Nectar of poets, tisane of the common man
Chinese poetry reflects the exceptional respect paid to the humble chrysanthemum flower in its ability to heal an imbalanced body and mind. The Chinese poet Tao Yuanming (CE 365-427) writes in Drinking, "While picking chrysanthemums beneath the easter fence, my gaze uptown the southern mountain rest," indicating a serene retreat away from the bustling world. Likewise, TCM utilizes the herb to quiet anxiety and balance the nerves. Since chrysanthemum supports a healthy liver, "wind" ailments such as anger, stress, headache and dizziness are eased as well. Greer's Health & Wellness affirms the herb is used to "sharpen the vision and hearing, calm the nerves and clear the brain."
During the hot summer season, chrysanthemum tea is frequently consumed to dispel bodily heat without dampening digestion. It is also useful for fevers in the early stages of illness. Brimming with beta carotene and vitamin C, chrysanthemum enhances the immune system, promotes a healthy complexion and reduces the signs of aging.
Oftentimes, chrysanthemum is combined with other herbs to increase its potency in healing specific complaints. The Jade Institute recommends the following:
"A tea of Ju Hua [chrysanthemum] and Sang Ye (Mulberry leaf) will clear wind-heat from the eyes, while a tea with Shan Zha (Hawthorn fruit) and Jue Ming Zi (Cassia seed) helps to lower blood pressure and cholesterol. Probably the most common combination is with Gou Qi Zi (Lycii berries), which nourishes the Liver and Kidney yin, benefits the essence and brightens the eyes. Together, Ju Hua and Gou Qi Zi make a tasty tea that treats dizziness, eyestrain, improves vision, and soothes the eyes."
With a gentle reminder, the Institute continues:
"The benefits of long-term consumption of Chrysanthemum tea have been recognized throughout the history of Chinese medicine. It is said to prevent aging and to be a favorite of Taoists and poets, though the benefits are achieved only with drinking the tea over a long period of time. In the Shen Nong Ben Cao Jing, it says, "taken over a long time it facilitates the qi and blood, lightens the body and prevents aging." Chen Shi-Dou explains: "Sweet Ju Hua is light and clear in flavor and nature, and its effect is particularly leisurely, it must be taken over a long time before it starts to take effect, one cannot just take more to try for earlier results."
Photo Credit: Koshkina Larisa