Hello everyone! I’ve talked a little here about Chinese herbal medicine, but it is sometimes a hard topic to condense into a blog post. However, with this glorious summer weather and all the lovely flowers blooming and growing, I started thinking about the very real beauty of some of our Chinese herbs. Chinese herbs come in a variety of different materials. The most common is plant parts (flowers, roots, leaves, berries, etc.), but herbal medicine can also involve the use of animal parts, bones, minerals, and more. Today we are going to explore three of the very beautiful flowers that we use in Chinese medicine.
I’m very lucky to be featuring a guest artist on the blog today- Lauren Bartkus (maiden name Robinson for those of you who know her from Westover!) is a friend of mine whom I have known for a very long time. She is a very talented graphic designer based out of Seattle, WA. She specializes in responsive websites, logos and branding, and marketing material design for small businesses. For more information and more about her work, please visit her website. She has graciously volunteered to illustrate for us some of the flowers we use in Chinese medicine, and I am so excited to share her work with you.
Many times when we see Chinese herbs, they are either dried (so they lose some of their color and vitality) or they are in pill form, so you can’t see what they look like at all. This is a great peek into what these plants look like in real life, so you can appreciate the beauty of these immensely helpful healing plants.
Today I’m going to introduce and explore three flowers used in TCM. As a friendly reminder, when I talk about herbal medicine on this blog, this is not intended for you to go out and start taking these herbs. You should only ever take herbs under the guidance of a licensed Chinese medical practitioner who better knows your personal health needs and history.
I’ll give the name of the flower in Pinyin (a way of translating Chinese characters into English lettering) as well as in Latin and English.
Huai Mi (sephorae flos) (Pagoda flower)
(sometimes also known as Huai Hua Mi)
Huai Mi is part of the category of herbs that regulate the blood. Broadly, this means that herbs in this category affect the circulation of blood in the body, especially if there is an issue of stagnation (blood not moving as it should) or abnormal bleeding. This particular flower is very good at both clearing heat and stopping bleeding. Its particular blood regulating function especially applies to bleeding of the intestines or for bleeding hemorrhoids (bet you didn’t see what one coming, did you? Pretty flowers can do pretty crazy things!). It can also be very useful for redness and irritation of the eyes. It’s even used for hypertension (high blood pressure).
Hong Hua (carthami flos) (Safflower)
Hong Hua is another herb that regulates the blood. This is a really great herb for moving blood and reducing pain. It’s very commonly used in gynecological disorders such as painful menstruation. Hong Hua also has a variety of minor functions including moistening dryness, in certain dosages nourishing the blood, and helping stubborn rashes like measles come to the surface so they can be expressed and resolved.
Zi Hua Di Ding (violae herba) (Viola flower)
This herb is part of the category that clears heat. This herb also is said to resolve toxicity (this does not mean “toxins” in the nonsensical modern use of how juice cleanses are said to “clear toxins”- this means it resolves infections).
The viola flower is especially useful for treating deep-seated or infected sores and accesses (yet another instance of the surprising power of a little flower!). It does this by both clearing heat and reducing swelling. It can also treat less serious instances of heat and swelling, such as in the eyes or throat.
I hope you all enjoyed this exploration of how some flowers can be used in Chinese medicine to treat all sorts of conditions. A huge thank you to Lauren again- I love her pictures of these so much, and I am definitely going to frame them for my office. I hope everyone has a safe and fun Fourth of July weekend, and until next time- be well!