Lily of the Valley is known for it's heavy, sweet, floral scent. Possible Uses:
Fragrance Family: Floral.
Fragrance Note(s): Lily of the Valley (single note)
Scientific noun: Convallaria majalis L. Common noun: : Lily of the valley
Family: Lily family -Liliaceae.
Habitat: Woods of deciduous flat-leaved trees in mountains. Also cultivated in gardening.Active principles:
- Medicinal: It has been used in home-made medicine as cardiotonic in the treatment of heart weakness, being quicker in acting than digital components, although less permanent. Its cardiotonic glycosides exercise this function which is increased by saponines and flavonoids, as well as asparagine, because of their diuretic action.
This last property has been used for the treatment of too high levels of uric acid, dropsy associated with heart weakness, as well as the dissolution of renal calculus . The administration form is usually by means of extract fluid, decoction of the roots or of the flowers. In comparison with the use of Digitalis it has been praised the fact that this plant doesn't present accumulative effects. It has also been used as a purgative because of the action of convallarin.
– Industrial: The pharmaceutical industry uses it for the extraction of cardiotonic products – and the industry of the perfumery to create perfumes, fundamentally by means – of its essential oil.
Synonyms:May lily, May bells, Our Lady's tears, Convall-lily, Lily Constancy, ladder-to-Heaven, Jacob's Ladder, male lily, muguet
Description: The leaves of this small herb, arising from a slender creeping rootstock, are 10-15cm long with sheathed stalks; the leafless flowerstems support a one-sided spike of drooping, bell-shaped, white, sweet-scented flowers. It is found in woodlands throughout Europe and Asia from the Mediterranean to the Arctic circle, and is cultivated and naturalised throughout the world.
Parts used: leaves and flowers; the fresh leaves have the most powerful action.
Collection: during the flowering period in May and June.
Constituents: cardioactive glycosides (convallotoxin, convallotoxol, convalloside, convallotoxoloside, convallarin, convallamarin, glucoconvalloside), Saponins (including convallarin and convallaric acid), asparagin, flavonoids, essential oil with farnesol.
Actions: cardioactive, digitalis-like action, diuretic, purgative, emetic
Indications: arrhythmia, congestive heart failure, oedema of cardiac origin, cardiac asthma.
Therapeutics and Pharmacology: Convallaria is a valuable heart remedy with an action similar to Digitalis but without its potential toxic effects. It increases myocardial efficiency and stroke volume without putting extra demands on coronary supply, and reduces excessive irritability of the myocardium. The cardiac glycosides increase the force and power of the heartbeat without increasing the amount of oxygen required by the heart muscle, thereby increasing the efficiency of the heart whilst at the same time steadying excess heartbeats without strain to the heart. The whole plant appears to be more gradual in its effect than isolated digitalis glycosides, it produces comparable effects with a smaller dose. The active cardiac glycosides are released sequentially rather than all together and are readily excreted by the kidneys, thus avoiding toxic buildup. The flavonoids encourage the arteries to dilate while the asparagin acts as a diuretic. Thus Convallaria can be used safely where there is high blood pressure. It may be used in the treatment of heart failure and water retention where this is associated with the heart.
Combinations: Convallaria may be combined with Leonurus, Crataegus and Selenicereus in heart disease.
Caution: This herb should be used only under qualified supervision. The Medicines Act (1968) specifically confines the use of Convallaria to practitioners operating under the terms of that Act.
Preparation and Dosage:
Additional Comments: Culpeper recommended Lily of the valley for strengthening the brain and renovating a weak memory. Mrs. Grieve states that it was used to treat victims of gassing during the First World War. The flowers are used in perfumery. In Chinese medicine, related species are used as a tonic. The red fruits are highly poisonous.
BHMA 1983 British Herbal Pharmacopoeia, BHMA, Bournemouth.
Culpeper, N. 1649 Complete Herbal and English Physician, 1990 reprint of the 1814 London edition of Culpeper’s Complete Herbal, Meyer, Illinois.
Grieve, M. 1931 A Modern Herbal, (ed. C.F. Leyel 1985), London.
Hoffmann, D. 1990 The New Holistic Herbal, Second Edition, Element, Shaftesbury.
Lust, J. 1990 The Herb Book, Bantam, London