FORSYTHIA-Forsythia Suspensa, Forsythia Viridissima
Also known as: weeping forsythia, yellow bell
Parts used: seed (fruit), blossoms
Meridians/Organs affected: lung, heart, gall bladder, blood
Properties: alterative, antibiotic, antiemetic, anti-carcinogenic, diuretic, sedative, laxative, anti-inflammatory, analgesic, antiviral, antibacterial, antioxidant, antimicrobial, anti-parasitic, anti-scrofulous
Forsythia is in the Olive family along with jasmine, olive oil, muira puma, and fringe tree. It is a beautiful yellow-flowering hedge that many people often overlook. It blooms at different times, even during the cold times of the year. The fruits are gathered as they appear.
This plant originated in China but has since been naturalized in several parts of the world. Originally, this plant was named for William Forsyth, a well-known gardening expert from 18th century England. It was brought to the western world by Robert Fortune around 1835 where it has been used primarily as an ornamental.
Forsythia is one of the 50 key herbs in the Chinese 'materia medica'. Anciently in China they used it for all kinds of viral infections. The fruit, or rather the seedpods, have been used by the Chinese for millennia. They would grind up the fruit and give it to those who were suffering with fevers and chest pains or who were gravely ill. The Chinese used it most often with honeysuckle flowers and in fact, that is still one of the most widely used herbal formulas in China today for allergies, colds and flu symptoms.
Forsythia goes back 3000 years with Chinese herbalists where it is documented to help detox the body and help with 'hot' or toxic conditions. In modern herbalism, these kinds of conditions accompany infections or inflammatory situation and include colds and flus. Western herbalists didn't start to use forsythia until 1789 when it was used for a host of respiratory complaints. Chinese data collected for 60 modern journals shows that forsythia is a very strong antibacterial and anti-inflammatory capabilities. In lab animals it also has proven to be antiviral and a powerful antioxidant.
Forsythia contains oleanolic acid (a component that is both antibacterial and antiallergenic and used in many types of cosmetics and foot care products), sterols, phenols and flavonoids. Its traditional use in Chinese medicine is for inflammation, swollen lymph, carbuncles (staph abscesses that go deeper into the tissues and get larger than boils), fevers, respiratory infections, acute endometriosis, measles, tonsillitis, meningitis, encephalitis B, earaches, parotitis (inflammation of one or both parotid glands on either side of the face-salivary glands), skin diseases and as a cardiovascular tonic. In a small Korean study, forsythia was also found to lower cholesterol. In China, this herb is known as 'Lian Qiao'.
The forsythia most often used for medicinal purposes is Forsythia Suspensa. The fruit is gathered, steamed, then dried for use. It is most used as a tea or capsule but can be powdered and sprinkled on applesauce for children. It also can be tinctured. There are no drug interactions and no known side effects of forsythia. However, it is said that pregnant or nursing mothers shouldn't use it just to be safe. (Don't get me started on the whole allopathic thing...)
As a side note, if you have seen the movie 'Contagion' you will remember that forsythia was mentioned as being used to treat the mysterious illness people were dying of in the film. Very interesting...
As is customary with my posts I am including some links below for your benefit. Use them as you see fit and stay healthy, happy and strong.