Sunflower (Helianthus annuus)

Sunflower (Helianthus annuus)

Other common names: Corona solis, marigold of Peru, Chrysanthemum perunianum

sunflower

Diagram courtesy of Hans-Simon Holtzbecker / Wikimedia Commons

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Family: Asteraceae

Actions:

Emollient, nutritive, vulnerary, antifungal, antioxidant, anti-cancer, antispasmodic, nervine, cardiovascular tonic, brain tonic, circulatory stimulant, antimicrobial.

Harvest:

You know a sunflower is ready to harvest seeds from when most of the petals have fallen off, the seeds are plump with black and white striped shells and the back of the flower head is brown and dry.
When the seeds are ready…but ideally before they loosen and fall out on their own…cut the head off of the stem. Pull the seeds out, and dry them on a cookie rack or other flat, dry surface in an arid place. If passing animals try to steal your sunflower schwag, cover the flower heads with paper bags as soon as the petals fall off.

Part used: Seeds

sunflower

Photo courtesy of H. Zell / Wikimedia Commons

Constituents: Helianthitanic acid, palmitic acid, oleic acid, stearic acid, linoleic acid, cephalin, lecithin, waxes, carotenoids, tocopherols, Vitamin E, protein, carbohydrates, tryptophan, choline, selenium, magnesium and others.

Indications:

Used to treat nutritional deficiency, dry skin, cuts and scrapes, constipation, psoriasis, memory and cognitive difficulties, inflamed tissues and joints, migraines, fatigue, anxiety, bone injuries, depression, high blood pressure, muscle spasms, heart health maintenance,  It also helps lower cholesterol levels, increases “good fat” in the body, protects skin from UV exposure and boosts libido. It has potential for being a cancer preventative due to its high selenium and antioxidant levels. It has a high calorie content, useful for those who are trying to gain weight.

Medicinal preparations:

Internal

The seeds can be eaten as a food item, and the oil can be consumed internally as well – it is used in cooking and also taken in capsule form.

External

The oil can be used as a base ingredient in cosmetic products, medicinal salves, massage oils and other preparations.

Contraindications:

Consult with a doctor before use if pregnant or nursing.  Those with allergies to other plants in the asteraceae family (daisies, echinacea, etc.) may also be allergic to sunflowers. If high amounts of sunflower oil are used, it can raise blood sugar and cause atherosclerosis in Type II diabetics.

I suggest consulting a pharmacist or physician before starting any herbal supplement if you are taking a prescription medication or have serious underlying health concerns.

Energetic/traditional use:

Sunflower is aptly associated with the sun, and also with loyalty and shedding light on the truth. It brings good luck (especially if cut at sunset), and prosperity. In some native cultures its growth and blooming cycle was used like  a calendar for scheduling hunting activities. Yellow dye was made from the petals and used as ceremonial body paint, and other elements of the plant were used in ceremony as well.

Disclaimer: The information on this website is intended as general education on herbs and is not intended to take the place of medical care. Please consult a health care professional before embarking on any health regime.

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