Poinsettia (Da Ji)
Botanical Name: Western – Euphorbia lathyris, E. pulcherrima. Eastern – E. pekinensis, Knoxia valerianoides.
Did you know that almost all of the poinsettia can be used medicinally? It is most especially used to treat asthma. In Mexico and Guatemala, it is called Flor de Noche Buena, meaning Christmas Eve Flower. In Chile and Peru, it is known as Crown of the Andes. In Hungarian, it is called Santa Claus’ Flower. Be aware the Chinese use Da Ji (E. pekinensis) and in the west, the poinsettia Euphorbia lathyris or E. pulcherrima are used. They are different species of the same family of plants. The Chinese typically use the root and in the west, the leaves and crushed flowers are typically used.
Below is an overview of Poinsettia (Da Ji), 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 Poinsettia (Da Ji).
Western Name: Poinsettia
Also Known As: Euphoribia, Spurge Root, Snake Root, Asthma Plant
Organs/Systems: Lungs, Large Intestine
Key Western Actions & Medicinal Uses: Broncho-dilatory, Anti-emitic, Anthelminitic, Antiviral, Antibiotic, Laxative, Diuretic. Asthma, bronchitis, colds, flus, snakebites, worms, parasites, boost milk production in lactating mothers, gonorrhea, premature ejaculation, impotence, dysentery, diarrhea, fever, abortion.
Pin Yin: Da Ji
Also Known As: Translates as “Big Spear From the Capitol,” Peking Spurge Roots, Cirsium, Japanese Thistle, Jing Da Ji, Hong Da Ji, Big Thistle.
Meridians: Kidney, Large Intestine, Lung, Heart
Key TCM Actions & Medicinal Uses: Drains Damp Heat Downward: diarrhea, edema, swollen lymph nodes, jaundice. Cools Blood/Stops Bleeding: epistaxis, hemoptysis, hematuria, blood in the stool with heat signs. Reduces Swelling/Dissipates Nodules/Disperses Blood Stasis, Rebuilds Tissues: abscesses, carbuncles, sores and swellings due to toxicity and blood stagnation. Liver Fire: lowers blood pressure with signs of liver heat or fire, jaundice.
Parts Most Frequently Used: Leaves, Flowers, Roots
Flavors/Temps: Bitter, Acrid, Cold, Toxic
Caution: This is a strong herb, so be careful using it if a person is weak. Do not use with Radix Glycyrrhizae (Licorice Root/Gan Cao).
History/Folklore: The leaves are used to treat skin irritations. The crushed flowers help heal conjunctivitis. The roots can be made into a paste to help ease stomach pain if used in small doses, used in larger doses, it will induce vomiting.
The plant is believed to promote the production of blood platelets.
Poinsettias have been cultivated in Egypt since the 1860s when they were brought there from Mexico. The plant has been called, Bent El Consul, or “the consul’s daughter” referring to the then U.S. ambassador, Joel Poinsett.
It was Paul Ecke Jr., the third generation of Ecke family members who cultivated the plants, who made the association of poinsettias as being a holiday flower in the U.S and around the world. They have been associated in the west with Christmas ever since. The Ecke family still provides 70% of U.S. poinsettia production and 50% of worldwide production.
In Mexico, the plants have been associated with Christmas since the 16th century, where legends tell the story of a poor girl who wanted to gift the baby Jesus at Christmas and was inspired by an angel to gather weeds by the roadside and place them on the church’s alter, where they blossomed into poinsettias. The star-shaped leaf pattern is said to symbolize the Star of Bethlehem and the red color, the blood sacrifice during the crucifixion of Jesus.
The Aztecs name for the plant translates as “flower that grows in residues.” Today in Mexico and Guatemala it is called Flor de Noche Buena, meaning Christmas Eve Flower. In Chile and Peru, it is known as Crown of the Andes. In Hungarian, it is called Santa Claus’ Flower.
In China, they harvest their varietal, E. pekinensis, in late winter or early spring. Charred poinsettia (E. pekinensis) is better at stopping bleeding while the fresh herb is better for cooling the blood and reducing swelling. The fresh juice of the herb can be used alone for epistaxis, hematemesis and excess menses.
The Chinese say that the plant’s harsh properties are reduced by cooking with honey and red jujubes. Frying in vinegar also reduces toxicity.
Good quality root is firm and not easily broken, fibrous, with a brownish-yellow or whitish cross section if you are using Euphorbia, red if you are using Knoxia.
Sodium, Potassium, Calcium, Lithium. Beta-carotene, Vitamin C, Phenolics.
Plant’s Sap can be Toxic
The plant’s milky sap, or latex, can be toxic and irritating to the skin, but it is good for treating skin warts, and killing pain and bacteria.
A Red Dye
The Aztecs used the plant to produce red dye and as an antipyretic medication.
Do NOT Use with Licorice Root
Traditionally, the Chinese consider poinsettia (Da Ji) and Radix Glycyrrhizae (Licorice Root/Gan Cao) to be incompatible and therefore they do not blend or combine these two plants together. Studies support that the two together increase toxicity.
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