Chrysanthemum Formulas Based on Traditional Chinese Medicine Uses

In the U.S., we normally think of chrysanthemums as large, decorative flowers with tons of petals that come in a huge range of colors.  They are showy, and a little fussy to grow.  In Chinese medicine, they are actually one of the most widely used medicinal flowers and are commonly added to tea.  The flowers used in Chinese medicine are smaller, more uniform in size, and less impressively pretty, but they do some really great work.

Chrysanthemums as a Single-Herb Remedy

As a single-herb therapy, chrysanthemums are used both internally and externally.  For internal use, make a tea with the flowers, letting them steep 3-4 minutes in boiling water, then drain out the large pieces and drink only the liquid.  Chrysanthemum tea is useful for “dispersing wind and clearing heat,” a technical Chinese medicine term that means it is good for colds and seasonal allergies where the primary symptoms are sneezing, burning itchy eyes, and possible mild fever.

For external use, follow the same process but when you get to the liquid wait for it to cool down to a comfortable temperature and apply to the affected area.  Chrysanthemum wash can be used for acne with red, painful bumps as well as rashes that are red and itchy.

Eye Care and Chrysanthemum Flowers

If you have the ability to make your own tea bags, you can steep the bags for 3-4 minutes in boiling water, remove them from the water and allow them to cool to a pleasant temperature, and then apply the tea bags directly to eyes to alleviate itching or burning from allergies or other irritants.

Chrysanthemum flowers are really beneficial to eyes in a lot of ways.  The external applications mentioned above provide quick relief of severe symptoms.  Drinking chrysanthemum flower tea daily over several weeks is also used to help “calm the Liver and clear the eyes,” for people with chronic red eyes, blurry vision or dizziness caused by underlying deficiencies.  Chrysanthemum tea is especially effective for this if made in a tea with goji berries (also quite tasty).

Formulating with Chrysanthemum Flowers

Chinese medicine generally uses herbs in combination, and chrysanthemum flowers are often paired with mint.  This not only makes for a delicious drink, it creates a more powerful formula than the chrysanthemum flowers alone, and is helpful for more severe colds involving fever, chills, headache, and sore throat.  Add a teaspoon of honey and the whole thing is quite delightful.

Overall, chrysanthemum flowers are an incredibly safe herb and can be consumed daily in fairly hefty quantities without much concern for toxicity.  However, in someone who is having a lot of cold-type diarrhea (diarrhea that is watery, gray in color and has little or no odor), large amounts chrysanthemum tea can acerbate the symptoms.  This is only an issue if the person drinks the chrysanthemum tea.  Chrysanthemum can be applied topically with no risk of diarrhea.

Chrysanthemum Flowers and Sang Ju Yin for Cold and Allergy Symptom Relief

Chrysanthemum flower is safe for use in children, elders and pregnant women, though pay attention to diarrhea in all cases.  The most common over-the-counter herbal formula to feature is chrysanthemum is Sang Ju Yin, a formula commonly used for seasonal allergies with burning, itchy eyes, sneezing and sore throat.  Sang Ju Yin is used for symptomatic relief, not prevention.

Daily Use of Chrysanthemum

The oldest herbal text in Chinese medicine (called The Divine Husbandman’s Classic of the Materia Medica) claimed that drinking chrysanthemum tea every day over a long time is effective to prevent aging.  While there is no modern research to support this claim, chrysanthemum tea is beneficial for hypertension and high cholesterol.

Buy Good Chrysanthemum Flowers

If you wish to use chrysanthemum flowers as an herbal remedy, make sure you are sourcing them from a reliable company that is growing chrysanthemum for consumption, not ornamentation.  I really recommend using only organically grown flowers, and ideally, wash them before use.  I purchase my chrysanthemum flowers from the Vital Compass in Portland, Oregon or Mountain Rose Herbs, another great Oregon company.

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