From stews and sauces to chicken and fish dishes, tarragon is an ingredient in a wide range of recipes. You’ve probably cooked with the dried leaves of this herb at some point, and you may even have a jar of ground tarragon in your kitchen right now. Tarragon leaves are great for adding a pop of flavor to many cuisines, but the herb can easily transition from your spice cabinet to your medicine cabinet.
Tarragon essential oil offers a variety of benefits beyond extra flavor and is nicknamed “the little dragon.” While no one is completely sure why tarragon oil might get its name from its ability to stop infections in their tracks. The oil may not have sharp teeth and claws, but tarragon still packs a lot of might into a tiny bottle.
The History of Tarragon
Tarragon essential oil is derived from the herb’s leaves, but the entire plant has been used by several cultures for centuries. Tarragon is believed to have originated in Asia, and folklore suggests it was introduced to Europeans by the Crusaders. The plant is named after Artemis, the Greek goddess of the hunt and the moon, as well as the Latin term for “little dragon.”
In the Middle Ages, tarragon juice was given to patients during plague epidemics. It was also used to treat bites and stings from wild animals. Armenians used the herb to treat ulcers, while Europeans used it to stimulate appetite and improve digestion.1
The tarragon plant, also known as A. dracunculus, was mentioned as early as 1548 when it was recommended to be mixed with the leaves of a salad. Information on the herb could be found in several reference texts in the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. Some of its health benefits are highlighted in ancient books from Greece, India, and China where the plant was used to treat urinary infections, toothaches, digestive issues, and epilepsy.
Sophie's story is one of the many email submissions we have received. Click here to read more about the difference MONQ has made in her life.
Dr. MONQ answers the question – Is it dangerous to breathe essential oils? For more information about MONQ make sure […]
Phenomenal consciousness and intentionality are two different ways of understanding consciousness.1 The way you understand these two concepts could have […]
The herb was also used by Native American tribes such as the Chippewa. The root of the tarragon plant was used to make steam baths for children and elders to strengthen the body. Tarragon root was also used during the reproductive cycle to reduce excessive menstrual flow and provide aid in difficult labor. The leaves were chewed for heart palpitations.
Today, tarragon is most commonly used as a culinary additive. The French refer to tarragon as the “king of herbs,” but it can be found in cuisines around the world. The leaves of the plant are commonly steam distilled to create tarragon essential oil, which has a variety of health benefits.
Tarragon has a unique chemical structure that allows it to exhibit antibacterial, antimicrobial, emmenagogue, circulatory, antifungal, antispasmodic, and antioxidant properties. The oil is primarily composed of an ether called estragole which gives the oil its signature spicy-sweet scent and distinct flavor. While estragole has faced some controversy, it has generally been proven safe for human use.
Additionally, a variety of monoterpenes can be found in tarragon essential oil. These provide cleansing and healing properties and include:
Each chemical component of tarragon essential oil allows the oil to function as so much more than a flavoring element in cooking. In fact, the chemical structure of tarragon oil is what makes it so beneficial to overall health and wellness.
Uses for Tarragon Essential Oil
Tarragon has historically been used medicinally and for cooking. Several uses for tarragon essential oil have been passed down for centuries, and for good reason.
Both the tarragon herb and its essential oil can help the body digest food more efficiently. Tarragon essential oil increases salivary production in the mouth, promotes peristaltic motion to help food pass through the body, and stimulates the secretion of acid in the stomach and gastrointestinal tract.
This helps the body break down and absorb the nutrients in food more readily and can prevent indigestion. Tarragon oil can also increase the appetite so it can be used before or after a big meal.
Tarragon essential oil can be applied topically to help the digestive process. The oil should be diluted to avoid potential irritation. Try mixing a drop or two of tarragon oil in a large glass of water or cup of hot tea following a meal. Alternatively, the oil can be mixed with a carrier oil and applied directly to the stomach. Massage the whole abdomen in clockwise circles to help your digestive system quickly break down food.
Provides Pain Relief
Tarragon essential oil can be a powerful agent in easing pain caused by arthritis, stiff joints, tendonitis, or muscle exhaustion. The oil is a strong anti-inflammatory, so it reduces swelling in affected areas to provide relief. Tarragon essential oil also promotes circulation, meaning it can allow sore muscles to recover more quickly.
Tarragon has been used since ancient Greece to treat toothaches. Then, people would chew on the leaves to release the natural anesthetic abundant in tarragon which would subsequently numb the tooth pain. Today, the oil can be diluted in water and swished around in the mouth to numb pain and reduce swelling in the gums. As an added benefit, tarragon oil can also remove harmful bacteria and freshen the breath.
Tarragon can also be applied topically to reduce cramping and muscle spasms as it provides natural pain relief.
Cleans the Home and Body
Because it has both antifungal and antibacterial properties, tarragon essential oil is a great addition to a natural solution for cleaning the body and the home.
Tarragon is well-known for its spicy yet sweet aroma. The essential oil harnesses that scent and can be applied to the body to remove odor or unpleasant smells. The antimicrobial properties of tarragon oil kill the bacteria that causes odor. Apply under the arms or to feet to stay smelling fresh and clean all day long.
Tarragon oil can work outside of the body to clean surfaces and the air in your home. Plus, the oil leaves each room with a crisp, enticing scent. Try adding a few drops of tarragon oil to a natural home cleaner that will kill bacteria and other germs. A few drops of tarragon mixed in a spray bottle can further reduce airborne bacteria as it freshens the air.
Tarragon essential oil can be added to many aromatherapy treatments to provide stimulation without anxiety. Ayurvedic practices use tarragon oil to treat both insomnia and hyperactivity. The oil works to energize the mind and body, but not in the same way as other stimulants. Instead, the oil calms the nerves while providing concentrated focus.
Try diffusing tarragon oil during the workday to increase efficiency. The oil can be easily blended with clary sage, peppermint, or eucalyptus to sharpen the mind. Tarragon can also be mixed into massage oil for deeper tension release and highly relaxing experience. When the day is done, tarragon can promote calmness and even sleep. Rub a few drops on the bottom of the feet or blend in a diffuser with chamomile, rose, or lavender. You can also use MONQ’s Sleepy personal diffuser to help get the natural rest you are looking for.
The antibacterial and antioxidant properties in tarragon essential oil make it a wonderful addition to any skincare routine. The oil clears and tightens pores to reduce excess oil, blackheads, and painful cystic acne. Tarragon also combats damage caused by free radicals like pollution, the sun’s UV rays, and stress. This damage can lead to signs of aging, but the process can be slowed through antioxidant treatment. Try adding a drop of tarragon oil to your nightly moisturizer to reduce the appearance of fine lines, age spots, and wrinkles.
Tarragon oil does not only promote healthy skin on the face but can treat the entire body. Mix a drop into some aloe vera to speed up the recovery time of a sunburn and reduce damage to the skin. Additionally, tarragon can treat fungal infections such as athlete’s foot or roundworm when applied topically, and the antibacterial properties in the oil can clean scrapes, while the circulatory elements can help bruises heal more quickly.
Safety and Precautions
It may seem straightforward that it is generally safe to consume tarragon essential oil, especially given the fact that we use the spice so readily in the kitchen. However, ingesting the oil should be kept to a minimum and if you choose to consume the oil at all it is best to consult a certified aromatherapist prior to use.
Tarragon contains a substance called estragole (though it may be listed as chavicol or methyl chavicol on the ingredients label). Estragole occurs naturally in several foods and is generally considered safe in low doses. This substance faces some controversy, as it has been carcinogenic—cancer causing—in mice. However, the dosage a human would need to consume to run this potential risk is 100 to 1,000 times the amount most are exposed to.2 In fact, there is no evidence of any essential oil, including tarragon, leading to tumors in human subjects.
To be overly cautious with potential dangers from estragole, opt for a tarragon oil low in estragole content and be sure to dilute it before consumption. Avoid long-term consumption and take a break from tarragon essential oil consumption every three months. Additionally, avoid use if you are pregnant, nursing, a young child, or prone to seizures.
Tarragon oil can cause skin irritation if applied directly to the surface of the skin. Be sure to dilute the oil in a carrier oil or lotion prior to topical application. Test the oil on a small patch of skin to ensure you do not have any negative reactions. The oil should never be applied to an open wound.
Essential oils should always be used as directed. When used, and even consumed, appropriately, tarragon can offer a range of health benefits. There is a good reason tarragon has stood the test of time, and it is likely the oil will stick around, too.
Try tarragon essential oil as a natural remedy to common ailments like indigestion, acne, and joint and muscle pain.
The aromatherapy benefits of the little dragon can be easily achieved through diffusion or by spraying the oil into the air. Tarragon essential oil can serve as a nice complement to any portable essential oil diffuser that allows you to capture essential oil benefits while on the go.
Tarragon shouldn’t only stay in the kitchen. The leaves have been used medicinally for thousands of years, and the oil offers the same benefits for whole body health.