Cornflower hydrosol, is gentle enough to use for babies and is one of only four hydrosols recommended to use as an eyewash. In her book A Modern Herbal (botanical.com) Mrs. Grieve says that “a water distilled from cornflower petals was formerly in repute as a remedy for weak eyes. The famous French eyewash, ‘Eau de Casselunetes’, used to be made from them. Culpepper tells us that the powder or dried leaves of the bluebottle is given with good success to those that a bruised by a fall or have broken a vein inwardly.”
Family: Asteraceae (Compositae)
Plant Description: Cornflower, also known as bachelor’s button, bluebottle, bluebow and Bluet (French), is an annual flowering plant that is native to Europe. Cornflower is now endangered in its native habitat because of agricultural intensification, particularly the over-use of herbicides. It will grow between 40 – 50 cm tall and has grey-green branched stems. Its lanceolate leaves are around 1 – 4 cm long and its flowers are produced in flowerheads. Much admired as an ornament plant you will find it in many gardens. Its flowers are traditionally a crisp intense blue, however other varieties have been cultivated with white, pink, lavender and dark maroon flowers. This is one of the few true blue flowers that are also edible. Apparently, they have a sweet cucumber like taste.
History/Folklore: Folklore says a cornflower was worn in the buttonhole of a man’s suit to indicate that he was in love, or ready to court. The cornflower has become a symbol in a number of different countries. It is the national flower in Estonia, as well as having a connection to Prussia (apparently Queen Luis of Prussia hid her children in a field of cornflowers when she fled Berlin), to France (where it is a common symbol for veterans to wear as a reminder of the 1918 Armistice). It is also the symbol for motor neurone disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
Aroma and Taste: Suzanne Catty describes cornflower hydrosol as having an extremely delicate scent, which is almost undetectable when the hydrosol is cold. It becomes vaguely floral when warm. Undiluted the flavor is also delicate, a little green with a slightly bitter aftertaste.
Stability and Shelf Life: Unstable to moderately stable; shelf life twelve months.
Cornflower has anti-infectious, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, bactericidal, calming, circulatory, decongestant, febrifuge, stimulating and tonic properties. Cornflower hydrosol is considered to be helpful in anti-aging, anti-wrinkle formulas. It can be used to soothe minor acute skin issues as well as being an excellent skin and hair toner.
Naturesgift.com says that cornflower hydrosol is gentle for skin blotchiness and as a sunburn spray. It is non-drying to the skin and a wonderful toner for delicate skin. It can also be used as a cleanser for baby’s skin.
Jeanne Rose says that this hydrosol is relaxing and calming and helpful for hot flashes. It can be used as an eyewash, skin toner (for dry or mature skin) and bruising.
Suzanne Catty recommends using this hydrosol, one of only four hydrosols, as an eyewash. She also recommends using cornflower hydrosol in a compress for tired, swollen or itchy eyes. Also helpful against the effects of pollution or long hours at the computer. She also recommends using it, especially combined with cistus hydrosol, in a compress to help diminish fine lines and tone tissue around the eye area.
I personally find that by their very nature, hydrosols are particularly helpful when used energetically. I like to include them in misters and sprays and find that they can make a subtle and effective difference.
Reference Suzanne Catty, Hydrosols, The Next Aromatherapy, Healing Arts Press, 2001 Ernst Guenther, The Essential Oil, Vol V, 1948 reprinted 1972 Len and Shirley Price, Understanding Hydrolats Churchill Livingstone, 2004 Jeanne Rose, 374 Essential Oils and Hydrosols, Frog Ltd, 1999