Tarragon is a popular perennial herb that is commonly used for culinary purposes. Its flavor are mixture of anise, lemon and basil. There are three types of tarragon: French, Russian and Mexican. In spite of its culinary reputation, many people are unaware of the medicinal benefits of tarragon.
You can grow tarragon in your herb garden or in a container indoors. It prefers spring like climates, since it is native to Siberia and North Asia. This herb has been cultivated for thousands of years; the oldest records date back to about 500 BC.
Tarragon was one of the herbs used by Hippocrates. Medicinal benefits of tarragon were used to soothe dental pain, interrupt hiccups or treat snake bites, as well as to fend off the plague. Ancient Roman soldiers used it in their shoes to boost vitality. Tarragon became widespread in Europe during the Middle Ages thanks to the crusades.
This herb is known scientifically as Artemisia Dracunculus which means little dragon. Its leaves are aromatic when crushed producing an aroma similar to anise or licorice. Tarragon is a great antioxidant and has excellent vitamin and mineral content. This herb has manganese, magnesium, iron, calcium, copper, sodium, selenium, phosphorus, and potassium.
Tarragon can help maintain the over-all health of the eyes because it is rich in potassium, vitamin A and beta carotene. It also has vitamin C which enhances the immune system and builds antibodies. Vitamin B6 and folate are also found in this plant.
Keep in mind that this herb is a natural diuretic which will help relieve water retention.
How to Use Tarragon
Tarragon essential oil is produced from the leaves and flowers of the plant. This oil can treat a range of health conditions including toothaches, rheumatism and digestive problems. Add a few drops to your bath water to sooth your body. Medicinal benefits of tarragon can also be applied topically (best to dilute with a carrier oil) and massaged to alleviate muscle and joint stiffness or discomfort.
Add a tablespoon of fresh tarragon to boiled water. Don’t boil water with the leaves as this will cause the essential oils to dissipate. Allow it to steep for 10 minutes before drinking. Tarragon tea helps relive digestive conditions and anxiety. This tea is safe to drink and can be consumed several times per day.
Fresh tarragon can be stored in the refrigerator for about a week. Wrap leaves in a damp paper towel and place them in a plastic bag to retain moisture. Discard leaves once they start turning brown. Those who dry tarragon should not use a dehydrator or oven because it will remove the essential oil components found in the leaves. Store dried tarragon in an airtight container and place in a dark, cool environment.
Medicinal Benefits of Tarragon
One of the most surprising medicinal benefits of tarragon (best is the Russian variety) is its ability to help people build muscle and improve their body composition. The effect is similar to eating a large amount of carbohydrates. This benefit, which was published in a study in 2014, is good news for more than body builders, since it can help people control their weight and get in shape. Many people take a supplement which combines tarragon with creatine.
One of the oldest medicinal benefits of tarragon is its ability to treat toothaches. This herb has been used for this purpose since Ancient Greece. People chewed the leaves to alleviate pain. Eugenol present in this herb (and in clove) can dull and numb oral pain. Tarragon can also ease gum inflammation since it is an antimicrobial. Add a few drops of tarragon essential oil to a glass of water and gargle to ease the pain and get a nice breath.
There is an increasing demand to use natural additives in food as consumers become more educated about the dangers of synthetic chemicals. Food additives are added to preserve food, help add texture and prevent separation. They also inhibit bacteria that causes foodborne illnesses such as E.coli or Staphylococcus aureus. One study showed that tarragon essential oil has an antibacterial impact on both bacterial strains.
Tarragon traditionally has been used as a digestive tonic. This herb can increase the bile production in the liver which is necessary for efficient digestion. It can also treat a variety of conditions including stomach irritation, dyspepsia, bloating and gas. Just like other types of Artemisia, tarragon can help eliminate intestinal parasites and worms. Drink a cup of tarragon tea or include leaves in your meals to obtain this digestive help.
Tarragon can also boost appetite, which is specially helpful for older people, those recovering from sickness or under treatment. This herb can help balance leptin and gherkin hormones which regulate hunger and fullness. A study done in mice showed that tarragon extract could stimulate appetite.
Many varieties of artemisia, like tarragon, are emmenagogues which means that they bring on the menses. This can help women with irregular or missing periods. Medicinal benefits of tarragon also help with overall reproductive health.
Pregnant women can eat tarragon in their meals, but they should not use it medicinally or in larger doses.
This herb is rich in beta carotene, which is essential for proper eye function. Adding tarragon to your diet can help prevent the degeneration of your eyesight.
Medicinal benefits of tarragon include mild sedative properties. Drink a cup of this tea to take the edge off your nerves. It can also help you to get a good night’s sleep without the side effects of sleeping pills.
Many herbs, including tarragon, have antioxidant properties that protect our bodies from the cellular damage caused by free radicals. Tarragon oil works as a free radical scavenger to stop or decrease the damage. Since antioxidants neutralize their effects, they protect us from serious illness and help us age better. Antioxidants also prevent the growth of cancer cells.
Hair and Skin
Use the tea to rinse your hair to make it shinier, healthier and help prevent breakage. Tarragon can also clean your scalp and remove dirt, grime and dandruff. Leaves of this herb are crushed and ground to be added to soap and body washes. Potassium found in this plant can destroy germs and bacteria.
Antioxidants found in tarragon can help your organs to function properly, including your cardiovascular system. Chemicals found in this herb keep compounds from adhering and accumulating in the blood vessels. Medicinal benefits of tarragon include lowering blood pressure. This herb will also balance cholesterol levels, getting rid of bad cholesterol (LDL).
Medical benefits of tarragon help improve insulin sensitivity and the way the body uses glucose. Keeping blood sugar levels balanced are important to prevent and control diabetes.
Side Effects of Tarragon
Tarragon is considered safe when eating in food. Medicinal benefits of tarragon are safe for short term use. Long term use problems are unknown, so doctors recommend caution. Do not use this herb within two weeks of surgery. However, medicinal benefits of tarragon may include anti-nausea treatment post surgery according to this clinical trial.
Consuming tarragon in excessive doses or medicinally is not recommended for pregnant or breastfeeding women. Tarragon may cause an allergic reaction to those who are allergic to plants in the ragweed family.