Lilac (Yuan Hua)
Botanical Name: Western – Syringa vulgaris. Eastern – Flos daphnis genkwa.
Lilacs are edible. They symbolize first love and are said to drive away ghosts. They have long been used in both the Eastern and Western healing traditions to fight fevers, treat coughs and calm the stomach. Lilacs are also used by the cosmetic industry for their aromatic and calming effects.
Below is an overview of lilac, combining and interpreting the best of Western Science, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Shamanism, Folklore and more. Gain a balanced and thorough understanding of the healing properties of lilac.
Western Name: Lilac
Also Known As: Mountain Lilac, Redroot, Snowbush, Jersey Tea
Organs/Systems: Lymph, Lungs, Uterus
Key Western Actions & Medicinal Uses: Anti-periodic, Febrifuge, Tonic, Anti-inflammatory, Astringing. The flower buds are Anticoagulant, Antispetic, Antitussie, Antiviral, Diuretic, Purgative and a Stomachic.
Pin Yin: Yuan Hua
Also Known As: Lilac Daphne, Genkwa
Meridians: Lungs, Spleen, Kidney
Key TCM Actions & Medicinal Uses: Flower Buds: Moves Blood and Qi: constipation, headaches, cramping, edemas. Resolves Phlegm/Clears Heat: colds and flu, phelgmy coughs, stubborn coughs, bronchitis, itchy skin rashes, scabes, lung infections. Soothes the Stomach: nausea, full feeling, poor digestion, diarrhea, expels parasites. The Root Bark: Relieves Swelling/Moves Blood/Detoxes Blood: relieves pain, acute mastitis, carbuncles, swollen boils, poison, lymph nodes, tuberculosis, ascites, rheumatism, toothaches, bruises.
Parts Most Frequently Used: Flower (edible), Root Bark, Leaves
Flavors/Temps: Flower: Bitter, Acrid, Cold, Toxic. Bark: Acrid, Bitter
Caution: Do not use with other medicines that alter blood coagulation. Lilac daphne: do not use with licorice during pregnancy. Bark can be poisonous, use with caution.
History/Folklore: Lilacs were used in Colonial America as a vermifuge (treat intestinal worms), to reduce fevers and to treat malaria. Lilacs steeped in warm spring water for 30 minutes, strained, bottled and refrigerated can be used on the face as a tonic and as a healing spritz for some facial afflictions.
The trees were respected by Orthodox Christians and the plant’s Greek name “pashalia” is derived from “pasha” which in Jewish means “passage” as they were considered to drive ghosts away instantly. The lilac tree is also linked with reincarnation. One of the plant’s secrets is that the flowers do not fade under hot water. Lilacs are said to remove ghosts, aid the exploration of past lives, and bless the passages of life, both birth and death. Purple lilacs are the symbol for the first emotions of love. If the blossoms are strewn about it is said they can ward off evil. Lilacs have a history of promoting clairvoyance, divination, peace, harmony and creativity. Lilac tonics were probably first introduced in Henry 8th time. They are called a harbinger of spring. White lilacs are a symbol of innocence.
The lilac flower is edible and can also be crystallized and used as candy on cookies, cakes and pies, or simply be added to brown rice and salads. Sorbet can be made by mixing the flowers with sugar and water. Lilac oil is commonly used in commercial perfumes. You can simply add lilac blossoms to your bath for a soothing aromatherapy remedy for stress and anxiety.
Lilacs have been used to treat dyptheria (both internally and as a gargle). Lilac tea can be used as a hair tonic. Michael Moore indicates that the California lilac is, “An excellent home remedy for menstrual cramps, nosebleeds, bleeding hemorrhoids, and old ulcers as well as capillary ruptures from coughing or vomiting. California lilac roots are harvested in the late fall when the color is darkest or in early spring before the plants flower. The plants are tough and wiry, the roots even more so, so harvest them while the roots are fresh as after drying, you may need a jack hammer.”
Lilacs steeped in warm spring water for 30 minutes, strained, bottled and refrigerated can be used on the face as a tonic and as a healing spritz for some facial afflictions.
Lilac daphne has been used for over 3000 years. Commonly used in TCM, lilac is considered to be one of 50 fundamental herbs. The Chinese apply it externally to treat frostbite. The buds are harvested and dried in spring and used after they have been stored for several years. The root is considered an abortifacient, anticoagulant, purgative and visicant. A typical dose would be 1.5 – 3g vinegar of powdered Genkwa Flowers swallowed 0.6 to 0.9g per day.
Tannin, Paracoumaric acid, Essential oil, Cinnamic acid, Ethyl ester (Essoil). The Root Bark: Integerrenine, Discarine B, Integerrine, Asparagine, Aspartic acid, Beta sitosterol, Butelinic acid, Ceanothenic acid, Glutamine, Bitter.
To find a Lilac blossom with five instead of four corolla lobes means good luck. Some say the purple color denotes sadness and mourning.
Plants Seed in Fall
Lilacs do not replant well from their roots, they do better with their seeds planted in the fall.
Keep Flowers Fresh Longer
Keep flowers fresh longer: Cut and strip off the bark then bash in the bottom stalk (up to 1-2 inches) this opens up the woody structure enough for water to be more easily taken up and will help keep the flowers fresh for weeks.
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