Meadowsweet is an herb in the rose family. For centuries, it’s been used in traditional medicine to alleviate joint pain, heartburn, and more.
It contains many compounds thought to have anti-inflammatory effects in your body, including salicylates and tannins (
This article provides an overview of the possible benefits of meadowsweet, precautions to take, and how to make meadowsweet tea.
Meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria), also known as queen of the meadow and mead wort, is a flowering herb native to Europe and parts of Asia. It’s abundant in England and Ireland but is also found in North America (2).
It grows in damp environments and marshy areas and on riverbanks. It features clustered white flowers that have a pleasant, sweet aroma and are used in medicinal preparations such as teas and extracts.
In traditional medicine, it’s been used to treat heartburn, stomach ulcers, colds, joint pain, arthritis, and gout. It’s also been administered as a diuretic to increase urine output in people with kidney or bladder infections (
Additionally, pollen from the flower was historically used to flavor mead and is still added to some varieties of the drink today (3).
Meadowsweet is an herb with white, sweet-smelling flowers that are used in teas and extracts. Historically, it has been used as a diuretic and to treat inflammatory conditions, including joint pain and gout.
Meadowsweet contains plant compounds that may have beneficial effects in your body.
The herb contains two prominent groups of plant compounds: tannins — specifically, types of ellagitannins known as rugosins — and flavonoids, including kaempferol and quercetin (
These compounds, as well as with others found in meadowsweet, may act as antioxidants. Antioxidants fight cell and tissue damage caused by reactive molecules called free radicals that can contribute to disease (
Additionally, these compounds may have anti-inflammatory effects (
Meadowsweet also contains small amounts of salicylic acid, the active component in aspirin that reduces pain and inflammation in your body (
Compounds in meadowsweet that may have beneficial properties include flavonoids, ellagitannins, and salicylic acid. These compounds, among others, may have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.
Meadowsweet has been used medicinally for centuries, but there is limited scientific evidence to back its purported benefits.
One of the most studied uses of meadowsweet is its role in reducing inflammation and treating inflammatory conditions.
Test tube and rodent studies have revealed that the herb can inhibit certain steps in the inflammatory process, decrease inflammatory blood markers, and reduce heightened responses to pain that are associated with inflammation (
These properties may explain why it’s been used historically as a remedy for conditions such as joint pain.
There’s also speculation that the herb may relieve severe joint pain associated with gout, a form of arthritis characterized by a buildup of uric acid in the blood and crystallized uric acid around the joints.
For example, one test tube study found that compounds in meadowsweet can block xanthine oxidase, an enzyme involved in the production of uric acid (10).
However, research has not yet confirmed that the results from test tube and animal studies apply to humans. The limited research on the use of meadowsweet in humans is less than promising.
In one 4-week study in 20 healthy adults, no significant anti-inflammatory effects were observed in a group receiving a daily drink containing meadowsweet, chamomile, and willow bark extracts compared with a placebo group (
More research is needed on the use of this herb to treat inflammation in humans.
Some claim that meadowsweet can be used as a topical treatment for skin inflammation, redness, or acne, but no studies support this idea.
The belief that meadowsweet may soothe inflamed skin or acne likely stems from its salicylic acid and tannin content.
Salicylic acid is often used on the skin to promote peeling and exfoliation. This may improve acne, sun damage, and brown skin patches known as melasma (
Tannins are thought to have astringent properties, meaning they may help remove oil from clogged pores and cleanse the skin (
Furthermore, some people believe the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant potential of meadowsweet in the body translates to the skin.
For these reasons, several skin creams and serums contain meadowsweet — even though any claims that the herb improves skin health have been only anecdotal and research in humans is needed.
Meadowsweet has many other purported benefits, but research is lacking.
Newer and older studies suggest that it has antibacterial properties and may fight certain bacteria, including E. coli, which is often responsible for cases of food poisoning. But more research in this area is needed (
Research has also found that meadowsweet extracts significantly inhibit the development of tumors in rats exposed to cancer-causing agents and processes (
Further exploration of the possible benefits of the herb in humans is needed to better understand its potential uses.
Test tube and animal studies suggest meadowsweet has anti-inflammatory effects, but research has not yet found that these effects translate to improvements in inflammatory conditions like joint pain or acne in humans.
The lack of research on meadowsweet in humans makes it difficult to analyze the potential downsides of its use.
Tea is the most commonly used form of the herb, but tinctures are also available.
Using meadowsweet in moderate amounts that don’t exceed recommended dosages on product labels is likely safe for healthy adults, but keep in mind that there are no scientific reports on safety or side effects.
It’s best to speak with a healthcare professional before trying meadowsweet, especially if you’re taking medications or narcotic drugs or have any preexisting conditions.
If you’re taking aspirin, use caution with the herb, since it contains salicylic acid, the active component in aspirin. And if you have an aspirin allergy or salicylate sensitivity, avoid meadowsweet altogether (
Finally, there’s not enough research on the safety of meadowsweet in children or people who are pregnant or breastfeeding. Thus, these groups should avoid it.
Due to a lack of research, there is currently no standardized dosage of meadowsweet, nor any information on possible side effects. If you’re considering trying it, speak with a healthcare professional first.
Meadowsweet tea is available online and at some health food stores as loose tea or in tea bags.
There’s currently no standardized dosage for meadowsweet, but most products recommend mixing 1–2 tablespoons (2–4 grams) of dried tea with 1 cup (237 mL) of boiling water.
Let the mixture steep for about 15 minutes before straining and drinking.
You can make meadowsweet tea at home by pouring 1 cup (237 mL) of hot water over 1–2 tablespoons (2–4 grams) of dried meadowsweet. Let it steep, and then strain and enjoy.
Meadowsweet is a flowering herb native to Europe that’s been used for centuries to treat heartburn, joint pain, colds, and inflammation.
Research on the herb is limited, but test tube and animal studies suggest it has anti-inflammatory effects. However, there are almost no studies on the use of this herb to treat inflammatory conditions like arthritis and acne in humans.
Meadowsweet is typically consumed as a tea. If you want to try it, speak with a healthcare professional beforehand.