Health benefits of Tansy

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Health benefits of Tansy

Tansy Quick Facts
Name: Tansy
Scientific Name: Tanacetum vulgare L
Origin Temperate regions of Europe and Asia
Shapes Yellowish brown achenes that measure 1 to 1.8 mm long with short, five-toothed crowns
Taste Bitter, Pungent
Health benefits Good for Intestinal Worms and Digestion
Tanacetum vulgare, commonly known as Tansy, common tansy, bitter buttons, cow bitter, golden buttons, Curly Leaf Tansy, Buttons, wild tansy, gold leaf tansy, ginger plant, bitter buttons, hineheel, scented fern, stinking willie, hindheal, mugwort or parsley fern, is an erect, rhizomatous, weedy perennial with aromatic, fern-like foliage. The herb is a member of the family Asteraceae and it has traditionally been used in folk medicine for centuries. It is native to temperate regions of Europe and Asia, but was transported to the U.S. in colonial times for medicinal and horticultural purposes. The word “tansy” is derived from Greek word “Athanaton” which means “immortal”. Name refers to the long-lasting flowers of tansy and outdated usage of its leaves for the preservation of meat and other fragile goods, as well as for embalming. The flowering tops and dried leaves are generally used in herbal medicinal preparations to treat and cure a number of ailments. You can either consume it orally or use it in topical applications.

Plant Description

Tansy is an erect, rhizomatous, weedy perennial plant that grows about 7 feet (2 m) tall.  The plant is found growing in vacant lots, gardens, pastures, railroads, roadsides, irrigation ditches, stream banks, and lake shores. Common tansy is also found in marshes, swamps, rangelands, prairies, meadows, and woodlands, moist valley bottoms, rangeland, gardens and disturbed habitats. It occurs on loams and sands described as dry to moist with low to high fertility. The plant has stout, somewhat reddish, erect stem, usually smooth, 50–150 cm tall, and branching near the top.


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.

Flower & Fruit

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. Flowering normally occurs from Aug to September. Fruits are yellowish brown achenes that measure 1 to 1.8 mm long with short, five-toothed crowns.

The flowering tops and dried leaves are generally used in herbal medicinal preparations to treat and cure a number of ailments. You can either consume it orally or use it in topical applications. Tansy has been used for a very long time not only as an ornamental plant but also as a pesticide, a preservative and a medicinal herb. The plant is however known to be toxic to both humans and livestock which have seen its medicinal use decline. The leaves and flowers are toxic if consumed in large quantities; the volatile oil consists of 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 exist almost exclusively on the plant.


Despite being toxic to both humans and animals, tansy has a very long history of use. It was initially grown by the ancient Greeks as a medicinal plant while as long ago as the 16th century, it was considered as in the British isles as a garden necessity.

Back in the 8th century, tansy was grown by the Benedictine monks in Switzerland and in Charlemagne’s herb gardens. It was commonly used as a remedy for parasites and intestinal worms. Tansy was also used to treat a variety of other conditions including rheumatism, digestive disorders, fevers, sores and measles.

When we go forward a few centuries to the Middle Ages, we see that tansy was used in high doses to induce abortion. Interestingly enough, the herb was also used by women trying to conceive and to reduce the risk of miscarriage.

During the 15th and 16th centuries, tansy was added to Lenten meals by the Christians to commemorate the Israelites and the bitter herbs that they ate. It is also supposed that they added tansy to the meals to help control flatulence which developed from many days of eating pulses and to help prevent parasites from eating so many fish during the Lent period.

Tansy has also been used to wash the face and is supposed to have helped purify and lighten the skin. During the 19th century in Ireland, folk use recommended bathing in a liquid solution made with salts and tansy to cure rheumatism and other forms of joint pain.

Health benefits of Tansy

Tansy has emenagogue, anti-parasitic, bitter and abortifacient properties. The main medicinal uses of tansy are to help treat intestinal worms and parasites and to encourage menstruation in women that have irregular cycles or the absence of menses. The following are the most common modern uses of tansy but please bear in mind that tansy is very toxic and be sure to refer an expert to verify the safest possible dosage.

1. Digestion

Tansy has carminative properties that help to improve general digestion and also deal with common digestive conditions like flatulence and dyspepsia. It has also been used to treat stomach ulcers, cramping, pain and gallbladder issues. Tansy is also regarded to be an effective appetite stimulant.

2. Good for Intestinal Worms

One of the main historical uses of tansy was as a treatment for intestinal worms and some herbalists still use it for this purpose today. Because of its high thujone content, it is considered to be an especially effective remedy for numerous intestinal parasites. Unfortunately, its thujone content also makes it highly toxic and it is usually taken in lower doses in the form of a tea.

3. Stimulates Menstruation

Tansy is known to have powerful emenagogue properties. This means that it can help stimulate menstruation in women who suffer from irregular periods. Please not that it must never be used by women during pregnancy as it may also encourage abortion.

4. Kidney Stones

Since there is no research to accept this out, but tansy might have some value in treating kidney illness and helping eradicate kidney stones. Some experts recommend that tansy is combined with nettles to make a tea that can be drunk several times a day. Again, be careful not to overdo your consumption, even in tea form as the long term use of moderate doses may also prove toxic.

5. Rheumatism and Arthritis

Tansy was historically used to treat painful joint conditions like arthritis and rheumatism. It is also occasionally used to treat other types of pain like migraines, headaches, sciatica and nerve pain.

Traditional uses and benefits of Tansy

  • Europeans and colonial Americans used common tansy in a face wash to lighten and purify skin.
  • Common tansy tea was used to treat ulcers, constipation, and hysteria.
  • Common tansy was also used to restore menstrual flow, treat intestinal worms, rheumatism, jaundice, and digestive problems.
  • Common Tansy in smaller doses was supposed to prevent miscarriage and increase fertility.
  • Leaves and flowering tops are anthelmintic, antispasmodic, bitter, carminative, emenagogue, stimulant and tonic.
  • An infusion of the leaves or whole plant is used to treat menstrual irregularities and as an anthelmintic, especially for children.
  • It is also appreciated in treating hysteria, kidney weaknesses, stomach problems, fevers and also as an emenagogue.
  • Externally, tansy is used as a poultice on swellings and some eruptive skin diseases.
  • It is also used externally to kill lice, fleas and scabies, though even external use of the plant carries the risk of toxicity.
  • Seeds are used as an anthelmintic.
  • It is effective remedy for poor appetite, ague, Jaundice, Sciatica, toothache, bruises, Sunburn and dropsy.
  • Seeds of tansy help to eliminate worms.
  • Leaves are insecticidal. It expels parasitic worms from children.
  • Oil is applied to treat injuries, bruises and rheumatic Problems.
  • It increases female fertility and reduces the chances of miscarriages.
  • It eases stomach disorders and intestinal spasms and reduces intestinal gas.
  • It is applied topically to treat varicose veins, bruises, swelling and sties.
  • It gives relief from anxiety, Hysteria and nervousness.
  • It reduces the recurrence of Epileptic seizures.
  • It promotes delayed or stopped menstruation.
  • It effectively improves blood circulation.
  • It eases the effects of colic, gout and fevers.
  • It is thought to help in the prevention of migraines.
  • When applied as a poultice, the herb is a natural treatment for skin infections and can be used to relieve sprains and reduce swelling.

Ayurvedic Health benefits of Tansy

  • Varicose veins: Infuse one tbsp of dried Tansy leaves in a cup of water. Filter and drink twice a day.
  • Rheumatism: Massage the affected area with tansy oil. It is good for external injuries.
  • Chicken Pox: Prepare an infusion of the leaves of Tansy. Have bath with this water daily.
  • Palpitation: Prepare a decoction of tansy leaves. Have it two times a day.
  • Small Pox: Make an infusion of the leaves of Tansy. Wash the affected area.
  • Abortifacient: Prepare a decoction of Tansy leaves. Have one glass two times a day.
  • Ascaris: Intestinal worms may be treated by administering a combo of Tansy, wormwood and Chamomile.

How to Eat

  • Young leaflets are consumed raw or cooked.
  • They can be added in small quantities to salads.
  • Plant is also used as a flavoring; it is a substitute for nutmeg and cinnamon.
  • Flowers have a unique flavor and are eaten or used as a garnish.
  • A bitter, somewhat lemon-flavored tea is made from the leaves and flowering stems.

Other Facts

  • Green dye is obtained from the young shoots.
  • Some traditional dyers use tansy to produce a golden-yellow color.
  • Plant is used as a strewing herb in cellars, churches etc. in order to repel insects.
  • Both the growing and the dried plant are said to repel flies, ants and fleas, especially if they are mixed with elder leaves.
  • Both the leaves and the oil have been used to kill fleas and lice.
  • In the middle Ages, it was strewn across floors, hung from rafters and slipped under bed sheets to discourage pests.
  • Yellow flowers are dried for use in floral arrangements.
  • Dried tansy is used by some bee-keepers as fuel in a bee smoker.


  • Common tansy in large doses was used to induce abortion.
  • 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.
  • It may cause restlessness, vomiting, Diarrhea and stomach ache.
  • It’s unsafe to use tansy if you are pregnant. It could start your period, cause your uterus to contract, and cause an abortion.
  • It’s also unsafe to use tansy if you are breast-feeding because of the poisonous thujone it contains.
  • Prolonged use may cause kidney problems.






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