Daisy, Daisy, give me an answer do
What do I do for the flu?
If the Daisy you are speaking to is Echinacea purpurea, then it’s quite likely to assist you considerably in any battles with flu. Yet another member of the Daisy family, Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium), is powerless against viruses.
Why the confusion? Both plants are part of the Asteracea (Daisy) family.
A plant family is a botanical category that includes many plants sharing similar characteristics. In the case of the Daisy family, they all have compound flower heads. Jerusalem artichokes, sunflowers, dahlias, chrysanthemums, asters, marigolds, chamomile, yarrow, dandelions and, of course, the cheerful daisy itself are all part of this family.
Despite being similar on some levels, the medicinal actions of these flowers vary enormously, with some being purely decorative.
- Echinacea: well known for its beneficial action against colds and flu
- Feverfew: taken regularly to prevent migraine
- Jerusalem artichoke: useful for improving metabolism of sugars and starche
- Sunflowers: the seeds contain valuable Essential Fatty Acids as well as many minerals, and are thought to assist with cravings brought on by nicotine withdrawal
- Dandelion: the leaf is valuable for resolving water retention, whilst the root is thought to be advantageous for the liver
- Marigold: valuable as a healing agent for lesions, and good for the lymphatic system
- Chamomile: helps many people stay calm and sleep well
- Yarrow: useful for the digestive system
It’s useful, however, to be aware of the links between common plants because, for example, if you drink Chamomile tea and have an adverse reaction, then the chances are you won’t respond well to Echinacea or do well munching dandelion leaves. Allergic reactions to this family aren’t particularly common, but when they occur it’s easier to avoid future problems if you are aware of the other members of the family.
Also, confusions between family members can bring the whole family into disrepute. Unskilled people wild-harvesting Echinacea may take other members of the family instead, causing misnamed products to enter the market when they sell them on as Echinacea. This may be behind the occasional ‘Echinacea doesn’t work’ stories: it won’t if it’s not Echinacea!