Wednesday, March 30, 2011


There is such an enormous amount of information to share about plants that I had a difficult time discerning what to include and what not to for the first plant profile.  Primarily, I decided to focus on what I know most about the plant and some of my thoughts on how I think about using herbal medicine.
Let me know your thoughts!  Especially share what you would like to know more or less of in future plant profiles!

Agrimonia eupatoria

Energy:  slightly bitter, astringent, warm
Properties:  astringent, hemostatic, anti-inflammatory, analgesic, vulnerary
Constituents:  tannins, bitter glycosides, nicotianic acid, silicic acid, vitamins B and K, iron, cholene, carotene.

Agrimony is an herb that partially works by creating balance.  Agrimony doesn't necessarily just ease tension or increase tone as much as it will set the course for whichever action is needed at the time.  Agrimony has traditionally been used for digestive issues including those concerning the liver, gall bladder and kidneys.  Agrimony is commonly used for both constipation and diarrhea, but most of my experience with agrimony is as a remedy for pain.

Specifically, I tend to use Agrimony for pain caused from tension that is created by repetitive use.  Most of my experience of this type of injury is with my husband, a carpenter who can spend an entire day performing the same motion over and over, stressing the muscles and tendons in one particular area.  However, my favorite case is an old friend and employee of his who spent an entire day prying up an old floor.  His forearm swelled, turning a deep red and he reported pain, but did not complain (this is an indication for agrimony).  The tendon that stretched over the top of his forearm was hot to the touch and also swollen.  I gave him a tincture combination including agrimony and wood betony and told him to take 5 drops every few hours and rub a few drops directly into his arm.  Within just a few hours the swelling had gone down and the pain had lessened to a mellow soreness.  By the next day it was fine.

Traditionally agrimony's use for digestive issues are related to relaxed or constricted tissue states that interfere with the digestive process.  These can be related to the liver, gall bladder and the intestines. Agrimony can be used for issues that originate from the liver or the kidneys or any irritation that causes either of these organs to function poorly.  Anything which causes poor liver function and uneven distribution of bile will go on to produce difficulty with fat metabolism leading to digestive upset.  It also improves blood supply to these organs through the hepatic and renal arteries and the portal vein. I think of using agrimony if the person doesn't complain when it is obvious that they are very uncomfortable.  Often they will hold their breath and try to look like they are doing just fine.  The person will tend to just "grin and bear it". Also, I've noticed that when someone is in pain or uncomfortable they will stiffen their muslces and become tense, often creating more discomfort in the process.  I think this is also a good indication for agrimony.  Even the plant's growth habit reminds me of someone who is stiff and in pain!

As a psychotherapist, I believe that sometimes our physical condition is apparent in the way that we express ourselves, in our demeanor, and how we carry our bodies. Further, when observing my clients I also consider their living situation, who they spend time with, and how they spend their time.  Similarly, we can consider this when thinking about plants because they have evolved to survive in particular environments.  The plants produce particular chemical constituents and patterns that individualize their growth habits, tastes, etc and these constituents are what will have a specific action in the body.  Many traditions in herbalism would suggest that this constitutes a sort of personality of the plant.  This is also recognized as a plant's 'signature'. I don't want to go too in depth on signatures in this post, but for further info, read anything by Matthew Wood (my favorite herbalist).  The basic idea to consider is that sometimes we can look at a plant and say "wow, that plant is really stiff" and begin to consider how this plant's personality may be indicative of how we can use it as medicine.

On with with Agrimony.....

Agriomony is an incredibly 'tense' looking plant.  Even the hairs on the leaves and stem stick straight out and the seeds are prickly.  Yet, at the same time the plant is flexible, sending up a long stem of delicate yellow flowers that flows in the breeze quite gracefully. The leaves, while looking stiff, are actually very soft and flexible as well. Agrimony often grows at the edges of woodlands or in the woods.  However, it is quite easy to grow in just about any garden as well, keeping in mind that the conditions of the plant's environment will have an impact on its medicinal quality.  That said, there are so many different varieties of agrimony, that some herbalists will harvest many of them into one extract, while others will pick one variety and never use any other.

So, with this in mind we can paint a bit of a picture of the agrimony personality.  We can think of agrimony as a remedy for tension across the mind and body and a specific for people who tend to hide their true feelings.  Matthew Wood says that the agrimony person feels "caught in a bind as if in the wrong place at the wrong time, unable to do the right thing, go with the flow or be a good person".  The agrimony person can often be facing tension and anxiety due to having to quietly deal with stress at work or in relationships and we all know that this can lead to digestive upset.  Further, I use agrimony for times when I drink too much or eat too much rich food to bring my liver and digestion back into balance.

*Nothing on this blog has been evaluated by the FDA and is not intended to diagnose, prevent, or treat any disease, illness or disorder. 

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