Lady's Mantle ~ Alchemilla vulgaris
Pretty sure I lack memories without Lady’s Mantle as it was among the gardens since before I could speak. It’s hard to describe the feeling too when you sit still near this one. Expansive. Subtle. Redirection. Steady. Persistent. Transformation. Change. Lady's Mantle is easily over looked and was far more popular in the past with an astounding lineage that’s walked with humans for a very long time. Science says it has ‘insignificant green flowers’. This always makes me chuckle. Corn, Nettles and Mugwort are in this group too! Need I say more about how these beauties are far from any embracing of being insignificant! More likely it means they are wind pollinated and so do not need showy flowers for attracting pollinators which is ‘better science language’, eh? Wind pollinated. Let's feel into this. The need to ride on the great winds of Earth in order to recreate. Mmmm.... Let's look deeper into the potent, humble, unassuming presence of Lady's Mantle.
An Old Wound Care Remedy
Traditionally Alchemilla was considered one of the very best wound healing herbs, even for infected wounds and cases of gangrene. We don't often see Lady's Mantle on plant lists for wound care today, but it's worth noting if you have it near already or plan to invite it close. Most likely the wound healing properties are due largely to its rich tannin content. Tannins give plants their astringent or binding qualities that when applied to the skin, make it a valuable remedy for healing skin abrasions. Astringency has an overall drying effect on tissue, drawing it together. Astringency can act also as a styptic too, which works to slow or stop bleeding and can also be beneficial for tissues that are lacking tone, such as in long term festering wound.
Matthew Woods, in his book Healing Wise, speaks to healing ruptured ear drums that remain open by massaging tincture around the ear and taking internally. Please do not drip anything into the ear canal if the drum is ruptured. Matt also shares stories of healing hernias with Lady's Mantle infusions or tincture taken internally. I would consider rubbing the tincture over the hernia as well for the medicine moves through the skin to the membranes that need tone and tightening, thanks to these astringency qualities. Tightening and toning tissue integrity is part of the potency of Lady's Mantle as a medicine. I'd consider this for post surgical care as well where the body has been cut deeply and is in the process of healing this.
A Female Reproductive System Herb
Lady’s Mantle has developed a reputation in current herbal repertories as a “women’s herb” For the purposes of this discussion I'll use the term “female” to refer to organs commonly known as the uterus, ovaries and breasts without assigning gender. Lady’s Mantle supports the well being in many conditions relating to female reproductive organs and issues.
Lady’s Mantle is an ally for an array of menstrual conditions including stanching excessive menstrual flow (menorrhagia), irregular menstrual bleeding at times in between menstruation (metrorrhagia), excessive vaginal discharge like in yeast infections, vaginitis and other issues of discharge, for menstrual cramping when there is a dull achy pain caused by congestion, sometimes called a “boggy” quality to the uterus. Fibroids endometriosis, kidney, ovarian and breast cystic conditions
Lady's Mantle is an emmenogogue (menstrual promoting) and is taken to promote a regular cyclic menstrual flow. This could be seen as counter intuitive due to its astringent actions. Lady’s Mantle, like many other plants, possess these miraculous regulatory abilities due to most likely a profound effect on the endocrine system where such things are organized. Lady's Mantle also has a reputation for easing menopausal symptoms like mood swings, hot flashes, and night sweats. Matthew Wood gives the constitutional indications, meaning the typical picture of the person needing Lady’s Mantle, as “the pale, anemic, sensitive woman with prominent blue veins and moist skin” as well as the indicators of “nervousness, agitation, insomnia and mood swings”
During my time running with the midwives for home-birthing mothers, we found the tea of the leaves and flowers sipped throughout the weeks post-partum also assisted the uterus to regain its natural inherent tone. It's a specific herb when there are prolapsed of organs, like the uterus or bladder, post birth. In this case, I recommend both drinking the tea daily and preparing a sitz bath 1-2x/day a day with just Lady’s Mantle while drinking infusions of the leaf and flower too. There are times when a woman enters a period of disappointment around how her birth process unfolded. Lady’s Mantle not only helps us to heal emotionally from these disappointments, but also from trauma past or present, related to our “female” organs. Women have found emotional support from Lady’s Mantle after abortion, miscarriage and also for working through issues of sexual trauma. Many of these unresolved emotions move for a woman after giving birth. They move in search of healing due to the powerful creative forces that move through the pelvis and breasts as we birth our children, die to the old and birth ourselves to the new version who we are. These become self-healing opportunities for women and Lady's Mantle proves to be a gentle and potent ally for navigation that can be intense sometimes.
Looking Closer for Your Apothecary
Lady's Mantle is an easy to grow perennial making it a sustainable and invaluable herb to incorporate into our apothecaries and practices. The tea from the leaves is delicious. It has a rich taste with a delicious and very slight bitter flavor that I find many can quickly learn to love, if not instantly love, because their body knows this is needed. Harvest leaves and flower late morning and they are easy to dry through a dehydrator or hung in bundles, which I might add are incredibly gorgeous to have hanging around!
Flowers bloom here, in the Northeast from June to July and if cut, a second bloom often occurs. Herbalists love 'bumper crops' for they make for tending an apothecary well. Lady's Mantle likes to be well watered, prefers fertile soil, thrives in partial shade to full sun, and is hardy in zones 5 to 9.
Medicinal Parts: Leaf & Flower
Medicinal Actions: Astringent, Mild Bitter, Stomachic, Vulnerary, Emmenogogue (brings on a bleed), Reproductive Tonic (especially for in between menses spotting), Renal System Tonic, Mild Diuretic
Medicinal Preparations Include: dried for infusions and bathing, tinctures, infused vinegars and oxymels, and flower essence.
Dosing Suggestions: 1 quart of infusion daily or 30-60 drops of tincture 3x/day is standard for more acute to long term dosing for months for the more physical conditions. Three drops of tincture 2x/day would be considered a homeopathic dose which proves to have profound effects as well, particularly when we are aware of the symptoms being rooted in our emotional, mental, and spiritual conditions of the more subtle bodies. Addressed here, physical healing can be rather quick but again is very personal and based on your journey through a condition where you would be seeking healing.
Flower Essences can be taken for the same reasons as the low dose tincture. Bathing is simple by creating a yoni steam or sitz bath with a strong infusion or pouring 1-2 cups of infusion into the bath. One can float some leaves and flowers in the bath as well or add 3 drops of tincture or flower essence to your bath.
The Dew Drops: Then there's sipping the dew drops as a magical essence straight from the leaves in the morning. Yes, an ancient practice where the essence of Lady's Mantle beads out at the tips of the leaves as water droplets and slides into the cup like structure of the leaves while mixing with the magical forces of the water in the air that has condensed onto the leaf's surface. This was and is an anointing holy water, a magical holy water for sipping and was gathered by medicine makers in ancient times and combined into physical medicines for healing. Try it.
Spiritual Medicine - The Alchemist
Our time here would fail to be complete for me if shied away from and ignored the spiritual qualities of this blessed beauty, Lady's Mantle.
So as we venture along our plants-as-healers path, we are often asked to revisit (or get newly acquainted) with one that jumps up and enchants. The alchemist within Lady’s Mantle has caught my heart, again. It has medicine in the form of support for the now of where we all are. Let’s listen deeper for the medicine of walking with and embracing change. Lady’s Mantle embodies elegance and strength. This low growing perennial plant has ruffled scalloped bluish green leaves that are finely toothed at the edges and covered with soft fine hairs and a slight waxy coating. It's flowering stalks, or racemes, at first glance appear like three dimensional lace bearing tiny star-like yellow green flowers. It can take part and full sun and grows well tucked near larger plants or as borders along stone. Here Lady's Mantle, at one foot tall, flanks Marshmallow at about eight feet tall. Never let size impress upon us a meaning of lacking potency or strength. This thinking has no footing in the plant world.
Most notable, Lady's mantle has an exquisite ability to funnel and collect morning dew upon its leaves, which persists well into the day when all other dew has long since evaporated. The edges of the leaves show this beading up of transpired water from the internal waters of the plants tissue to mix with the moisture from the air that is settling upon the leaves and the shape of the leaf functions like a bowl or vessel to hold this transformed water. As stated, this substance is woven back in time to a long lineage of medicine making people who knew its potency and so gathered, sipped, anointed, and mixed it with remedies to be taken for healing. It is 'Holy Water' for me. This was gathered by alchemists of old and added to remedies as medicine. It's a personal choice for herbalists today.
Lady's Mantel meets us where we are with a gentle guidance through nurture. It supports transformation or change but without any sort of push or nudge. More of a coaxing is my way of understanding the actions. There is a redirection of forces, energies, even fluids on the physical level, in order to support this. Support through the hang-over or cyclic replay of any sort of trauma is assured. Real change from the deeper levels is where Lady's Mantle works well. There is a balancing and enhancement of the Solar and Lunar aspects of our souls. Solar masculine-feminine relations and Lunar feminine-masculine relations along with how these relationships enter a larger dance with our Solar and Lunar cyclic nature.
We go into deeper discussions with our Monthly Herbal Council dedicated to Lady's Mantle for 7/2018 if interested in further learning on how support is given with the medicine of Lady's Mantle. Send along questions if you have. Thank you for coming through, xo-Jen
Jennifer Costa, Herbalist, Teacher, BS, RN, CST, and Founder of ElderMoon School of Herbs & Earth Medicine