Considered a symbol of purity, Edelweiss (aka ‘Beautiful Star’, ‘Glacier Star’ ’Lion’s Paw’, ‘Glacier Queen’ or ‘Alpine Everlasting Flower’), is a perennial plant belonging to the Daisy family, native to the alpine regions of Europe.
In traditional Alpine medicine, Edelweiss was used to treat abdominal and respiratory diseases and as a soothing ointment against rheumatic pain.
In its natural habitat, Edelweiss grows in meadows and rocky limestone areas at high altitudes, where it is subjected to very strong UV light, low atmospheric pressure and extreme variations in temperature and humidity.
Edelweiss has a thick covering of soft woolly hairs that protect it from environmental extremes and, during its evolution over many thousands of years, has developed a range of metabolites that have useful protective qualities for the skin. In fact, in clinical analyses, Edelweiss extract displays potent antioxidant activity (ie. a free Radical Protection Factor (RPF) of 286, twice as much as Vitamin C), and collagen protection properties.In addition, the presence of bisabolane derivatives, beta-sitosterol and a glucoside compound in Edelweiss extract make it a highly soothing herb for stressed and sensitive skin types.
It is not toxic, but has been used traditionally in folk medicine as a remedy against abdominal and respiratory diseases. Extracts and individual constituents of Leontopodium alpinum were tested for their antimicrobial activity in two different assays. Extracts were screened in agar diffusion assays, whereas the minimum inhibitory concentrations (MIC) of single compounds were determined by the microbroth dilution method according to NCCLS criteria. Significant antimicrobial activities were found against various strains of Enterococcus faecium, Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus pneumoniae, and Streptococcus pyogenes strains. These results support the ethnomedicinal use of Leontopodium alpinum for the treatment of respiratory and abdominal disorders.