Saturday, January 22, 2011

Herby Ally - Challenge 2 - Infusions

Our challenge this week was to make several infusions with our herbal ally to drink each day and record our findings and feelings as the week went by. This was of course IF we had chosen a SAFE herb!

And it seems according to all and sundry out there, MY beloved Tansy is NOT considered a SAFE herb! Indeed, as I found out this week, she is so rudely not even mentioned in many a herbal book!!! Most of what I have been reading online and in some of my own books basically suggest that we do not ingest Tansy as woman have been known to die from ingesting her. A scant few as it was, but still enough to decide that one should no longer use her as she is not safe!

Me being me of course thought "but why????" Tansy has been used safely for centuries in many cultures. The fact that she contains thujone rendering her "unsafe" for consumption had me researching a little further. All I could come up with really was that I am now wondering if the pharmaceutical companies have something to do with this "unsafe" finding? I mean who is going to BUY de-worming medicine if one can simply pick it from the garden?

From what I can gather, thujone is considered by some to have the ability to make you "high" or hallucinate. However, after reading a scientific study, as far as I am concerned, this theory is up in the air! There is no actual proof that this is true. It is merely an assumption. Also unless you have some chemical lab set up and are going to extract huge amounts of thujone from your plant and mix it with other substances, I can't see what the problem is.

Next, the women that died as a result of ingesting Tansy were trying to relieve themselves of unwanted pregnancies.  They probably were taking extremely strong doses. Like any medication, taken in copious amounts, ones body is going to shut down. One also could have an allergy to any plant and die as a result of ingesting a small amount. How many people die from peanut allergies? I don't see them banning peanuts!

So with all this in mind, swirling around in my head, and other people warning me to be careful etc etc etc......I decided in my usual fashion to consult the little voices in my head (Yes, I am weird, did you not know that already?), and of course the plant itself. Yes, I talk to plants too...don't you? I always thank my plants when taking from them! Its only polite you know?

1st fresh infusion - 5 mins only

We decided amongst ourselves, that I would make a very quick infusion using fresh leaves. I chose four smallish sized leaves which would have made about a teaspoon if chopped. I did not chop them as I thought to make a weaker infusion. I went with the instructions in my companion book Isabella Shipards, "How to use herbs in my daily Life" to infuse for 5 minutes only and drink.  (She also has an account of someone she met who drank Tansy tea on a regular basis with no ill effects!)

Quite weak, pleasant tasting, no sweeteners required

I have recorded my findings in my journal. I won't share all my feelings here as it is quite long winded. I will share however, that I was pleasantly surprised that it tasted quite nice. It was like a burst of cooling freshness in your mouth followed by a quick drying sensation. With this in mind, one would think I would keep going for the week, but unfortunately I had forgotten an important factor. My menstrual cycle. I could not remember if or when I was due and did not want the Tansy interfering without knowing first.

I did have some spotting the next morning and was feeling a little unwell (unrelated). I have been experiencing heavy bleeding the past few cycles so did not want to help it along more. Therefore, I decided to skip the "tea drinking" experiment and save it for another time when my body was more co-operative.

I decided instead to infuse some of the dried herb in a stronger dose and see what happened. I made batches of 2 hours, 4 hours and even 24 hours. The colours changed from yellows, to dark browns. The smell of course became stronger, but not unpleasant to me.

first few minutes

12 hours

When I breathe in the vapours is does not make me think of poison at all. Reminding me of the reason I took an interest in herbs in the first place. I was following my instinct. And so I will continue to do so.

Now having said that, Fleas have a bit of an aversion to the smell! I will be spraying this around the dogs bedding and anywhere they try to move in!

I am strongly of the belief that Tansy is a SAFE herb if used correctly. Of course I will proceed with caution but I will be trusting in my instinct and taking my cues from there.

If you would like to take part in the Herbal Ally challenges or read about some other herbal allys....please click here!


  1. excellent use of intuition and knowledge on the dosage! i like that you experimented with teas and infusions as well.

    in answer to your infusion fresh vs. dried question, it's recommended to use dry as the minerals and other constituents draw better from the dried herb. you are going for a different effect with the infusions than with a tea.

    since you've picked a more obscure and hard to find information about herb, you're journey will be a lot more challenging but i'm betting it's going to be very rewarding! i'm glad you were able to find some herbals with tansy in them.

  2. Thank you. I had no idea about the fresh vs dried affecting the minerals etc. Looking forward to learning more. :-)

  3. you have fabulous intuitive skills, Karisma. I foresee you just getting stronger and stronger in them in regards especially to your journey with herbs. Wow, you strong lady:) xx