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What are the Practical Uses and Health Benefits Lily of the valley (Convallaria majalis)?

Lily of the valley, Convallaria majalis

What is Lily of the valley?

Lily of the valley, scientifically known as Convallaria majalis is a plant with sweet-scented fragrance which is native to the northern hemisphere in Europe and Asia. It is commonly known by other names like May bells, Mary's tears and Our lady's tears. The Genus Convallaria consist of only one specie which is Lily of the valley. Many flower perfumes imitate its fragrance and are named after its French name, i.e. muguet. They are supposed to symbolize, happiness and better vision of a world. It is said that this plant was given to the great healer Aesculapius by the Sun God Apollo.

Scientific Classification

  • Kingdom: Plantae
  • Phylum: Angiosperms
  • Subphylum: Monocots
  • Order: Asparagales
  • Family: Asparagaceae
  • Subfamily: Nolinoideae
  • Genus: Convallaria
  • Species: C. Majalis

Description

Lily of the Valley is an herbaceous plant which grows extensively to form colonies and stems spread underground. It grows to height 8-12 inch tall. In summers new shoots spread underground through horizontal connections called stolons. In spring it grows into new shoots which remain interconnected through stolons. Its stems grow up to 15-30 cm of height and leaves are 10-20 cm in length. Flowers of the Lily have six sepals and form a bell shape by fusing at the base. It flowers blossoms in late spring and early winters and also in early March. Red-berry is its fruit which measures 5-6mm in diameter and contains seeds of white or brown color.

Distribution

It is native of Europe except for some margins of Atlanta and Mediterranean. Some of its variety exists in the Eastern United States. It can reproduce both sexually and asexually by means of vegetation and seed formed by the fusion of gametes respectively.

Cultivation

Flowers of Lily of the valley are fragrant so it is grown in gardens for its scented flowers. In shady locations, it covers the ground and gives a good view of the garden. It can form large colonies in favourable conditions.

Chemical composition

It consists of approximately 38 cardiac glycosides and is known to be very poisonous. Lily of the valley consists of saponins. It is poisonous but still is used by many herbalists as a restricted remedy for various purposes. It consists of two glycosides Convallarin and Convallamarin. These glycosides have a purgative and diuretic action. This plant also contains flavonoids, malic acid, and citric acid.

Practical Uses of Lily of The Valley

  • Before jumping to its medicinal uses it will be interesting to know that Lily of the valley flowers is used by the brides in the form of bouquets for prosperity and good luck in married life.
  • This pretty flowering fragrant plant not only is a treat to eyes and nose but also is enriched with multiple medicinal properties.
  • It is said by a famous botanist of ancient times that Lily of the valley improves weak memory and increases the strength of the brain.
  • The spirit of the flowers of Lily of the valley, when distilled in wine and taken, helps to treat palsy and restores lost speech.
  • It also helps to treat apoplexy and cardiovascular diseases.
  • An ointment made from this plant is used to heal wounds and burns without leaving any mark. It effectively treats scar tissue.
  • Flowers of lily of the valley is used to make a tonic which used to lighten the skin and also acts as a skin astringent.
  • Heart tonic is another name given to it due to its properties to treat heart diseases. More than digitalis and foxglove Lily of the valley is considered to be safer to use for treatment of heart diseases.
  • Cardiac debility, congestive heart failure, and dropsy can be treated and prevented by the use of this herb.
  • Irregular heartbeats can be treated by it as Lily of the valley increases the action of the heart muscles and hence slows down and regulate the heartbeat rate.
  • Mental problems, headaches, and depression can be eased by the use of its oils.
  • Cognitive brain process is improved and brains cells get strengthen by its proper use.
  • Lily of the valley is used to treat respiratory illnesses like a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease like asthma and emphysema.
  • Pulmonary edema which can result in congestive heart failure if not treated can be treated effectively by the use of this herb.
  • It helps to ease chest pain which is caused due to the lack of oxygen to the heart muscles resulting in spasm of coronary arteries.
  • This herb is used to treat fever as it decreases the production of the heat in the body by decreasing the rate of circulation.
  • Urinary tract infection can be treated by the tincture prepared of this plant.
  • It keeps the digestive system healthy due to its laxative and purgative properties.
  • This herb also prevents retention of the water in the body and also helps to treat swelling.

Side Effects

  • Overuse of Lily of Valley can result in gastrointestinal irritation and dehydration.
  • It can cause abdominal disorders.
  • Excessive use of this herb can even cause cardiac failure.
  • Its fruit, i.e. red berries are very poisonous and should not be ingested.
  • During pregnancy and breastfeeding its use should be avoided as it can cause adverse effects to the baby.

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