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Herbs & Plants

Tanacetum vulgare

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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.

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

Categories
Herbs & Plants

Lovage

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Botanical Name: Levisticum officinale (KOCH.)
Family: Apiaceae
Tribe:     Apieae
Genus:     Levisticum
Species: L. officinale
Kingdom: Plantae
Order:     Apiales

Synonyms: Ligusticum Levisticum (Linn.). Old English Lovage. Italian Lovage. Cornish Lovage. In Germany and Holland, one of the common names of Lovage is Maggikraut (German) or Maggiplant (Dutch) because the plant’s taste is reminiscent of Maggi soup seasoning. In Romania the common name of Lovage is LeuÅŸtean.

Parts Used:
Root, leaves, seeds, young stems.
Habitat: It is not considered to be indigenous to Great Britain, and when occasionally found growing apparently wild, it is probably a garden escape. It is a native of the Mediterranean region, growing wild in the mountainous districts of the south of France, in northern Greece and in the Balkans.

The Garden Lovage is one of the old English herbs that was formerly very generally cultivated, and is still occasionally cultivated as a sweet herb, and for the use in herbal medicine of its root, and to a less degree, the leaves and seeds.
It is a true perennial and hence is very easy to keep in garden cultivation; it can be propagated by offsets like Rhubarb, and it is very hardy. Its old-time repute has suffered by the substitution of the medicinally more powerful Milfoil and Tansy, just as was the case when ‘Elecampane‘ superseded Angelica in medical use. The public-house cordial named ‘Lovage,’ formerly much in vogue, however, owed such virtue as it may have possessed to Tansy. Freshly-gathered leafstalks of Lovage (for flavouring purposes) should be employed in long split lengths.

Description: Lovage is an erect, herbaceous, perennial plant growing to 1.8–2.5 m tall, with a basal rosette of leaves and stems with further leaves, the flowers being produced in umbels at the top of the stems. The stems and leaves are shiny glabrous green to yellow-green and smell of lime when crushed. The larger basal leaves are up to 70 cm long, tripinnate, with broad triangular to rhomboidal, acutely pointed leaflets with a few marginal teeth; the stem leaves are smaller, and less divided with few leaflets. The flowers are yellow to greenish-yellow, 2–3 mm diameter, produced in globose umbels up to 10–15 cm diameter; flowering is in late spring. The fruit is a dry two-parted schizocarp 4–7 mm long, mature in autumn.

The large, dark green radical leaves, on erect stalks, are divided into narrow wedge-like segments, and are not unlike those of a coarse-growing celery; their surface is shining, and when bruised they give out an aromatic odour, somewhat reminiscent both of Angelica and Celery. The stems divide towards the top to form opposite whorled branches, which in June and July bear umbels of yellow flowers, similar to those of Fennel or Parsnip, followed by small, extremely aromatic fruits, yellowish-brown in colour, elliptical in shape and curved, with three prominent winged ribs. The odour of the whole plant is very strong. Its taste is warm and aromatic, and it abounds with a yellowish, gummy, resinous juice.

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It is sometimes grown in gardens for its ornamental foliage, as well as for its pleasant odour, but it is not a striking enough plant to have claimed the attention of poets and painters, and no myths or legends are connected with it. The name of the genus, Ligusticum, is said to be derived from Liguria, where this species abounds.

Cultivation: Lovage is of easy culture. Propagation is by division of roots or by seeds. Rich moist, but well-drained soil is required and a sunny situation. In late summer, when the seed ripens, it should be sown and the seedlings transplanted, either in the autumn or as early in spring as possible, to their permanent quarters, setting 12 inches apart each way. The seeds may also be sown in spring, but it is preferable to sow when just ripe. Root division is performed in early spring.

The plants should last for several years, if the ground be kept well cultivated, and where the seeds are permitted to scatter the plants will come up without care.

Constituents: Lovage contains a volatile oil, angelic acid, a bitter extractive, resins, etc. The colouring principle has been isolated by M. Niklis, who gives it the name of Ligulin, and suggests an important application of it that may be made in testing drinking water. If a drop of its alcoholic or aqueous solution is allowed to fall into distilled water, it imparts to the liquid its own fine crimson-red colour, which undergoes no change; but if limestone water be substituted, the red colour disappears in a few seconds and is followed by a beautiful blue, due to the alkalinity of the latter.

Medicinal Action and Uses: Formerly Lovage was used for a variety of culinary purposes, but now its use is restricted almost wholly to confectionery, the young stems being treated like those of Angelica, to which, however, it is inferior, as its stems are not so stout nor so succulent.

The leafstalks and stem bases were formerly blanched like celery, but as a vegetable it has fallen into disuse.

A herbal tea is made of the leaves, when previously dried, the decoction having a very agreeable odour.

Lovage was much used as a drug plant in the fourteenth century, its medicinal reputation probably being greatly founded on its pleasing aromatic odour. It was never an official remedy, nor were any extravagant claims made, as with Angelica, for its efficacy in numberless complaints.

The roots and fruit are aromatic and stimulant, and have diuretic and carminative action. In herbal medicine they are used in disorders of the stomach and feverish attacks, especially for cases of colic and flatulence in children, its qualities being similar to those of Angelica in expelling flatulence, exciting perspiration and opening obstructions. The leaves eaten as salad, or infused dry as a tea, used to be accounted a good emmenagogue.

An infusion of the root was recommended by old writers for gravel, jaundice and urinary troubles, and the cordial, sudorific nature of the roots and seeds caused their use to be extolled in ‘pestilential disorders.’ In the opinion of Culpepper, the working of the seeds was more powerful than that of the root; he tells us that an infusion ‘being dropped into the eyes taketh away their redness or dimness…. It is highly recommended to drink the decoction of the herb for agues…. The distilled water is good for quinsy if the mouth and throat be gargled and washed therewith…. The decoction drunk three or four times a day is effectual in pleurisy…. The leaves bruised and fried with a little hog’s lard and laid hot to any blotch or boil will quickly break it.’

Several species of this umbelliferous genus are employed as domestic medicines. The root of LIGUSTICUM SINENSE, under the name of KAO-PÂU, is largely used by the Chinese, and in the north-western United States the large, aromatic roots of LIGUSTICUM FILICINUM (OSHA COLORADO COUGH-ROOT) are used to a considerable extent as stimulating expectorants.

The old-fashioned cordial, ‘Lovage,’ now not much in vogue, though still occasionally to be found in public-houses, is brewed not only from the Garden Lovage, Ligusticum levisticum, but mainly from a species of Milfoil or Yarrow, Achillea ligustica, and from Tansy, Tanacetum vulgare,  and probably owes its merit more to these herbs than to Lovage itself. From its use in this cordial, Milfoil has often been mistakenly called Lovage, though it is in no way related to the Umbellifer family.

Several other plants have been termed Lovage besides the true Lovage, and this has frequently caused confusion. Thus we have the SCOTCH LOVAGE, known also as Sea Lovage, or Scotch Parsley, and botanically as Ligusticum scoticum; the BLACK LOVAGE, or Alexanders, Smyrnium Olusatrum; BASTARD LOVAGE, a species of the allied genus, Laserpitum, and WATER LOVAGE, a species of the genus Cenanthe.

Laserpitum may be distinguished from its allies by the fruit having eight prominent, wing-like appendages. The species are perennial herbs, chiefly found in south-eastern Europe. Some of them are employed as domestic remedies, on account of their aroma.

The scent of the root of MEUM ATHAMANTICUM (Jacq.), SPIGNEL (also called Spikenel or Spiknel), MEU or BALD-MONEY, has much in common with that of both Lovage and Angelica, and the root has been eaten by the Scotch Highlanders as a vegetable. It is a perennial, smooth and very aromatic herb. The elongated root is crowned with fibres, the leaves, mostly springing from the root, are divided into leaflets which are further cut into numerous thread-like segments, which gives them a feathery appearance. The stem is about 6 or 8 inches high, and bears umbels of white or purplish flowers. The aromatic flavour of the leaves is somewhat like Melilot, and is communicated to milk and butter when cows feed on the herbage in the spring. The peculiar name of this plant, ‘Baldmoney,’ is said to be a corruption of Balder, the Apollo of the northern nations, to whom the plant was dedicated.

Lovage is a plant, the leaves and “seeds” or fruit of which are used to flavor food, especially in South European cuisine. It is a tall (3 to 9 ft) perennial that vaguely resembles its cousin celery in appearance and in flavor. Lovage also sometimes gets referred to as smallage, but this is more properly used for celery.

The fruit of the lovage plant can be used as a spice, but what appears in the trade as lovage seed is usually ajwain, not lovage. On the other hand, what is sold as “celery seed” is often partially or entirely ground lovage seed.

The root of lovage, which is a heavy, volatile oil, is used as a mild aquaretic. Lovage root contains furanocoumarins which can lead to photosensitivity.Preparations made from the roots or leaves are used to treat edema, indigestion and to prevent the formation of kidney stones.

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.

References:
http://botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/l/lovage42.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lovage

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