The Medicinal Herb Info site was created to help educate visitors about the often forgotten wisdom of the old ways of treating illnesses. Many of today's drugs and medicines were originally derived from natural ingredients, combinations of plants and other items found in nature.

We are not suggesting that you ignore the help of trained medical professionals, simply that you have additional options available for treating illnesses. Often the most effective treatment involves a responsible blend of both modern and traditional treatments.

We wish you peace and health!

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Cinquefoil

Scientific Names

Cinquefoil

  • Potentilla anserina L.
  • Tormentilla erecta L.
  • Potentilla tormentilla
  • Potentilla reptans
  • Rosaceae
  • Rose family

Common Names

  • Crampweed
  • Fan-pai-ts’ao (Chinese name)
  • Five fingered grass
  • Five-leaf grass
  • Five leaves grass
  • Five-fingers
  • Goosegrass
  • Goose tansy
  • Moor grass
  • Potentilla
  • Rough-fruited
  • Septfoil
  • Shepherd’s knot
  • Silver cinquefoil
  • Tormentil
  • Upright septfoil

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Parts Usually Used

The herb and root
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Description of Plant(s) and Culture

A hardy, creeping, low perennial plant 6-18 inches high; its blackish rootstock sends out slender, rooting runners (somewhat like strawberries) and also produces a rosette of basal, dark green, pinnate leaves consisting of 13-21 oblong, serrate leaflets that are dark green on top and covered with silvery hairs beneath. In the leaves, large leaflets alternate with small leaflets. The bright-yellow flowers grow singly on long peduncles, stalks growing from the leaf axils; blooms from May to September. The root has a bitter, styptic taste.

Other varieties: Tall cinquefoil (P. arguta), (P. reptans), and dwarf cinquefoil (P. canadensis).
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Where Found

Found in dry fields, wet meadows and banks, and pastures and also in damp marshy places all over North American and Europe. Found across Canada to the arctic circle, South in northern areas of the United States and the Rockies to New Mexico.
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Medicinal Properties

Antispasmodic, astringent, anti-inflammatory, diuretic, tonic, antiphlogistic, antiseptic, hemostatic
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Legends, Myths and Stories

Cinquefoil was used as a laxative by Paiutes; cook the whole plant which looks silvery and silky. Also makes a red dye.

Industrially, tormentil is used to process leather; in the textile
industry for dying in the color red.

In ancient China, this herb was used in magic for casting spells and as a love-divining herb.
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Uses

The decoction, tea and tincture (made with water or milk) are used for diarrhea, enteritis, and inflammation of the mucous membranes in the mouth and bleeding gums, canker sores, dysentery. The tincture is good for sealing hemorrhages, for leucorrhea, and for fevers. Diluted it makes a good mouthwash and gargle for sore throat. The root is used for chronic and infectious catarrhal enteritis, quinsey, epilepsy, toothache, dysentery, and jaundice. Especially helps intestinal problems where diarrhea and constipation alternate. Externally, used to help heal wounds, sores, ulcers, bruises and relieves pain.

Culpeper claims that this herb expels any venom or poison, or the plague, other contagious diseases, as pox, measles; even cures the “French pox” he notes one writer, Andreas Valesius, to declare.

As an antispasmodic, it can relieve abdominal cramps and painful periods; but it is generally mixed with balm leaves and German chamomile flowers to make a tea for that purpose.

The tea is also useful as an external astringent for skin problems, jaundice, malaria, cystitis, palsy, shingles, itch, sciatica, gout, rheumatism, arthritis, quinsey, epilepsy, toothache, bleeding gums, mouthwash, fever, and throat sores, hoarseness, cough, ague, colds, flu, canker sores. When added to bath water, it will stop bleeding from piles, boils, ulcers, sores, and wounds.
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Formulas or Dosages

Use the fresh or recently dried rootstock.

Infusion or Decoction: use 1 tbsp. root to 1 cup water. For infusion, steep 30 or more minutes; strain. Take lukewarm in the course of a day in mouthful doses.

Tincture: take 20 to 30 drops, 2 or 3 times per day.

Powder: use 1/4 to 1/2 tsp., 3 times per day or as directed by a doctor.

Use the entire plant except the roots, dried in the shade.

Decoction: boil 2 tsp. herb in 1 cup of water or milk.

Mixed tea: mix equal parts of silverweed, balm leaves and German chamomile flowers. Steep 1 tsp. of the mixture in 1/2 cup water. Sweeten with honey. Take 1 to 1 1/2 cups a day, a mouthful at a time.

Infusion: use 1 tsp. of the dried herb in 1 cup of boiling water. Cover with a saucer and steep for 30 minutes; strain.
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Nutrient Content

Iron, magnesium, calcium
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Bibliography

Buy It! The Herb Book, by John Lust, Bantam Books, 666 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY. copyright 1974.

Buy It! The Complete Medicinal Herbal, by Penelope Ody, Dorling Kindersley, Inc, 232 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016, First American Edition, copyright 1993

Buy It! Culpeper’s Complete Herbal & English Physician: Updated With 117 Modern Herbs, by Nicholas Culpeper, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, 1990, (reprint of 1814)

Buy It! Indian Herbalogy of North America, by Alma R. Hutchens, Shambala Publications, Inc., Horticultural Hall, 300 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, 1973

Buy It! How Indians Use Wild Plants for Food, Medicine & Crafts, by Frances Densmore, Dover Publications, Inc., 180 Varick Street, New York, NY 10014, first printed by the United States Government Printing Office, Washington, in 1928, this Dover edition 1974

Buy It! Chinese Medicinal Herbs, compiled by Shih-Chen Li, Georgetown Press, San Francisco, California, 1973.

Buy It! Secrets of the Chinese Herbalists, by Richard Lucas, Parker Publishing Company, Inc., West Nyack, NY, 1987.

Buy It! Indian Uses of Native Plants, by Edith Van Allen Murphey, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, copyright 1958, print 1990

Buy It! Eastern/Central Medicinal Plants, by Steven Foster and James A. Duke., Houghton Mifflin Company, 215 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10000

Buy It! The Nature Doctor: A Manual of Traditional and Complementary Medicine, by Dr. H.C.A. Vogel; Keats Publishing, Inc., 27 Pine Street (Box 876) New Canaan, CT. 06840-0876. Copyright Verlag A. Vogel, Teufen (AR) Switzerland 1952, 1991

Buy It!The Magic of Herbs, by David Conway, published by Jonathan Cape, Thirty Bedford Square, London, England. (Out of print)

Buy It! American Folk Medicine, by Clarence Meyer, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, 1973

Buy It! Webster’s New World Dictionary, Third College Edition, Victoria Neufeldt, Editor in Chief, New World Dictionaries: A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc., 15 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10023

Buy It! An Instant Guide to Medicinal Plants, by Pamela Forey and Ruth Lindsay, Crescent Books (January 27, 1992).

Buy It! The Rodale Herb Book: How to Use, Grow, and Buy Nature’s Miracle Plants (An Organic gardening and farming book), edited by William H. Hylton, Rodale Press, Inc. Emmaus, PA, 18049., 1974

Buy It! Back to Eden, by Jethro Kloss; Back to Eden Publishing Co., Loma Linda, CA 92354, Original copyright 1939, revised edition 1994

Buy It! The Herb Book, by John Lust, Bantam Books, 666 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY. copyright 1974.

Buy It! Indian Herbalogy of North America, by Alma R. Hutchens, Shambala Publications, Inc., Horticultural Hall, 300 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, 1973

Buy It! The Yoga of Herbs: An Ayurvedic Guide to Herbal Medicine, by Dr. David Frawley & Dr. Vasant Lad, Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, Wisconsin, Second edition, 1988.

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