New England aster, botanically known as symphyotrichum novae-angliae, is a stout, showy, flowering plant in the aster family. The plant is also known as michaelmas daisy while Native Americans referred to it as “it-brings-the-fall”. New England aster is native to North America and adapts quite well to new environments. The plant occurs in waste areas or on the edge of fields. It is easy to cultivate, tolerates various types of soils and prefers growing in full sunlight.
[Note: The Right Flowers is not a medical site. Knowledge of and information about the therapeutic benefits and applications of flowers, while known through the ages, does not constitute medical advice. If you are having health issues, you should consult with a physician.]
New England aster is among the last few plants to bloom before nights grow cold in September and October. This explains why Native Americans fondly referred to the plant as “it-brings-the-fall”. The flowers are violet-purple and in some instances white or rose-colored.
New England aster flowers have a sticky feel when touched as they contain a lot of resin.
The flowers are aromatic and have medicinal qualities including calmative, antispasmodic, decongestant, aromatic, carminative, diaphoretic, nervine, stimulative and relaxative properties.
Native American tribes burned the flowers and leaves of the plant to produce smoke which they used for treating people with mental conditions, congestions, nosebleeding, and headaches. Dried flowers were also used as snuff or vapor to treat stomach problems, relieve gas pains, and fevers.
Throughout the ages, New England aster has been used as a handy lung tonic and is considered as a first-line treatment for conditions affecting the respiratory system including coughs, colds, and flu. The plant is also a great bronchodilator and ideal for relieving labored breathing as a result of allergy or asthmatic attacks.
New England aster decongestive properties are easily extracted by steeping dry or fresh flowers and leaves of the plant in a pan with boiling water and allowing the mixture to stand for 5-10 minutes with the container covered with a lid. After steeping, the mixture is allowed to cool down sufficiently to be safe enough to inhale the resulting steam. Inhaling the aromatic essential oils of the plant helps in breaking up the congestion in the respiratory tract. This facilitates the elimination of the mucus and decongests the airways.
New England aster may seem like an ordinary weed or just a showy plant whose flowers are only great for the cut flower industry. But beyond what you see, lays a plant that packs enough health benefits to help you breath easy when confronted with a congested airway. So, next time you are struggling to breathe due to congested airways, grab a handful of New England aster flowers and harness their medicinal properties to assist you to alleviate the condition.