DAISY (Bellis Perennis)
The common daisy is a wonderful wild herb which flowers from early spring until late autumn. Every child has picked and played with this pretty plant; it is so well known it does not need description.
Contains vitamins A plus calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium and phosphorus.
Avoid during pregnancy and breastfeeding,
Anti-oxidant, anti-catarrhal, anti-rheumatic, anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, astringent, circulatory, cough suppressant/expectorant, demulcent, diaphoretic, diuretic, digestive, laxative, liver and kidney tonic/support, ophthalmic, pain reliever, restorative tonic, skin soother and wound healer.
Although I have always known the humble Daisy was a healing plant, it was only when researching this article I realised how useful it was. Today modern herbalists rarely use it, however homeopaths regularly prescribe it to repair tissue damage and to treat digestive problems.
Our ancestor’s also valued the daisy highly, considering it to be a very important medicinal herb.
The plant is edible, the leaves can be cooked and added to stews and soups, but I prefer them raw. They have a slightly sour sharp flavour, some might say acrid, and are better eaten when young - the flower tops look gorgeous in a summer salad.
Its ancient names of bruisewart and woundwart give a broad hint as to one of its traditional uses. The Romans utilised the plant extensively on the battle field, wrapping open cuts and wounds in bandages soaked in the juice. Even today, modern herbal home remedy books suggest making a poultice from the freshly squeezed juice in the treatment of sprains and bruises.
The daisy’s pain relieving and anti-inflammatory qualities, combined with its natural anti-oxidant action, mean it is considered an excellent treatment for rheumatism and arthritis. For the same reason it was historically used to treat gout and even migraines.
It has long been thought to be a cleansing herb, its gentle antioxidant properties eliminate toxins from the system, and it is known to have diuretic and laxative actions too. The plant is a diaphoretic so the tea is useful for bringing on sweat in a fever and was commonly used for this purpose in folk remedies.
Taken as a tea, daisy was a traditional treatment for a raft of cold and bronchial complaints. Indeed, a combination of the expectorant, anti-inflammatory and restorative tonic properties support its use as a cold remedy.
Daisy is essentially thought to be an internally purifying herb, specifically for the liver, gall bladder, kidneys, and skin complaints. Externally the plant has a long tradition of being used to help with rashes and scalds and also as an anti-fungal skin treatment. Traditionally bathing with the flower heads was thought to be good for the skin but other sources claim that ‘daisy water’ i.e. a tea made from the flowers and leaves cooled, improves the complexion and enhances beauty. I have found a few examples of ointments made from the plant in the treatment of rashes, bruises and athletes foot. The easiest ointment recipe to make is to mush the well washed plant into a fine paste (preferably in a blender) then mix well with a carrier cream, for example aqueous cream. This should be refrigerated and is likely to only last a few weeks. In ointment form, I have heard of it referred to as poor man’s arnica, if the properties are similar it would also work well on sports injuries.
Daisy juice or tea is also thought beneficial for settling digestive issues, particularly diarrhoea. A strong decoction of the roots was believed to be a remedy for scurvy whilst root tea was also an ancient treatment for eczema, drunk regularly and applied as a wash on the affected areas.
The plant was used to treat eye complaints and a wash was made from the leaves and flowers for this purpose. One of my older herbal books explains that the plant improves circulation and is ideal for people who suffer from chilblains. It also says that daisy can be used to treat varicose veins and haemorrhoids and that taking the plant keeps the walls of the arteries soft and flexible.
Recent research has proven that taking daisy strengthens the muscle fibres of blood vessels, this combined with its anti-rheumatic actions is perhaps why it was believed to be the perfect cure for the aches and pains of elderly gardeners.
These are some of my personal experiences using Daisy combined with information I have researched over a number of years. I am not encouraging people to self-medicate, in the treatment of specific conditions it is best to consult with an herbalist or your GP. If you should develop an adverse reaction to any of the above please stop using the herb immediately. And always take care when identifying the plant.
Happy Hunting, Claire Fleetneedle
LIFE ON PIG ROW DISCLAIMER: We’d like to thank Claire for this wonderful piece, as she points out, this is her personal experience and common sense must prevail in homemade herbal remedies. Therefore, if you are out and about foraging and aren’t confident that what you are about to pick is edible or medicinal the best advice is to leave it where it is. In the event of an adverse reaction to any homemade herbal remedy or foraged edible food you are advised to seek out medical advice. While every care is taken in the production of these posts neither Claire Fleetneedle nor Life on Pig Row are responsible for adverse reactions. Please remember to check local by-laws before foraging and never forage on private land without permission. Please use common sense when foraging.