Lily of the Valley
Scientific Name: Convallaria majalis L.
Other Names: May Lily, May Bells, Convallaria, Our Lady’s Tears, Convall-Lily, Lily Constancy, Jacob’s Ladder, Ladder-to-Heaven, Muguet
What it is called in other languages: German: Lilienkonvallen. French: Muguet. Spanish: Lirio de Los Valles. Italian: Mughetto.
Habitat: The plant is native to Europe and has been introduced into the U.S. and northern Asia.
Flowering: Lily of the Valley flowers from May to June.
Flower and Fruit: The flowers are in racemes nodding to one side, usually with a triangular penduncle. The tips are hemispheric, campanulate. 6-petalled with ovoid revolute tips. The perigone is white or pink. The stamens are attached to the base of the perigone. The fruit is a bright red, globular berry with 2 blue seeds. The plant is autosterile. (PDR, p.475)
Leaves, Stem and Root: The 15 to 20 cm high plant has 2 to 3 leaves at the tip of the runner-like, branched rhizome. The leaves are elliptoid and acute. They taper to a long, sharp petiole at the base, which is clasped by a membranous sheath. (PDR, p.475)
Cardio-active glycosides, flavonoid glycosides: Cardioactive steroid glycosides (cardenolides): varying according to geographical source, chief glycoside convallatoxin (western and northwestern Europe), convalloside (northern and eastern Europe), or convallatoxin + convalla toxol (central Europe) (PDR, p.475)
The medicinal parts are the dried flower tips and the dried inflorescence, the Lily-of-the-Valley herb, the dried root rhizome with the roots, the flowering aerial parts and the whole, fresh, flowering plant. (PDR for Herbal Medicines, p.475)
Lily of the Valley increases force of the heart, regularises the beat for distension of the ventricles. Restores an irritable heart. Increases size and strength of the pulse; slows down a rapid feeble pulse; restores regular deep breathing. Is a secondary diuretic which eliminates fluid retained in the tissues (oedema), leaving no depression or depletion of potassium. Cardiac stimulant. Mild gastric tonic. (Bartram)
For valvular heart disease, mitral stenosis, lack of cardiac muscular tone, and general debility of heart action; apoplexy (dissolves the blood clot); dropsy (drives out the water); poisoned wounds, ulcers, cancers (softens hard cancers); purulent ophthalmia, inflammatory skin disease and loss of memory. (Dr. Shook p.340)
Similar action on the heart as digitalis. (Martindale 27th edn., p.489)
Dr. Edward Shooks wrote in his Advanced Treatise in Herbalism:
“When we consider that it contains POTASSIUM CHLORIDE, the great solvent of fibrinous and catarrhal matter; CALCIUM CHLORIDE, the great heart remedy; IRON CHLORIDE, which has cleared up all kinds of growths, varicose ulcers and veins, tumors, lupoid ulcers, cancers, ulcerated gums, gangrene, and has effectually stopped alarming hemorrhage, etc; POTASSIUM SULPHATE, the carrier of oxygen and sulphur to the skin and epithelial cells, renewing their vitality; SODIUM SULPHATE, which carries excess water out of the blood and tissues; and CHLOROPHYLL, the great stabilizer and healer.”
The Lily of the Valley is used for left ventricular failure, mitral insufficiency, sense that “the chest is held in a vice”. Congestive heart failure, endocarditis, cardiac dropsy with swollen ankles, cardiac asthma, renal hypertension. Effective in painful and silent ischaemic episodes and bradycardia.
Lily of the Valley is considered most effective with regards to cardiac paresis, palpitation, arhythmia, mitral constriction and insufficiency, dilatations, and cardiac dropsy (Blair, © 1907).
Ellingwood wrote of the uses of this herb (Ellingwood, p.150):
“In palpitation resulting from a state of exhaustion of the pneumogastric nerves—cardiac paresis, the most frequent source of palpitations.
In simple cardiac arrhythmia, with or without hypertrophy of the heart, with or without lesions of the orifices or valves of the heart.
In mitral constriction, especially when it is accompanied by failure of compensation on the part of the left auricle and right ventricle, the
contractile force augments visibly under the convallaria, as the sphygmograph testifies.
In mitral insufficiency, especially where there are pulmonary congestions, and when, as a consequence, there is dyspnea, with or without nervous trouble of the respiration.
In dilatation of the left ventricle, without compensatory hypertrophy, it restores energy of the heart, which tends to become more and more feeble and dilated. In dilatations of the heart, with or without fatty degeneration, with or without sclerosis of muscular tissue, the
indications for convallaria majalis are clear.
In all cardiac affections indifferently, from the moment that watery infiltrations appear, convallaria has an action evident, prompt and
Lily of the Valley is also approved by Europe’s Commission E for the following conditions:
• Cardiac insufficiency NYHA I and II
• Nervous heart complaints
Dr. Sebi on the Lily of the Valley
In this video Dr. Sebi spoke of using the Lily of the Valley for a patient suffering from congestive heart failure, he also mentioned the value of the herb in addressing breast cancer.
Other Herbalists On the Use of the Lily of the Valley
Dr. Christopher considers the Lily of the Valley an effective remedy for blood poisoning (Herballegacy .com):
“When we have a case of blood poisoning in a specific area of the body resulting from the sting of an insect, bee, hornet, or black widow spider, the bite of a “mad” dog, or infection from a cut or sliver, we need a powerful blood purifier that will give immediate relief to that area. Plantain (Plantago Major), Lily of the Valley leaves (Convallaria Majalis), and the common Lilac leaves have this power of purifying the blood stream in such an isolated area.”
He also considered it an effective remedy for dropsy with heart involvement.
Of the lily of the valley Culpepper wrote (Culpeper, pg.214) :
“The distilled water dropped into the eyes help with inflammation there. The spirit of the flowers distilled in wine, restores speech, helps the palsy, and is good in the apoplexy, and comforts the heart and vital spirits. It is also of service in disorders of the head and nerves, such as epilepsy, vertigo, and convulsions of all kind; swimming in the head; and are made use of in errhines and cephalic snuff.”
Preparation of the Lily of the Valley
An infusion of the whole plant is an active and satisfactory preparation. The root is more commonly employed, and should, preferably, be worked in a recent state. The solid extract is usually unsatisfactory (Blair, © 1907).
Combines well with Motherwort and Selenicereus grandiflorus for heart disease BHP (1983). With Echinacea and Poke root for endocarditis. Never combine with Gotu Kola. (Dr. John Heinerman, Texas, USA)
Maximum dose: 150mg dried leaf. Thrice daily. (Bartram)
Tea: 1 teaspoon shredded leaves to each cup water gently simmered 10 minutes. One-third of a cup.(Bartram)
Liquid Extract BPC 1934: dose: 0.3-0.6ml (5 to 10 drops).
Tincture BHP (1983): 1:5 in 40 per cent alcohol; dose – 0.5 to 1ml (8 to 15 drops).(Bartram)
Juice. Fresh leaves passed through a juicer. 3-5 drops thrice daily. (Bartram)
Storage: The preparations should be stored in well-sealed containers and protected from light.
Contra-indicated in high blood pressure.
Precautions and Adverse Reactions
General: Health risks following the proper administration of designated therapeutic dosages are not recorded. Nausea, vomiting, headache, stupor, disorders of color perception and cardiac arrhythmias can occur as side effects, particularly with an overdosage.
Drug Interactions: The simultaneous administration of quinidine, digoxin, calcium salts, saluretics, laxatives and glucocorticoids enhances effects and side effects.
Bartram’s Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine, by Thomas Bartram
A Practitioner’s Handbook Of Materia Medica And Therapeutics, Based Upon Established Physiological Actions And The Indications In Small Doses.
To Which Is Added Some Pharmaceutical Data And The Most Important Therapeutic Developments Of Sectarian Medicine As Explained Along Rational Lines. By Thos. S. Blair, M. D. (Copyright, 1907. By J. J. Taylor)
Culpeper’s Complete Herbal by Nicholas Culpeper
Advanced Course in Herbology Dr. Edward Shook Copyright 1974 by George Cervilla
American Materia Medica, Therapeutics and Pharmacognosy (1919), by Finley Ellingwood, M.D.