Winter is over and the perennial herbs are gathering their strength to burst forth in all their glory. Lady’s Mantle is one of those herbs, collecting itself to dependably reappear, to be used as a powerful protector for women during all stages of their adult lives, from menarche to menopause.
Alchemilla vulgaris, or “Little Alchemist” was believed by early pagan herbalists to possess all manner of universal and magical healing properties. They associated this little plant with the worship of The Earth Mother and early Christians correlated it with the cloak of the Virgin Mary. In the 1500s, this plant was referred to by the German eclectics as Frauenmantel or lady’s mantle, probably because the furrowed leaf lobes resemble a woman’s cloak. Not to mention its affinity for all things womanly.
Lady’s Mantle is related to the rose, and grows low to the ground with clusters of little yellow star-shaped flowers. Its fan-shaped leaves are waterproof and covered with a soft, furry coating that helps funnel raindrops and dew downward to collect in the center of the leaf. This little drop of nectar was thought to have magical properties capable of anything from bringing fertility to restoring one’s virginity. Huh.
I’m not sure about the latter, but I do know insects often visit this miniature pool for afternoon refreshments.
The leaves of Lady’s Mantle are high in tannins, flavonoids like quercetin, and even trace amounts of salicylic acid. They are used as a vulnerary (wound healer) and are classified as an astringent, drying up and expelling water from boggy tissues, and reducing inflammation. Most astringent herbs, like red raspberry leaf, have an affinity for hollow organs such as that particularly fantastic feminine organ, the uterus.
Herbal astringents can be useful as a mouth or eyewash, and are even helpful for diarrhea, excessive bleeding, bloating and cramping. Red raspberry famously helps tone and strengthen the uterus during pregnancy, but Lady’s Mantle is considered better suited to help reduce and dry inflamed tissues after birth and during menstruation. It is used during the last trimester to the first few months after birth to restore tone to the uterus, dry up excessive moisture and return vitality and balance to postpartum women. These actions make it a perfect woman’s ally during the monthly bleeding cycle and help calm crabby/crampiness and steady the rocky course of menopause.
Frauenmantel, Lady’s Mantle, Alchemilla vulgaris, is a true friend to the ladies. No matter what you call it, picture an herbal Wonder Woman’s flowing cape and pointy brass breasts to the rescue! It’s easy to grow and a great addition to your herbal feel-better armory.
By Melinda Olson
Take one influential Botany Professor Grandma, an RN, BSN degree, one scary, overzealous hospital birth, one peaceful home birth, a love of nature’s gifts, a fascination that we can use them to take care of ourselves, an obsession with research and safety, and a passion for creating things from a beautiful garden. Mix well, and you end up with me, Melinda Olson, founder and Mama-In-Charge of Earth Mama Angel Baby.