Lily of the Valley Essential Oil- Benefits, Uses, and Origin
Lily of the Valley (Convallaria majalis), also known as May Bells, Our Lady’s Tears, and Mary’s Tears, is a flowering plant native to the Northern Hemisphere, in Asia, and in Europe. It also goes by the name Muguet in French. Lily of the Valley is a popular source of oil used in making perfumes. In fact, famous perfume makers such as Dior make use of lily of the valley scent as a base for their perfumes.
Although one might think that it is related to the common flowering plant lily, it is actually not a true lily. It belongs to the family of asparagus, Asparagaceae. Lily of the Valley is an herbaceous plant with glossy green leaves. Its small, bell-shaped white flowers grown in clusters in a leafless stalk. The plant also bears berries that are orange to red. This plant grows close to each other and is often used as ground cover. Lily of the Valley is classified as a poisonous plant if ingested or consumed by humans and animals because of its cardiac glycosides content.
Lily of the Valley essential oil has a sweet, floral, fresh scent which is also described to be light and very feminine. This oil is extracted from the plant’s flowers. The oil’s key components are benzyl alcohol, citronellol, geranyl acetate, 2,3-dihydrofarnesol, (E)-cinnamyl alcohol, and (E)- and (Z)-isomers of phenylacetaldehyde oxime.
Traditional Uses of Lily of the Valley
Lily of the Valley has been mentioned in different stories and legends. Legend has it that the plant grew from where Eve shed her tears when she and Adam were evicted from the Garden of Eden. In Greek legend, the plant was gifted to Aesculapius, the great healer, by the Sun God Apollo. The flowers also symbolize the tears of the Virgin Mary in Christian stories, hence the name Mary’s tears.
The plant has been used since ancient times to treat different human diseases, including certain heart ailments. It was also believed to have a positive effect on a person’s memory. For some time, the plant was used to create a salve which relieves pain from sore hands. During World War I, it was used as an antidote for treating gas poisoning and treat skin burns. It was used as a sedative and a cure for epilepsy.
Writers in the past have written of Lily of the Valley as a treatment for fever and ulcers. It was also recorded to have some anti-inflammatory property which helped alleviate pain from gout and rheumatism and also relieve headaches and earaches.
Because of its beautiful flowers and sweet scent, it was widely used as a bridal bouquet, which is believed to bring fortune and luck to the newly married couple. Other believe the opposite, believing the flower brings bad luck and should only be used to honor the dead.
Lily of the Valley was also used to protect gardens and ward off evil spirits and as charms against spells from witches.
Benefits of Using Lily of the Valley Essential Oil
For cardiovascular health
Lily of the Valley essential oil was used since ancient times to treat several cardiovascular diseases. The oil’s flavonoid content helps ease blood flow by stimulating the arteries which control and manage the blood pressure. It is used for treating valvular heart disease, cardiac debility, and congestive heart failure. The oil can also boost the muscular function of the heart and cure irregular heartbeats. It also reduces the risk of heart attack or hypotension. The oil’s diuretic property helps in easing the flow of the blood by dilating the blood vessels.
Helps in detoxification
The oil helps release toxins such as excess salt and water from the body by encouraging frequent urination. Aside from toxins, it also flushes out bacteria that can cause infections, especially the ones that may cause urinary tract infection. It also helps break down kidney stones. Aside from keeping the urinary tract healthy, it also helps eliminate toxins from the liver.
Boosts brain function and alleviates depression
It can treat headaches, memory loss, and help strengthen the neurons to improve brain function. It also helps in slowing down the onset of age-related cognitive skills for seniors. Lily of the Valley is used to help calm the mind and create a relaxing environment. This, in turn, helps manage anxiety and depression. It also works against restlessness when topically applied.
Helps heal wounds
Cuts and wounds can leave bad-looking scars. Lily of the Valley essential oil helps treat wounds and skin burns without the nasty scars.
Lily of the Valley essential oil’s ability to promote good blood flow helps regulate the temperature of the body thus helping reduce fever.
For a healthy respiratory system
Lily of the Valley essential oil is used to treating pulmonary edema and aids breathing. It is proven to have a positive effect on Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Diseases such as asthma.
For a healthy digestive system
Lily of the Valley aids digestion by regulating the digestive process. It has a purgative property which aids in the excretion of waste and relieve constipation.
The oil has the ability to reduce inflammation that causes joint and muscle pains. It is used in treat gout, arthritis, and rheumatism.
Safety Tips and Precautions
Lily of the Valley is known to be poisonous when ingested by humans and animals. This can cause vomiting, nausea, abnormal heart rhythm, headache, and may lead to loss of consciousness.
Since this oil can affect the heart and other systems of the body, it may have adverse effects on people who suffer from certain diseases, especially if used without a doctor’s recommendation. For people who have heart diseases and have low potassium level, using lily of the valley essential oil should only be under the advice of a physician.
Pregnant and breastfeeding women are advised to avoid this oil.