photo credit: Ann Hines


And here we clearly see agrimony, growing
in orderly rows, clothing the fields in profusion,
found growing as well in the shadowy forest
where nothing else survives. It has numerous
virtues, and if it is crushed and then drunk,
it will eliminate bad stomach pains.
If an enemy’s steel has injured our limbs,
we’d be well-advised to put the powers
of agrimony to the test by pounding its shoots
and placing them on an open wound.
Thus our strength will soon be restored
by this agent of medical skill, especially
if sharp vinegar is added to the dressing. 
–Walafrid Strabo
I was gathering Autumn Olive berries, rose hips, and raspberry leaves when I ran across a plant I’d not seen on my property before. With cheery, buttercup-like flowers on a spike about 15” long, I almost passed it by due to the many other yellow flowers blooming so predominantly around it. 
My personal use of agrimony has been exclusively according to the directions of Dr. Edward Bach, an English physician from the turn of the century who used his preparation for people who “keep their troubles hidden under a mask of pleasure and happiness. The sad clown masking inner hurt by being the life and soul of the party is an Agrimony archetype. Friends are often the last to know that anything is wrong in the Agrimony person’s life.” Dr. Bach’s 38 flower remedies have been used for nearly a hundred years. 
As I began to read more about this humble weed, I was drawn down a fascinating rabbit hole. The quote above is from a 9th century gardening book titled, On the Cultivation of Gardens, or Hortulus, which means “a little garden” in Latin. This led me to stories about the Arquebusade Elixir. Created by French monks at the order of King Francis I, the elixir was made from several flowers, chief among them agrimony, and used to treat wounds on the battlefield as well as by ladies-in-waiting as a beauty aid. The name basically means, “gun water,” as the arquebusade was a popular matchlock-type gun used widely in the 1500s. During the violent revolutions in France, the recipe was taken to Switzerland, where pharmacists continued its manufacture, leading to its popularity all over Europe. It is still manufactured in Switzerland today.
The stringent nature of agrimony was no doubt the reason for its use in battlefield wounds, as it encourages clotting of the blood. You can make a tincture that can be used as a gargle for sore throats, fresh breath and gum healing. It is touted for soothing an upset stomach, mild diarrhea or irritable bowel. Its ability to stimulate bile flow makes it excellent for the gallbladder and liver, chiefly due to its choline content. Other notable nutrients include silica, flavenoids, tannins, and vitamin K. The silica is probably one of several reasons it was touted as a beauty aid, as silica is important for the skin and joints. But perhaps the quality for which we appreciate it most in modern times is its relief of tension due to stress.
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