Convallaria majalis Common name: Lily of the Valley
Part Used: Leaf, flower (whole plant when flowering)
Constituents: Cardioactive glycosides, over 30 different types (inc.: convallatoxin, convallatoxol, convallamarin, convallarin, and convallaric acid), saponins, flavonoids, asparagin.
Medicinal actions: Cardioactive-tonic & stimulant, bitter, mild gastric tonic, anti-arrhythmic, hypertensive, diuretic, antispasmodic
Medicinal use: Has similar but milder cardiac effects to Digitalis but without the toxic buildup. Exerts a positive inotropic and negative chronotropic action on the heart and is specific for congestive heart failure with edema. It is most indicated in bradycardic and/or arrhythmic forms of heart failure, although tachycardic hearts also respond to this herb. Mitral stenosis, mitral regurgitation and cor pumonale are especially good indications for the use of this plant.
- Cardioactive glycosides, convallamarin & convallarin have stronger cardiac effects than Digitalis but a shorter half-life, and aglycones have a slower absorption rate.
- Flavonoids stimulate vasodilation of coronary vessels but have a hypertensive effect systemically.
- Asparagin is diuretic and helps drain fluids from edematous tissue.
Pharmacy: Tincture (1:5, 40%), 0.5-1.0 ml TID (8-15 drops). Infusion: 1 tsp/cup. Dried leaves: 60-200mg TID. Short term use best (4-6 weeks).
Toxicity: Signs of toxicity: nausea, vomiting, violent purging, cardiac arrhythmias, increased blood pressure, restlessness, trembling, mental confusion, extreme weakness, depression, collapse of circulation, and death. Monitor BP and edema. Berries are poisonous.
Contraindications: Should not be used in conjunction with anthraquinone glycoside containing plants.
Interactions: Anthraquinones, through their laxative effect, can deplete potassium levels, which will potentiate the cardioactive effect of cardioactive glycosides. This potentiation may result in cardiac arrhythmias.