Agrimony was revered by the Anglo Saxons as a “heal all” with almost magical powers that corrected eye disorders, healed wounds, and snakebites. Today it is recommended for healing skin disorders and is often prescribed for gastro-intestinal complaints, diarrhea, coughs, and cystitis and as a gargle for sore throats. The herb is still highly praised as an eyebath to add sparkle to tired eyes.
Agrimony grows throughout England and in the United States and southern Canada. It is a perennial plant with graceful yellow flowers on slender stalks that may grow up to three feet. Agrimony has a delicate flavor and the scent of apricot and was often brewed as a spring tonic and table drink. All the aboveground parts of the plant are used in herbal medicine.
Its botanical name, Agrimonia eupatoria, is derived both from the Persian King, Mithridates Eupator, who was known to be a “concoctor” of herbal medicine and the Greek word, argemone, meaning healing to the eyes. Early references as early as the Roman, Pliny, and later, Dr. Hill in the mid-1700s, praise the use of Agrimony for liver disorders, serpent bites, and skin eruptions. Because of its tannin content, it was employed in the tanning of leather and used as a yellow dye.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine Agrimony is used to stop excessive menstrual bleeding. It has also been used for thousands of years to stop bleeding and bruising by “tanning” skin cells, making them impermeable to bleeding. This action also prevents bacteria from entering the wound.
Agrimony stops irritation of the urinary tract that may increase a child’s urge to urinate and therefore may be useful in the treatment of bed-wetting and adult incontinence.
Agrimony is effective against diarrhea, especially in small children, and because of its low toxicity, the herb is particularly suitable for children’s illnesses.
The herb has been effective on the immune system by stimulating the body to produce immune bodies known as B-cells. These cells produce complex chemicals known as antigens that attack invading microbes.
Agrimony has a reputation for treating jaundice and other complaints, giving tone to the digestive system, and promoting the assimilation of food.
The chemical compound agrimophol, which is a component of Agrimony, has the ability to expel parasites by causing them to lose their hold on the lining of the bladder or intestine and become evacuated with urine and stool. That same substance also kills the organism that causes river blindness and many common bacteria such as E. coli, Staphylococcus, and other bacteria that cause dysentery and typhoid fever.
While Agrimony is an effective treatment for diarrhea, it may aggravate constipation, and blockage can result if Agrimony is taken at the same time as Psyllium powders (Metamucil) or with prunes or prune juice. It is not recommended during pregnancy. People with lupus, myasthenia gravis, or any other autoimmune disease should avoid Agrimony.