health benefits of lilacs

Exploring the Surprising Health Benefits of Lilacs

The Outdoor Apothecary is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

This article explores the health benefits of lilacs and how they contribute to our wellness in ways that might surprise you.

Whenever I catch a whiff of lilacs, I am immediately transported back to my grandmother’s garden. The sweet and nostalgic scent fills the early spring air, reminding me of simpler times when I would pick these beautiful flowers as a child. Back then, I had no idea of the many uses and benefits they held beyond their beauty. 

As a bioregional herbalist, my love for lilacs has only grown over the years. I heavily rely on the abundance of nature surrounding us in my work, utilizing the plants and blossoms from our local ecosystem to create medicines and herbal remedies. Although lilacs are not native to the Northeast, their presence in this region has become an integral part of my herbal toolkit. 

Being deeply connected to the land and its offerings, I have come to appreciate the gifts that even non-native plants bring. Lilacs, with their vibrant colors and captivating fragrance, not only enhance the beauty of our landscapes but also possess a wealth of health benefits waiting to be discovered.


Lilacs, scientifically named Syringa vulgaris, are flowering shrubs that can reach heights of up to 30 feet, though many are usually shorter, standing at around 10 feet tall. These blooms are typically purple, although newer hybrid varieties come in shades of white, blue, or yellow. Recognizable by their sweet fragrance, lilac flowers emit their most potent scent when in full bloom, albeit this period lasts only a few weeks.

lilacs and tincture bottle on a wood surface - health benefits of lilacs

Lilacs in Traditional Medicine

Lilacs have a long history in traditional Eastern and Western healing traditions, providing a variety of benefits that are still valued today. In the past, our ancestors relied on lilacs to alleviate respiratory problems such as coughs and congestion. They would create remedies using lilac flowers or leaves, consuming teas or infusions to help open up their airways and facilitate breathing. 

However, lilacs weren’t just limited to respiratory issues. They were also commonly used to address skin ailments. By crushing the fragrant leaves or blossoms and applying them topically, our ancestors found relief from inflammation and assistance in healing skin irritations. 

In certain cultures, lilacs were believed to have fever-reducing properties. It was thought that drinking lilac tea could induce sweating, potentially aiding in lowering body temperature during periods of fever. Moreover, lilacs were utilized to calm upset stomachs, providing comfort from indigestion and bloating.

health benefits of lilacs - lilacs I foraged in a basket

The Health Benefits of Lilacs

The health benefits of lilacs are numerous thanks to their antioxidant properties. Whether you add them to your diet, skincare routine, or simply enjoy their scent, incorporating lilacs into your life can boost your well-being in various ways. Here are a few of the main advantages:

  1. Antioxidant Protection: Lilacs are rich in antioxidants, such as flavonoids and polyphenols, which help neutralize harmful free radicals in the body. This antioxidant action can reduce oxidative stress and lower the risk of chronic diseases like heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.
  2. Anti-inflammatory Effects: Certain compounds in lilacs have anti-inflammatory properties, which can help reduce inflammation in the body. This can be beneficial for conditions like arthritis, asthma, and inflammatory bowel disease.
  3. Immune Support: The antioxidants found in lilacs can also support a healthy immune system by protecting immune cells from damage and supporting their function. This can help the body fight off infections and illnesses more effectively.
  4. Skin Health: Lilacs contain compounds that may benefit skin health, such as vitamin C and antioxidants. These can help protect the skin from damage caused by UV radiation, pollution, and other environmental stressors, as well as promote collagen production and skin repair.
  5. Respiratory Benefits: In traditional herbal medicine, lilacs have been used to treat respiratory conditions like coughs, colds, and congestion. The anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties of lilacs may help soothe respiratory symptoms and support lung health.
  6. Stress Relief: The fragrance of lilacs is known for its calming and stress-relieving effects. In aromatherapy, lilac essential oil or absolute is used to promote relaxation, reduce anxiety, and improve mood.
a tea cup with tea in it and lilacs on a wood surface - health benefits of lilacs
Health benefits of lilacs- lilac tea
Health benefits of lilacs- lilac oil

Lilac Remedies

As we embrace the lessons from lilacs, it’s enlightening to consider the many herbal remedies these versatile blooms can inspire. Here’s a list of simple yet effective lilac-based preparations that I’ve found particularly beneficial in my practice as a bioregional herbalist:

  1. Lilac Infused Oil: Ideal for soothing the skin and incorporating into massage oils for its anti-inflammatory properties.
  2. Lilac Tea: Made from the flowers, this tea is not only delightful but can also offer mild antimicrobial benefits.
  3. Lilac Flower Syrup: A sweet addition to beverages or desserts, imbued with the floral essence and potential health benefits of lilacs.
  4. Lilac Tincture: A concentrated extract that can be used to support overall wellness, leveraging the plant’s full spectrum of properties.
  5. Lilac Salve: Combined with beeswax and carrier oils, a lilac salve can be a gentle remedy for minor skin irritations or burns.

More to Explore

Were you surprised by the many health benefits of lilacs? Why not take your exploration a step further and discover the culinary delights of this lovely flower? Check out “Edible Lilacs: 7 Delicious Spring Recipes” to learn how to incorporate lilacs into your cooking. From tasty drinks to delightful desserts, there are endless flavors to discover. Make sure you don’t pass up the chance to enjoy the taste of spring with these delicious recipes.

2 thoughts on “Exploring the Surprising Health Benefits of Lilacs”

  1. 4 Ways to Yummy

    I love your wealth of knowledge and your generous spirit to share it. I have been using more flowers in recipes over the years with great satisfaction. Teas, cake decorations, herbal/flower butters and pickled cherry blossoms have been my favorites. I’m excited to explore lilacs and forsythia this Spring. I’m wondering if t color affects flavor? Keep up your brilliance. Love the new bookshelf, but will there be enough room? Lol. All the best!

    1. Barbi Gardiner

      Thank you for the kind words, I truly appreciate them. Diving into the world of edible flowers is delightful, isn’t it? Regarding color affecting flavor, it’s all part of the grand experiment of taste and sensation. Each flower tells its own tale. And about the bookshelf, you’ve caught me! It’s like my garden; no matter how much space I think I have, there’s always room for one more treasure!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Shopping Cart
Scroll to Top