Lily of the Valley

There are three species (or possibly variants of the same species) of rhizomatous perennials in this genus, which occurs in northern temperate regions. The name comes from the Latin convallis, "valley", and refers to the plant's natural habitat, while majalis signifies the flowering time, which is May. Convallaria majalis is more common in gardens than in the wild. Forced lilies of the valley were popular for winter decoration during Victorian times, and were exported (as "Berlin crowns") from Germany in great quantities. The use of C. majalis as a medicinal herb dates back to at least the second century CE, when it was described in an herbal written Apuleius. Research has revealed a range of constituents and effects on the hear that have increased its importance. Convallaria majalis is similar in action to Digitalis species (See, foxglove) but is less cumulative, therefore safer for elderly patients. It is used instead of Digitalis by most herbalists.

These little white bell-shaped blossoms perched atop delicate stems, sometimes called our lady's tears, were first cultivated in 1420 and are often used in weddings, signifying "a return to happiness". Because lily-of-the-valley contains cardiac glycosides, it has been used as a cardiac tonic to slow the action of a weak, irritable heart, while simultaneously increasing its power.

Creeping perennial with branched rhizomes, and pairs of ovate to elliptic leaves, 4-20cm (1½-8in) long. Arching racemes of 5-13 white, fragrant, bell-shaped flowers, about 6mm (¼in) across and waxy in texture, appear in spring, followed by globose, red berries.

Common Name:
Lily of the Valley
Other Names:
Constancy, Jacob's Ladder, Ladder-to-Heaven, May Lily, Our Lady's Tears.
Botanical Name:
Convallaria majalis
Moist, rich soil in shade or partial shade. Rhizomes may be attacked by caterpillars. Leaves have a tendency to develop Botrytis in wet conditions or develop leaf spotting on dry soils in sun.
By seed sown when ripe; by division after flowering or in autumn. Cultivars do not come from true seed.
Flowering plants are picked in spring and used fresh or dried in liquid extracts and tinctures. The glycoside content diminishes in the dry leaf. Flowers are collected in spring for extraction of volatile oil.
Native Location:
Europe, NE Asia
23cm (9in)
30cm (12in)
Has golden stripes down the leaves. Tends to revert if grown in deep shade.

Flore Pleno
Has double flowers.

Fortin's Giant
Is vigorous, with broad leaves and flowers to 1.5cm (½in) across.
Height: 30cm (12in)

Hardwick Hall
Has broad leaves with gold margins and flowers to 1cm (3/8in) across. Forces well.
Height: 25cm (10in)

Has dense spikes of double often slightly malformed flowers.

Var. rosea
Has pale mauve-pink-spotted flowers.
Parts Used:
Leaves, flowers, oil, whole plant
A bitter, diuretic herb that acts as a tonic for the heart and cardiovascular system.
Medicinal Uses:
Internally for congestive heart failure, arteriosclerosis with angina, arterial hypotension, Often combined with Crataegus spp. (See, hawthorn). For use by qualified practitioners only.
To treat stroke, leprosy, heart problems, and epilepsy. Germany's Commission E has approved the use of lily-of-the-valley to treat irregular heartbeat and other heart ailments.
Typical Dose:
A typical daily dose of lily-of-the-valley is approximately 600 mg of tincture or liquid extract.
Possible Side Effects:
Lily-of-the-Valley's side effects include nausea, vomiting, irregular heartbeat, and headache. Lily-of-the-valley contains cardiac glycosides, which can help control irregular heartbeat, reduce the backup of blood and fluid in the body, and increase blood flow through the kidneys, helping to excrete sodium and relieve swelling in the body tissues. However, a buildup of cardiac glycosides can occur, especially when the herb is combined with certain medications or other herbs that contain cardiac glycosides, causing arrhythmias, abnormally slow heartbeat, heart failure, and even death.
Drug Interactions:
Taking lily-of-the-valley with these drugs may enhance the therapeutic and/or adverse effects of the drug:
Betamethasone, (Betatrex, Maxivate)
Calcium Acetate, (PhosLo)
Calcium Carbonate, (Rolaids Extra Strength, Tums)
Calcium Chloride, (Calcium Chloride)
Calcium Citrate, (Osteocit)
Calcium Glubionate, (Calcium Glubionate)
Calcium Gluceptate, (Calcium Gluceptate)
Calcium Gluconate, (Calcium Gluconate)
Cascara, (Cascara)
Cortisone, (Cortone)
Deflazacort, (Calcort, Dezacor)
Dexamethazone, (Decadron, Dexasone)
Digitalis, (Digitek, Lanoxin)
Docusate, (Colace, Ex-Lax Stool Softener)
Docusate and Senna, (Peri-Colace, Senokot-S)
Hydrocortisone, (Cetacort, Locoid)
Lactulose, (Constulose, Enulose)
Magnesium Citrate, (Citro-Mag)
Magnesium Hydroxide, (Dulcolax Milk of Magnesia, Phillips' Milk of Magnesia)
Magnesium Hydroxide and Mineral Oil, (Phillips' M-O)
Magnesium Oxide, (Mag-Ox 400, Uro-Mag)
Magnesium Sulfate, (Epsom Salts)
Methylprednisolone, (Depo-Medrol, Medrol)
Polyethyline Glycol-Electrolyte Solution, (Colyte, MiraLax)
Prednisolone,(Imflamase Forte, Pred Forte)
Prednisone, (Apo-Prednisone, Deltasone)
Psyllium, (Metamucil, Reguloid)
Quinidine, (Novo-Quinidin, Quinaglute Dura-Tabs)
Sorbitol, (Sorbilax)
Triamcinolone, (Aristocort, Trinasal)
Taking lily-of-the-valley with these drugs may increase the risk of bradycardia (slow heart rate):
Acebutolol, (Novo-Acebutolol, Sectral)
Amlodipine, (Norvasc)
Atenolol, (Apo-Atenolol, Tenormin)
Befunolol, (Bentos, Betaclar)
Bepridil, (Vascor)
Betaxolol, (Betoptic S, Kerlone)
Bisoprolol, (Monocor, Zebeta)
Carteolol, (Cartrol, Ocupress)
Carvedilol, (Coreg)
Celiprolol, (Celiprolol)
Digitalis, (Digitek, Lanoxin)
Diltiazem, (Cardizem, Tiazac)
Esmolol, (Brevibloc)
Felodipine, (Plendil, Renedil)
Isradipine, (DynaCirc)
Labetalol, (Normodyne, Trandate)
Lacidipine, (Aponil, Caldine)
Lercanidipine, (Cardiovasc, Carmen)
Levobetaxolol, (Betaxon)
Levobunolol, (Betagan, Novo-Levobunolol)
Manidipine, (Calslot, Iperten)
Metipranolol, (OptiPranolol)
Metoprolol, (Betaloc, Lopressor)
Nadolol, (Apo-Nadol, Corgard)
Nicardipine, (Cardene)
Nifedipine, (Adalat CC, Procardia)
Nilvadipine, (Nilvadipine)
Nimodipine, (Nimotop)
Nisoldipine, (Sular)
Nitrendipine, (Nitrendipine)
Oxprenolol, (Slow-Trasicor, Trasicor)
Pinaverium, (Dicetel)
Pindolol, (Apo-Pindol, Novo-Pindol)
Propanolol, (Inderal, InnoPran XL)
Sotalol, (Betapace, Sorine)
Timolol, (Betimol, Timoptic)
Verapamil, (Calan, Isoptin SR)
Taking lily-of-the-valley with these drugs may increase the risk of cardiac glycoside toxicity:
Acetazolamide, (Apo-Acetazolamide, Diamox Sequels)
Azosemide, (Diat)
Bumetanide, (Bumex, Burinex)
Chlorothiazide, (Diuril)
Chlorthalidone, (Apo-Chlorthalidone, Thalitone)
Ethacrynic Acid, (Edecrin)
Etozolin, (Elkapin)
Furosemide, (Apo-Furosemide, Lasix)
Hydrochlorothiazide, (Apo-Hydro, Microzide)
Hydroflumethiazide, (Diucardin, Saluron)
Indapamide, (Lozol, Nu-Indapamide)
Mannitol, (Osmitrol, Resectisol)
Mefruside, (Baycaron)
Methazolamide, (Apo-Methazolamide, Neptazane)
Methyclothiazide, (Aquatensen, Enduron)
Metolazone, (Mykrox, Zaroxolyn)
Olmesartan and Hydrochlorothiazide, (Benicar HCT)
Polythiazide, (Renese)
Torsemide, (Demadex)
Trichlormethiazide, (Metatensin, Naqua)
Urea, (Amino-Cerv, UltraMide)
Xipamide, (Diurexan, Lumitens)
Supplement Interactions:
Economic Uses:
Volatile oil, rich in farnesol, is used for perfumery and snuff.
This herb is subject to legal restrictions in some countries.
All parts, especially fruits and seeds, are toxic if eaten.
Encyclopedia of Herbs by Deni Brown. Copyright © 1995, 2001 Dorling Kindersley Limited. pg 178
The Essential Herb-Drug-Vitamin Interaction Guide by Geo. T. Grossberg,MD and Barry Fox,PhD Copyright©2007 Barry Fox,PhD. Pp.312-314