Members of the daisy family, chrysanthemum flowers are a genus of flowering herb plants that have been used in traditional Chinese medicine since ancient times. Chrysanthemums derived their name from the Chinese city in which they were first cultivated: Chu-Hsian, meaning "Chrysanthemum City." Today mums, as they are also called, are some of the most widely grown potted plants found in gardens.
When used in herbal medicine, dried yellow or white chrysanthemum flowers are boiled to make a sweet herbal tea or tonic. This chrysanthemum tea is considered an excellent herbal remedy. Regular use of the herbal tea is thought to energize the body as well as improve vision, alertness, and longevity. Typically, the yellow chrysanthemum flower is effective for counteracting the effects of hot climates, as it has cooling properties. In fact, this cooling effect also makes an excellent remedy for fevers.
In addition, drinking chrysanthemum tea can help reduce shortness of breath and strengthen the lungs. It is good for treating headaches, dizziness, sore throat, and other symptoms associated with the common cold. Chrysanthemum herbal tea has also been a popular treatment for many inflammatory diseases, including influenza, tonsillitis, and pneumonia.
The white chrysanthemum flower is oftentimes used to relieve hypertension, reduce liver inflammation, and help with coronary heart disease and high cholesterol. An infusion of chrysanthemum flowers can also be used internally and externally for treating various eye problems, from conjunctivitis and eye inflammation to dry eyes and reddening. Tinctures and herbal mixtures made from chrysanthemum flowers can be used as an effective skin treatment as well.
Not all chrysanthemum flowers can be used as an herbal remedy. Some may even be considered poisonous. Those that are popularly used for herbal tea making include the florist daisy (C. morifolium); Chinese chrysanthemum, or Ju hua (C. indicum); and ox-eye daisy (C. leucanthemum). The latter is useful for treating asthma, night sweats, whooping cough, nervousness, and chronic coughs. It can also be made into a salve and applied to the skin for treating bruises, swelling, and gout.
Feverfew (C. parthenium) is a wild chrysanthemum species commonly used in tablet or capsule form to treat depression, asthma, chest infections, colic, and flatulence. Additionally, feverfew may be added to various commercial products to help alleviate insect bites. Dalmatian chrysanthemum flowers (C. cinerariafolium) can be dried and ground into a powder and used as a natural insecticide in the garden. This species can also be made into a lotion and applied to the skin as insect repellent or as a lice remedy.