October 2019, posted by Emma
The Power of Blue
I love surprising clients with the vibrant hues of certain essential oils. Blue is never a colour which people expect to see in their blending bowl. From the greeny-blue of copper-distilled Sweet Inula to the depths of German Chamomile and the stunning hues of Yarrow and Blue Tansy, blue is a colour shared by several members of the Daisy family (Asteraceae).
With the exception of Sweet Inula (whose colour is a result of aromatic components bonding to the metal of copper stills) we can thank the presence of the aromatic chemical chamazulene for the blue sheen of these oils. This cunning sesquiterpene compound is a bit of a shape-shifter. Matricine, found in the plant, reacts with the heat from the distillation process to transform into chamazulene, a compound famed for its anti-inflammatory actions and blue colour.
Blue Tansy (Tanacetum annuum) is not as widely-used as German Chamomile essential oil, though it deserves to be! Hailing from Morocco it is important not to confuse it with European Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare), the essential oil of which is not suitable for use in aromatherapy due to toxic risks (including neurotoxicity). Blue Tansy, on the other hand is the gentle cousin. Known by a variety of common names including Moroccan Chamomile and Moroccan Tansy, it is steam distilled from the plant’s bright yellow flowers and buds. It has an enticingly complex aroma: sweet, herbaceous, slightly camphoraceous with an added hint of lemon and spice. Perfume-wise it's a heart note, adding strength to blends without overpowering the scent of other oils.
Sadly, this is an essential oil which is frequently adulterated. In particular some bottles on the market may be blended with White Mugwort (Artemesia herba alba) which shares a similar scent and colour. Of course this is not a problem if the oil you buy is clearly labelled as such but, as always, getting to know the aroma of pure Blue Tansy will help aromatic noses sniff-out potentially adulterated versions.
Why add Blue Tansy to your aromatic kit? If we take a moment to look at its key chemistry the presence of chamazulene, found in levels of up to 38%, gives us a clue – it’s fair to assume that an anti-inflammatory action is high on this oil’s curriculum vitae. The ketones camphor and thymol, plus a significant presence of monoterpenes including pinenes, indicate that this oil may also be useful in aiding certain respiratory issues.
So it comes as no surprise then that Blue Tansy is recommended as a respiratory supportive oil and as such may prove useful for adults living with asthma and hypertension. It is strongly recommended for treating inflamed and painful conditions such as arthritis, neuralgia, tendonitis and more generalised muscle aches. Skin care is another area where Blue Tansy scores highly. It’s particularly recommended for its anti-histamine effect, making it a great addition to blends for treating allergic reactions. I recently struggled to calm a horse fly bite reaction. If one of those critters chops on me again I will definitely reach for my Blue Tansy oil! You could also include this oil in your preparations for eczema, sunburn and other hot, irritated skin conditions, particularly where there is accompanying pain and inflammation.
Emotional wellbeing is another area where Blue Tansy can make a big difference. Described as calming, harmonising and balancing to the nervous system, inhaling it can support stress, anxiety and general feelings of sadness. It’s cooling nature marks it out for cooling frayed tempers, anger and irritability. Try it in sleep blends, particularly when sleep struggles are a result of anxiety or unresolved anger.
There is some safety information to be aware of. Chamazulene inhibits certain enzymes, so caution is advised if you are taking medication that is metabolized by CYP2D6, which includes some antidepressant medication. Essential oil safety expert Robert Tisserand describes this as a theoretical risk, but still one to be aware of – check with your doctor if needed.
Whilst researching this article I saw a client who, in her words, had lost an argument with the pavement. Her lower face was very bruised and swollen as a result of a fall, which gave me the perfect excuse to put Blue Tansy to work. On this occasion Blue Tansy was highly preferable over German Chamomile. Being applied to the face means that the aroma of the blend must be pleasant to encourage regular use. Many people struggle with the scent of German Chamomile, but my client loved the smell of this bruise-soothing blend.
In this recipe the essential oils are suggested at a relatively high dilution of 5% and is therefore recommended for healthy adults only. Combine the ingredients thoroughly and store in the cool and dark. Gently apply to bruised, inflamed, unbroken skin 2-3 times a day. If symptoms do not ease within a few days then seek medical advice.
10mls Sunflower oil (Helianthus annus)
10mls Arnica herbal oil (Arnica montana)
10mls Calendula herbal oil (Calendula officinalis)
12 drops Geranium essential oil (Pelargonium x asperum)
10 drops True Lavender essential oil (Lavandula officinalis)
8 drops Blue Tansy essential oil (Tanacetum annuum)
6 drops Helichrysum essential oil (Helichrysum italicum)
• Aromatics International (2019) Blue Tansy Oil, accessed 02/10/19, available from https://www.aromatics.com/products/blue-tansy-essential-oil
• AromaWeb (1997-2019) Blue Tansy Essential Oil, accessed 02/10/19, https://www.aromaweb.com/essential-oils/blue-tansy-oil.asp
• Bataglia S (2003) The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy (second edition), Brisbane: The International Centre of Holistic Aromatherapy
• Bowles EJ (2003) The Chemistry of Aromatherapeutic Oils (3rd edition), Crows Nest Australia: Allen & Unwin
• Holmes P (2016) Aromatica (Volume 1): a clinical guide to essential oil therapeutics, London: Singing Dragon
• NRH Organic Essential Oils (2007) Organic Blue Tansy Essential Oil, accessed 02/10/19, available from https://www.nhrorganicoils.com/products.php?id=12986
• Oshadhi (2019) Chamomile Blue Tansy Organic, accessed 02/10/19, available from https://www.oshadhi.co.uk/Camomile-Blue-Tansy-Organic-essential-oil/
• Tisserand R & Young R (2014) Essential Oil Safety (second edition), Edinburgh, London, New York et al: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier