Sometimes it seems that Chinese herbal medicine is complicated. For some people, a stereotype exists that Chinese herbs only come from potions made of exotic plants and animal parts that are found only in the furthest corners of China. However, in some cases, Chinese medicinals can be very simple and are frequently found growing in your garden or in pots on your front step. Such is the case with chrysanthemums.
A common garden plant that blooms in the fall, chrysanthemums, or mums, are used for a variety of conditions in Chinese medicine. In addition, there is no complicated preparation needed to use this herb. Simply pick the best looking flowers when they bloom in the fall and hang them upside down or put them in a warm oven for an hour or so to dry the flowers out. Then, just drop them in hot water to make tea.
When I think about the uses for chrysanthemum flowers, I immediately think about the Chinese Liver. Your Liver is an organ system that governs the flow of everything in your body, is responsible for the health of your eyes, and nourishes your blood. When your Liver isn’t up to par, a number of symptoms may arise, many of which can be helped with chrysanthemum flower tea.
So, what exactly are mums good for? For starters, when you have a cold or the flu with a fever, very sore throat, headache, and even achy eyes, that’s a good time for chrysanthemum tea–especially the yellow flowers. As an herb, it can help you fight off your cold, ease your headache, and cool you off.
Chrysanthemum flowers also benefit your eyes. White mums are good for red, painful, dry eyes, and excessive tearing. In addition, if the nourishing ability of your Liver is funky, you may experience spots, floaters, or blurry vision. In this case, chrysanthemum flowers can help nourish your Liver and benefit your vision.
Mums are also useful for something called Liver wind rising upward, which is a pattern of movement where there should be none. Again, when your Liver isn’t doing its nourishing job well, you may become depleted and even dried out. When that happens, symptoms like headaches and dizziness can occur, for which chrysanthemum tea can help. High blood pressure is also a kind of wind rising upward which can cause headaches, dizziness and light-headedness. Combined with honeysuckle flowers, chrysanthemums have been effective in reducing blood pressure.
So head out to your garden or back stoop and pick a handful of chrysanthemum flowers (or pinch some from your neighbor with the green thumb). Dry them out, and make tea (you can add honey, licorice, or green tea). It will soothe your Liver, help your eyes, lower your blood pressure, and help your headache.