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Convallaria majalisConvallaria majalis (Liliaceae)

LILY-OF-THE-VALLEY, MAY LILY, MUGET

 

The flowering tops and root have a similar, but safer, effect on the heart to Digitalis and are given by herbalists for heart failure and fluid retention.

 

The apothecaries of the middle ages recognized the value of this herb in "disorders of the heart and vital spirits". Its renown in the treatment of faints, poor memory, "convulsions of all kinds and swimming in the head" may also stem from its beneficial effect on the heart and hence the blood circulation to the brain. A native of Europe, North America and northern Asia, where it grows in the drier parts of shady woods, it has an underground stem, oval leaves, and fragrant, bell-shaped, white flowers in spring.

 

PARTS USED

Flowering tops, root.

 

ACTIVE INGREDIENTS

Glycosides, including convallarin, convallatoxin, and convalloside; flavonoids; asparagin.

 

ACTIONS

Improves the heart's pumping action; increases urine production.

 

MEDICINAL USE

It has a similar action to Digitalis but is less toxic. Used in cardiac failure, as it helps the heart beat more strongly and efficiently. The diuretic effect also helps to relieve oedema (swelling due to fluid retention) associated with cardiac failure. In Chinese medicine, related species are used as a tonic.

 

PREPARATIONS

Tincture.

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