The healing power of lily of the valley

Lily of the valley is a perennial plant that grows to about 30 cm tall and grows in all northern parts of the hemisphere where it is cool. It is a poisonous plant; not one part is edible. The flower also produces poisonous berries. As with many poisonous plants, the content of the berries is the basis for a natural medicine. Traditionally, the ingredients have been used in minimal quantities to treat heart disease, the organ that is associated par excellence with love. The pharmaceutical industry still uses the medicinal properties of the heart of the Mayflower, as the plant is also called. NB! This article is written from the personal view of the author and may contain information that is not scientifically substantiated and/or in line with the general view.

Botanical drawing lily of the valley / Source: Public domain, Wikimedia Commons (PD)


  • Origin of lily of the valley
  • Naming convallaria majalis
  • Active substances
  • Lily of the valley for the heart
  • Dose of collinsonia
  • Safety collinsonia

Origin of lily of the valley

According to a church myth, the lily of the valley is said to have originated from the tears that Mary wept under the cross of Jesus. However, the flower was dedicated to the Germanic spring goddess Ostara long before Jesus’ crucifixion. According to the ancient Germans, this flower would bring luck in love. The flower symbolizes love and purity.

Naming convallaria majalis

Berries lily of the valley / Source: H. Zell, Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA-3.0)

In Dutch, the Convallaria majalis is often called the lily of the valley. Other names in Dutch are Meiklokje, Zegeltjes, Meibloem, Dalkruid and forest lily. The plant blooms in May and June, which is why it is called Mayflower. In English the plant is called Maria’s tears.

The dried flowers of the lily of the valley are the main ingredient of sneezing powder.

Active substances

The entire herb growing above ground is used. Lily of the valley contains all kinds of cardioglycosides or cardiac glycosides such as the cardenolides convalloside, convallatoxin convallatoxol, lokundjoside, convallarone, convallamarin, convallotoxoloside, glucoconvalloside, neoconvalloside, majaloside, corglycon and many other cardioglycosides. In total it contains 38 cardenolides. It also contains saponins and the rare amino acid azetidine-2-carboxylic acid.

Together with pounded horse chestnuts, lily of the valley used to be used to make a snuff tobacco called ‘Schneeberger’, named after its origin; the village of Schneeberg in Saxony.

Lily of the valley for the heart

Lily of the valley is a mild natural remedy for the heart. Still, it should only be used under a doctor’s supervision; the cardenolides in this plant are potentially toxic. The plant is a positive inotrope. This means that it promotes the contraction of the heart muscle. It also slows down the conduction of stimuli and the heart rate. In medical terms, this medicinal plant is therefore called a negative dromatope and chromotope. Convallatoxin is the most active substance for the heart. However, it mainly works for mild heart complaints. For more serious heart complaints, digitalis is better used.

Close-up berry meiklokje / Source: Bff, Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA-3.0)

  • Moderate heart failure,
  • Heart weakness in stages I and II,
  • Bradycardia or slow heart rate,
  • Old age heart,
  • Atherosclerosis or arteriosclerosis,
  • Edema or dropsy due to reduced heart function.

Dose of collinsonia

  • 10 drops of mother tincture three times a day.
  • 12 to 15 drops of tincture three times a day.
  • Three to four cups of an infusion that has been boiled for 10 minutes from 1 or two teaspoons or 3 to 5 grams of the dried herb.

Safety collinsonia

The composition of cardenolides varies due to an altered growth or drying process. The composition of the soil is also important. Therefore, the number of cardenolides may differ. For this reason it is a good idea not to use the tea but a standardized preparation. Furthermore, its use is quite safe, especially since it does not work for very long. When used three times a day, there will be little risk of accumulation of cardenolides. Nevertheless, there are cases when this plant is better not to use.

  • During the pregnancy,
  • During suckling,
  • While taking heart medications, only with doctor’s prescription.

Too much lily of the valley can lead to nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and kidney irritation. In doses that are far too high, this plant may lead to death.