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Chrysanthemum flowers

Chinese: 菊花

Pinyin: Jú Huā

Parts used: Dried capitulum

TCM category: Cool/Acrid herbs that release the Exterior

TCM nature: Cool

TCM taste(s): BitterSweet

Organ affinity: Liver Lung

Scientific name: Chrysanthemum morifolium

Other names: Florist's daisy, Hardy garden mum, Mum, Chrysanth

Use of chrysanthemum flowers (Ju Hua) in TCM

Please note that you should never self-prescribe TCM ingredients. A TCM ingredient is almost never eaten on its own but as part of a formula containing several ingredients that act together. Please consult a professional TCM practitioner, they will be best able to guide you.

Preparation: Keep only the capitulum and dry under the shade

Dosage: 5 - 15 grams

Main actions according to TCM*: Relieves the Exterior and clears Heat. Relieves Wind-Heat from the Liver channel and clears the eyes. Cools Heat of the Liver and Kidney due to Yin Deficiency. Relieves patterns of Liver Yang rising.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which chrysanthemum flowers may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Common cold Headache Uveitis Impaired vision Fever

Contraindications*: Not for those with Qi Deficiency with diarrhea and/or no appetite.

Common TCM formulas in which chrysanthemum flowers (Ju Hua) are used*

Sang Ju Yin

Source date: 1798 AD

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Formula key actions: Disperses Wind. Stops coughing by invigorating Lung Qi. Clears Heat.

Conditions targeted*: Common coldInfluenza and others

Ju Hua is a king ingredient in Sang Ju Yin. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

In Sang Ju Yin, Ju Hua disperses Wind Heat in the Upper Burner, including the eyes affecting one. 

Read more about Sang Ju Yin

Wu Wei Xiao Du Yin

Source date: 1742 AD

Number of ingredients: 5 herbs

Formula key actions: Clears Heat. Resolves Toxicity. Cools the Blood. Reduces swelling.

Conditions targeted*: Multiple furunclesCarbuncles and others

Ju Hua is a deputy ingredient in Wu Wei Xiao Du Yin. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

In Wu Wei Xiao Du Yin, Ju Hua resolves Toxicity, cools the Blood, reduces swellings and disperses clumps.

Read more about Wu Wei Xiao Du Yin

Ling Jiao Gou Teng Tang

Source date: Qing dynasty

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Formula key actions: Cools the Liver. Extinguishes Wind. Increases Fluids. Relaxes the sinews.

Conditions targeted*: EncephalitisMeningitis and others

Ju Hua is a deputy ingredient in Ling Jiao Gou Teng Tang. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

In Ling Jiao Gou Teng Tang, Ju Hua dispels Wind and clears Heat from the Liver and Lungs.

Read more about Ling Jiao Gou Teng Tang

Qi Ju Di Huang Wan

Source date: 1350 AD

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Formula key actions: Nourishes Kidney and Liver Yin. Improves vision.

Conditions targeted*: Diabetes mellitusDiabetes insipidus and others

Read more about Qi Ju Di Huang Wan

Key TCM concepts behind chrysanthemum flowers (Ju Hua)'s properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), chrysanthemum flowers are plants that belong to the 'Cool/Acrid herbs that release the Exterior' category. Herbs that release the Exterior aim to to treat the early stages of diseases that affect the upper respiratory tract, the eyes, the ears, the nose, the throat or the skin. TCM believes that External diseases such as colds or allergies can only invade the body if the External environment overwhelms our Wei Qi (the TCM version of the immune system). In order to counteract this invasion Cool/Acrid herbs aim to induce sweating by dilating our capillary pores so that they release more sweat. The belief is that this will expel the disease from the body and stop it from invading further.

As suggested by its category chrysanthemum flowers are plants that are Cool in nature. This means that chrysanthemum flowers tend to help people who have too much 'Heat' in their body, although with less effect than a plant that would be Cold in nature. Balance between Yin and Yang is a key health concept in TCM. Those who have too much Heat in their body are said to either have a Yang Excess (because Yang is Hot in nature) or a Yin deficiency (Yin is Cold in Nature). Depending on your condition chrysanthemum flowers can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.

Chrysanthemum flowers also taste Bitter and Sweet. The so-called 'Five Phases' theory in Chinese Medicine states that the taste of TCM ingredients is a key determinant of their action in the body. Bitter ingredients like chrysanthemum flowers tend to have a cleansing action on the body by clearing Heat, drying Dampness and promoting elimination via urination or bowel movements. On the other hand Sweet ingredients tend to slow down acute reactions and detoxify the body. They also have a tonic effect because they replenish Qi and Blood.

The tastes of ingredients in TCM also determine what Organs and Meridians they target. As such chrysanthemum flowers are thought to target the Liver and the Lung. In TCM the Liver is often referred as the body's "general" because it is in charge of regulating the movements of Qi and the Body Fluids. It also takes a leading role in balancing our emotions. In addition to performing respiration, the Lungs are thought in TCM to be a key part of the production chain for Qi and the Body Fluids that nourish the body.

Research on chrysanthemum flowers (Ju Hua)

The water extracts of of Harng Jyur (Chrysanthemum morifolium Ramat) from four varieties showed strong antioxidant activity.1

Chrysanthemum morifolium extract (CME) helps protect against cardiovascular diseases.2

Sources:

1. PD Duh, YY Tu, GC Yen (1999) "Antioxidant Activity of Water Extract of Harng Jyur (Chrysanthemum morifolium Ramat)". LWT - Food Science and Technology, Volume 32, Issue 5, Pages 269-277.

2. T Chen, LP Li, XY Lu, HD Jiang, Su Zeng (2007) "Absorption and Excretion of Luteolin and Apigenin in Rats after Oral Administration of Chrysanthemum morifolium Extract". J. Agric. Food Chem., 55 (2), pp 273–277

Use of chrysanthemum flowers (Ju Hua) as food

Chrysanthemum flowers are also eaten as food.