The Little Alchemist

Several years ago, I started a journey of exploration of a magical plant ~ Lady’s Mantle (Alchemilla vulgaris). It is a rather understated herb, often found in the borders of gardens, with cloak shaped leaves and small green petal-less flowers. Nevertheless, it was not named the “Little Alchemist” for nothing. As its genus name, suggests Alchemilla refers to it being highly admired by the great alchemists. They were particularly enamored with the little water droplets that remained on the leaves after the morning dew had dried on other plants. They thought that Lady’s Mantle was “sweating” crystal pearls of water, and collected in the center of its funnel-shaped leaves and along the leaf margins. The alchemist would collect the magical dew from the leaves because the water droplets were considered essential to the Alchemist’s “Great Work” ~ to produce the Philosopher’s Stone. These droplets were collected and used by alchemists in attempts to create gold. I doubt they were successful, but Lady’s Mantle does indeed have other magical qualities.

lady's mantleThe water collected on the leaves is not dew but created within the leaf itself through a process called guttation. The plant pulls up more water than it can use and the root pressure forces some of it to exude through the leaves through special structures called water stomata or hydathodes, forming the droplets. The result is “water” that is high in minerals, organic acids, sugars and even enzymes. Since the surface of the leaves are very hairy, the droplets tend to stay quite a while once they’ve landed there. I have noticed them at 4pm on a hot summer day. The big difference between guttation and dew is that guttation produces droplets generated within the plant and dew produces droplets from the atmosphere onto the plant surface.

Lady’s Mantle has many medicinal qualities. The leaves and roots are used primarily. However, when harvesting leaves, many including myself take great care to collect the magical droplets along with the leaves. Some “believed that to moisten the skin with the sacred dew would impart a special radiance of elfin allure.” I personally find that simply dabbing a little bit around my sore tired eyes is very soothing and reduces any puffiness and redness. Perhaps, I should dab it all over my face. I have also put a leaf with its magical dew on a tender breast cyst and found great relief along with reducing the cyst size.

Lady’s Mantle has become a strong ally during my perimenopausal journey. As my body and cycles change, I experience flooding. This tends to be very inconvenient when traveling to say the least. Lady’s Mantle is rich in tannins giving it astringent properties that are excellent for drying up, tightening and expelling moisture from tissues ~ therefore, reducing the flow. This magical herb is an emmenagogue, which means it stimulates and normalizes menstrual flow as well as being a tonic and strengthening the female reproductive system. Therefore, it assists people with irregular cycles as well as heavy flow cycles ~ it brings balance to each individual. It also contains salicylic acid and has sedative properties that help to alleviate cramps and painful menstruation. Lady’s Mantle strengthens the womb, and therefore may provide support for women who are have a difficult time conceiving or holding onto their pregnancies. Postpartum, it helps heal and restore muscle and tissues integrity along with strengthening lactation.

Even though Lady’s Mantle can easily be claimed to be a woman’s herb, during the middles ages it was better known for its vulnerary properties.  It’s astringent, anti-inflammatory and powerful styptic actions make it excellent for healing wounds. It is also good for any skin troubles ~ soaking inflamed wounds, rashes, cuts, scrapes, or burn is wonderful to soothe and prevent infection. Using a tea for a mouth rinse helps with spongy tissues such as bleeding gums, sores and ulcers by tightening up the tissues and stopping any bleeding.

Although I’ve discovered a lot about Lady’s Mantle, I feel like I am just scratching the surface with the Little Alchemist. What do you use it for? Please share and I will continue to share with you.

All information is shared for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose or treat any condition.