You might know chrysanthemums, or mums, as a many-petaled flower found all over the world in garden beds and flowerpots. Chrysanthemum blooms range from pale yellow to bright red, with some purple and white varieties.
Depicted for centuries in art, they’re not just pretty to look at. Chrysanthemums are also edible and have been used for medicinal purposes for thousands of years.
The tea brewed from the dried flowers has a golden hue and a mild, flowery flavor similar to chamomile. The flower’s leaves and stalks can also be blanched (briefly plunged into boiling water) or eaten raw in salads.
Current research appears to support some of the medicinal benefits of chrysanthemums.
Chrysanthemums may have anti-obesity effects, too. A 2019 study found that taking chrysanthemum leaf ethanol extract helped prevent obesity in mice.
Other research also indicates that components of the flower may help improve high blood sugar and possibly help prevent type 2 diabetes.
Still, many of the studies on chrysanthemum are done in a laboratory or in animals. More research is needed to evaluate its effects in humans.
Nutritionist Renee Rosen, trained at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, has researched chrysanthemum extensively. “One cannot expect to take chrysanthemum and have a miraculous recovery from osteoporosis or to calm nerves overnight,” she says.
Rosen advises ensuring the purity and concentration of the preparation. She also recommends taking chrysanthemum for a long period of time to reap the benefits.
Having studied the purported cooling and anti-inflammatory effects of chrysanthemum, Rosen says, “What seems realistic is that over very long periods of time, some people with the right body constitution can use chrysanthemum to reduce heat and inflammation.”
Allergies and side effects
If you’re allergic to daisies or ragweed, you might also be allergic to chrysanthemum.
Direct contact with the flowers may cause skin irritation and asthma in some people. One study also linked drinking chrysanthemum tea to the development of anaphylaxis in a small number of cases.
It’s important to stop consuming chrysanthemum if you have a reaction like a skin rash or respiratory irritation.
Chrysanthemum may also interact with prescription medications. Research from 2015 indicated that chrysanthemum may interact with several statins (drugs that help lower cholesterol levels). The authors recommended avoiding drinking chrysanthemum tea while using these medications.
If you’re taking prescription medications, ask your doctor before you start using any chrysanthemum products.
Chrysanthemum essential oil may also have antimicrobial and antiviral effects, according to
Some chrysanthemum varieties contain a substance called pyrethrum, which is used in many pesticides. Exposure to pyrethrum may irritate your skin and lungs.
Chrysanthemum has been used for thousands of years in Chinese medicine, with people breeding over 3,000 types of chrysanthemum flowers.
According to research, chrysanthemum is traditionally known for “cleaning heat and toxin” and “scattering cold.” Chinese medicine has used it to treat many conditions, including:
- eye pain
- hypertension (high blood pressure)
- sore throat
Dr. J. D. Yang is an expert in Chinese and integrative medicine and founder of Tao Integrative. “Chinese medicine categorizes herbs based on energetic properties rather than the chemical ingredients,” he says. “Chrysanthemum provides mildly cold energy. It has special affinity to the energy channels that lead to the lungs, liver, spleen, and kidneys.”
These uses aren’t supported by contemporary scientific research but have a lengthy history. Chrysanthemum, or “Ju Hua,” as it’s known in Chinese, is also recommended for reducing fever and cold symptoms in the early stages.
Chrysanthemum tea is easy to make. If you use chrysanthemum you’ve grown yourself, pluck the flowers and leave them to dry for several days in a sunny spot or use a food dehydrator. You can also buy dried chrysanthemum blooms in health food and Asian groceries.
Boil the water and allow it to cool for about a minute. Then use between 3 to 6 dried flowers to an 8-ounce cup of water. Let it steep for a few minutes and voila! If you choose, you can sweeten it with sugar or honey.
If you make chrysanthemum tea, make sure you use only plants that have not been sprayed with pesticides or other garden chemicals.
If you’re pregnant or nursing, ask your doctor before drinking chrysanthemum tea.
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