Friday, January 28, 2011

Herbal Ally - Challenge #3 - Research

 This week our herbal ally challenge was to research our ally as much as possible. For me this meant basically reading over and over what I had already dug up. Tansy is not proving an easy herb to study as far as printed information goes. In fact I found myself looking to much older herbals to even find her mentioned at all. I have been lucky in the sense that my favourite herbal does happen to include a bit of positive information and I am eagerly awaiting the delivery of Maud Grieves " A Modern Herbal" Vol's 1 and 2 and The Scots Herbal (Tess Darwin) to compare and hopefully find out more.

Tansy or "Tanecetum vulgare" has also been known as "Buttons" or parsley fern and is a member of the Aster family. Originating from temperate Europe and Asia, she is a perennial plant. Living long, indeed as her name, which  is believed to have evolved from the Latin word Athanasia meaning Immortality, suggests.

Her actions include...Astringent, Anthelmintic, Carminative, Digestive, Tonic, Vermifuge, and Emmenagogue. Primarily being used in times of old as a vermifuge (to expel worms from the body).

While de-worming was the most commonly known reason for using Tansy as medicine, it is less known that despite her also being used as an Emmenagogue (to stimulate menstruation etc) she was also drunk as a tea to stop hot flushes of menopause.

Other medicinal uses include: (as teas, tinctures, poultices, powdered and simply with fresh leaves)
  • Urinary inflammation
  • gout
  • an infusion as a wash
  • for freckles
  • acne
  • bruises
  • sprains
  • knotted or varicose veins
  • coughs
  • colds
  • rheumatism
  • skin problems
  • sciatica
  • ringworms
  • lice
  • scabies
Taking a fresh leaf of tansy and placing it in the shoe has been credited with stopping leg cramps, fevers, and infections of the plague.

 While these days Tansy is not recommended for "eating" purposes, in days of old it was actually used quite a bit. Mainly for preserving meat in the days before refrigerators but also to flavour vegetables, meat, sausages, stuffings, puddings, cakes, biscuits, mayonnaise and alcohol. I have managed to round up a few recipes of old so will have a go at cooking them and let you know how it goes.

In the garden, Tansy is one of natures best helpers. Repelling flies, fleas, lice, ants and moths from ones vegetables and fruit, she also makes a wonderful addition to the compost as she breaks down vegetation due to her rich potassium levels.

Her leaves and flowers are used for infusions, cooking, teas, powders (eg. flea powder) and poultices. The flowers can also be used to make a yellow dye for wool which I intend to try out soon. 

Harvesting and growth in my own back yard can happen year round. She grows well in all temperatures and conditions and seems to thrive no matter what stresses she endures. A very hardy plant indeed. I hear she will lay dormant in extreme cold weather and reappear in spring. Its never that cold where I live so I cannot personally vouch for this.

I will go into more details on various uses in seperate posts as I learn more. For now I am gathering as much personal knowledge as I can and concentrating on learning from my ally myself not just relying on printed info. I am really looking forward to reading about everyone elses Allys' as well.

Hugs and smoochies all xoxoxox

1 comment:

  1. Great information, Karisma!! Yea! I have read over and over different recipes that include tansy and if I manage to get some to grow here, I will like to use it in food:) Maybe our ancestors had already gone through all the other ways to use tansy, and preferred to use her in food? I am so into your journey!!!xx