Saturday, 3 December 2011
OX-EYE DAISY, SMALL HERB WITH MANY USES: HISTORY, USES AND HEALTH BENEFITS OF THE OX-EYE DAISY
OX-EYE DAISY, LEUCANTHEMUM VULGARE
The ox-eye daisy is native to
Europe including the British Isles and the Russian parts of Asia, including Siberia. It is also known by a variety of other names including Maudlinwort, Dun Daisy, because of its association with the thunder god Odin, and goldenseal as well as marguerite and Moon daisy. It is a relative of the more common daisy, and was introduced into North America where it has now become naturalized and an invasive weed. It is a member of the Asteraceae or Compositae family of plants and has been used for centuries in folk medicine. Its other Latin name is Chrysanthemum leucantheum which comes from the Greek chrisos meaning golden and anthos meaning flower, while leuka means white. It is normally between one and two feet high but can grow up to three feet.
in the Middle Ages it was used to cure insanity, treat smallpox and for jaundice and skin diseases. The daisy and the ox-eye had a very special place in Celtic folklore as it was thought that the daisies were the reincarnation of children who died during childbirth, put on Earth to give comfort to grieving mothers. Wales
The ancient Greeks dedicated the ox-eye daisy to Artemis the goddess of women and used it for ‘female complaints’ such as menstrual disorders. A tisane of the flowers of the ox-eye daisy is said to relieve stomach cramps as does chamomile, another relative.
Later Christianity chose to adopt the flower as the one which symbolized St. Mary Magdalene and this became corrupted to maudlin, so the plant was known as maudlinwort in the 5th century and earlier.
“Dioscorides saith that the floures of Oxeie made up in a seare cloth doe asswage and washe away cold hard swellings, and it is reported that if they be drunke by and by after bathing, they make them in a short time well-coloured that have been troubled with the yellow jaundice.”
It was used for jaundice by country people for centuries, as a decoction drunk with ale.
Culpepper, writing in the 17th century in his “Complete Herball” writes that it is
“a wound herb of good respect, often used in those drinks and salves that are for wounds, either inward or outward' . . . and that it is 'very fitting to be kept both in oils, ointments, plasters and syrups.' He also mentions that the leaves, bruised and applied reduce swellings, and that
“a decoction thereof, with wall-wort (wall flowers) and agrimony, and places fomented or bathed therewith warm, giveth great ease in palsy, sciatica or gout. An ointment made thereof heals all wounds that have inflammation about them.”
The Iroquois tribe of Native Americans used the herb for fevers, and for these made a tisane out of the flowers and leaves. In
the leaves were used in an infusion to relieve chronic coughs such as whooping cough and catarrh, but honey should be added to give it a better flavour if you are thinking of using this remedy. However if you are allergic to daisies or nasturtiums and other members of the Asteraceae family, don’t use it! The leaves are edible and taste a bit like Kos lettuce. The leaves are best eaten in spring before the flowers bloom and they are recognized because the ones that grow in a rosette at the base of the plant have long leaf stems (petioles) which are spoon-shaped with rounded teeth edges. The flowers are also edible. Britain
The distilled water of the flowers has been used as an eye wash for conjunctivitis (pink eye) and a poultice of the whole plant can be applied to the skin for a variety of skin problems, as mentioned by Culpeper. In
North America the root has been employed for night sweats and consumption.
However the whole plant contains an acrid juice which makes the herb bitter and makes it smell a little like valerian. The seed casings of the ox-eye daisy contain pyrethrins which are natural organic compounds that can be utilized as a natural insecticide, so the common ox-eye has many useful properties.
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