A beautiful plant Genkwa, also referred to as Lilac Genkwa, is a member of the list of 50 fundamental herbs of Chinese traditional medicine. It has been extensively used by herbal healers for over 3500 years for the treatment of many health problems. These days Genkwa, being a very beautiful ornamental plant, is a rare herb to find: it is quite fastidious and delicate to cultivate.
Daphna genkwa belongs to the Thymelaeaceae family. It is a low-growing (about 1m high) deciduous evergreen shrub with slender erect branches. Genkwa bears wonderful slightly fragrant blossoms, which resemble those of Lilac, from April to May. The flowers may differ in colour from pink-purple to white and lilac. They have four petals and elongated bodies. The flowers are gathered in the inflorescences of 2 to 7. They develop early in spring before leaves appear, and the whole shrub is practically covered with bunches of blossoms. Later they turn into drupes – the fruits of Daphna.
Genkwa leaves are opposite, simple, elliptic-oblong 6 to 8 cm in length. They form as flowers fade.
Daphna is native to China and Korea. The majority of species from the given family are said to grow well in sandy loam soils in sun or semi-shade. However, this herb is difficult to cultivate. Depending on the region it requires different conditions: it may sometimes need acid soils, while in other cases it grows better on alkaline ones. The plant is also very vulnerable to root disturbance.
A number of health disorders are treated with remedies made from flower buds of Genkwa. It should be especially emphasized that all the parts of the plant are highly toxic, including those used in the traditional herbal medicine.
Lilac Daphne is quite a rare herb to see in the gardens of horticulturists; so it is to buy on the market. Nonetheless, flower bud extract and powder may be found for purchase.
It is necessary to note that Daphne belongs to the plants poorly studied for the time being. Scholars are currently working on discovering its chemical composition. Not only flower buds, but the root of the plant has been also researched to identify its constituents. At present, scientists report that it contains significant amount of flavonoids, daphnodorin B believed to be the main ingredient, which are suggested to have anti-tumor properties. It may act inhibiting the growth and metastasis of the tumors.
Anticancer activity is believed to be one of the properties of lignans found in Genkwa. Four of them - pinoresinol, lariciresinol, secoisolariciresinol, matairesinol – were isolated form the plant and researched whether they can help in fighting cancer, hair loss, and bone health.
Lilac Daphna shows promises as a good anti-inflammatory, anti-tumor, and anti-allergy means. It is traditionally used as a diuretic, expectorant, and vesicant. It is said to be a powerful stomachic, purgative, antiviral, and antifungal agent as well.
However, besides Genkwa’s high rates of toxicity risks, women should also be aware of its action as an abortifacient, and thus should double their caution while using the herb.
For hundreds of years Chinese have used Daphna to treat coughs and chronic bronchitis, to relieve constipation, and to eliminate parasites. Applied externally Genkwa remedies work excellent to treat various skin diseases, as ringworm or frostbites. Acne symptoms may also be effectively controlled with them. Health of the hair and scalp is promoted with the help of Genkwa as well. In addition, Lilac Daphna is a mighty means to induce menstruation and work as an abortifacient.
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