encyclopedia

Cinquefoil Herb

Scientific Names:    

Potentilla reptans L. [Fam. Rosaceae]    
     

Forms:    

Crushed, powdered, and liquid extract of herb and root of Potentilla reptans L.    
     

Traditional Usage:    

– Antispasmodic
– Astringent Wash
– Diarrhea
– Liver Cleansing
– Menstrual Cramps
– Mouth Inflammation
– Poultice
– Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
– Skin Problems
– Sore throat     
    
     
Overview:    

Cinquefoil, Potentilla reptans L. [Fam. Rosaceae], also known as Five-Leaf Grass and Five Fingers, is a creeping plant commonly found in moderately temperate and colder regions of Earth's northern hemisphere. Potentilla's name is derived from the Latin word “potens” meaning powerful. As an astringent and febrifuge (fever reducer), cinquefoil has been used for thousands of years in traditional medicine to treat fever, lockjaw, menstrual cramps, diarrhea, nosebleeds, toothache, coughs, shingles, aches and pains, gout, and inflammations. Dioscorides stated that, “one leaf cured a quotidian, three a tertian, and four a quarten ague” (ague = malarial or intermittent fever). Cinquefoil herb is also used externally in lotions and gargles for wounds, mouth infections, sores and bruises. The contemporary use of cinquefoil is limited to treating diarrhea, nervousness, nausea, and sexual disorders, although none of these claims have been proven. Some Ukrainian studies have revealed that white cinquefoil is an effective treatment for thyroid gland diseases. The roots and leaves of many other types of cinquefoil are used similarly, due to their high tannin content. Tannins reduce water within the bowel and 'dry-up' loose stools. Studies done in 1975 show that an extract from Potentilla anserina, which when given alone treats diarrhea, also antagonizes the laxative effect of extracts from Rheum, Rhamnus and Senna in a reliable or “predictable” way. The famous British herbalist, Nicholas Culpeper (1649), recommends cinquefoil herb, Potentilla reptans, for treating “all inflammations and fevers, whether infectious or pestilential and in lotions, gargles and the like for sore mouths, ulcers, abnormal growths, fistulas and other corrupt, foul or running sores”. “The juice drank, about four ounces at a time, for certain days together, cureth the quinsey and yellow jaundice, and taken for 30 days cureth the falling sickness”. He also recommends the root for treating swellings of all types.    
     
    
Active Ingredients:    

Cinquefoil herb contains: tannins (ellagic-acid type, monomeric and dimeric ellagitannins), Flavonoids (quercetin and myricetin glycosides) and proanthocyanidins.    
     
    
Suggested Amount:    

Cinquefoil is taken orally and available in crushed, powdered, and liquid herbal preparations. The recommended daily dosage is 4 to 6 grams (about 6 to 9 teaspoonfuls) of the herb. To make the infusion, pour boiling water over 2 grams (about 3 teaspoonfuls) of cinquefoil, steep for 10 minutes, then strain. Cinquefoil roots reputedly have the strongest medicinal properties. The roots should be dried and the bark removed and discarded before use.    
     
    
Drug Interactions:    

None known.    
   
     
Contraindications:    

None known.    
   
     
Side Effects:    

May cause stomach upset in sensitive individuals.    
   
     
References:    

Potterton, D. (ed.) 1983. Culpeper's Color Herbal. Copyright W. Foulsham and Co. Ltd. 1983. Publ. by Sterling Publishing Co., Inc., Two Park Avenue, New York, NY, 10016. p.46.
 
Smyk GK, and VV Krivenko 1975. [White cinquefoil, an effective agent for treating thyroid gland diseases] Farm Zh. 1975 Mar-Apr; (2): 58-62. Ukrainian.
 
Swiezewska E, Chojnacki T. 1989. The occurrence of unique, long-chain polyprenols in the leaves of Potentilla species. Acta Biochim Pol. 1989; 36(2): 143-58.
 
Vogel G. 1975. [Predictability of the activity of drug combinations–yes or no (author's transl)]. Arzneimittelforschung. 1975 Sep; 25(9): 1356-65. German.