Although very little is known about cranesbill's constituents apart from its high content of tannins it's a very useful herb and, contrary to some opinions, is still popularly used by modern herbalists. Because of its high tannin content, which gives cranesbill or wild geranium the action of astringent it was a popular domestic remedy in nineteenth century Australia. It was widely used to treat conditions such as haemorrhaging, dysentery, and diarrhoea; colonial herbalists also used it to treat internal bleeding by making a decoction of a half an ounce of rhizome mixed with one pint of water and boiling for an hour. The dose was one tablespoon three times a day, which was said to also be an excellent treatment for 'piles'.
Settlers in North America learned of cranesbill's medicinal applications from the Indians. The Chippewas powdered the dried rhizome and applied it to sores inside the mouth while other Indian peoples used the plant steeped in water as an eyewash. Other uses included mixing the powdered rhizome and other herbs in water and applying as a poultice to swollen feet or smearing it on open wounds and sores.
Cranesbill is a perennial herb that grows to 60 centimetres high. It has hairy stems and leaves in opposite pairs that are usually divided into five lobes with toothed margins. The pale pink to rosy purple flowers have five petals and appear from spring to summer borne in clusters at the end of each stem. Cranesbill get its name from its fruits that resemble crane's bills.
Native to North America, cranesbill can be found growing wild in clearings, woodland, and fields and was imported in to Australia for use as herbal medicine as it still is today.
Adult Dose: Infusion - one to two grams of dried herb taken three times daily.
Proprietor, author, and tutor of The Home Herbalist Online Course.