Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare)
Natural Standard Bottom Line Monograph, Copyright © 2013 (www.naturalstandard.com). Commercial distribution prohibited. This monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. You should consult with a qualified healthcare provider before making decisions about therapies and/or health conditions.
While some complementary and alternative techniques have been studied scientifically, high-quality data regarding safety, effectiveness, and mechanism of action are limited or controversial for most therapies. Whenever possible, it is recommended that practitioners be licensed by a recognized professional organization that adheres to clearly published standards. In addition, before starting a new technique or engaging a practitioner, it is recommended that patients speak with their primary healthcare provider(s). Potential benefits, risks (including financial costs), and alternatives should be carefully considered. The below monograph is designed to provide historical background and an overview of clinically-oriented research, and neither advocates for or against the use of a particular therapy.
Asteraceae (family), bachelor's buttons, beta-thujone, bitter button, boerenwormkruid, buttons, Chrysanthemum uliginosum, Chrysanthemum vulgare, common tansy, Compositae (family), cow bitter, daisy, garden tansy, ginger plant, gold-buttons, golden button, hindheal, mugwort, parsley fern, ponso, prince of Wales feathers, Pyrethrum tanacetum, scented fern, sesquiterpene lactones, solucanotu, stinking Willie, tanaceto, Tanacetum audiberti, Tanacetum vulgare, tanse-tansy, tansey, yomogi-giku.
Tansy is not widely used in modern herbalism. The leaves and flower tops of this herb are mainly used as a vermifuge to expel intestinal worms. Less commonly, tansy is used to treat menstrual irregularities and induce menstrual bleeding. There is not enough scientific evidence about the safety and efficacy of tansy to support its traditional uses.
Aside from medicinal uses, distilled tansy oil repels mosquitoes, though not as well as commercial preparations containing diethytoluamide.
These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.
No available studies qualify for inclusion in the evidence table.
*Key to grades:A: Strong scientific evidence for this use; B: Good scientific evidence for this use; C: Unclear scientific evidence for this use; D: Fair scientific evidence against this use (it may not work); F: Strong scientific evidence against this use (it likely does not work).
The below uses are based on tradition or scientific theories. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious and should be evaluated by a qualified health care professional.
Abortifacient (induces abortion), antibacterial, antioxidant, antiseptic, antispasmodic, bruises, carminative, colds, convulsions, diaphoretic (promotes sweating), digestive problems, diuretic, dyspepsia (upset stomach), encephalitis (tick-borne), epilepsy, fevers, flatulence, flea control, food preservation, fungicide, gallbladder disorders (increasing appetite and alleviating pain), gout (inflammation of foot), hysteria, inflammation, insect repellant, jaundice, kidney dysfunction, leukorrhea (vaginal discharge), lice, liver disorders (increasing appetite and alleviating pain), migraine, narcotic, nausea, nerve pain, nervous disorders, painful menstruation, parasites and worms, promotion of menstruation, rheumatism, scabies, skin disorders, sores, sprains, stimulant, sunburn, swelling, tonic, toothache, tuberculosis, tumors, ulcers (stomach or duodenal).
The below doses are based on scientific research, publications, traditional use, or expert opinion. Many herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested, and safety and effectiveness may not be proven. Brands may be made differently, with variable ingredients, even within the same brand. The below doses may not apply to all products. You should read product labels, and discuss doses with a qualified healthcare provider before starting therapy.
Adults (18 years and older):
There is no proven safe or effective dose for tansy in adults.
Children (younger than 18 years):
There is no proven safe or effective dose for tansy in children, and use is not recommended.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.
Avoid in individuals with a known allergy or hypersensitivity to tansy or members of the Asteraceae/Compositae family (feverfew, dandelion, arnica, marguerite, sunflower, false ragweed, giant ragweed, short ragweed, sagebrush, wild feverfew, yarrow, chrysanthemums, and chamomile). Dahlia species, English ivy and laurel oil may potentially sensitize patients. Contact dermatitis (rash) has been reported.
Side Effects and Warnings
The most common side effect is skin rash following contact with the fresh plant. The rash is thought to occur from contact with the oleoresins or sesquiterpene lactones found in Compositae plants. Sensitivity to light has been reported.
Herbal texts allude to cases of toxicity in large doses. Tansy is likely unsafe when the essential oil is ingested. Tansy may induce abortion and uterine bleeding in large doses. Avoid in patients who may be pregnant due to possible abortifacient activity.
Tansy contains a compound called thujone. Symptoms of thujone toxicity may include rapid breathing, rapid, feeble pulse, irregular heartbeat, severe gastroenteritis, vomiting, abdominal pain, liver damage, seizures, dizziness, or kidney damage. Hallucinations and delirium are also possible.
Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
Herbal texts and ethnobotanical studies have documented that tansy may induce abortion and thus be unsafe for internal use in pregnant women.
Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments, or traditional use. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy.
Interactions with Drugs
Tansy contains a compound called thujone, which may alter the effects of alcohol. Caution is advised when taking large amounts of thujone-containing tansy with alcohol.
Theoretically, tansy may alter blood sugar. Patients taking diabetes agents by mouth or insulin should be monitored closely by a qualified healthcare provider. Medication adjustments may be necessary.
Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements
Tansy contains a compound called thujone, which may alter the effects of tinctures containing alcohol. Concomitant use of tansy with other thujone-containing herbs may increase the risk of thujone toxicity. Thujone-containing herbs include oak moss, sage, wormwood, cedar, and tree moss.
Theoretically, tansy may alter blood sugar. Blood sugar levels may require monitoring, and dosing may need adjustment.
This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com).
Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.
Chandler RF, Hooper SN, Hooper DL, et al. Herbal remedies of the Maritime indians: sterols and triterpenes of Tanacetum vulgare L. (Tansy). Lipids 1982;17(2):102-106. View Abstract
Chiasson H, Belanger A, Bostanian N, et al. Acaricidal properties of Artemisia absinthium and Tanacetum vulgare (Asteraceae) essential oils obtained by three methods of extraction. J Econ Entomol 2001;94(1):167-171. View Abstract
Conway GA, Slocumb JC. Plants used as abortifacients and emmenagogues by Spanish New Mexicans. J Ethnopharmacol 1979;1(3):241-261. View Abstract
Croteau R, Shaskus J. Biosynthesis of monoterpenes: demonstration of a geranyl pyrophosphate:(-)-bornyl pyrophosphate cyclase in soluble enzyme preparations from tansy (Tanacetum vulgare). Arch Biochem Biophys 1985;236(2):535-543. View Abstract
Fokina GI, Frolova TV, Roikhel' VM, et al. [Experimental phytotherapy of tick-borne Guin JD, Skidmore G. Compositae dermatitis in childhood. Arch Dermatol 1987;123(4):500-502. View Abstract
Hausen BM. A 6-year experience with compositae mix. Am J Contact Dermat 1996;7(2):94-99. View Abstract
Jager AK, Gauguin B, Adsersen A, et al. Screening of plants used in Danish folk medicine to treat epilepsy and convulsions. J Ethnopharmacol 2005; View Abstract
Jovanovic M, Poljacki M, Duran V, et al. Contact allergy to Compositae plants in patients with atopic dermatitis. Med Pregl 2004;57(5-6):209-218. View Abstract
Mark KA, Brancaccio RR, Soter NA, et al. Allergic contact and photoallergic contact dermatitis to plant and pesticide allergens. Arch Dermatol 1999;135(1):67-70. View Abstract
Schinella GR, Giner RM, Recio MC, et al. Anti-inflammatory effects of South American Tanacetum vulgare. J Pharm Pharmacol 1998;50(9):1069-1074. View Abstract
Williams CA, Harborne JB, Geiger H, et al. The flavonoids of Tanacetum parthenium and T. vulgare and their anti-inflammatory properties. Phytochemistry 1999;51(3):417-423. View Abstract
Copyright © 2013 Natural Standard (www.naturalstandard.com)
The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.
March 22, 2017