As an herbalist and gardening enthusiast, I’ve always been fascinated by the number of uses associated with the daisy family of plants, known scientifically as Asteraceae or Compositae. The dasiy family includes many edible crops, including sunflower and safflower, as well as ornamental plants such as marigold, aster and chrysanthemum. Perhaps most importantly, the daisy family includes dozens of the world’s most popular and useful medicinal herbs.
Here are some medicinal herbs in the daisy family.
Perhaps the most famous medicinal herb in the daisy family, echinacea is a potent immunostimualant with antiviral and antibacterial properties. Echinacea stems, leaves and especially flowers can help to combat several common infections, including coughs, colds and flu. Consider using echinacea as a naturopathic defense against infectious diseases, especially during the cold months of the year.
The fragrant flowers of Roman and German chamomile plants have been used traditionally as weak sedatives. Chamomile has been used for hundreds of years to soothe symptoms of anxiety, insomnia, agitation and restlesssness, even in young children. Chamomile may also help to ease bacterial infections and some respiratory discomforts.
Another well-known herb in the daisy family, milk thisle contains the liver-boosting compound silymarin, which is a valuable defense against liver conditions including fibrosis, cirrhosis, hepatitis and liver failure. Milk thistle grows abundantly and is associated with very few side effects or drug interactions.
Although known primarily as a weed, dandelion actually offers a surprising number of medicinal uses. This member of the daisy family is a weak diuretic and a natural source of potassium; it helps to flush out excess fluids while also repelenishing electrolytes. Dandelion has also been used historically as a liver tonic and general “detox” herb. The roots, leaves and flowers are all used in medicine, but there is no clear consensus about which parts are most effective.
The root of the valerian plant has a long-standing history of use as an anxiolytic and weak sedative. In modern naturopathy, herbalists frequently prescribe valerian as a daily treatment for anxiety disorders, emotional disturbances, insomnia and stress. It is sometimes combined with other herbs that have similar properties, such as passionflower, kava-kava and chamomile.
In general, medicinal herbs in the daisy family are safe and associated with few side effects. However, people with ragweed allergies may also be allergic to other members of the daisy family. Read this article for more information.