Medicinal uses of our humble daisy (Bellis perennis)
Daisy (Bellis perennis)
Who doesn't love the sight of spring, first flowers blooming and greenery all around. Among beautiful dandelions and nettles you may have come across humble, little flower- daisy. The symbol of innocence, love, purity and joy, dedicated to goddess of love and marriage Freya. Daisy is not only edible but also has quite few remarkable properties similar to Arnica plant and it was much beloved wound healing remedy in the past.
Traditional use of daisy flowers.
Daisy (Bellisperennis) probably comes from the word “bellis”, meaning in “fields of battle” due to its long traditional history of wound healing properties among soldiers. The old English name for daisy was Bainwrot or Bruisewort which referred to its application in wounds (vulnerary) and bruises. There are several historical accounts of wound healing properties of daisy among herbalists; Fabricius used to write “A decoction of the leaves and flowers was given internally; and the bruised herb with lard was applied outside. The leaves stamped do take away bruises and swellings, whereupon it was called in old time Bruisewort."(1) Similar reference was noted by herbalist Gerarde, who used to say, "daisies do mitigate all kinds of pain, especially in the joints, and gout proceeding from a hot humor, if stamped with new butter, and applied upon the pained place." And " the leaves of daisies used among potherbs do make the belly soluble” (1) Whereas William Turner (1509–1568) knew daisy as ‘banwort’, “because it helpeth bones to knyt againe” (2).
Beside external application, daisy was also known to be particularly good remedy to help with fever and upper respiratory tract infections like scrofula, tuberculosis, pleurisy, coughs, colds, headaches. Pilny used daisy and mugwort extract in scrofula (myobacterium cervical lymhadenitis) and Rober Dodoens, a Flemish herbalist used to write “Daisies boiled in water, either the whole plant or just the flowers, and especially the small or wild (species), are good for fever, heating up the liver and all internal organs. This same herb in food or soups stimulates the movement of the bowels” (3). Other less accounted medicinal uses of daisy in skin problems were chilblains and ringworm.
Daisies wonderful healing constituents.
The chemical composition of aerial parts of daisy are: triterpenoidsaponins (perennisosides), triterpenes, several anthocyanins, flavonoids (quercetin, apigenin, kaempferol, isorhamnetin), phenolic compounds and polyacetylenes (4). Polyacetylenes are the major essential oil compounds found in daisies that have shown to exhibit antibacterial action against Gram positive and Gram-negative bacteria in vitro (5). Probably the most prominent in vitro study of daisy anti-bacterial action was on inhibition of Staphylococcus epidermidis and Staphylococcus aureus by ethanolic extract but to lesser degree P. aeruginosa, P. fluorescens and S.epidermidis (6). Interestingly, the triterpenoid saponins have been found to exert anti-fungal action against Candida and Cryptococcus species which adds to additional benefits of using daisy topically (7).
From scientific perspective daisy is still poorly researched herb, there is some anecdotal evidence of wound healing capacity of daisy ointment in animal models when compared to control, however it is still in infancy (8). One study has found that ethanolic daisy extract (olenane triterpene saponins) promoted collagen synthesis in human dermal fibroblasts without causing cytotoxicity (9). Additionally, another study has reported complete remission of atopic dermatitis in children following topical application of daisy ointment after 2 months, however the ointment contained other herbs that were also well known for wound healing capabilities (10).
Moreover, there has been a lot of interest in cosmetic application of daisy saponins-Belidesin in regulating skin hyperpigmentation and age spots (14). In this study Belidesin have shown to employ number of actions such as blocking tyrosinase expression, peptide hormone endothelin and the binding capacity of alpha-MSH (melanocyte-stimulating hormone) on the melanocortin receptor1 (MC1-R) (14). Besides topical application, internal administration of daisy extract has been shown to reduce serum triglycerides levels, have anti-depressant activity in animal models and mimic insulin levels but more evidence is needed to confirm these findings (11,12,13).
Even though the leaves and flowers are edible (they are bitter and pungent in taste), the herbalists only recommended 10 drops of daisy tincture up to three times a day or 1 tsp of flowers brewed in the tea.Daisy can be harvest nearly all year round as it does not loose much medicinal value.
How to make your own daisy infused oil recipe. Topically daisy can be applied in form of liniment or ointment. To make daisy infused oil: 1. Gather fresh daisy flower, enough to cover a jar to the top. 2. Cover them with your chosen oil (I use almond oil as it has thicker consistency) for at least 2 months 3. Strain into the clean jar, label it and store it in the dark and cool place.