What is Tarragon?
Tarragon is a popular cooking herb regarded by many as one of the best seasoning ingredients in French cooking. The herb which is known scientifically as Artemisia Dracunculus and also as dragon herb is a perennial plant native to large swathes of Europe, Asia, North America and Mexico.
The plant grows to around 120 centimeters in height with branched stems that produce slender, aromatic leaves with an aroma like licorice or anise.
The leaves and the stems can both be used in the kitchen either dried or fresh though fresh leaves are likely to contain more health value. Tarragon has been cultivated for thousands of years with written records dating to around 500 B.C.
There are several types of tarragon with French tarragon being the best for use in the kitchen. Apart from its culinary uses, the herb also has some outstanding medicinal properties that can be used to treat a range of conditions.
In fact, in the days before modern medicine, like many herbs, tarragon was widely used in traditional medicine in various parts of the world.
Apart from its specific health benefits, tarragon is a great addition to the diet because of its antioxidant value and its excellent mineral and vitamin content. It is a good source vitamin A and iron and contains trace amounts of potassium and calcium.
Tarragon can be added to your meals to give them a French flourish but can also be made into a delicious healthy tea. A powerful essential oil is also extracted from the herb while it is also available as an ingredient in certain supplements.
Recent research has indicated that tarragon can help improve muscle and body composition and a supplement combining creatine with tarragon is popular with body builders.
Tarragon essential oil which is derived from the plant’s flowering tops and leaves is used to treat a range of health issues including rheumatism, and as a digestive stimulant.
The Health Benefits of Tarragon
1. Antioxidant Properties
Like many herbs and plants, tarragon can boast excellent antioxidant properties. It is important that we take advantage of nature’s antioxidants because they help keep the body in the best working order.
Antioxidants help protect the body from cellular damage caused by free radicals and neutralize their effect. For this reason, antioxidants help protect the body from numerous serious illnesses and also help stave off aging.
Adding food like tarragon to your diet should help you to stay healthier and appear younger for longer. What’s not to like about that?
2. For Toothache
Tarragon is an excellent natural remedy for those awful toothaches that usually have us rushing to the pharmacy for a pain relief remedy. There is written evidence that the herb has been used to treat toothaches since ancient Greece because it has the ability to dull and numb oral pain.
People in those days simply chewed on the leaves to ease the pain. Its pain relieving qualities is due to the high level of eugenol present in the herb. Eugenol is the same compound found in clove oil and is the reason that clove is such a popular remedy for the teeth.
Not only does tarragon help relieve toothache but it can also be used to ease gum inflammation and pain which often accompanies toothache.
One effective way to treat your dental pain is to make a gargle mix by adding a few drops of tarragon essential oil to a glass of water. With any luck, it will ease your pain and it should also ensure your breath smells nice and fresh.
3. To Improve Digestive Health
Tarragon has traditionally been consumed as a general digestive tonic. It can increase the liver’s production of bile which is vital for efficient digestion. Eating tarragon or drinking a cup of tarragon tea can help settle the stomach and relieve a variety of symptoms related to poor digestion.
These include gas, bloating, dyspepsia and stomach irritation. It has also been used traditionally to treat and eliminate intestinal parasites.
4. To Stimulate the Appetite
Tarragon is often used to boost the appetite which is especially useful for people recovering from sickness or a course of treatment. The herb itself can be used on cooking to boost the appetite and many people find that its essential oil has a similar effect. Many older people suffer from their poor appetites and tarragon may be a great help for them.
5. As a Sedative
Tarragon appears to have mild sedative qualities. Of course, there are no guarantees and what works for one person may not work for the next. However, a cup of tarragon tea after a stressful day at the office may take the edge off your nerves. It might also help you to get a good night’s sleep if you re suffering from insomnia. It is certainly worth a go especially considering its other many health benefits.
6. For the Heart
The antioxidants contained in tarragon can help keep your body’s most important organs functioning properly and that includes your cardiovascular system. This protects us from two stroke and heart attack which are two of the deadliest killers in the modern world
7. For Eye Health
Tarragon is rich in beta carotene which is known to be essential for healthy eye function. Adding plenty of tarragon to your diet might protect against any future degeneration of the eyes.
8. To Build Muscle
Recent research has demonstrated that the Russian variety of tarragon can help people to build muscle and improve their body composition. The study which was published in 2014 backed up some previous studies by finding that tarragon helps increase creatine absorption in the muscles. (1)
This is a similar effect to the absorption that happens when a person eats a large amount of carbohydrate.
This is significant because if tarragon works in the same way, then people do not need to carbo-load in order to improve muscle mass. Not only is this good news for body builders but it may have potential for people looking to control their weight and improve overall body shape.
9. For Female Health
Tarragon has emmenagogue properties and may be a useful natural aid for women with irregular or suppressed menstruation. It has also been used by women to maintain overall reproductive health. Because of its potential to stimulate menstruation, it is not recommended for pregnant women to use it in large doses.
How to Use Tarragon
There are several ways to use tarragon in order to get its many health benefits. The most popular ways are:
This one is easy. Just get hold of some fresh or dried tarragon and add it liberally to your cooking. The anise flavor is not to everybody’s taste so be careful not to overdo it.
A small amount of the herb has plenty of health benefits and will not overpower the flavor of your meal.
Tarragon tea is an excellent choice to relieve digestive upsets and ease anxiety. It is easy to make and you can safely drink it several times each day.
Just add a tablespoon of fresh tarragon to a cup of boiling water and allow it to steep for ten minutes or so. Drain the mixture and drink up.
Tarragon Essential Oil
Tarragon essential oil can be diluted with a carrier oil and massaged into the body to help relieve joint and muscle discomfort. A few drops added to a glass of water makes an excellent gargle for toothache and gum pain. You could also add a few drops to your bathwater for an all body soothe.