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Chrysanthemum has been used as a medicine in Asia for thousands of years

Chrysanthemum

Chrysanthemum x morifolium Asteraceae

The flowers of Chrysanthemum have been brewed as a tea that has been used as a treatment for a wide range of conditions. Although it benefits multiple systems, the flowers are a specific remedy for the eyes.

Sustainability Status

Sustainability status

Not currently on risk lists but complete data may be missing on the status of the species. Commonly cultivated though may be sourced from the wild. Only source cultivated supplies or from certified sustainable wild collection. Read more about our sustainability guide.

Key benefits
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Reduces fever
  • Specific eye remedy
  • How does it feel?

    The taste is both bitter and sweet. It is less bitter than its cousin, Chrysanthemum indicum.

  • What can I use it for?

    Chrysanthemum has been included in traditional medicines for a variety of conditions. If there is inflammation around the eye of any type, Chrysanthemum may help. This may express as dryness, itchiness, and redness found in conditions like conjunctivitis and eczema. Traditionally, a poultice of the flowers or a powder was used for this purpose.

    Chrysanthemum tea may also help reduce fevers in cases of infection. Sore throats may also be relieved. It is also considered to help reduce stress, which may accompany or precede low immunity that leads to an infection.

  • Into the heart of chrysanthemum

    Chrysanthemum was recorded in The Divine Farmer’s Classic Material Medica (Shen’ong Bencaojing), attesting to thousands of years of medicinal use.

    Chrysanthemum is native to several parts of Asia. It is widely cultivated for medicine in China, along the Yangzi River. Tong Xiang City is known as the City of Chrysanthemums and produces 4000-5000 tonnes of Chrysanthemum flowers each year, which counts for approximately 90% of China’s supply.

    Other related species are also used for medicine. Chrysanthemum indicum is used in Chinese herbal medicine for similar applications. Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium) and tansy (Tanacetum vulgare) are used in Western herbal medicine.

  • Traditional uses

    There are several compound prescriptions containing Chrysanthemum in the Chinese tradition, but the flowers themselves are also brewed as tea or infused in wine. The white variety has been used as a wine infusion for nervous conditions, while the yellow variety is used for heat-clearing and detoxification.

    The tea of the yellow flowers has been used to alleviate fevers, colds, sore throats, various ophthalmic conditions, vertigo and hypertension. It is also believed to improve eyesight. A poultice or the powdered herb has been used in cases of sore eyes, skin infections, sores, boils, and acne.

  • Traditional actions

  • Traditional energetic actions

    Herbal energetics are the descriptions Herbalists have given to plants, mushrooms, lichens, foods, and some minerals based on the direct experience of how they taste, feel, and work in the body. All traditional health systems use these principles to explain how the environment we live in and absorb, impacts our health. Find out more about traditional energetic actions in our article “An introduction to herbal energetics“.

  • What practitioners say

    Respiratory system: As the medicine of the flowers is diaphoretic and anti-inflammatory, Chrysanthemum may be used in any infection that features a fever. As Chrysanthemum is antiseptic, it also may be used in acute respiratory infections and sore throats, especially where there are headaches and malaise.

    Eyes: Chrysanthemum flowers are a specific remedy for the eyes. They may be used in any condition that expresses with inflammatory symptoms such as swelling, itching, and redness. Examples of conditions that would be appropriate to be treated with Chrysanthemum are conjunctivitis and eczema.

    Nervous system: Chrysanthemum may be used in cases of stress with hypertension. This may express in headaches, insomnia, or dizziness for the person. The traditional view of Chrysanthemum’s energetics support its use in clearing the heat of anger.

    Digestive system: Due to the bitter taste of the flowers, Chrysanthemum supports digestion by increasing liver function and the excretion of bile.

  • Research

    There are very few clinical trials that investigate the safety and efficacy of Chrysanthemum. The majority of the research has been in vitro, or animal study (1).

    In vitro and in vivo studies have reported hypolipidemic and hypoglycaemic effects. The extract lowered LDL cholesterol, and inhibited lipid synthesis (2). It also promoted the partial recovery of islet β-cells (3). Chrysanthemum is also a source of antioxidants. It is this property that was suggested to be responsible for the protective effects against ischemic stroke observed in a clinical trial (4).

    An extract of a cultivar of Chrysanthemum morifolium was observed to reduce NO production in an LPS-induced cell line, which demonstrated an anti-inflammatory effect of the herb. The researchers concluded that this was due to the flavonoid content of the plant (5).

    The volatile oils in Chrysanthemum have been found to be antimicrobial against a number of microbes. These include Escheria coli, Staphylococcus aureus, Salmonella enteritidis, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Bacillis subtilis, and Mycobacterium tuberculosis (6, 7). 

    Chrysanthemum may also have anticancer properties due to the inhibition of the proliferation of tumour cells in vitro (8).

  • Did you know?

    Chrysanthemum x morifolium was included in a NASA study on plants that improve air quality, and was rated highly for this purpose.

Additional information

  • Botanical description

    Chrysanthemum is a compact herbaceous perennial growing between 1.5-3m tall. The stems stand upright and have dark green leaves. The lower leaves are plumed, and are increasingly entire further up the stem. The leaves are broad, ovate, and up to 6 inches long. The solitary flowers appear in bloom from September to first frost.  Typically, the flowerhead are radiated and composed of yellow ray florets. The name Chrysanthemum comes from the Greek chrysos meaning gold, and anthemum meaning flower. 

    Chrysanthemum is native to several parts of Asia. It is widely cultivated for medicine in China, along the Yangzi River. Tong Xiang City is known as the City of Chrysanthemums and produces 4000-5000 tons of Chrysanthemum flowers each year, which counts for approximately 90% of China’s supply. 

    Other related species are also used for medicine. Chrysanthemum indicum is used in Chinese herbal medicine for similar applications. Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium) and tansy (Tanacetum vulgare) are used in Western herbal medicine.

  • Common names

    • Ju Hua (China)
    • Florist’s chrysanthemum
    • Florist’s daisy
    • Sevanti (India)
  • Safety

    No known drug-herb interactions

    Contraindicated in pregnancy: Leaves and flowers may cause skin irritation topically

  • Preparation

    The flowers themselves are also brewed as tea or infused in wine.

    A poultice or the powdered herb can also be used for various skin conditions listed in “Traditional Use”.

    A 1:3 45% tincture is also used

  • Dosage

    3-9g dried herb per day. 5-15ml 1:5 25% tincture per day.

  • Plant parts used

    Flowers

  • Constituents

    • Alkaloids: stachydrine, chrysathemin
    • Volatile oil: camphor, borneol, chrysanthenone
    • Triterpene alcohols: helianol, β-dictyopterol, chrysanthediol A, chrysanthedi-acetate B,
    • Sesquiterpene lactones
    • Flavonoids: apigenin, luteolin
    • Betaine, choline, vitamin B
  • Recipe

    Traditional sweet chrysanthemum tea

    Ingredients:

    • 50g Chrysanthemum flower
    • 250g Honey

    Method:

    • Cover Chrysanthemum flowers with 200ml of water in a pot and simmer for 20 minutes.
    • Let cool till it is warm, then discard the flowers and add the honey.
    • Drink as desired.
  • References

    1. Yuan H, Jiang S, Liu Y et al. The flower head of Chrysanthemum morifolium Ramat. (Juhua): A paradigm of flowers serving as Chinese dietary herbal medicine. J Ethnopharmacol. 2020;261:113043. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2020.113043
    2. Dong K, Liu J, Chen Y et al. Prevention of aqueous extract from Chrysanthemum morifolium of Chuju against high- fat diet induced obesity and dyslipidemia. Food Research and Development. 2014;35(4):101-104.3.
    3. Yang J. Determination of antioxidant and α-glucosidase inhibitory activities and luteolin contents of Chrysanthemum morifolium Ramat extracts. Afr J Biotechnol. 2011;10(82). doi:10.5897/ajb11.2007
    4. Zhu Z, Qian S, Lu X, et al. Protective Properties of the Extract of Chrysanthemum on Patients with Ischemic Stroke. J Healthc Eng. 2021;2021:3637456. Published 2021 Nov 30. doi:10.1155/2021/36374564. 
    5. Hu J, Ma W, Li N, Wang K. Antioxidant and Anti-Inflammatory Flavonoids from the Flowers of Chuju, a Medical Cultivar of Chrysanthemum Morifolim Ramat. J Mex Chem Soc. 2018;61(4):282-289. doi:10.29356/jmcs.v61i4.458
    6. Kuang, C. L., LV, D., Huang, X., Gao, W., Shen, G. H., & Zhang, Z. Q. Research of the antioxidant activity of Chrysanthemum Morifolium’s extracts with different solvents. Science and Technology of Food Industry. 2015. 
    7. Akihisa T, Franzblau S, Ukiya M et al. Antitubercular Activity of Triterpenoids from Asteraceae Flowers. Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin. 2005;28(1):158-160. doi:10.1248/bpb.28.1586.
    8. Kim H, Park C, Jung J. Acacetin (5,7-dihydroxy-4′-methoxyflavone) exhibits in vitro and in vivo anticancer activity through the suppression of NF-κB/Akt signaling in prostate cancer cells. Int J Mol Med. 2013;33(2):317-324. doi:10.3892/ijmm.2013.1571
Aromatic
An ‘aromatic’ remedy, high in volatile essential oils, was most often associated with calming and sometimes ‘warming’ the digestion. Most kitchen spices and herbs have this quality: they were used both as flavouring and to ease the digestion of sometimes challenging pre-industrial foods. Many aromatics are classed as ‘carminatives’ and are used to reduce colic, bloating and agitated digestion. They also often feature in respiratory remedies for colds, chest and other airway infections. They are also classic calming inhalants and massage oils, and are the basis of aromatherapy for their mental benefits.
Astringent taste
The puckering taste you get with many plants (the most familiar is black tea after being stewed too long, or some red wines) is produced by complex polyphenols such as tannins. Tannins are used in concentrated form (eg from oak bark) to make leather from animal skins. The process of ‘tanning’ involves the coagulation of relatively fluid proteins in living tissues into tight clotted fibres (similar to the process of boiling an egg). Tannins in effect turn exposed surfaces on the body into leather. In the case of the lining of mouth and upper digestive tract this is only temporary as new mucosa are replenished, but in the meantime can calm inflamed or irritated surfaces. In the case of open wounds tannins can be a life-saver – when strong (as in the bark of broadleaved trees) they can seal a damaged surface. One group of tannins, the reddish-brown ‘condensed tannins’ are procyanidins, which can reduce inflammation and oxidative damage.
Bitter
Bitters are a very complex group of phytochemicals that stimulate the bitter receptors in the mouth. They were some of the most valuable remedies in ancient medicine. They were experienced as stimulating appetite and switching on a wide range of key digestive functions, including increasing bile clearance from the liver (as bile is a key factor in bowel health this can be translated into improving bowel functions and the microbiome). Many of these reputations are being supported by new research on the role of bitter receptors in the mouth and elsewhere round the body. Bitters were also seen as ‘cooling’ reducing the intensity of some fevers and inflammatory diseases.
Blue-purple colouring
Any fruits with a blue-purple colouring contain high levels of the polyphenols known as anthocyanins. These work 1) on the walls of small blood vessels, helping to maintain capillary structure to reduce a key stage in inflammation, and improving the microcirculation to the tissues; 2) to improve retinal function and vision; 3) to support connective tissue repair around the body.
Cooling
Traditional ‘cold’ or cooling’ remedies often contain bitter phytonutrients such a iridoids (gentian), sesiquterpenes (chamomile), anthraquinones (rhubarb root), mucilages (marshmallow), some alkaloids and flavonoids. They tend to influence the digestive system, liver and kidneys. Cooling herbs do just that; they diffuse, drain and clear heat from areas of inflammation, redness and irritation. Sweet, bitter and astringent herbs tend to be cooling.
Hot
Traditional ‘hot’ or ‘heating’ remedies, often containing spice ingredients like capsaicin, the gingerols (ginger), piperine (black or long pepper), curcumin (turmeric) or the sulfurous isothiocyanates from mustard, horseradich or wasabi, generate warmth when taken. In modern times this might translate as thermogenic and circulatory stimulant effects. There is evidence of improved tissue blood flow with such remedies: this would lead to a reduction in build-up of metabolites and tissue damage. Heating remedies were used to counter the impact of cold, reducing any symptoms made worse in the cold. .
Mucilaginous
Mucilages are complex carbohydrate based plant constituents with a slimy or ‘unctuous’ feel especially when chewed or macerated in water. Their effect is due simply to their physical coating exposed surfaces. From prehistory they were most often used as wound remedies for their soothing and healing effects on damaged tissues. Nowadays they are used more for these effects on the digestive lining, from the throat to the stomach, where they can relieve irritation and inflammation such as pharyngitis and gastritis. Some of the prominent mucilaginous remedies like slippery elm, aloe vera and the seaweeds can be used as physical buffers to reduce the harm and pain caused by reflux of excess stomach acid. Mucilages are also widely used to reduce dry coughing. Here the effect seems to be by reflex through embryonic nerve connections: reduced signals from the upper digestive wall appear to translate as reduced activity of airway muscles and increased activity of airway mucus cells. Some seed mucilages, such as in psyllium seed, flaxseed (linseed) or guar bean survive digestion to provide bulking laxative effects in the bowel. These can also reduce rate of absorption of sugar and cholesterol. .
New-mown hay aroma
The familiar country odour of haymaking, of drying grass and other plants, is largely produced by coumarins (originally isolated from tonka beans – in French coumarou) and widely used in perfumery. They are chemically categorised as benzopyrone lactones and are important phytochemicals, with strong antioxidant activity in the laboratory and likely effects in modulating inflammation. They were most often associated with the calming effect linked to their use in stuffing mattresses and pillows and plants, high In coumarins were commonly used for these properties.
Resinous
Resins are most familiar as tacky discharges from pine trees (and as the substance in amber, and rosin for violin bows). They were most valued however as the basis of ancient commodities like frankincense and myrrh (two of the three gifts of the Three Wise Men to the baby Jesus) and getting access to their source was one benefit to Solomon for marrying the Queen of Sheba (now Ethiopia). Resins were the original antiseptic remedies, ground and applied as powders or pastes to wounds or inflamed tissues, and were also used for mummification. With alcohol distillation it was found that they could be dissolved in 90% alcohol and in this form they remain a most powerful mouthwash and gargle, for infected sore throats and gum disease. They never attracted much early research interest because they permanently coat expensive glassware! For use in the mouth, gums and throat hey are best combined with concentrated licorice extracts to keep the resins in suspension and add extra soothing properties. It appears that they work both as local antiseptics and by stimulating white blood cell activity under the mucosal surface. They feel extremely effective!
Salty
The salty flavour is immediately distinctive. A grain dropped onto the tongue is instantly moistening and a sprinkle on food enkindles digestion. This easily recognisable flavour has its receptors right at the front of the tongue. The salty flavor creates moisture and heat, a sinking and heavy effect which is very grounding for the nervous system and encourages stability. People who are solid and reliable become known as ‘the salt of the earth'.
Sharpness
The sharp taste of some fruits, and almost all unripe fruits, as well as vinegar and fermented foods, is produced by weak acids (the taste is generated by H+ ions from acids stimulating the sour taste buds). Sour taste buds are hard-wired to generate immediate reflex responses elsewhere in the body. Anyone who likes the refreshing taste of lemon or other citrus in the morning will know that one reflex effect is increased saliva production. Other effects are subjective rather than confirmed by research but there is a consistent view that they include increased digestive activity and contraction of the gallbladder.
Sweet
In the days when most people never tasted sugar, ‘sweetness’ was associated with the taste of basic foods: that of cooked vegetables, cereals and meat. In other words sweet was the quality of nourishment, and ‘tonic’ remedies. Describing a remedy as sweet generally led to that remedy being used in convalescence or recovery from illness. Interestingly, the plant constituents most often found in classic tonics like licorice, ginseng are plant steroids including saponins, which also have a sweet taste.

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