| What is it?
In herbal medicine we use the large fan-shaped leaves and flowers of Lady’s Mantle, a low-growing, long-lived herb that produces small yellow-green flowers. Lady’s Mantle grows best at high altitudes and the whole dried herb is used as medicine.
How has it been used?
Lady’s Mantle is highly regarded as a herb to help women with excess menstrual bleeding. Given how dangerous and even potentially life-threatening this problem would have been in earlier times its name and reputation speaks volumes about how well it was relied on and how effective it was considered to be.
M. Grieve writes; 'Lady's Mantle has a considerable reputation as a herbal remedy, belonging to the genus Alchemilla or the great order Rosaceae. In modern times it is employed as a cure for excessive menstruation and is taken internally as an infusion as required'.
Culpeper says of it 'Lady's Mantle is very proper for inflamed wounds and to stay bleeding, vomitings, fluxes of all sorts, bruises by falls and ruptures. It is on the most singular wound herbs and therefore prized and praised, used in all wounds inward and outward, to drink a decoction and wash the wounds thereof, or dip a cloth wet with the herb into the wound which wonderfully drieth up all humidity of the sores and abateth all inflammations thereof. It quickly healeth green wounds, not suffering any corruption to remain behind and cureth old sores, though fistulas and hollow'.
Lady’s Mantle has also been traditionally used for colitis with bleeding and for diarrhoea. Lady’s Mantle is a herb that has been used to treat excessive bleeding from any cause and for unwanted or excessive discharges in general but it’s very specific indications are officially for ‘excessive menstruation and for non-menstrual bleeding of the womb.
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Science on Lady's Mantle
I did find some lists of constituents but I did not find any articles of scientific research on Lady's Mantle through online searching or in any of my texts or reference books. This doesn't mean that there isn't a scientific basis for its historical and traditional use, there must be, it's just that no-one has looked into it!
Safety of Lady's Mantle
Lady’s Mantle is a very safe herb to take in high or frequent doses when needed. It may certainly be used by women who are pregnant and may even help with preventing miscarriage if the cause is a uterus that is not sufficiently holding its tone.
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I have seen Lady’s Mantle work wonderfully well with women who were getting so much menstrual bleeding that their specialist was recommending a hysterectomy and their iron levels were so low to be just about non-existent. You only have to see a herb work in practice for a problem like that to know that it is the real deal.
The reason that Lady’s Mantle has been so highly rated to help with excess bleeding is that it has very strong levels of what are called ‘astringent’ properties.
These are generally attributed to tannins being present in a herb and are familiar to anyone who has made a cup of ordinary black tea too strong. Those puckering kinds of ‘drying’ affects you get in your mouth from too-strong tea are the tannins at work.
However all of that is not quite as simple as it might sound. You would be as far off the truth in thinking that all tannin containing herbs are basically the same as if you said that all sweet tasting cakes were the same. Sugar is certainly just sugar but there are an endless variety of ways in which sweetness can be conveyed, likewise astringency is something with great variability and works very much better in some forms than others.
If you who are reading this are studying herbal medicine or just have your own reasons to wanting to know this plant ally at a much deeper level then I urge you to take a good dose of Lady's Mantle and then, with a quiet and attentive mind, observe for yourself the 'action' of the herb and how it makes you feel. The binding, toning, strengthening nature of Lady's Mantle just lasts and lasts. It never reaches an uproar of activity, it just keep persistently sending its quality deeper into the body until it gets to where it has to go. I think that if you try this ancient method of experiential learning that you will gain an appreciation of it that no amount of abstract knowledge could convey. This is a deeply healing herb, used with care and understanding it can be of great service in a time of need.
The best way to use Lady’s Mantle is with an open mind as to how much and how often will be required. I will often combine it with other tonic herbs like Shepherd’s purse or Raspberry leaf so there is a fair amount of cross-over between the ways I use those herbs as well here. It is not necessary the size of the dose of Lady’s Mantle that determines how quickly it helps but it can often be the frequency. I tend to start my own patients off at a fairly small dosage level and then recommend they use the herb frequently and in slowly increasing amounts until it works.
The thing about excess bleeding is that it really doesn’t take long to work out if you are getting better or not. The hardest part of any of this is always the first time.
I would suggest a starting point and a good average for what works would be about 2 mls of the tincture taken every couple of hours or approximately 2 heaped tsps of the dried herb in a small cup of boiling water, steeped for 10 minutes, strained and sipped whilst hot. Again, make and take the tea every few hours until the bleeding has stopped or at least slowed right back to a safe and reasonable level.
Ideally you should let the astringency of either the tea or the tincture be well felt in the mouth. You will tolerate the intensity of it okay if you remember that this binding action you are feeling is working in your body in the same way as it is in your mouth, -- somehow being more 'conscious' to its action helps it to work better and faster.
Lady’s Mantle extract combines perfectly with Raspberry leaf and/or Shepherd’s purse for excess bleeding or weakness of the tissues.
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Much of the information here about the traditional uses of Lady's Mantle is consistent with the model of thinking whereby one may treat problem A with plant B. There is value in this approach, especially in how it helps us pass on useful knowledge to one another, but it falls short in one vital area; and that is that people are not all cut from the same cloth! Something that works brilliantly for one person may do little for another -why is this?
The reason is that people vary in their constitutions as to whether they are more hot or cool and at the same time more dry or damp; more info about this here.
There is an old wisdom in treating the person first and the condition second and in this light Lady's Mantle can particularly offer its benefits when a nourishing action is needed in the 'cycle of healing' - something that is discussed here and shown in a chart here.
Tradition and Folklore
| The name Alchemilla, comes from the Arabic 'alkemelych', alchemist, bestowed by olden writers because of the wonder-working powers of the plant.
Like many flowers, this plant was associated with the Virgin Mary in the Middle Ages. (hence the name Lady's not Ladies Mantle)
Many believed that alchemical virtues lay in the subtle influence the rich accordion foliage imparted to the dewdrops that lay within its leaves and these dewdrops were used in many magical potions.
In Swedish traditional herbal medicine Lady's Mantle was given as a tincture in cases of spasmodic or convulsive disease and it was believed that if some of the herb was placed under the pillow at night would promote a good night's sleep.
Please understand that I cannot personally advise you, including on products or dosage, without seeing you in my clinic but ideas
on how you might find a good herbalist in your area are here.
This living 'book' is my labour of love so, wherever you are, I wish you peace & good health!
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