What Are the Medical Uses of Lilium Longiflorum?

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  • Written By: Dan Harkins
  • Edited By: Kaci Lane Hindman
  • Last Modified Date: 10 November 2019
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Lilium longiflorum has been used for generations by herbalists for medical uses. Widely known in the west as the Easter lily, this white-flowered plant is actually one of several species of the Lilium genus that are respected as a homeopathic medicine. Not only can this plant purportedly ease symptoms of a cold while helping to keep the lungs clear as an expectorant, but it also is reputed to ease the mind as a mild sedative that could promote sleep. Research in the 21st century is starting to show that the plant has anti-cancer properties too.

This plant is included in many herbal remedy encyclopedias, like the Atlas of Medicinal Plants and the Handbook of Chinese Herbs and Formulas. In July 2009, Nutraceuticals World magazine reported that a Rutgers University study was discovering potential anti-cancerous properties of Lilium longiflorum. According to the research, the plant's bulbs hold steroids and other compounds that have proven to be to deleterious to leukemia and breast cancer cells. In 2011, the research appears to be focused on how this anti-cancer activity works as well as on isolating the particular compounds responsible for the activity.


Botany Web sites warn that many Lilium plants are toxic to cats, particularly Lilium longiflorum. Eating just a little could cause irreversible renal failure and death. Though this plant has been used to ease cold symptoms, more concerted medical effort might be needed. If a headache, fever and sore throat accompany a cold that lasts for nearly a week or more without abating, a doctor should be consulted.

Japan and China were the exclusive natural habitat of Lilium longiflorum until about the middle of the 20th century. As a result of World War II, the United States began growing the plants as Easter lilies on the Pacific Coast, where they are still grown in 2011. For centuries, a tincture, salad or tea made of this edible plant has been employed by the Chinese to make coughs more productive as an expectorant, to ease bronchial pain as an antihistamine, and to even relax the psyche for mild sedative properties.

Other members of the Lilium genus are respected for being healthy and containing medical worth. Among the many others are onions, garlic and asparagus. Close cousin bai he, the tiger lily going by the name Lilium lancifolium, is used to quell the same symptoms as the Easter lily. According to the Jade Institute in Seattle, Washington, several species like Lilium longiflorum can be substituted for the tiger lily when herbally attempting to ease respiratory trouble and relaxing.


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