One of my favorite things about fall is planting mums in my garden and enjoying all the different colors and varieties. The standard garden mum (Ju Hua, Chrysanthemum morifolium) can be dried to be used medicinally throughout the year. The mums in the Daoist Traditions garden are harvested each year when the flowers are in full bloom, between September and November, and used to make herbal preparations.
The Shen Nong Ben Cao Jing (Herbal Classic of Shen Nong), mentioned the use of Chrysanthemum flower as a medicinal herb approximately 2,000 years ago. Traditionally, the flowers were prepared into a medicinal wine for long-term health benefits. Today, Ju Hua can be found in many patent medicines and products for everything from skin conditions to hypertension.
In Chinese Herbal Medicine, the color of the flower affects its function. Generally, the yellow chrysanthemum flowers are known to dispel wind-heat and are used for fever and headache; the white flowers are more beneficial for the Liver energy and brightening the eyes; and the “wild” chrysanthemum (Ye Ju Hua, Chrysanthemum indicum) is used for detoxifying.
Dried chrysanthemum flowers can be purchased from your Chinese medicine practitioner or local health food stores. Add a small handful of flowers to a cup and cover with hot water. Cover and steep for about five minutes. Besides being good for you, it is lovely to look at and has a pleasant flavor. Enjoy your tea along with the last glimpses of fall color in the garden!