Tanacetum vulgare

Botanical Name :Tanacetum vulgare
Family: Asteraceae
Genus: Tanacetum
Species: T. vulgare
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Asterales

Common Names:Tansy , Bitter Buttons,Common Tansy, Cow Bitter, Mugwort, or Golden Buttons.

Habitat :Tansy is native to Eurasia; it is found in almost all parts of mainland Europe. It is absent from Siberia and some of the Mediterranean islands. The ancient Greeks may have been the first to cultivate it as a medicinal herb. In the sixteenth century it was considered to be “necessary for a garden” in Britain.

Description:
Tansy is a flowering herbaceous plant with finely divided compound leaves and yellow, button-like flowers. It has a stout, somewhat reddish, erect stem, usually smooth, 50–150 cm tall, and branching near the top. The leaves are alternate, 10–15 cm long and are pinnately lobed, divided almost to the center into about seven pairs of segments, or lobes, which are again divided into smaller lobes having saw-toothed edges, giving the leaf a somewhat fernlike appearance. The roundish, flat-topped, button-like, yellow flower heads are produced in terminal clusters from mid-to-late summer. The scent is similar to that of camphor with hints of rosemary. The leaves and flowers are toxic if consumed in large quantities; the volatile oil contains toxic compounds including thujone, which can cause convulsions and liver and brain damage. Some insects, notably the tansy beetle Chrysolina graminis, have resistance to the toxins and subsist almost exclusively on the plant.

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Edible Uses:
Tansy was formerly used as a flavoring for puddings and omelets, but is now almost unknown. The herbalist John Gerard noted that tansy was well known as “pleasant in taste”, and he recommends tansy sweetmeats as “an especial thing against the gout, if every day for a certain space a reasonable quantitie thereof be eaten fasting.” In Yorkshire, tansy and caraway seeds were traditionally used in biscuits served at funerals.

During the Restoration, a “tansy” was a sweet omelette flavoured with tansy juice. In the BBC documentary “The Supersizers go … Restoration”, Allegra McEvedy described the flavour as “fruity, sharpness to it and then there’s a sort of explosion of cool heat a bit like peppermint.” [25] However, the programme’s presenter Sue Perkins experienced tansy toxicity.

According to liquor historian A. J. Baime, in the 19th century Tennessee whiskey magnate Jack Daniel enjoyed drinking his own whiskey with sugar and crushed tansy leaf.

Medicinal Uses:
* Amenorrhea * Insect Repellent * Parasites/worms * Scabies

Properties::  * Abortifacient * Antiparasite * Aromatic * Bitter * Bitter * Carminative * Emmenagogue * Stimulant * Vermifuge

Parts Used: The leaves and tops. The plant is cut off close above the root, when first coming into flower in August.

Constituents:  volatile oil (containing up to 70% thujone), bitter glycosides, sesquiterpene lactones, terpenoids including pyrethrins, tannin, resin, vitamin c, citric acid, oxalic acid

Tansy was once a widely grown herb with a number of traditional medicinal uses, but one that has lost favor over time with the modern herbal community. Older herbals recommend the use of tansy for many purposes including as an anthelmintic, for migraine, neuralgia, rheumatism and gout, meteorism( distended stomach due to trapped gas), and loss of appetite. Mrs. Grieve highly recommends an infusion of tansy be given to children to kill worms among other things.4 This is an excellent example of how we need to filter our readings of the wisdom of our elder teachers with today’s better understanding of plant chemistry. The danger with using tansy is primarily with it’s thujone content, which is responsible for much of tansy’s medicinal actions, but which is toxic in large doses. The amount of thujone contained can vary from plant to plant making safe dosing problematic. According to the German Commission E ” Uncontrolled usage of tansy, depending on the quality of the herb, can result in the absorption of thujone in toxic amounts, even at normal dosages.” 3

Tansy was a popular strewing herb in times past because it’s clean, camphorous scent repelled flies and other pests. It is still a good custom to plant tansy outside the kitchen door and around the garden for the same reasons. Although tansy is useful as a vermifuge, and can be used externally as poultice to treat skin infections, it might be wise to look to less dangerous herbs that can serve the same purposes.

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For many years, tansy has been used as a medicinal herb despite its toxicity. 19th-century Irish folklore suggests bathing in a solution of tansy and salt as a cure for joint pain. A bitter tea made with tansy flowers has been used for centuries as an anthelmintic to treat parasitic worm infestations, and tansy cakes were traditionally eaten during Lent because it was believed that eating fish during Lent caused intestinal worms. Various Tanacetum species are used ethnomedically to treat migraine, neuralgia and rheumatism and as anthelmintics. Traditionally, tansy was often used for its emmenagogue effects to bring on menstruation or end an unwanted pregnancy, and pregnant women are advised to not use this herb. Research published in 2011 identified 3,5-dicaffeoylquinic acid (3,5-DCQA) and axillarin in tansy as antiviral compounds that are active against herpes simplex virus.

Other Uses:
In England, bunches of tansy were traditionally placed at windows to keep out flies. Sprigs were placed in bedding and linen to drive away pests.

Tansy has been widely used in gardens and homes in Melbourne, Australia to keep away ants.

Some traditional dyers use tansy to produce a golden-yellow colour. The yellow flowers are dried for use in floral arrangements.

Tansy is also used as a companion plant, especially with cucurbits like cucumbers and squash, or with roses or various berries. It is thought to repel ants, cucumber beetles, Japanese beetles, squash bugs, and some kinds of flying insects, among others.

Dried tansy is used by some bee-keepers as fuel in a bee smoker.

Known Hazards:
Tansy contains a volatile oil which can cause contact dermatitis in sensitive individuals. If taken internally, toxic metabolites are produced as the oil is broken down in the liver and digestive tract. It is highly toxic to internal parasites, and for centuries tansy tea has been prescribed by herbalists to expel worms. Tansy is an effective insecticide, and is highly toxic to arthropods.  Because it contains thujone, the U.S. FDA limits the use of tansy to alcoholic beverages, and the final product must be thujone-free.

The active components of the volatile oil include 1,8-cineole, trans-thujone, camphor and myrtenol, with the quantities and proportions of each varying seasonally and from plant to plant.

1,8-cineole is a toxin believed to defend the plant leaves against attacks by herbivores. It has many biological activities including allelopathy, anesthetic, antibacterial, carcinogenic, fungicide, herbicide, insectifuge, nematicide, sedative, testosterone hydroxylase inducer, and others.

Thujone is a GABA receptor antagonist that sensitises neurons; it is reputed to be an aphrodisiac, increasing brain activity and causing hallucinations, spasms, convulsions, and even death.

Camphor has various uses, including manufacture of plastics, lacquers and varnishes, explosives and pyrotechnics; as a moth repellent; as a preservative in pharmaceuticals and cosmetics; to relieve itching and pain by creating a cooling effect on the skin; as an injectable antibacterial for root canals in dentistry; as a food flavor enhancer; and as a medical ingredient in chest rubs.

Myrtenol has been used as an insect pheromone in insect trapping, as a beverage preservative, a flavoring and a fragrance

Disclaimer:
The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider

Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tansy
http://www.anniesremedy.com/herb_detail254.php

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