Tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus / Estragon ) is an herb which is a member of the sunflower family. It is believed to have come from Siberia. Through the centuries, it has been spread to Europe and eventually to North America. Tarragon can usually grow up to about 1.5 meters tall. It is bushy with slender and branched stems. The leaves have a narrow, oval shape with pointed tips.
However, the name “tarragon” also refers to a few other closely-related species. Only a few have the distinctive aroma and taste to be cultivated for culinary use. These are distinguished through informal names like “French”, “Russian” or “wild” tarragon. The “French” type refers to A. dracunculus. It has a richer aroma and is considered the best for cuisine. French chefs refer to it as the “King of herbs.” Unlike other varieties, French tarragon cannot be reproduced through seeds. It has to be propagated through cuttings. When successfully grown, it can live for more than a year.
Tarragon is often compared to thyme which is also aromatic. Tarragon, however, is less used in recipes. Tarragon also needs to be used fresh as much as possible because the essential oils responsible for its aroma and flavor easily evaporates. Thyme, on the other hand, lose less of this when dried.
Thyme has a tangy, woody and lemony flavor. In contrast, the flavor of tarragon is more similar to those of anise and licorice. Thyme has a scent more appropriately used as a mood-lifter. The scent of tarragon is relaxing and better used to improve sleep.
The nutrients we get from eating Tarragon
This herb can supplement our bodies with some significant amounts of nutrients needed for daily physiological functioning. The table below provides information as derived from the USDA National Nutrient Database. We added the corresponding percentage of the Recommended Daily Allowance (%RDA) for each nutrient.
|Nutrient||Unit||per 100 g||%RDA||1 tbsp = 4.8g||%RDA|
|Total lipid (fat)||g||7.24||9.4||0.35||0.45|
|Carbohydrate, by difference||g||50.22||20||2.41||0.96|
|Fiber, total dietary||g||7.4||24.67||0.4||1.33|
|Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid||mg||50||55.56||2.4||2.67|
|Vitamin A, RAE||mcg||210||23.36||10||1.11|
|Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated||g||3.698||19.46||0.178||0.934|
On a 100 gram basis, tarragon provides the most significant amounts for vitamin B-6, riboflavin, iron, potassium, and calcium. More than 100 percent of the RDA could be supplied for each.
Magnesium, vitamin C, and folate concentrations are also very high, each supplying more than 50% of the daily needed ration.
The remaining nutrients are also significant.
So even consuming this herb as a garnish (20-30 gram amounts) can provide a substantial portion of the nutrition required every day.
Scientific Studies on Tarragon
Several science kinds of research has been done on tarragon in order to examine its biochemical composition. There were significant phytochemicals found which can support body health.
- Terpenoids are phytochemicals similar to the substances present in caraway, dill, and thyme. These provide an antioxidant effect that ward off certain cancers.
- The essential oils in tarragon are the components responsible for the ‘healing properties’ in traditional health care. Different laboratories made measurements to determine its quantity in the plant’s tissues. The results ranged from 0.15 to 3.1% of the total composition. Within the essential oils, more than 46 chemical compounds had been isolated and identified.
- The most abundant phytochemical is eugenol. In a few of these analyses, the measured concentration was up to 39%.
- Certain experimental studies showed that eugenol can strong suppress bacteria and its harmful activities. In a study among mice, eugenol effectively controlled the spread of bacteria that grows on teeth. It also prevented these bacteria from producing acid which erodes the teeth enamel and causes tooth decay. The results strongly suggest that tarragon through the action of eugenol can be useful in maintaining the health of our teeth and gums.
- Studies have specifically identified eugenol as the phytochemical which is chiefly the reason for tarragon’s painkilling benefit. Experiment exposed lab mice to pain from various chemicals injected into their bodies or from hot objects. Mice which were treated with a tarragon extract containing eugenol were observed to be less affected by pain than those which were not. The results also suggested that tarragon lessens the inflammation caused by harmful chemicals which further lessens the amount of pain felt.
The Health Benefits of Tarragon
Because of its aroma, tarragon had been originally used as a spice. But its value in traditional health care was later on discovered. Through the following centuries, it found use to help treat health problems. Recent scientific studies now provide a strong basis for the herb’s healthful benefits.
- Since the time of the ancient Greeks, chewing on the leaves was known to reduce the pain from toothaches or swollen gums.
- The oil from the leaves can also improve digestion and help ease similar problems. These include ulcers, inflammation of the liver and diarrhea.
- Tarragon has also been known for its disinfectant properties. The eugenol discovered by science can prevent or fight infection and hasten wound healing. The same disinfectant property has been applied to help cure teeth infection and bad breath.
- The essential oil component and aroma of tarragon can help calm nerves and enhance sleep. This is why herbalists and traditional medical practitioners had recommended tarragon for aromatherapy and stress relief.
- Women from around the world for ages had used the herb to help with their menstruation. The same pain-killing effect against tooth and tummy aches can ease menstrual discomfort. More importantly, the herb can help to normalize blood flow during monthly periods. This aids to ensure overall female reproductive health.
Recipes using Tarragon
These are simple recipes help directly maintain your health and hygiene. These make use of basic ingredients and tools found in the kitchen. The procedures aim to capture the eugenol and other healthful substances present in the herb and lock it into the oil. If stored properly, it can be used as a first aid remedy.
Tarragon oil extract recipe
This recipe gives simple instructions on how to make crude extracts of the essential oils presented in tarragon.
|10 grams||fresh leaves|
|50 ml||olive or safflower oil|
- Collect the fresh leaves. With clean hands or knife crush or chop up the leaves and put in a small but deep container for heating. Add the oil.
- Put over very low, gentle heat for about one to two hours. Make sure that the oil does not get too hot, just enough for the tarragon essential oils to diffuse.
- Allow the oil to cool off and then strain the oil into a small glass bottle or flask with a cork. Store in a cool dark place.
- The oil has many uses like injecting into the solution used by a humidifier device for instant aromatherapy. Small amounts in a vial can be brought along for travel to help with problems like motion sickness or jet lag. It can also be used as a base for the next homemade remedy and hygiene recipes.
* This recipe could also be used for making essential oil extracts of other aromatic herbs.
Tarragon disinfectant Ointment recipe
This is a natural homemade substitute for commercial disinfectants without synthetic ingredients. The eugenol in it can disinfect small cuts and bruises. It can also help numb the pain from toothaches.
|10 ml||tarragon essential oil extract|
- In a small double boiler, melt the beeswax just until liquified.
- Add the tarragon essential oil. Mix the oils together thoroughly, then pour into a small jar or tin.
- Put the mixture in the fridge to solidify.
* For a thicker ointment, add some more beeswax to the mixture as it heats. You can experiment with the mixture until you achieve the consistency you want.
Tarragon Mouthwash recipe
|2-3 tablespoon||baking soda.|
|1 liter||filtered or distilled water|
|100 mL||tarragon essential oil|
|50 mL||peppermint essential oil|
|1 tablespoon||sea salt|
- Mix all ingredients in an empty beverage bottle.
- Store in your bathroom
Shake the bottle before use. Take one sip from the bottle and pass it in your mouth around your teeth.
Why should I grow Tarragon?
Consuming fresh leaves provide the most of the tarragon essential oil as this oil is volatile. Having Tarragon pot in your home allowing you to cut leaves and eat them.
The unique flavor it provides is preferred even by culinary chefs. Giving variety to favorite dishes. If you like its taste, you can use it in your cooking.
Both age-old medicinal tradition and numerous studies. Propose that tarragon can be a natural alternative to drugs or commercial products used for daily hygiene.
It can be a breath freshener, sleep enhancer or stress reliever. Simply by chewing or crushing some of the leaves. It can also be processed through simple recipes as a wound disinfectant or for pain relief. It can even help prevent tooth decay and bad breath as a homemade mouthwash.
How to hydro-grow Tarragon
This herb is allelopathy – meaning it can prohibit other plants growing. So use it with care. It is a perennial herbaceous plant. It enters the dormant winter season where it dries up and re-grows in the spring.
The French tarragon is infertile – so it can be grown from twigs only. You can reproduce it by splitting its roots.
It grows well using low irrigation and partial shade. It grows fast. The plant is strong – so you can leave the flowers without impact on leaves growth.
Just put some twigs in the hydro planter and that is it. Cut it often – more than you need – to keep it in a reasonable size.
Immediately check the impact of Tarragon on your body
Growing Tarragon until it is matured enough to be eaten can take two months. If you want to test the impact of Tarragon on your body, you can order the following products from iHerb, and get them in about a week. Then you can make an educated decision whether you want to grow Tarragon or not.
Herbes De Provence
Artemisia dracunculus L. (Tarragon): A Critical Review of Its Traditional
2 Use, Chemical Composition, Pharmacology, and Safety
Dmitry O., Ivo P., Bjoern F., Nikolay G., and Michael H.
J.Agric Food Chem. 2011 Nov 9;59(21):11367-84.
Herb Yield and Bioactive Compounds of Tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus l.) as influenced by Plant Density
Renata NurzyĔska-Wierdak, GraĪyna ZawiĞlak
Acta Sci. Pol., Hortorum Cultus 13(2) 2014, 207-221
The effect of eugenol on the cariogenic properties of Streptococcus mutans and dental caries development in rats
Jing-shu Xu, Yao Li, Xue Cao, and Yun Cui
Exp Ther Med. 2013 Jun; 5(6): 1667–1670.
Health-promoting properties of common herbs
Craig WJ Am J Clinical Nutrition.1999.70(3): 491-499.
Antinociceptive and anti-inflammatory effects of the aerial parts of Artemisia dracunculus in mice.
Eidi A. et al. Pharm.Biol. 2015.Early Online: 1-6