Herb - Sweet woodruff | Asperula odorata

Sweet woodruff, Asperula odorata

Asperula odorata (Galium odoratum) Rubiaceae

A lover if woods and shaded hedgerows, sweet woodruff is a small perennial that thrives in cool, clay soils. Star-like whorls, each made up if six to eight bright green, oval leaves, spring at intervals straight from the stem. In early summer, sprays if delicate, white flowers open on long stalks at the top if the plant. They are followed by small, round fruits, that are covered in tiny, hooked spines.

Parts used

  • Leaves, stems and flowers
  • The aerial parts are collected when the plant flowers in May and June.
  • The cut plant is tied into bunches, and left to dry. While drying, it develops a subtle aroma.
  • Once dried, sweet woodruff is used to prepare infusions.


The aerial parts of sweet woodruff contain coumarins, which have a sedative effect and are responsible for the dried plant's pleasant aroma. Asperuloside, an anti-inflammatory, is also present.

Medicinal uses

Because of the antispasmodic and sedative action of its coumarins, sweet woodruff has long been used to treat the symptoms of nervous agitation, including insomnia and irritability, as well as digestive problems that can result from anxiety, such as stomach spasms, sluggishness, bloating and belching. The plant is also reputed to strengthen blood vessels and is used in the treatment of varicose veins and any associated inflammation. Recent animal studies confirm the beneficial effect of using sweet woodruff in such cases.

Sweet woodruff is also known to be an effective diuretic, and can help to keep the liver healthy.


  • Large doses of sweet woodruff can cause internal bleeding.
  • Avoid sweet woodruff when using drugs to treat circulatory disorders.
  • The plant is not recommended when pregnant or breastfeeding.


Sweet woodruff prefers moist, neutral to alkaline soil. Mostly, it is picked from the wild. but can be grown from seeds, planted in late July or early August in a shaded area.


For internal use

TO TREAT nervous agitation INFUSION Put 10g of dried aerial parts into 1 litre of boiling water. Infuse for 10 minutes, then strain. Drink 2-3 cups a day.

TO TREAT insomnia
INFUSION (see above) Drink 1 cup, half an hour before bed. This is also suitable for children.

TO TREAT stomach spasms and digestive problems INFUSION (see above) Drink 2-3 cups a day.



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