Lady’s mantle, tea from the garden

The use of plants in the garden and as medicine is subject to changing fashion trends, especially in our time. It is remarkable that a plant like Alchemilla becomes popular as an ornamental plant and at the same time is rediscovered as a medicinal herb. Like it’s hanging in the air!


The Alchemilla xantochlora is a perennial plant whose petiole has clearly protruding hairs. The leaf blade itself has 7 to 9 (11) rounded, fairly wide lobes. The top of the leaf is glabrous or with scattered hairs in some folds.
The Alchemilla vulgaris, on the other hand, has a leaf blade with triangular lobes. In this way, 8 types of lady’s mantle are described in the Flora of Belgium, so it is understandable that these different types are not easy to tell apart. If you then find ten other species in an Alpine flora, it is clear that identifying plants is not always simple. Fortunately, the gracefully pleated, mantle-like leaves are decorated with dew drops and the fine yellow-green flowers, which dry so well, are undeniably the lady’s mantle.
Can all these Alchemillas now be used as medicinal plants? Perhaps, but the professional literature mainly recommends Alchemilla xanthochlora, Alchemilla vu lgaris and Alchemilla alpina. What is used of the plant is the above-ground, flowering plant; so flower, leaf and stem (Alchemillae herba). The modern manual Teedrogen by Wichtl describes the dried herb as Blatter bis 8 cm in durchmesser, kidney-shaped, sieben-bis neunlaplig, infolge starker Behaarung weiss-silbrig glossy…, these leaf and flower pieces can be used as tea.
The genus Vrouwenmantel is easy to grow, propagation can be done by tearing the short but powerful rhizome. Harvesting at the start of flowering is not only good/healthy for the user, but also ensures that the plant continues to form new leaves, so that it does not suffer from fungi. An ailment to which the Alchemillas are sensitive.
In our herbaceous ornamental garden you can place the Alchemilla vulgaris with its protruding flowers beautifully at the edge of the border or along the footpaths. In nature I mainly find it on rarely traveled forest roads, usually somewhat damp, so I also find it suitable for decorating lightly shaded garden spots. For example, together with Bedstraw, Zenegroen and Slim primrose.
The Alchemilla mollis / Gentle lady’s mantle is better known as a garden plant. It is larger and stronger than the native species and can be used well in the yellow lower border. The flower stems stand firmly upright, they are very suitable as cut and dried flowers. Thirdly, I would like to mention the Alpine Lady’s Mantle, a plant that keeps me company during my mountain trips, but also works perfectly in native rock gardens. Plants that evoke memories give a personal accent to the garden.

Name and historical use

The name Alchemilla was given to the genus by Linnaeus. The name used to be written as Alchimilla or Alchymilla, which is said to have come from the alchemists, magical chemists who used the well-known dew drops on the morning leaf in their experiments to make gold from base metals. The plant has been given the name Lady’s Mantle because the leaves are folded like an old-fashioned cloak (mantilla) and as such offer protection to the woman. Mellie Uyldert describes it in her own romantic way: whenever the stem branches, such a leaf carefully encloses the branching point, while the petiole itself also encloses the stem with a sheath. Everything about this plant says: envelopment, nurturing, protection. She therefore completely has the essence of the womb.
From previous centuries we know the names Sinnauw or Sinouw, from the old German Sintou (always dew), because of the dew drops on the upwardly folded leaf. Other names are Lion’s Paw by Fuchs (1543) and Lion’s Foot from the Ortis sanitatis.
In Dodonaeus it sounds like this: In Latin this cruydt is called Alchimill a, other Planta leonis and pes leonis. She staunches the blood and the menses that flow immeasurably. The very blows on the women and the sore breasts make them hard and stiff;…. This inimitable Dodoens description illustrates the two most important pharmacological effects for which Alchemilla is still used today (1) the astringent, haemostatic effect of the tannins in the plant and (2) its use in female ailments. In ancient times the plant was not known as a medicinal herb, but since the Middle Ages we have found the Synnauw in all known herbal books. Paracelsus and Lonicerus mention it as the right Wundtmittel. Hildegard von Bingen recommends the herb against Kehlgeschwure. In Matthiolus’ herbal book (1626), Berg-Synnauw was also mentioned for the first time against all kinds of bleeding. Also in more recent religious folk medicine, among others. Brother Aloysius considers the Lady’s Mantle to be an excellent wound herb, but also used as a compress against ruptures and extrusion or prolapse of the anal intestine and to strengthen the uterus.

Active substances are tannins

All experiences with Alchemilla clearly show a tanning effect in its broadest sense; reattach everything that is loose in the body: (1) astringent and wound-healing, (2) stopping, so against diarrhea (3) astringent on the skin, (4) in case of uterine bleeding and after childbirth. The tannins in the plant were discovered by Muhlemann in 1939 and named as ellagic acid. Later Lund and Geiger also found other tannic acids. A second group of medicinal substances in the lady’s mantle are the flavonoids, especially quercitin, hyperoside and anthocyanidins. The only reference to hormonally active components can be found in an old study by Muhlemann. Luteic acid is thought to affect the pituitary gland, which regulates the effectiveness of the ovaries.

Little clinical research, lots of professional experience

Dr. It is not without reason that Leclerc, the father of modern phytotherapy, achieved good results in 1939 in patients with white discharge and painful menstruation. They obtained rapid relief from prurit vulvaire (vaginal itching) by using an ointment containing 2g of liquid Alchemilla extract, 18g of rose water, 10g of lanolin and 30g of Vaseline. You can also use a strong decoction of the dried plant as a sitz bath or as a rinse for vaginal problems. One of the few clinical studies showed that Alchemilla could relieve the unpleasant symptoms during menopause with an infusion 3 times a day, possibly in combination with real sage. The effect on uterine bleeding was also demonstrated in a Romanian study with 341 young women.
French doctors such as Dr. Moatti and the gynecologist Dr. Girault recommends Alchemi lla for a whole range of hormonal complaints: PMS (pre-menstrual syndrome), at the start of menopause, during or especially after pregnancy to strengthen the uterus and to prevent stretch marks.
Used externally, Alchemilla, like other tannin plants, can serve well as a wound purifying agent. I personally think it is a good plant against acne: internally as a tea or tincture and externally as a lotion. The herb is little used in cosmetics, but the hormonal and skin-firming combination could make our Lady’s Mantle a special rejuvenating agent for the skin. Now that would be a real cloak for women and an all-chemist’s remedy!

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