Cowslip Herb

Other Names of Cowslip: Cowslip primrose, key of heaven, key flower, fairy cups, palsywort, primrose

Useful Parts of the Plant: Flowers, leaves, root

Cowslip (Primulaofficinalis) is a small herb that grows throughout the temperate zones of Asia and Europe. The plant is not much seen in the northern latitudes and grows in glades and clearings, hayfields and also mountainous regions. It is not a very tall plant with sweet smelling blooms that are yellow in color and have small orange dots on it. It has a small rhizome from which the thick short roots start and which ends in a bud. The bud blossoms during early spring. The flowers, roots and sometimes even the leaves are used for their medicinal properties. It is harvested in spring while in bloom and this continues till the fruits start to form.

Nutritional Information and Properties of Cowslip

Cowslip can be used in both its fresh as well as dry form and only its flowers, roots and sometimes the leaves are used. The flowers and leaves are rich in beta carotene and vitamin C, both of which are strong antioxidants that help the body in many ways by strengthening the immune system. They can also help in lowering cholesterol levels, thereby increasing heart health. Cowslip flowers and leaves are also rich in potassium, calcium, sodium and salicylates. The saponoids in the herb have expectorant properties and are useful in treating coughs.

Health Benefits and Therapeutic Uses of Cowslip

  • Cowslip leaves over the years have been used in preparation of sedative tea to treat hyperactivity and insomnia. In Europe, generations have used it as a home remedy for anxiety because of this sedating effect. The flowers are said to be milder, and the tea made out of them is known to calm hyperactive children and put them to sleep.
  • Besides this the cowslip flowers and roots are an expectorant and are used in the treatment of coughs, common colds and other flu like symptoms. In Europe it has been widely used as a home remedy for whooping cough. Presently there is great research investigating the usefulness of the plant in the treatment of asthma and other allergies.
  • Its antispasmodic properties are also under investigation for use in the treatment of tremors, epilepsy and Parkinson's disease.
  • Today, cowslip is used by herbalists to make skin cleaning lotions and is used by them to treat pimples, acne and other skin blemishes. Its unique astringent properties are very effective in removing dirt and opening the pores of skin.
  • Many folk remedies have used cowslip to reduce blood clotting and for rheumatic diseases like rheumatic arthritis and gout.
  • It has also been helpful as a herbal treatment for infections of the urinary tract and kidney complaints.
  • There are many different ways of using cowslip. An infusion can be made using dried Cowslip flowers over which boiling water is poured. It is left to infuse for ten minutes and then drunk as a treatment for colds.
  • Cowslip roots can be mixed with water and then boiled and set aside to cool. The resulting decoction is consumed on cooling and is beneficial to the heart and the circulatory system.
  • Cowslip syrup can be made by mixing the crushed flowers with honey and water. This home remedy is used in cases of breathing disorders like asthma and to treat coughs.
  • Cowslip tea has often been used as a herbal remedy to treat insomnia. One formula uses a mixture of 50gm of cowslip herb, 25gm. of lavender flowers, 15gm. of hop plant and 10gm. of St. John's wort herb. A teaspoonful of this mixture is mixed with a quarter liter of water and set to boil for 3 minutes. It is consumed while still warm.
  • Another method using cowslip flowers soaked in white wine is supposed to be of great benefit to the heart.

A Final Word of Warning - Cowslip contains high levels of salicylates and is not recommended for anyone with a known allergy to aspirin. It should also not be used by anyone who is undergoing anticoagulant treatment or by pregnant women. Breastfeeding mothers however, can use it as it is supposed to stimulate lactation.