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Cranesbill

Common name: Spotted Cranebill

Botanical name: Geranium maculatum

Photo

© Steven Foster

Parts used and where grown

Cranesbill originated in North America and is sometimes grown ornamentally in a variety of flower colors. The root is primarily used in herbal medicine, but the above-ground part of the plant has also been used traditionally by herbalists.

Cranesbill has been used in connection with the following conditions (refer to the individual health concern for complete information):

Science Ratings Health Concerns
1Star

Canker sores

Crohn’s disease

Diarrhea

Menorrhagia

3Stars Reliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.
2Stars Contradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.
1Star For an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support and/or minimal health benefit.

Historical or traditional use (may or may not be supported by scientific studies)

The Blackfoot Indians of North America used the root of cranesbill and closely related plants to stop bleeding.1 Cranesbill has also been used by other indigenous tribes of North America to treat diarrhea.

Active constituents

Cranesbill is high in tannins, which may account for its anti-diarrheal activity.2 Little scientific research exists to clarify cranesbill’s constituents and actions.

How much is usually taken?

A tea can be prepared by boiling 1–2 teaspoons (5–10 grams) of the root for ten to fifteen minutes in 2 cups (500 ml) of water.3 People can drink three (750 ml) or more cups per day. Cranesbill tincture (approximately 1/2 teaspoon or 3 ml) three times per day is also commonly used, although generally in combination with other herbs, for diarrhea. Dried, powdered cranesbill root is sometimes used in an herbal combination to treat Crohn’s disease; however, there are no scientific studies to support this combination.

Are there any side effects or interactions?

Cranesbill tea should not be used for more than two to three consecutive weeks. Due to the high tannin content, some people may develop an upset stomach after using cranesbill.

At the time of writing, there were no well-known drug interactions with cranesbill.

References:

1. Tilford GL. Edible and Medicinal Plants of the West. Missoula, MT: Mountain Press Publishing Company, 1997, 42–3.

2. Duke JA. CRC Handbook of Medicinal Plants. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 1985, 209.

3. Hoffman D. The Herbal Handbook. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press, 1988, 43.

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