Biological name of Cranesbill is Geranium sylvaticum from family Geraniaceae. But it is more commonly known under the name of Cranesbill, Geranium or Wood Cranesbill / Geranium. Plant’s other alternative names are Wild Geranium, Wild Cranesbill, Spotted Cranesbill, Alum Root, etc.
Cranesbill is a perennial plant that grows from 30 to 60 cm high. It has a hairy stem and nice maple-like slightly-hairy leaves. Its flowers are pale pink to rosy purple in color, the plant flowers from April to June. The fruit is brown in color outside and white turned to brown (when dried) inside.
Geranium is native to Europe and North America. Can be found almost everywhere in woodlands, meadows and gardens. The plant prefers damp sandy to clay soils and can grow either in shade or partly shade locations.
In herbal medicine mainly the root is used (the whole underground stem - rhizome), although leaves are sometimes also useful. The root for medical purposes is dug up in September – October; and leaves are collected in summer (as it is very important the leaves are gathered before the plant seeds).
Geranium is available on the market in its dried form (leaves or rhizome), in form of tincture, Leaf or Root Tea, decoction (poultice) and as a gargle. For decoction take 1 - 2 teaspoonfuls of the root in cold water and have it boiled, wait for 15 minutes and use it. For Tea you need 5 grams of dried leaves or 1 teaspoons of the root for one cup (put it into boiled water and wait for 15 minutes). Tinctures are used 3 times a day (take 2 to 4 ml of it). Powdered Geranium root is also available.
Geranium is high in tannins (up to 30%), for that reason it is famous for treating diarrhea. Among its active ingredients there are: gallic acid, starch, resin, gum, pectin, sugar and other important compounds. All these constituents give Cranesbill its tonic and diuretic properties. The plant is also a styptic, an astringent (it means that those tannin ingredients cause the constriction of mucous membranes or skin) and haemostatic (that means it stops bleeding).
Leaf Tea is used for several conditions (internally or externally):
- In case of different digestive disorders
- for treating diarrhea (especially in children)
- gastrointestinal problems
- to stop bleeding
- to relieve gum disease
Root Tea is very effective in case of the following conditions (internally or externally as well):
- as a tonic
- for burns, wounds
- in case of infections
- in case of internal bleeding
- uterine bleeding
- ulcers (especially bleeding ulcers)
- heavy menstrual periods
- sore throat and sore mouth
- urinary system infections and inflammations
- stomach problems
In form of Geranium poultice (as decoction) it is used for:
- hemorrhoids (root tea can be also applied topically)
- irritable bowel syndrome (the tea is also used)
- swollen breasts problem
Geranium is also used in different forms for treating detoxification, children's cholera and Crohn’s disease (in powered form). Some interesting usage of the plant includes even birth control properties (but there are no studies to prove or disapprove the statement).
Geranium should not be used by pregnant or breastfeeding women. Professional herbalist or your doctor should give you the best recommendation for effective and safe usage of the plant. For different forms there are different dosage recommendation, but anyway, better not use Cranesbill for more than 3 weeks (except your doctor proscribes you longer period), as it may damage the liver due to its high tannin content.
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