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A little on Alchemilla

Most people will recognise this medicinal plant – Lady’s Mantle (Alchemilla xanthoclora). It’s commonly grown in gardens across Ireland. The are over 15 species including out native Hairy Lady’s Mantle (Alchemilla filicaulis) and the more common garden species Alchemilla mollis and they can all interbreed making identification of specific species hard. 

This is a beautiful plant to have in your garden and has some wonderful medicinal properties. The name Alchemilla is thought to originate from the little drops of clear due that form on its leaves and gather in the centre. It is said Alchemists used this precious water in their alchemical work. The common name Lady’s Mantle is owed to its traditional use as a woman’s herb.

The main way in which we use Alchemilla in clinical practice is as a uterine astringent for heavy menstrual bleeding (menorrhagia) or bleeding between periods (metrorrhagia). These issues can be experienced in women of all stages in life but more commonly experienced by women in perimenopause.  As with many herbs, Alchemilla has the paradoxical effect of being

used to increase menstrual flow, therefore having a balancing effect on menstruation. Traditionally it is well known as a vulnerary or healing herb externally. This is also due to its astringent action of staunching blood flow. This astringent action makes Alchemilla useful to use in mouthwashes too.  Other uses for women include in childbirth in cases of excess bleeding or using the tea as a douche for excess vaginal discharge. Recently I read it was used as a wash for the breasts after cessation of breastfeeding to encourage the breast skin to tighten and tone back into shape! Must give that one a try!!

We mostly use Alchemilla as a tincture in clinic, but we also like to dry some for teas. As this growing season kicked off early the Alchemilla grew quite fast.  We will be cutting it back heavily, then removing the leaves and flowering tops to tincture and dry and allow the plant to regrow for a second harvest later in the summer.  If you have Lady’s Mantle in your garden, you can try making some crisps from the large palmate leaves or making it into a fresh tea. Just make sure to avoid in pregnancy.