Meadowsweet flowers (Filipendula ulmaria) are blooming nicely alongside a river near you, there are lots of things you can do with them: make cordial, batter and deep-fry the flowers, add to jams, sauces, make hot or iced tea from the fresh or dried flowers or if you can't make up your mind what to do with it, let its sweet smell fill your house with summer.
Many of its therapeutic properties come from its high content of salicylic acid, a potent anti-inflammatory and the active ingredient of aspirin. However while aspirin can wreck havoc on the stomach, kidneys and liver, meadow sweet is soothing and restorative to these organs and has traditionally been used to treat conditions such as heartburn, ulcers, upset stomach reflux and diarrhea.
This is a clear illustration of how with the best intention we often extract from a plant something that we understand to be helpful, and process it into something for we deem suitable for mass consumption without fully understanding the complexities of the healing the herb might give us. Some of the simplest aspects of nature are still far more complex than our most accomplished scientists are yet able to explain. So while I revere the researchers who are on the front edge of our understanding, I'll be heading down to the river to pick some meadowsweet before the summer is over.