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A tiny flower known as the blue tansy (Tanacetum annuum) has received a lot of positive press in recent years. As a result, it’s become a popular ingredient in a wide variety of products, ranging from acne creams to anti-aging solutions.
Blue tansy has also become a well-known essential oil.
Aromatherapy practitioners praise its calming effects. Some aestheticians swear by its healing properties.
But how well supported is the use of blue tansy oil? Can it actually calm irritated skin?
The science is scarce, but here’s what we do know about the properties of this little flower.
Originally a wild-harvested Mediterranean plant, blue tansy — which is actually yellow in color — is now cultivated mainly in Morocco.
When the flower’s popularity in beauty products surged, it was harvested almost out of existence in the wild. Today, supplies are steadily increasing, but it’s still one of the more expensive essential oils. A 2-ounce bottle may cost more than $100.
The blooms of Tanacetum annuum are yellow. Its slender leaves are covered with a fine white “fur.” The oil has a sweet, herbal fragrance due to its high camphor content.
The above-ground flowers and stems of the blue tansy plant are gathered and steam-distilled. In the distillation process, one of the chemical components of the oil, chamazulene, is released.
When heated, chamazulene turns deep blue, giving the oil it’s indigo-to-cerulean hue. Exactly how much chamazulene the plants contain changes as the growing season progresses from May to November.
So, let’s get to it: What can blue tansy oil actually do?
Although not much research has been done to examine how well the oil performs in clinical or real-life use, there is some evidence it can be effective as a skin care remedy.
Studies still need to be done to determine whether blue tansy essential oil helps heal irritated skin.
But some radiologists have used the oil, combined with water in a spritzer bottle, to help treat skin for burns that can sometimes develop from radiation treatments for cancer.
There hasn’t been a lot of research into how blue tansy oil can be used to reduce inflammation. But there’s some evidence that two of its main components have been effective against inflammation:
- Sabinene, a primary component of blue tansy oil, is an effective anti-inflammatory agent,
- Camphor, another key component in blue tansy oil, has been
shownto reduce inflammation in the body.
Also, the American Chemical Society notes that chamazulene, the chemical that brings out the blue color in the oil, is also an anti-inflammatory agent.
The camphor concentration in blue tansy oil has been shown to help repair damaged skin.
In one study, mice that had been exposed to UV radiation showed improvement after being treated with camphor. This led researchers to suggest camphor could be a potent wound-healing and even anti-wrinkle agent.
Aromatherapists recommend to use a few drops in a bowl of very hot water to create an infused steam.
To take advantage of blue tansy oil’s calming effects, try these methods:
In a cream or carrier oil
Like any essential oil, it’s important to dilute blue tansy before it touches your skin.
You can place 1 to 2 drops of blue tansy oil in your moisturizer, cleanser, or body lotion to help boost the product’s skin-healing effects. Or, add a few drops to a carrier oil like coconut or jojoba oil before applying it to your skin.
In a diffuser
Many people find the herbal scent of blue tansy oil to be relaxing. To enjoy the fragrance in your home, place a few drops in a diffuser.
A note of caution: Essential oils can trigger asthma or allergy symptoms for some people. You may want to avoid using the oil at work or in public spaces.
In a spritzer
To make a spritzer to use as an anti-inflammatory aid, add 4 milliliters of blue tansy oil to a spray bottle containing 4 ounces of water. Shake the bottle to mix the oil and water before you spritz it.
Note: If you’re preparing this blend to treat your skin during a course of radiation treatments, avoid using aluminum spray bottles. Aluminum can interfere with radiation. Glass bottles tend to work best.
Blue tansy oil, like most essential oils, should not be ingested or applied to your skin without diluting the oil first.
When you buy the oil, be sure you’re choosing blue tansy (Tanacetum annuum) essential oil and not oil from the common tansy (Tanacetum vulgare).
The common tansy has high concentrations of thujone, a toxic enzyme. Common tansy essential oil shouldn’t be used for aromatherapy purposes.
Some aromatherapy practitioners recommend blue tansy essential oil for asthma symptoms. While some essential oils may help with asthma symptoms, others may actually trigger an asthma episode.
Doctors at the American Academy of Asthma, Allergy & Immunology recommend people with asthma avoid the use of essential oil diffusers and inhalers because of the risk of breathlessness and bronchospasms.
If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, talk to your doctor before using essential oils. Their effects on infants aren’t yet fully known.
Because blue tansy oil is among the more costly essential oils, read the label to be sure you’re getting the real thing. Here’s how:
- Look for the Latin name Tanacetum annuum on the label. Be sure you aren’t buying Tanacetum vulgare, the common tansy.
- Make sure it isn’t blended with vegetable oil, which could lower its quality.
- Be sure it’s packaged in a dark glass bottle to protect the integrity of the oil over time.
where to buy
Ready to give blue tansy a try? You can likely find it at your local health food store, as well as from these online shops:
Blue tansy essential oil has gained a lot of attention in recent years. Although more research is needed to confirm its properties and effects, blue tansy, or its components, have been shown to have anti-inflammatory, antihistamine, and skin-calming effects.
If you’re buying the oil, make sure you don’t confuse it with the common tansy (Tanacetum vulgare), which is toxic.
If you aren’t sure whether blue tansy essential oil, or any other essential oil, is safe for you, talk to your healthcare provider before using the oil.