- Arbor Vitae
- Scented Fern
- Stinking Willie
Tansy (botanical name, Tanacetum vulgare L.) is a member of the family Asteraceae and it has traditionally been used in folk medicine for centuries. Tansy is a potently aromatic herb that grows up to a height of three feet and bears vivid yellow blooms. This species is indigenous to Europe, but over the years, has been naturalized as well as cultivated extensively in the United States.
The dehydrated leaves as well as the flowering tops of this herb have commonly been used as a tea, in the form of anthelmintic (expelling worms), stimulant, tonic and emmenagogue (a substance that promotes menstrual flow – usually a euphemism for encouraging abortion). In addition, tansy also makes an excellent flavouring in cakes as well as puddings, particularly those that are consumed at Easter. Tansy also has a noteworthy repute in the form of an insect repellent, particularly for flies.
It may be noted that fresh tansy plants offer anything between 0.12 per cent and 0.18 per cent volatile (unstable) oil that is highly inconsistent in its chemical make up, conditional of the particular source for which the herb is used. Scientists have definitely hinted that there are some of the chemical groups of tansy that are responsible for their individual distinctive make up of the oil, similarly like other plants breed true for the color of flowers or a more comparable obvious attribute. Generally, it has been concurred that the physiological activities caused by the plant primarily originate from the content of thujone in the oil. However, a number of tansy oils are completely devoid of thujone, while there are others that enclose as high as 95 per cent of this compound. This composition of the oil is decided on the basis of the composition of the plant and is not significantly influenced or manipulated by the environmental aspects. Hence, the impact of any formulation of tansy will be conditional on the chemical group that is manifested, as this determines the content of thujone of the volatile oil enclosed by the herb. Devoid of subjecting a particular sample of the plant to any study for thujone, it is virtually not possible to approximate the exact dose for a preparation/ formulation from tansy.
In addition, comparatively, thujone is toxic amalgam which has the aptitude to bring about convulsions as well as psychotic consequences in humans. Compared to thujone enclosed by tansy, there are several medications that are more effectual as well as safer in getting rid of as well as eliminating intestinal worms – the primary use of this herb in traditional medicine. In progressive times like these, there is absolutely no reason why one should make use of any potentially dangerous, poisonous material like thujone in the form of an emmenagogue or abortifacient. Tansy is employed in the form of a flavouring agent in specific alcoholic drinks, counting Chartreuse, but you need to ensure that the final product should not contain thujone in any way.
Tansy has the aptitude to resist frost as well as cold and the attractive yellow flower heads of this herb last for an extremely long period – even while they are in blossom as well as after they have been collected and dried up. Areas where tansy is grown may often stay alive for several decades in the same site. In effect, herbalists declare that the very name tansy is an altered form of the Greek expression ‘athanasia’ – denoting immortality.
Tansy is a natural insect repellent owing to its potent smell. During the Middle Ages, dehydrated tansy was among the ‘strewing herbs’ that were scattered on the floors with a view to keep pests away. In addition, housewives also dangled dried tansy plants from the rafters, placed them between bed sheets as well as mattresses, and also rubbed the herb on meat with a view to put off flies, lice as well as other pests. More lately, people have employed tansy to fend off moths and dispose of fleas.
Moreover, tansy also has a long account of being used in the form of a seasoning as well as therapeutic plant. In the past, people in England used the leaves of the herb to add essence to small tansy cakes consumed during Lent – the bitter flavour of the cakes manifested the sufferings of Christ. There was a time when an herbal tea prepared from the leaves of tansy was taken internally to cure stomach aches, colds and flush out intestinal worms. In addition, folk healers also prepared a poultice using the leaves of the herb and placed it on bruises and cuts for their rapid healing.
Although, earlier people employed tansy in the form of a carminative to facilitate digestion, currently, it is no longer used for this purpose owing to the plants potential noxiousness. Whenever, this plant is taken internally, it is basically to force out the worms from the intestines and also to facilitate in encouraging menstrual hemorrhage. Externally, tansy may be employed to eliminate fleas, lice and scabies, but topical application of tansy as well as the different formulations prepared from the plant also posses the hazards of toxicity.
Tansy is an often cultivated home remedy that is effective in curing a wide assortment of health conditions. However, modern herbalists seldom make use of this herb. It is advisable that people using tansy should exercise extreme caution. Tansy is possibly not safe for internal use, particularly for pregnant women. The essential oil present in the leaves of tansy is poisonous and even ingesting a very small amount like half-an-ounce is sufficient to kill an adult. The leaves as well as the flowering tops of this herb possess antispasmodic, anthelmintic, bitter, emmenagogue, tonic and stimulant properties. An infusion prepared with tansy leaves or even the entire plant is used to heal menstrual abnormalities and also in the form of an anthelmintic (expelling intestinal worms), especially in children. In addition, this infusion is also useful in curing debility of the kidneys, hysteria, fevers, and stomach disorders as well as in the form of an emmenagogue. When used in larger doses, tansy may result in an abortion, while these doses can also be lethal.
Topically, tansy is used in the form of poultice and applied on swellings as well as a number of eruptive skin conditions. This plant is also used externally to eliminate fleas, lice and scabies. However, the fact is that even using the plant externally poses the risk of toxicity. Tansy is harvested as the plant begins to bloom and is dehydrated and stored for use when needed. The seeds of tansy are employed in the form of an anthelmintic.
In addition to the therapeutic uses of tansy, the plant is also employed for other purposes. For instance, the young shoots of tansy yield a green dye. On the other hand, the leaves as well as the flowers of this herb also provide a yellow dye. Tansy is used in the form of a strewing herb in churches, cellars, rooms and other places with a view to keep the insects away. Growing as well as dehydrated tansy plants are known to fend off ants, flies and fleas, particularly when they are mixed with elder leaves (botanical name, Sambucus spp.). In fact, the leaves and also the flowering shoots of tansy enclose 0.15 per cent of an essential oil that contains thujone, camphor and borneol. The oil as well as the leaves of this herb have been employed to eliminate lice and fleas. Although thujone is an extremely useful insecticide, it is also extremely poisonous for mammals, especially when it is taken in large amounts. In addition, tansy is an excellent addition to the compost pile, being esteemed for its significant mineral content.
Apart from its therapeutic utilities, tansy is also used for culinary purposes. The tender leaflets of this herb are eaten raw or after being cooked. In addition, the small amounts of the tender leaves of this plant may also be added to salads. Tansy is also made use of in the form of a flavouring – it is often used as a substitute for cinnamon and nutmeg. The leaves as well as the flowering stems of this herb are also used to prepare an astringent and slightly lemon-flavoured tea.
Habitat and cultivation
Tansy is found growing all over the temperate climatic zones in the Northern Hemisphere. This species grows naturally in the open areas, the length of the roads as well as places close to water. The flowering tops of tansy are harvested when the flowers open up during summer.
Tansy is a perennially growing plant which may either be propagated by its seeds or by means of root division. This species has the aptitude to self-sow and it is necessary to control the growth of tansy in order to prevent it from turning out to be an invasive weed. Seedlings of tansy may be planted in full or part sunlight, keeping a space of a minimum of four feet between two plants.
This species grows well in common garden soil; in fact, the plants flourish in nearly every type of soil. At times, tansy is cultivated in an herb garden; however, a location for growing this plant ought to be chosen with care as it generally spreads belligerently at the roots. There are a number of names’ types of tansy. For instance, the variety called ‘fernleaf’ is actually a more ornamental and compact form which grows up to a length of 75 cm and it does not increase so rapidly. It is definitely an excellent plant to grow in the orchard, especially when it is grown under the fruit trees, raspberries and also roses. It assists in repelling insects from these trees/bushes as well as others growing in the vicinity. The flowering tansy plant is attractive to butterflies as well as hoverflies.
Tansy is generally propagated by its seeds, which are generally sown during spring in a greenhouse. However, it is important to just cover the seed and not allow the pot in which it has been sown to dehydrate. When the seedlings have grown sufficiently large, prick them out and plant them in separate pots. The young plants may be re-planted in their permanent positions outdoors during the summer.
Alternately, tansy may also be propagated by means of root division nearly at any time of the plant’s growing season, while spring is the best season to undertake the root division method. Larger root divisions may be planted directly in their permanent positions outdoors. It is advisable that you plant the smaller divisions in separate pots and grow them in somewhat shade in a greenhouse or, alternately, a cold frame till they are growing properly. The young plants may be re-planted outdoors into their permanent positions during the summer or the next spring.
- bitter glycosides
- sesquiterpene lactones
- volatile oil containing thujone
Tansy is used in two formulations – infusion as well as tincture.
Infusion: To prepare the infusion add one teaspoonful of the dehydrated tansy to one cup (250 ml) of boiling steaming water and allow it to macerate for about 10 to 15 minutes. For best results, this infusion ought to be taken two times every day.
Tincture: The normal dosage of the tincture prepared from tansy is taking 1 ml to 2 ml thrice every day.
Side effects and cautions
People who are taking or intend to use the formulations of tansy ought to be aware of its potential side effects. In fact, tansy is toxic when taken in large amounts. A number of death cases have been reported from North America owing to drinking potent brews of tea prepared from tansy, most probably in the form of abortifacient (something that encourages abortion).
Collection and harvesting
The leaves as well as the flowers, including the flowering tops, of tansy are harvested during the flowering season of the plant from June to September.
Tansy moth bags
A mixture of a number of herbs, including tansy, may be used in moth bags. The ingredients required to prepare the anti-moth mixture include two cups of dehydrates tansy leaves, three cups of dried out southernwood, two cups of dried thyme and 1/3 cup of pulverized cloves. Pound all these ingredients collectively in a bowl and put them in small amounts in little muslin bags. Tie these bags tightly and put them among the woollen clothes and other items.
Traditionally, bunches of tansy leaves are also hanged in rooms for their fly repellent properties.