Ju hua is known in the West as florists’ chrysanthemum and is valued for its ornamental qualities. In China, however, it is a popular medicinal herb and it is also commonly drunk as a refreshing tisane. Ju hua is used to improve vision and soothe sore eyes, to relieve headaches, and to counter infections such as colds and flu. Furthermore, research has demonstrated that it is a valuable remedy for high blood pressure.
Habitat & Cultivation
Ju hua is native to China. Today, it is mostly cultivated, and is propagated from cuttings in spring or early summer. The flower heads are gathered in autumn when fully open. They are usually dried in the sun, which can take a long time.
Wild chrysanthemum, ye hu hua (C. indicum), has a similar use in Chinese herbal medicine. Many other closely related species have an established therapeutic value, for example tansy (Tanacetum vulgare) and feverfew (T. parthenium).
- Alkaloids, including stachydrine
- Volatile oil
- Sesquiterpene lactones
- Flavonoids, including apigenin
- Betaine & choline
- Vitamin B1
- Increases sweating
- Lowers blood pressure
- Reduces fever
Blood pressure: A number of Chinese and Japanese clinical trials during the 1970s showed that ju hua is most effective at lowering blood pressure and relieving associated symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, and insomnia. In these trials, ju hua was mixed with jin yin hua (Lonicera spp.).
Other research: Ju hua has proven to be helpful in the treatment of angina, and to have an antibiotic effect against a range of pathogens. In laboratory studies, some of the flavonoids were found to have anti-HIV activity. Extracts of the flowers reduce inflammation.
Traditional & Current Uses
Long-standing remedy: Ju hua has been taken in China as a medicine and as a beverage for thousands of years. It was first categorized in the Divine Husbandman’s Classic (Shen’nong Bencaojing), written in the 1st century CE.
Eye problems: In China, the infused flower heads are popular as a remedy for red, sore eyes, especially after long periods of close work, such as reading or working at a computer. The warm flower heads are placed on closed eyes and then replaced when cool. Ju hua infusion is taken in China as a remedy to improve eyesight.
Cooling & antiseptic: Ju hua infusion is used to reduce fever, to counter infection, and to detoxify the body. It relieves mild fevers and tension headaches, soothes a dry mouth or throat, and treats bad breath.
Skin complaints: The fresh leaves make an antiseptic poultice for acne, pimples, boils, and sores.
High blood pressure: Symptoms often associated with high blood pressure, such as dizziness, headaches, and tinnitus, are treated with ju hua.