Lily of the Valley (Convallaria magalis)
Lily of the valley is a delicate, shade-loving plant that is commonly found in gardens in the Northern Hemisphere. It is native to Europe, but has easily adapted to other locations. Only nine inches tall, these sweet-smelling plants have two large elliptical leaves and sprays of tiny white bell-shaped flowers. The herb loves rich soil, and is best divided in the spring. It is also known as Our Lady's Tears, Convall-lily, and May Lily.
Key Medicinal Uses
Internally Lily of the valley is similar to foxglove in that they both have a strong effect on the heart. These two herbs are sometimes used interchangeably for heart failure and other cardiovascular problems. The herbal medicine slows the heart rate and regulates the rhythm and efficiency of each beat. It is used when the heart's strength is not sufficient, such as in angina or if the heart is aging or if there are fatty deposits to be found in the blood vessels. This herbal treatment may be better tolerated than foxglove. This herb is also diuretic. Historically, it was also used for gout and to improve the memory.
Externally Lily of the valley was used to soothe inflammation of the eyes.
Other Uses The plant produces a yellow to greenish dye when you combine the leaves with chrome for a mordant. If combined with autumn leaves and chrome, the dye produced is gold.
Herbs to Combine/Supplement
Flowers, roots, leaves The flowers, roots and leaves are used medicinally. They are harvested while the plant flowers, usually in May or June. The harvested portions are then dried before use.
Lily of the valley is poisonous. This herb should not be used unless you are under the supervision of a skilled care provider. It should not be taken during pregnancy. Side effects can include nausea, vomiting, hypertension, trembling, restlessness, weakness, depression, cardiac arrhythmias, circulatory collapse and death. It will increase both the effectiveness and the side effects of calcium, quinidine, laxatives and glucocorticoids.
Preparation and Dosage
Do not use this herbal remedy without professional medical supervision. Preparations should be done by a qualified herbalist or commercial herb supplier. Dosages should be set by a physician skilled in the use of herbs and herbal medicines.
Lily of the valley is generally given as a tincture or extract, although infusions may also be used.