Chrysanthemum -- a flower from the daisy family -- has long been used in traditional Chinese medicine for treating fever, hypertension, dry eyes and headaches, as well as other inflammatory conditions. A study published in the September 2003 edition of the medicinal plant journal "Fitoterapia" found that fresh flower heads taken from Chrysanthemum coronarium had antimicrobial properties. Another study published in the March 2002 edition of "Cancer Letter" reported that chrysanthemum had anti-tumor properties. In addition to its benefits, chrysanthemum has been found to have documented side effects.
Chrysanthemums may cause an allergic reaction in some people. If you are allergic to ragweed, dandelion, goldenrod, sunflower or daisies, avoid chrysanthemum. You may be sensitive to certain parts of the plant, including its pollen, leaves, flowers and stems, or the whole plant may cause irritation. If you come into contact with chrysanthemum and experience asthma, skin rash, eczema, hay fever, inflammation of the sinuses or hives, you are most likely allergic. Contact a dermatologist if this is the case, so he may confirm any specific allergies.
Chrysanthemum has been shown to lower blood pressure. If you are taking a sedative or high blood pressure medication, the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center recommends avoiding taking chrysanthemum because it can further enhance the effects of the medication and may cause harm.
Contact dermatitis and photosensitivity can occur if you come into contact with chrysanthemum and are sensitive to chemicals in the plant or are allergic to them. Contact dermatitis is marked by red, patchy inflamed skin and is an acute or chronic condition. Photosensitivity occurs when one of the chemicals in chrysanthemum -- possibly alantolactone -- irritates the skin and causes symptoms of red, inflamed patches of skin when exposed to sunlight or any other source of ultraviolet light. Wear gloves if you have to handle chrysanthemum and have a skin sensitivity.
Drug, Herb and Supplement Interactions
Chrysanthemum may have pain numbing, antibacterial, anti-cancer, anti-fungal, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. If you are taking medication, herbs or supplements of any kind that have similar effects, use caution when taking chrysanthemum. Gout medications, HIV drugs, immunosuppressants, herpes medication and insulin products used to treat diabetes can all be affected by chrysanthemum. Consult a doctor or pharmacist if you are taking any of these medicines, supplements or herbs and wish to take chrysanthemum.
Chrysanthemums contain chemicals called pyrethrins, and poisoning from pyrethrins can occur. Poisoning is usually due to accidental or intentional ingestion but can also be caused by long-term exposure. Products containing pyrethrins can be toxic to the nervous system and may cause eye damage, asthma and inflammation. Avoid large acute or chronic doses of ingested pyrethrin.
If you are breastfeeding or are pregnant, avoid taking chrysanthemum. There is not enough scientific evidence regarding taking it under these conditions.
- Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center; Chrysanthemum; May 2011
- Wellness.com: Chrysanthemum
- "Fitoterapia"; Antibacterial Activity of Fresh Flower Heads of Chrysantemum Coronarium; A. Urzua et al.; September 2003
- "Cancer Letters"; Constituents of Compositae Plants III. Anti-tumor Promoting Effects and Cytotoxic Activity Against Human Cancer Cell Lines of Triterpene Diols and Triols From Edible Chrysanthemum Flowers; M. Ukiya et al.; March 2002
Solomon Branch specializes in nutrition, health, acupuncture, herbal medicine and integrative medicine. He has a B.A. in English from George Mason University, as well as a master's degree in traditional Chinese medicine.