NaturHeals – Wild Weeds 11 - Gaajar Ghas – Tanacetum Parthenium – Feverfew
Long before the birth of modern medicine, human beings sought refuge in the arms of mother nature for curing different types of illnesses. In fact, our planet is home to plants and herbs that have the potential of curing different types of health issues that affect living beings. Gaajar Ghas is a fine example for the same. Belonging to the category of weeds, Gaajar Ghas can cause havoc on farm lands and plantations. Although this weed is an arch enemy of farmers, its healing properties make it an elixir for humans. Here we will discuss everything you need to know about Gaajar Ghas.
Different Names of Gaajar Ghas
Commonly known as Feverfew, Gaajar Ghas is a flowering plant that belongs to the Asteraceae family. The scientific name of the plant is Tanacetum Parthenium. The Latin name of Feverfew is Febrifugia, which means fever reducer. As the name suggests, this plant is useful in reducing fever in a person. Gaajar Ghas is also known as Chrysanthemum Parthenium and Pyrethrum Parthenium.
Some of the English names of the plant are chamomile grande, bachelor button, bride’s button, wild chamomile, carrot grass, wild carrot weed, congress grass, midsummer daisy, featherfew, featherfoil, bitterweed, Santa Maria, and whitetop. In Hindi, it is also called chatak chandani apart from Gaajar Ghas. It is called Congress gadi in Telegu, gajar gavat in Marathi, Kaamgressu gida in Kannada, Congress pacha in Malayalam, and Vishachedi in Tamil.
Ideal Soil and Climate
The plant grows well when it receives full sun. As it is a weed, it can grow well in all kinds of soil conditions. But it grows best in well-drained sandy or loamy soil. Moreover, it does not thrive in heavy, rich clay soil. A pH between 6.0 and 6.7 would be perfect for this plant. The plant prefers damp soil but not soggy ones. It does not tolerate dry soil. Gaajar Ghas is originally from the Balkan Peninsula and was later introduced to Australia, America, Europe, Asia, and North Africa. This perennial plant can be easily seen on roadsides, waste areas, borders of wooded areas, fields, cornfields, gardens, and on banks.
A herbaceous plant, Gaajar Ghas grows up to 1 m in height. The stems of the plant are light green in color, while its leaves are yellow-green in color. The leaves occur alternately and appear smaller as they grow. The flowers of this plant are similar to daisy and are white in color. The white petals are elliptical-oblong in shape and are few-toothed at the tips. The petals emerge from a flat, central head that is yellow in color. The fertile florets are replaced by oblong-shaped, brown-colored achenes, a one-seeded fruit. The achenes are small, not more than 1.5 mm long and can be easily blown away to some extent by the wind. The plant has a taproot made of several fibrous roots. The plant has a bitter, citrus odor.
A highly nutritional weed, Gaajar Ghas is made of complex chemical components. Several studies have indicated the presence of almost 3 constituents, including sesquiterpene lactone, flavonoids, and volatile oils. Amongst all the sesquiterpene lactones present in Feverfew, parthenolide is considered to be the most potent and also responsible for treating various diseases.
Apart from this, it also has artemorin, artecanin, costunolide, epoxyartemorin, balchanin, manolialide, reynosin, santamarine, etc. When it comes to flavonoids, Gaajar Ghas is made of 6-hydroxxykaempferol, 6-dimethyl ether, 3,6,4-trimethyl ether, apigenin, santin, jaceidin, centaureidin, and chrysoeriol. Some of the volatile oils found in the plant are camphor, bornyl actate, rho-cymene, camphene, etc. Other chemical components present in Gaajar Ghas include tricylene, alpha-pinene, beta-pinene, alpha-terpinene, gamma-terpinene, pinocarvone, chrysantheone, carvacrol, eugenol, acetate, caryophyllene oxide, myrtenal, butanoate, etc.
Research on Gaajar Ghas has indicated that the presence of parthenolide is responsible for making it an effective remedy for several diseases. Parthenolide has the capability of inhibiting the problems that are caused by phenylephrine and serotonin. The plant also has anti-inflammatory properties, similar to those found in non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory medicines like aspirin. Apart from anti-inflammatory properties, Gaajar Ghas also has anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-cancer, antispasmodic, cardiotonic, chemotherapeutic, antipyretic, antioxidant, and emmenagagoue properties.
Migraine: Feverfew is most effective for migraine. Migraine is a condition that is caused by the production of prostaglandins and serotonin. As Gaajar Ghas has the ability of inhibiting the activity of these compounds, they help in preventing migraine. Consuming Gaajar Ghas for a couple of months can help in preventing migraine. However, it does not cure migraine, although the herb can help in managing some of the symptoms of migraine, including headache, vomiting, nausea, and sensitivity to noise and light.
Fever, Cold, and Cough: As the name suggests, feverfew helps in curing fever. The presence of flavonoids and sesquiterpene lactones provides it with anti-inflammatory and anti-pyretic properties, which further helps in reducing body temperature. This is the reason why this plant is often referred as ‘medieval aspirin’. Along with fever, Gaajar Ghas is also used for treating cold, cough, and asthma.
Rheumatoid Arthritis: Gaajar Ghas aids in treating and preventing rheumatoid arthritis by inhibiting the proteins that are responsible for the same. The antioxidant properties of the plant reduce the friction between bones in the joints, protect the joint tissues, and prevent the damage to the membranes of the joints. Consuming this herb during the onset of rheumatism can help in controlling its symptoms to a large extent.
Menstrual Complaints: Another traditional use of feverfew is to manage menstrual complaints. The Greeks as well as the Romans used this herb to treat menstrual irregularities and induce menstruation. It was also used to bring relief to women and girls suffering from period pain. Apart from menstruation, Gaajar Ghas was also used for speeding up the process of labor as well as to expel the placenta after childbirth.
Skin Problems: The anti-inflammatory properties of Gaajar Ghas make it an effective remedy for curing skin conditions caused by inflammation. Skin problems like eczema, dermatitis, herpes, and rashes can be treated with the help of this herb. It also relieves skin itching, especially to those who are suffering from prurigo nodularis. Feverfew not only helps in soothing skin rashes and itching but also improves the skin’s appearance. Other than these, it can also be used for calming insect bites.
Cancer: Although few, some of the studies indicate that feverfew has the potential of treating cancer. The parthenolide as well as several other similar lactones act as an inhibitor for several cancer cell lines, including human laryngeal carcinoma, human fibroblasts, anti-EpsteinBass early antigen activity, and human epidermoid cancer of the nasopharynx. The herb has shown positive effects in reducing the size of the tumor.
Blood Clots: Blood clotting or thrombosis happens when a clot or multiple clots hamper the movement of the blood through the veins and arteries. This can lead to stroke or heart attack, which can be life threatening. The anti-thrombotic property of feverfew prevents the formation of blood clots, thus reducing the risk of heart attack.
Stomach Disorders: Traditional medicine has been using Gaajar Ghas for treating stomach ailments for a long time. Be it diarrhea, gas, indigestion, nausea, or vomiting, consuming this herb can bring you relief. The emmenagague properties of Gaajar Ghas also make it an effective enema for getting rid of worms. Other than these, Gaajar Ghas is also great for healthy digestion.
Uses of Gaajar Ghas
Gaajar Ghas, as a herb, can be consumed fresh, dried, and freeze-dried. It is available in the form of tablets, liquid extract, capsule, tinctures, teas, etc. The regular adult dose of Gaajar Ghas should be around 100-300 mg, 1-4 times a day, while kids above the age of 2 years should be ideally given 1/3rd of the adult dosage, although it would also depend on their weight. To ensure that you receive the utmost effectiveness of the herb, it should be consumed only after consulting a doctor.
Although the side effects of Gaajar Ghas are minimal, especially if you are consuming it as per the instructions of the doctor, it is possible to experience some side effects in certain cases. If fresh leaves of Gaajar Ghas are consumed directly, they can cause irritation in the mouth, including swelling and numbness. People taking capsules of the herb may also experience diarrhea, dizziness, heartburn, gas, bloating, vomiting, nausea, tiredness, rashes, weight gain, and mouth ulcers.
People who are allergic to the daisy plant family may experience allergic reactions with feverfew as well. Moreover, it should be avoided by people who are taking blood thinning medicines. Gaajar Ghas supplements may also interact with drugs meant for heartburn, erectile dysfunction, seizures, psychiatric disorders, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, GERD, psoriasis, etc. It should also not be given to pregnant women, lactating mothers, and children under the age of 2 years. Some people may also experience side effects like joint pain, insomnia, headaches, muscle stiffness, etc. if they stop taking this herb after using it for a prolonged period of time. To avoid any kind of side effects, it is best to consult an experienced doctor before taking Gaajar Ghas.
Planting and Harvesting
As Gaajar Ghas has so many medical benefits, there is a lot of demand for it. The best part is that it can be easily grown in farms with minimum maintenance. Seed propagation is the best way of planting the Feverfew plant. Spring season is the ideal time to sow the seeds.
If you are using peat pots for prorogation, sprinkle the seeds in a pot with damp, loamy soil. Tap the bottom gently to settle the seeds in the soil. Sprinkle or spray water to keep the soil moist, but do not overwater. The pot should be kept at a place that receives good sunshine, and the seeds would start germinating within 2 weeks. When the saplings are 3 inches long, you can transfer them into the field or garden area. Alternatively, you can sow the seeds directly in the garden or field area. Ensure that the seeds are sown at least 15 inches apart.
The best time to harvest the plant is from early to mid-summer. Both the plants and flowers can be harvested for medicinal purpose. Use sharp knife or gardening shears to cut the leaves and flowers. These should be then air-dried by tying them into bundles and hanging them upside down for a week. You can also use an oven or dehydrator at 60o C too dry them. The leaves and flowers should be dry and crumbly before storage.
As this wild weed has so many medicinal benefits, it is not surprising to know that companies like Jaivik Farms are on the lookout for farmers who can provide organically-produced Gaajar Ghas. If you are interested in the process of growing Gaajar Ghas as well as other herbs without the use of chemicals or pesticides, do contact us to know more about us and the process you need to follow. Jaivik Farms is prepared to give you all the information and support you require to grow environment-friendly, medicinal herbs and plants. This way you are not only adding to your own income but also doing a great service to mother earth and the living beings on the planet.