Wild Medicine and Tansy Cakes

It started with the Tansy cakes. I had to ask myself 'Why would anyone eat anything so utterly disgusting in taste'? Chrysanthemum Vulgare is a common perennial in the British Isles and the name Tansy is said to be derived from the Greek 'athansia', meaning 'immortal'. Reasons suggested for this include the fact that the dried flower lasts forever or that it has a medicinal quality contributing to long life. Looking back to Greek literature, Tansy was given by the Gods to Ganymede to make him immortal. In the language of flowers the gift of Tansy means 'Rejected address' - " I am not interested in you". Its strange taste, not unlike the smell of 'mothballs' might have something to do with this.

Tansy certainly had a reputation as a vermicide and vermifuge (killing and dispelling intestinal worms) in the middle ages. John Gerard wrote in his 17th century Herball:

"In the Spring time are made with the leaves here of newly sprung up, and with eggs, cakes of Tansies, which be pleasant to taste, and good for the stomacke. For if any bad humours cleave there unto, it doth perfectly concoct them and scoure them downewards".

Tansy was a common kitchen garden herb for medicinal and culinary use, in place of expensive foreign spices such as nutmeg and cinnamon. It was used to flavour custard, cakes, milk puddings, omlettes and freshwater fish. In Ireland it was included in sausages called 'Drisheens'. Its use as a springtime 'cleanser' became ritualised into a part of the Christian religious Easter traditions;

"On Easter Sunday be the pudding seen, To which the Tansy lends her sober green."

The consensus on this much written about herb is that it was used at Easter to purify the blood after lent. This consensus shows a problem though, in that in England the plant does not show leaves until the end of May - well after Easter. This is evidence of the assimilation of natural 'self-medicating' herbalism into a controlling religious patriarchy.

Observation of wild and domesticated animals shows that they regularly self-medicate with wild plants. Sick chimpanzees chew bitter leaves from a bush not normally part of their diet, and then recover. Research by Michael Hoffman shows that a particular nematode worm is common in the monkey's gut during the rainy season and that their chewing of the leaves coincided with the prevalence of this parasite, which it destroyed. This was the same bush that local tribes use to get rid of stomach parasites.

Dogs and cats self medicate by eating couch grass or cleavers. Parrots, chickens, camels, snow geese, starlings - all have been observed consuming substances normally alien to their diet to remedial effect. Bears particularly are venerated by North American Indian culture because they symbolise the powers of 'regeneration'. North American Indians discovered the use of a root called Osha from bears. It is so effective as an all round painkiller, antiviral, antipeptic that it is now on the endangered species list.

The Woolly Bear caterpillar has also been observed to change its diet according to whether it is infected by a particular parasite. Normally a Lupin eater, the caterpillar increases its chance of surviving a particular fly parasite by changing to a diet of Poison Hemlock. Self-medication is not therefore a 'rational choice' in other species, but a carefully integrated part of a survival mechanism against an invisible predator - disease. Humans seem to have lost this sense of their own health and are not usually informed as to the uses of plants growing around them.

Humans often self-medicate though - alcohol indulgence to deal with stress being an obvious example of this or the ready availability of pharmaceutical or street drugs. We often consume substances such as caffeine or sugar drinks for easy energy. The natural trait towards self-medicating may well be at the basis of many of our unconscious 'eating choices'. Potatoes contain a form of opiate and all foods to some extent can act as 'alteratives' to a unique physiology. We talk about comfort foods and rewarding ourselves with treats to eat. Often we might have a favourite food that can help if we feel too ill to eat, like scrambled egg. This is a unique food because it contains all of the amino acids we need to digest it. Chocolate is to many the ultimate comfort food treat.

An extreme example of what we do is shown in 'Pica' where a person gets uncontrollable desires to eat certain edible (and inedible) substances. This condition is occurs in pregnant women and is thought to express the need for particular minerals. Because our food sources are often limited to processed food, and because of the destruction of herbal folk-lore and access to wild medicine, many of us have lost touch with our 'health sense' or ability to use food or wild plants as preventative or curative self-medication.

But finally the wheel is turning and people want access to this more holistic and gentle sense of health that is prevalent in other medical philosophies such as Chinese or Tibetan. If you like the taste of mothballs you could even try Tansy cakes.

Article with thanks to Roger Phillips and Michael Hoffman

The Wild Herbal at: http://www.simonthescrib e.co.uk/wildflower.html

Think you know wildflowers ?
Take the free online wildflower test now by visiting simonthescribe

Aloe Vera, an Alternative That Will Improve Your Looks and Your Outlook

Do you remember your teen years? Remember that schoolmate that had a less than perfect... Read More

Alcohol : How Badly Can It Affect Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Sufferers?

The wonders of alcohol. The achilles heel for many people. The 'norm' for some others.... Read More

So What is Organic?

With allergies on the increase and sensitivities to synthetics becoming life threatening,we are looking for... Read More

Diet Food Stinks!

One big thing that can keep you from eating healthy is the idea of the... Read More

Dandelions! This Common Weed is a Wonderful Spring Tonic

Those Glorious Dandelions! Taraxacum officinale (composite family)Spring is coming! Starting about this time every year... Read More

Hypnotherapy and How it Can Help

Hypnotherapy is the process of using hypnosis to unlock the capacity of the unconscious mind... Read More

Massage Magic - Music & Touch

What Massage Therapists Do!Have you ever thought what massage therapists actually do? Ideally, they provide... Read More

Nature, An ADHD Natural Treatment

My mother's warning; "You are going to rot your brain out..." still rings through my... Read More

Get Your ZZZZZZ?s Naturally

Insomnia ? according to the dictionary is a chronic inability to fall asleep or remain... Read More

Understanding Hypnosis

If you want to use hypnosis for therapeutic reasons, there are three personal assets you... Read More

Breathing Your Way To Health

Breathing, yes of course we do it, if not we'd be dead, obvious isn't it.... Read More

Static Magnetic Therapy: Does It Really Work?

Recently, a number of articles have been published on static magnetic therapy. Static magnetic therapy... Read More

Organic Bedding and Organic Mattresses by Prescription Only?

Effective January 1, 2005, California law requires all mattresses contain chemical based fire retardancy for... Read More

Aloe Vera - The Medicine And Beauty Treatment Of Choice For Millenniums

I can remember as a young boy that my grandmother always had an Aloe Vera... Read More

Aromatherapy Oils

Aromatherapy is a method of using the aromatic oils which have been distilled from plant... Read More

Portrait of a Psychic / Intuitive

Many people ask me how I started doing this work.As a child, my earliest memory... Read More

Sun Chlorella and the Benefit

Sun Chlorella is referred to as the Green Magician due to the amazing healing powers... Read More

Using Asian Herbal Combinations for Treating Hemorrhoids

Asian HerbsI have found Chinese herb formulations quite effective in treating hemorrhoid symptoms. It is... Read More

Could You Have Lyme and Not Know It?

If you have ever been bitten by a tick, flea, mosquito, gnat, or mite or... Read More

Our New Years Resolution ? Get Rid of The Toxins in our Lives

It is hard to believe, almost unthinkable. Everyday we are exposed to so many toxins... Read More

Healing Waters of California

Back in the late 1800's the railroad came to life. Track was laid from one... Read More

Focus Your Light: Earning Money From Home When You Have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome /Fibromyalgia

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome /Fibromyalgia makes you extremely tired, exhausted and weak. It means you only... Read More

Get Hemorrhoid Relief from Herbal Remedies

Here are four different herbs that can give you hemorrhoid relief and help to get... Read More

How To Cure Your Incurable Nasal Allergy

Immunoglobulin E is an antibody, which is secreted from the white blood cell as a... Read More

Eucalyptus: The Way to Smoother Breathing

The eucalyptus is a popular Australian remedy that was first introduced to the world by... Read More

How Essential Oils Differ From Dried Herbs

Essential Oils are the heartbeat of the plant kingdom, and are perhaps the most exciting... Read More

Classical Music Therapy

Music, more than entertainment, has played an instrumental role in healing and harmonizing the mind,... Read More

Treating Arthritis - Naturally

There are actually three common types of arthritis. These are Osteoarthritis which is the most... Read More

Do Magnets Work?

The scientific explanation behind magnet therapy is that the magnetic fields produced by magnets (generating... Read More

Healing Crisis A Natural Part of Body Cleansing

Introduction to A Healing Crisis An increasing number of people today are trying alternative healing... Read More

A Constipation Remedy Using Potassium and Prunes

Potassium and prunes are a natural constipation remedy that you can quickly use to help... Read More

Fruits and Juices Important for Relieving Hemorrhoids Part I

Foods to AvoidChili Peppers It has been found that when you eat a lot of... Read More

Stage Hypnosis Vs Hypnotherapy - Understanding The Difference

We've all seen them, right? The stage hypnotist, who makes his subjects cluck like chickens.... Read More

The Future of Healing...

Your FUTURE is NOT in a doctor's office or a vial of prescription drugs.Western medicine... Read More

Using Essential Fatty Acids for Reducing Arthritis Joint Pain

Essential fatty acids provide protection for the whole body. In particular it is effective in... Read More

Flu Vaccine Hysteria

Last week the media circus surrounding the flu vaccine reached a crescendo.Half of all the... Read More

Your Body?s Secret Wisdom-- Eating from the Tree of Life

Your body's secret wisdom is as ancient as humankind and encoded in every cell. It... Read More

Youth People Obsessed With Sunless Tanning

Darker-complexioned teens will always seek a tanning bed or booth. Because they want a perfect... Read More

Alzheimer?s Patients And Verbal Abuse: How To Deal With It

Abuse of any kind is difficult to deal with. Types of verbal abuse can include... Read More

Lemon and Parsley Home Remedies

You might think of lemon and parsley as great garnishes for your drink glass and... Read More

How to Use Herbal Salves & Ointments to Shrink Your Hemorrhoids

Comfrey Herbal SalveHere is an herbal combination that contains herbs that promote the healing of... Read More

Preventing Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy Through Ayurveda

Definition: Benign prostatic hypertrophy is swelling of Prostate gland. The prostate is a walnut sized... Read More

Is Shiatsu Massage the Ultimate Stress Relief Treatment?

My first shiatsu massageI opened my eyes suddenly. He was smiling at me. Then I... Read More

Why is Prevention So Important?

One of the least known and least practiced aspects of medicine is prevention. If you... Read More

Muget Des Bois: A Healing Victory

Known by its other name as Lily of the Valley or May Lily, muget des... Read More

Natural Prevention & Treatment For The Flu: What Your Doctor May Not Know

Flu can affect 10 to 30 percent of the U.S. population each winter. The flu... Read More

Garlic ? My Favorite Healing Herb

Garlic is a wonderful healing herb and, unlike many of the other herbs, it tastes... Read More

Complementary Therapy The Route To Better Back Health

Find Out How to Reduce and Eliminate Chronic Back Pain Using Non-Traditional TherapyComplementary therapy is... Read More

Why Choose Naturopathic Medicine?

Naturopathic medicine is a system and philosophy of medicine that has been around for hundreds,... Read More

Green Drink For Constipation

A green drink is a powerful drink that can help detoxify your colon and your... Read More