Lily of the valley - 24 April 2021
Lily of the Valley (Convallaria majalis) or Maiglöckchen in German. I was lucky today, after the post office run, I went to our local farmers market and there on a flower stand, 4 small (tiny) bunches of lily of the valley in a glass in water. It was like one of those moments in your lifetime when suddenly you stop on the track! It’s my first time to see real lily of the valley, though they exist everywhere now on mountains and country side, though where I live is not country side enough, that I can’t simply go to the forest and hunt lily of the valley – there it is – €5 please. The scent from these tiny miniature white flowers is really intoxicating, exhilarating – so, so good, I never smell anything like this – my room just simply fill with flowers and great fragrant at the moment.
So, what is Lily of the valley? (this knowledge is from a herbal encyclopaedia, not my own knowledge) it is in Family Liliaceae, some of other common names are May Lily, May Bells, Convallaria, Our Lady’s Tears (what a name!), Convall-lily, Lily Constancy, Jacob’s Ladder, Ladder-to-Heaven, Muguet.
Lily of the valley is native to Europe, it is now found all over that continent, as well as North America and northern Asia. It is an attractive perennial, growing to nine inches, producing a pair of elliptical leaves, clusters of bell-shaped white flowers on one side of the stem and red berries. It is a widely cultivated garden plant whose leaves and flowers are gathered in the late spring as the plant comes into flower.
Actions: cardiac and uterine stimulant, and diuretic.
Components: cardiac glycosides (including the cardenolides convallotoxin, convalloside, convallatoxol, and others), flavonoid glycosides.
Medicinal parts: Leaves, flowers – The cardiac glycosides act to strengthen a weakened heart and increase its effectiveness.
Traditional uses: Lily of the valley encourages the heart to beat more slowly, regularly, and efficiently, while its strong diuretic properties reduce blood volume and lower blood pressure. However, Lily of the Valley is preferred by European herbalists as it is better tolerated and does not accumulate within the body to the same degree as does foxglove (another heart herb). Relatively low doses are used to support heart rate and rhythm and to increase urine production.
The herb is also used for weak contractions during labor as well as for epilepsy, dropsy, strokes and ensuing paralysis, conjunctivitis, and leprosy.