Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer do
Updated: Dec 7, 2021
by Frances Watkins, Medical Herbalist Do you remember as a child, sitting on the lawn or in a meadow picking daisy flowers, using your nail to make a slit in the stem and pushing through another flower and making a bracelet or fairy ring? Or pulling off the petals and chanting 'he loves me, he loves me not.' It seems like only yesterday but actually was more like half a century ago...
Common daisy or Bellis perennis L is called daeges-eage or day's eye in Old English referring to the flower-heads only opening when the sun is shining. It is a native perennial in the Asteraceae family, flowering from early spring through to autumn. Synonyms include bruisewort, billy button, measure of love and herb Margaret (English, 2020). The plant was used medicinally in the Early Middle Ages in a compound formula for an eye salve (Cockayne, 1866, vol 3, p.292) and has a long tradition of use as a wound healing herb. A research study by Karakas et al., (2012) demonstrated a topical application of B. perennis extract supported traditional use as a wound healing herb.
Culpeper says: daisy is excellently good for wounds in the breast, and very fitting to be kept both in oils, ointment , and plaister, as also in syrup... and a decoction be drank for ulcers and pustules in the mouth or tongue, or in the secret parts.
Traditional uses Externally, the bruised plant can be wetted and applied to bruises, sprains, cuts and grazes and wounds. Or, a strong decoction made as a compress for boils and skin disorders. Internally, as an infusion or decoction of the flower heads for bronchitis, bronchial catarrh and gastro enteritis, drinking 1-3 cups daily (Barker, 2001, p.450). You could also add a handful to a bath when you next have aching joints and time for a soak.
A daisy infused oil for bruises
You will need a clean glass jar with lid, a recycled marmalade or jam jar is good; organic sunflower oil, a piece of muslin to cover the jar opening and a length of string to secure it. Make sure you collect the daisies when it is dry and before the sun reaches its highest point and definitely away from where people walk their pets! Place enough daisies to fill half of the container and pour in enough sunflower oil to completely cover the flower heads and almost up to the neck of the jar. Using a stick or end of a spoon, push down on the herb and and stir to make sure there are no air bubbles. Cut a double layer of muslin to cover the top of the jar and secure with the string. Place on a sunny window sill for 2-3 weeks. At this point you do not put on the lid of the jar as the plant will sweat and give off moisture as it is heated by the sun. Check regularly to make sure there are no air or water pockets which if left, will turn mouldy resulting in a sorry mess that will have to be thrown away. After 2-3 weeks, strain off the oil into a clean sterilised jar, apply lid, label and keep in the dark in a dry place until needed. This oil will keep for a number of years and is an excellent rub for bruises, cuts and grazes as well as dry skin conditions.
Daisy herbal tea You can of course also dry the flowers and keep at the ready in an airtight jar to make a herbal tea when you feel a chesty cough or upset digestive system. Using one teaspoon of dried herb to one cup or mug (250 mL) of hot water, cover and steep for 5-10 minutes and drink 1-3 cups per day. A cough syrup can also be made of the flowers and leaves with lemon and sugar.
Daisies are edible too!
Freshly picked young flower heads can be used in salads or added to soups along with the leaves which can also be eaten raw although may taste a little bitter which is good for the digestion! Robin Hartford also suggests the buds can be preserved in vinegar as a substitute for capers as well as frosting the flowers to decorate cakes!
Barker, J. (2001). The Medicinal Flora of Britain and Northwestern Europe, Kent: Winter Press. Cockayne, O., (1864-6). Leechdoms, Wortcunning, and Starcraft of Early England: Being a collection of documents, for the most part never before printed, illustrating the history of science in this country before the Norman Conquest. Vols 1-3. Reprint. London: Thoemmes Press, 2001. Culpeper, N. (1654). Culpeper's Complete Herbal. Ware: Wordsworth Editions. Reprinted 1995. English, A. (2020). Wild Medicine Spring. London: Aeon Books.
Karakas, F.P., Karakas, A. and Boran, C. et al., (2012). The evaluation of topical administration of Bellis perennis fraction on circular excision wound healing in Wistar albino rats. E. Pharm Biol. 50(8), pp.1031-7. doi: 10.3109/13880209.2012.656200.PMID:22775421 Click here for details of herbal walks and events run by Frances.