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Tanacetum / Tansies - Classification, Medicinal Uses And Dosage


Genus Tanacetum, commonly known as tansies, belongs to the Asteraceae family. It consists of about 160 species of flowering plants. It can be an annual, evergreen perennial herb or subshrub depending upon the species. It is majorly present in different parts of America, Europe and Asia. For many centuries, indigenous people have been using this herb for various purposes like food, agriculture, in cosmetics or as a medicine because of its various pharmacological effects.

Tanacetum, Tansies, Classification, Ayurvedic Properties, Dosage, Vernacular Names, Taxonomical Classification, Habitat, Chemical Composition, Ancient Verse

Systematic Classification

  • Kingdom - Plantae
  • Division - Magnoliophyta
  • Class - Magnoliopsida
  • Order - Asterales
  • Family - Asteraceae


  • Tansy (common name)
  • Feverfew
  • Golden buttons

Chemical Composition

Researchers found approximately 240 secondary compounds present in Tanacetum which includes sesquiterpenes (18%), phenolic compounds such as flavonoids (15%), phenolic acid (12%), fatty acids and alkanes (9%), essential oils, coumarins and some dietary components such as vitamins, carbohydrates and others.

  • Phenolic Compounds: p-coumaric acid, caffeic acid, ferulic acid.
  • Coumarins: Isofraxidin, 7-hydroxycoumarin, dimethylfraxetin and 9-epipectachol B.
  • Essential Oil: Camphor, bornyl acetate, phellandrene, chrysanthenyl acetate, terpinene, cymene, terpineol, verbenone, tetradecane, caryophyllene oxide. thujene, pinene, camphene, limonene, benzaldehyde, sabinene, pinocarvone, borneol myrtenal, farnesene, thymol, and carvacrol.
  • Sesquiterpene Lactones: Parthenolide
  • Pyrethrins: Cinerin I and II, pyrethrin I and II and jasmolin I and II.
  • Vitamins: Vitamin k1, vitamin D2, vitamin A (retinol and retinyl acetate), vitamin E (α-tocopherol and β-tocopherol).
  • Others: Glucose, xylose, mannose, apiose.


Tanacetum thrives effectively in well drained, coarse and sandy soil with less nutrients and less humidity, it requires full sunlight throughout the day. It is native to the Mediterranean basin of Europe, Africa and southwest and eastern part of Asia and now it is also well found in temperate regions of Northern America. From wilds to natural gardens to roadside it can habitat all places.


Tanacetum is generally 5 to 150 cm long. Leaves are fern like 6 to 8 inches long alternate and sessile, foliage is hairy and silver to greyish in colour with strong scent. Flowers have a distinct layer of involucral bract, circling at the base and range from hemispherical to flat, flowers generally appear in summers and flowerheads are button-like. Fruits are achenes type with four to six ribs and a crown and roots have a taproot kind of system.

Ancient Texts

A famous species of Tanacetum called Tanacetum parthenium has a long history, the name "Parthenium" was given by ancient Greeks because it was once used to save the life of a person who fell from the Parthenon during construction in 5th century BC. A Greek pharmacologist and physician Dioscorides (ca AD 40-80) called that "Parthenium" can be used for "all hot kinds of inflammations." He also used it as an antipyretic, hence named "feverfew", "medieval aspirin of the 18th century".

Practical Uses And Benefits

  • Antidiabetic
    • It also helps to control blood glucose level thus can be used by diabetic patients. Leaves from the species Tanacetum balsamita are used to make herbal tea which were taken by Turkish people three times a day to treat diabetes.
  • Hepatoprotective
    • Indigenous people of Italy used its infusion for cholecystitis and bile production.
    • Decoction made from the roots when taken with honey acts on bladder stone and breaks them, it is also good for hepatitis.
  • Antipyretic
    • Decoction of flowers of tansies was used to treat fever and its powder is used to treat flu in Russian folk medicine.
  • Anti Inflammatory
    • Externally, infusion of leaves and buds is used to treat swellings and sprains.
    • When roots of the Tanacetum chewed orally it can treat arthritis and gout.
    • Decoction of stem and leaves are used topically to treat menstrual cramps.
  • Gastrointestinal Effects
    • The root juice of the Tanacetum in Russian folk medicine was used for the treatment of stomach pain, indigestion, bloating, diarrhoea, nausea and for intestinal worms.
  • Antimicrobial
    • It is also used to treat infections and sexually transmitted diseases and externally it is used to treat wound infections and acute skin problems.
  • Antispasmodic
    • The species Tanacetum balsamita have relaxing properties, vapors made from their leaves were inhaled by people of Istria in ancient times.
  • Used As Food
    • It is used as food in many areas specially in italy cuisines like herbal tea, soup and salads because of its spicy and minty aroma.
    • In the brewery industry it was used as a flavoring agent in beers.
  • Cosmetics
    • In cosmetics it was widely used in perfumes and used to get rid of body lice.
    • It also acts as a room freshener.
  • In Agriculture
    • In agricultural fields it is used to remove insects from the crops.
    • Decoction of leaves are applied to animals to get rid of ticks.
  • Other Uses
    • It is also helpful to treat hypertension and migraine.
    • Infusion of leaves and buds are also good for heart health.
    • In Iranian traditional medicine it was used to treat hemorrhoids.
    • Infusion from aerial parts from species called Tanacetum parthenium are taken to induce natural abortion in Mexican traditional medicine.
    • Decoction made from roots is used to treat toothache.
    • Intake of powder made from fruits and leaves of the tansies is good for kidneys.

Part Used

Flowers, leaves, stems, buds, roots


  • Decoction : 15 gm in 250 ml of water
  • Extract : 0.25 to 0.75ml
  • Powder : 15- 100mg

Other Alternative Herbs

Indian ayurvedic herbs have also shown these kinds of similar effects, although one can not get the exact same benefit of a particular herb from another alternative herb, but can be a better option if you do not have access to foreign herbs like Tanacetum. There is an ayurvedic herb which can show more or less pharmacological effect that of Tanacetum is:

Swertia Chirayita (Chirayata)

Potential Uses And Benefits

  • It is used to treat liver problems.
  • Helps to maintain blood sugar level.
  • Good for upset stomach and treating diarrhea.
  • It is an effective herb for fever.
  • Used to get rid of worms from the body.
  • It resolves skin disease, healing of wounds etc.
  • Helps to treat joint pain.

Effects On Doshas

It balances kapha and pitta doshas.


Tanacetum or tansies, is an European herb which has been used in ancient times by indigenous people as medicine and food. But its pharmacological effects and compositions were studied much later, that is why it is still underexplored and there is a lot of room for scientists to find more about this herb for different uses.

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Author Bio:

Best Ayurvedic Doctor - Dr. Meenakshi Chauhan

Dr. Meenakshi Chauhan


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Reviewed By:

Best Ayurvedic Doctor in Mohali - Dr. Vikram Chauhan

Dr. Vikram Chauhan


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