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Alchemilla vulgaris


Other names: lion's foot

Medicinal Actions: astringent/styptic, haemostatic, menstrual regulator, strong diuretic, anti-inflammatory

Qualities: cooling, drying

Affinities: Female reproductive system

Safety issues: avoid in pregnancy

This herbaceous perennial has funnel-shaped terminal leaves with characteristic lobes and dentate margins, which are smaller at the apex. On average there are 7 lobes, but it could range from 5 to 11. The leaves have palmate venation: the veins all extend out from a central point. The plant bears small yellow-green flowers that only have sepals, surrounded by a 4-lobed epicalyx.

A. vulgaris is one of many species in this genus, which all look fairly similar, but may be slightly larger e.g. Alchemilla mollis. The genus name refers to alchemists, who used the droplets of morning dew in their pursuit of the philosopher’s stone.

This herb is most commonly used as an infusion, especially the roots, which can be drunk or used to make a lotion, mouthwash or vaginal douche. The high tannin content in extractions makes it useful as a topical astringent and anti-inflammatory, as well as for gastric/duodenal ulcers and diarrhoea, as they are easily absorbed. Internally, it has been used for menorrhagia (excessive menstruation) and metrorrhagia (bleeding between periods). It has also been suggested as useful for alleviating menopausal symptoms if other more common herbs, like Black Cohosh or Wild Yam, fail.

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