, (Austin TX: Integrative Medicine Communications, 1998
**Michael McGuffin, ed., American Herbal Products Association's Botanical Safety Handbook, (New York: CRC Press, 1997)
Our agrimony herb usually comes from Eastern European countries such as Bulgaria, Hungary and the Czech Republic.