Lily of the Valley (Muguet, Convallaria majalis)
| Convallaria Majalis extract is sourced from either the bulbs or roots of the lily of the valley plant. It has been used as a herbal remedy for several hundred years, but is found in modern-day cosmetics as a skin conditioning agent and fragrance. It is most often found in soaps, creams and powders, with its distinctive floral scent making it a popular choice.|
Among the many, many enchanting things about France is the tradition of giving beautiful Muguet (lily of the valley) bouquets to loved ones on the first day of May. The tradition began on May 1st, 1561, when King Charles IX of France was presented with Muguet flowers as a good luck charm. History does not remember who gave this perfumed gift but the king loved the idea so much that he started presenting Muguet bouquets to the ladies of his court on May 1st every year.
And that’s not all: another ancient European tradition of “bals de muguet” dances allowed a rare chance for young boys and girls to mingle without having to get parents’ permission (which could be an arduous task in those days). At these dances, the girls would dress in pure virginal white, while the boys would wear a sprig of Muguet in their buttonhole.
By the 1900s, it became traditional for French men to present Muguet flowers to their sweethearts. Hence, the day came to be affectionately nicknamed La Fête du Muguet (Lily of the Valley Day) even though the official moniker is La Fête du Travail (Labor Day).
Nowadays Muguet flowers are not just about romance – they are also given as good luck charms or tokens of appreciation between close friends and family members.
Convallaria majalis is an herbaceous perennial plant commonly known as Lily of the Valley. The plant is native to England, North America and North Asia. There are many myths and legends associated with the plant. According to Greek legend, Lily of the Valley was given by Apollo, the Sun God, to Aesculapius, the great healer. According to Christian mythology, the flowers of this plant represent the tears of Virgin Mother Mary. Apart from its medicinal and health benefits, wedding bouquets of these sweet smelling, beautiful flowers are carried by brides for good luck and prosperity in married life.
Lily of the Valley contains two glycosides – Convallamarin, which has diuretic action, and Convallarin, which has a purgative action. It also contains flavonoids, saponins, citric acid, malic acid, essential oil and Cardenolides. Apart from these, Convallatoxins, Convalluside, and Convallatoxol are also found in these pretty flowering plants.
Lily of the Valley is antispasmodic, diuretic, emetic, laxative, purgative, cardiac tonic, sedative and antipyretic by nature. It is mostly used in the form of tea, tincture, extract, infusion and essential oil.
The famous seventeenth-century botanist and physician Nicholas Culpeper said that “It, without doubt, strengthens the brain and renovates a weak memory. The distilled water dropped into the eyes helps inflammations thereof. The spirit of the flowers, distilled in wine, restoreth lost speech, helps the palsy, and is exceedingly good in the apoplexy, comforteth the heart and vital spirits.” High words of praise indeed! Some of the benefits that we can derive from these plants are:
Reduces Scars: An ointment made of lily of valley is used for treating burns and other wounds without leaving any scars. It is also helpful in healing the scar tissues quickly and effectively.
Lightens Skin Tone: The flowers of this herb are infused with water to prepare a tonic called Aqua Aurea. This tonic has been used for skin lightening from medieval times. It acts as a skin astringent too.
Heart Diseases: Lily of the valley is known as a cardiac tonic: This herb is safer for the treatment of heart ailments of elderly people than digitalis or foxglove. It is combined with hawthorn and motherwort for these purposes. It also helps to treat valvular heart disease, cardiac debility, dropsy and congestive heart failure. The flavonoids present in the herb stimulate the arteries, help in dilation of blood. Its diuretic properties help in lowering the blood pressure level. It is also useful in the treatment of arrhythmia as it increases the muscular action of the heart while at the same time slowing down and regulating the heartbeat rate.
Mental Problems: Legends say that if a person puts the oil of lily of valley on his forehead, it would impart common sense into him! Now, without being superstitious, we can safely say that the oil of this flower does help ease mental problems. The essential oil of lily of valley is used in aromatherapy to treat headaches, depression, and melancholy. It can also be used to treat memory loss, apoplexy and epilepsy. It is used to strengthen the brain cells and improve the cognitive processes of the brain.
Treatment Of Chronic Lung Diseases: This herb is used for the treatment of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Diseases (COPD) like emphysema and asthma. It is also used to make medicines for pulmonary edema, which if not treated leads to congestive heart failure.
Treatment Of Angina Pectoris: Lily of the valley is used to lessen chest pain caused by spasms of the coronary arteries and by lack of oxygen in the heart muscle.
Antipyretic Properties: Lily of valley decreases heat production in the body by reducing circulation rate. It is also used to treat fever.
Treatment Of Urinary Tract Infection: The tincture prepared with lily of valley flowers is used to treat UTI as it cleans obstructions from the urethra.
Keep Digestion Healthy: This herb is known to be used as a substitute for aloes because of its purgative and laxative qualities. This in turn keeps the body’s digestive process smooth.
Other benefits of the lily of the valley include:
•Breaks down kidney stones.
•Prevents water retention in the body.
•Reduces pain associated with joint problems like gout and rheumatism.
•Essential oil is used to treat paralysis, shock, and speech loss.
•Helps to treat leprosy and swelling.
•Treats poisoning and alcoholism by causing vomiting.
Caution: Like many other herbs, lily of valley is also found to be poisonous if not used in right quantity. First consult your doctor before using the plant and use it under her guidance only.
Some of the side effects of the lily of the valley are:
•Excessive use of the herb can lead to gastrointestinal irritation and dehydration.
•This herb should not be mixed with beta blocker drugs, lanoxin, quindine, digoxin and calcium salts.
•Can cause abdominal pain.
•Overdose can even lead to cardiac failure.
•Red berries of the plant are highly poisonous and should never be consumed.
•Should never be consumed during pregnancy and lactation as it can affect the baby.
Never use this herb as a replacement for your regular medication. And always consult an expert before you go all natural. Nature has the answers but it is important to use the right answers instead of endangering our health.
Disclaimer: The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent disease. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.