Lily of the Valley
Lily of the Valley (Ling Lan)
Botanical Name: Lillium convallium or Convallium majalis
Lily of the Valley was used medicinally as early as the fourth century. Like the herb foxglove, lily of the valley contains constituents that have a tonic effect on the heart, helping to slow or normalize a weak heartbeat, without putting any extra demand on pulmonary blood supply.
Below is an overview of lily of the valley, 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 lily of the valley.
Western Name: Lily of the Valley
Also Known As: May Lily, Our Lady’s Tears, Convallaria, Lily Constancy, Ladder-to-Heaven, Jacob’s Ladder
Organs/Systems: Heart, Brain, Lymph
Key Western Actions & Medicinal Uses: Cardiac Tonic, Diuretic, Purgative, Antispasmodic, Emetic, Laxative, strongly recommended in valvular heart disease, cardiac debility, heart failure and dropsy. Will slow action of disturbed weak heart beat, while increasing its strength. Very safe. Remove obstructions from urinary canal and treating kidney stones. Also used for weak contractions during labor, epilepsy, strokes and resulting paralysis. Has been used to treat sprains, rheumatism, conjunctivitis and leprosy.
Pin Yin: Ling Lan
Also Known As: N/A
Meridians: Heart, Pericardium
Key TCM Actions & Medicinal Uses: Strengthens/Supports Heart, Lifts Shen: arrhythmia, low blood pressure, palpitations, poor memory, depression, confusion, mental dullness, loss of speech, paralysis. Stimulate Heart/Promote Urination: dizzy, cardiac pain, coronary thrombosis, edema, acute or chronic nephritis. Reduce Tumors/Prevent Infection: eye cataracts, ulcers, gangrene, cancers, animal, bee and wasp bites. Will soften deposits whether in the arteries, joints, muscles or blood.
Parts Most Frequently Used: Flower, Leaves, Whole Herb, Root
Caution: Considered very safe. NOTE: The red berries are poisonous.
History/Folklore: Culpeper said lily of the valley strengthened the brain, aiding memory and if distilled in wine could restore speech. He also reported that in his time these little lilies grew plentifully on Hampstead Heath, England. The herbalist Green, writing 100 years ago, tells us, “since the trees on Hampstead Heath, near London, have been destroyed, [lily of the valley] has been but sparingly found there.” There is an old English legend from Sussex that St. Leonard fought against a great dragon in the woods near Horham and wherever his blood fell lilies of the valley sprang up to commemorate the desperate fight. The woods still bear the name of St Leonard and the forest floor is still covered in lilies of the valley. It was used very successfully in WWI to treat soldiers exposed to poisonous gas at the Front. If flowers are thrown into olive or sweet almond oil they will impart their sweet smell. Best to repeatedly infuse the oil with fresh flowers to strengthen the aromas. Apuleius, a second century herbalist, recorded that Apollo gave the plant as a gift to Aeculapius, the god of healing. In the 16th century, Herbalist John Gerad advocated the herb for those who had “fallen into apoplexy”, saying the herb was also good for gout and treating the heart. Lily of the valley is often preferred to foxglove as it is gentler and does not build up toxic levels in the body as much as foxglove does. Russians use the herb for epilepsy. Christian legend says the flower sprang from the weeping Virgin Mary during the crucifixion of Jesus. Other legends say it sprang up from Eve’s tears after she and Adam were driven from the Garden of Eden. In religious iconography it is a symbol of humility and a sign of Christ’s second coming. The power to envision of better world was also attributed to the flower. It can also symbolize the return of happiness. It is the national flower of Finland.
Glucosides: Convallamarin (the active principle, which is a white crytalline powder, readily soluble in water or alcohol) and Convallarin (soluble in alcohol, onlly slightly soluble in water). Convallamarin acts upon the heart like Digitalin, though less strong, and it is also a diuretic. Convallarin is a purgative. Contains Asparagin, Cheliodonic acid with traces of Volatile oil, Tannin and Salts.
A Green Dye
The leaves yield a green dye with lime water.
A German Wine
In some parts of Germany a wine is still prepared from the flowers and mixed with raisins.
Leave No Scar
If mixed with lard and used externally for ulcers, burns, or scalds it is said the injuries will not leave a scar.
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