Medicinal Herbs Online
HomeHerbsDis-EasesResourcesBookstoreLinksSearchBlog

Herbal Glossary | Medicinal Glossary | Herbal Preparations | Ayervedic Formulas | Chinese Formulas
Folk Remedies | Native American Formulas | Herbal Remedies | Nutritional Guidelines

Sunflower



    Scientific Names

    Sunflower
    Sunflower
    • Helianthus annuus L.
    • Compositae
    • Composite family

    Common Names

    ivyHsiang-jih-k'uei (Chinese name)
    ivySunflower seeds

    Back to Top


    Parts Usually Used

    Whole plant, especially the seeds
    Back to Top


    Description of Plant(s) and Culture

    Sunflower is an annual plant growing 6-10 feet high; leaves mostly alternate, rough-hairy, broadly heart or spade-shaped. The flowers are orange-yellow; disk flat, flowers from July to October. The wild parent of the domesticated sunflower.
    Back to Top


    Where Found

    Found on prairies, roadsides. Minnesota to Texas; escaped from cultivation elsewhere. A North American native plant.
    Back to Top


    Medicinal Properties

    Diuretic, expectorant
    Back to Top


    Biochemical Information

    The seeds are exceptionally rich in polyunsaturates (approx. 80%) and high quality plant protein, plus natural vitamins and minerals. (thiamine (B1), niacin, potassium, iron, phosphorus, calcium, iodine, fluorine, magnesium, sodium, vitamins D and E).
    Back to Top


    Legends, Myths and Stories

    The wild ancestor of the common Sunflower has smaller blooms than the cultivated plants.

    Competitions are organized to see who can grow the largest sunflower. The present record is 25 feet tall; the largest blossom ever found was over 32 inches across. (Cultivated plants; (H. giganteus))

    There are many good varieties of sunflower available; some are best for seed production, and others for ornamental value.

    In 1835 a practical gardener in the Ukraine cultivated the first commercial sunflower plantation. Fifteen or twenty years later, the waste areas of central Russia, Ukraine, south Russia and many parts of Siberia were covered with the plants.

    Native Americans used the seeds as a source of meal; the Spanish conquerors of South and Central America discovered the sunflower and its uses, carrying the seeds to the Old World spreading the plant across Europe. The Incas of Peru made the sunflower a part of religious practices.

    The Chinese cultivate sunflower and use it for food, the fruits are fed to fowls, the leaves are made fodder for cattle, and the stalks and roots are used as fuel. No medical qualities have been found ascribed to this plant by the Chinese.
    Back to Top


    Uses

    Native Americans used the tea of the flowers for lung ailments, malaria. Leaf tea used for high fevers; poultice of roots on snakebites and spider bites. Seeds and leaves are diuretic and expectorant. Seeds contain all the important nutrients that benefit the eyes and relieve constipation. Useful against dysentery, inflammations of the bladder and kidney. The leaves are astringent and used in herbal tobaccos.
    Back to Top


    Formulas or Dosages

    Make sure the seeds are fresh.

    Decoction: 2 oz. of seeds to 1 quart of water: boil down to 12 oz. and strain. Add 6 oz. of Holland gin and 6 oz. of honey. The dose is 1-2 tsp. 3 or 4 times a day.

    Oil: unrefined oil has similar properties to the seeds. Take 10-15 drops or more, 2-3 times a day.
    Back to Top


    Nutrient Content

    Protein, thiamine (B1), niacin, potassium, iron, vegetable fats, phosphorus, calcium, iodine, fluorine, magnesium, sodium, vitamins D and E.
    Back to Top


    How Sold

    Most of the sunflower oil commercially offered has been refined. It is still relatively valuable but does not have the value of unrefined oil with its full content of highly unsaturated fatty acids. Also, the sunflower seeds need not be cooked or roasted, as commercially offered. Fresh sunflower seeds are best for nutritional value.
    Back to Top


    Warning

    Pollen or plant extracts may cause allergic reactions.
    Back to Top

    Resource Links

    LiveStrong.com: Sunflower Seeds & HDL

    National Sunflower Association: Sunflower Seeds and Cholesterol Reduction

    ScienceDaily.com: Sunflower Seeds, Pistachios Among Top Nuts For Lowering Cholesterol

    WHFoods.com: Sunflower Seeds

    Back to Top

    Bibliography

    Buy It! American Folk Medicine/i>, by Clarence Meyer, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, 1973

    Buy It! Eastern/Central Medicinal Plants, by Steven Foster and James A. Duke., Houghton Mifflin Company, 215 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10000

    Buy It! The Herbalist Almanac, by Clarence Meyer, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, copyright 1988, fifth printing, 1994

    Buy It! Chinese Medicinal Herbs, compiled by Shih-Chen Li, Georgetown Press, San Francisco, California, 1973.

    Buy It! The Herb Book, by John Lust, Bantam Books, 666 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY. copyright 1974.

    Herbal Gardening, compiled by The Robison York State Herb Garden, Cornell Plantations, Matthaei Botanical Gardens of the University of Michigan, University of California Botanical Garden, Berkeley., Pantheon Books, Knopf Publishing Group, New York, 1994, first edition

    Buy It! Indian Herbalogy of North America, by Alma R. Hutchens, Shambala Publications, Inc., Horticultural Hall, 300 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, 1973

    Buy It! Indian Uses of Native Plants, by Edith Van Allen Murphey, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, copyright 1958, print 1990

    Buy It! The Magic of Herbs in Daily Living, by Richard Lucas, Parker Publishing Co. (1988).

    Buy It! Prairie Smoke, by Melvin R. Gilmore, Minnesota Historical Society Press, St. Paul, Minnesota 55101, copyright 1987.

    Buy It! The Nature Doctor: A Manual of Traditional and Complementary Medicine, by Dr. H.C.A. Vogel; Keats Publishing, Inc., 27 Pine Street (Box 876) New Canaan, CT. 06840-0876. Copyright Verlag A. Vogel, Teufen (AR) Switzerland 1952, 1991

    Buy It! The Old Herb Doctor, by Joseph E. Meyer, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, copyright 1984, sixth printing 1994.

    Buy It! Old Ways Rediscovered, by Clarence Meyer, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, published from 1954, print 1988

    Buy It! The Yoga of Herbs: An Ayurvedic Guide to Herbal Medicine, by Dr. David Frawley & Dr. Vasant Lad, Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, Wisconsin, Second edition, 1988.

    Buy It! Webster's New World Dictionary, Third College Edition, Victoria Neufeldt, Editor in Chief, New World Dictionaries: A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc., 15 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10023

    Buy It! The Rodale Herb Book: How to Use, Grow, and Buy Nature's Miracle Plants (An Organic gardening and farming book), edited by William H. Hylton, Rodale Press, Inc. Emmaus, PA, 18049., 1974

    Back to Top

Gaiam Yoga Club

Copyright © 1996-2014 Lynn DeVries, all rights reserved.