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Bridewort: common cold, stomach complaints

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Scientific Name: Meadowsweet
Other Names: Dropwort, Filipendula ulmaria, Lady of the Meadow, Queen of the Meadow, Spirea, Spirea ulmaria 

Who is this for?


Commonly, meadowsweet is taken by mouth to relieve symptoms of respiratory conditions. Although it does not have direct effects against the viruses that cause colds and similar illnesses, meadowsweet contains chemicals known as tannins, which have a drying effect on mucous membranes. One result may be decreases in congestion and mucus that are often associated with a cold. In addition, one of the other chemicals contained in meadowsweet is a salicylate, similar to but much weaker than a component of aspirin. The salicylate in meadowsweet may help to reduce pain and fever, mildly.

Meadowsweet has also been used to treat stomach complaints such as heartburn. Some research in laboratory animals has been conducted to investigate its effectiveness for gastrointestinal ulcers, but results are not conclusive. Because it has some mild anti-inflammatory properties, meadowsweet has also been used for gout or other types of inflammatory conditions. In laboratory animals, it has protected the liver from damage by chemically induced hepatitis. Results from other laboratory studies show that it may have some ability to kill cancer cells. However, none of the potential uses for meadowsweet has been documented by well-controlled clinical studies of humans.



When should I be careful taking it?

Meadowsweet has been shown to cause tightening of the air passages in the lungs. Such tightening is known as a bronchospasm and it can cause an asthma attack or worsen asthma for individuals who have asthma. Therefore, individuals with asthma should avoid using meadowsweet.

Because of its aspirin-like component, meadowsweet should not be given to children. Aspirin has been shown to cause Reye's syndrome in children.

Individuals with allergies to aspirin or sulfites should also avoid taking meadowsweet due to its similarities to aspirin.

In animal studies, meadowsweet showed a slight possibility of causing uterine contractions, therefore women who are pregnant should not take meadowsweet.



Not enough is known about how meadowsweet affects infants, so women who are breast-feeding should avoid using it.



Scientific Name: Meadowsweet
Other Names: Dropwort, Filipendula ulmaria, Lady of the Meadow, Queen of the Meadow, Spirea, Spirea ulmaria 

What side effects should I watch for?

Major Side Effects

Meadowsweet has been shown to cause bronchospasm, or tightening of the muscles in small airways in the lungs. Such tightening could cause asthma attacks or worsen asthma in individuals with asthma.

Less Severe Side Effects

Individuals who take meadowsweet may experience nausea.

Skin rash may result from handling meadowsweet plants or dried flowers.




What interactions should I watch for?

Prescription Drugs

A small possibility exists that meadowsweet could increase the effects and the risk of side effects from narcotic analgesics, such as morphine or oxycodone.

Meadowsweet may increase the time blood needs to clot. When it is taken with antiplatelet or anticoagulant drugs, the effect of the antiplatelet or anticoagulant may be increased, resulting in uncontrolled bleeding.

  • Antiplatelets include: Plavix and Ticlid
  • Anticoagulants include: heparin and warfarin.

Non-prescription Drugs

Meadowsweet may increase the anticoagulant effects of aspirin, therefore the two should not be taken together.

Herbal Products

Theoretically, if meadowsweet is used with other herbs that affect blood clotting, bleeding may occur. Some of the most common herbal products that might inhibit blood clotting include:

  • Danshen
  • Devil's Claw
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Ginkgo
  • Ginseng
  • Horse Chestnut
  • Papain
  • Red Clover
  • Saw Palmetto


No interactions between meadowsweet and foods have been reported.

Some interactions between herbal products and medications can be more severe than others. The best way for you to avoid harmful interactions is to tell your doctor and/or pharmacist what medications you are currently taking, including any over-the-counter products, vitamins, and herbals. For specific information on how meadowsweet interacts with drugs, other herbals, and foods and the severity of those interactions, please use our Drug Interactions Checker to check for possible interactions.


Should I take it?

Meadowsweet grows as a perennial bush that can reach 6 feet or more in height. It is believed to have originated in Europe, but it also grows in damp woods and swampy areas of North America and northern Asia. The long sprays of yellow-white flowers have a minty fragrance and they bloom most of the summer. Meadowsweet flowers, flower buds, and leaves are dried used for medicinal purposes.


Dosage and Administration

Dosing for meadowsweet is not consistent. It is available most often as a tea, which is made by putting up to two teaspoons of dried meadowsweet into 5 ounces of boiling water, letting it soak for 10 minutes, and then straining out the solid particles. This tea can be taken several times per day.

Meadowsweet is also available in other oral liquid forms. It can be purchased as a liquid extract or as a tincture. Extracts are concentrated liquid preparations usually made by soaking chopped or mashed plant parts in a liquid such as alcohol, and then straining out the solid parts. Tinctures are less concentrated than extracts, but they are prepared in similar ways. If you decide to use a meadowsweet product, follow the directions on the package you purchase.



Meadowsweet is used most frequently as supportive therapy for the common cold. It may also be somewhat effective for the treatment of various stomach conditions such as heartburn and ulcers.


Because meadowsweet has been associated with causing constriction of the airways in the lungs, it should be avoided in individuals with asthma. Pregnant women also avoid meadowsweet due to the possibility of causing uterine contractions.

Children and individuals with aspirin and sulfite allergies should not take meadowsweet due to its salicylate component.

Side Effects

Although few side effects have been reported from meadowsweet, it may cause nausea or stomach upset in individuals who use it.


Some evidence suggests that meadowsweet may increase both the effects and the risk of side effects from narcotic analgesics.

The heparin-like and salicylate compounds in meadowsweet may increase the risk of bleeding when it is used with warfarin, other anticoagulant or antiplatelet drugs, aspirin, or herbal products that also have an anticoagulant effect.



Anon: Meadowsweet. In: DerMarderosian A, Beutler JA, eds. Facts and Comparisons: The Review of Natural Products. St. Louis, MO, Facts and Comparisons. May 1999.

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Heck AM, DeWitt BA, Lukes AL.Potential interactions between alternative therapies and warfarin. American Journal of Health System Pharmacy. 2000;57(13):1221-1230.

Jellin JM, Gregory P, Batz F, Hitchens K, et al, eds. Pharmacist's Letter/Prescriber's Letter. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database, 3rd Edition. Stockton CA: Therapeutic Research Facility, 2000.

Kudriashov BA, Ammosova IaM, Liapina LA, Osipova NN, Azieva LD, Liapin GIu, Basanova AV. Heparin from the meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria) and its properties. [article in Russian] Izvestiia Akademii Nauk SSSR. Serria Biologischeskaia. 1991;(6):939-943.

Kudriashov BA, Liapina LA, Azieva LD. The content of a heparin-like anticoagulant in the flowers of the meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria). [article in Russian] Farmakolgiia I Toksikologia. 1990;53(4):39-41.

Liapina LA, Koval'chuk GA. A comparative study of the action on the hemostatic system of extracts from the flowers and seeds of the meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria (L.) Maxim). [article in Russian] Izvestiia Akademii Nauk SSSR. Serria Biologischeskaia. 1993;(4):625-628.

Pierce A. The American Pharmaceutical Association Practical Guide to Natural Medicines. New York: Stonesong Press; 1999.

Last Reviewed: February 7, 2004