Called the “King of the Herbs” by the French, you probably know tarragon best for its culinary use. Its dried leaves and flowering tops are commonly included in stews, sauces, fish, chicken dishes and omelets to add an interesting pop of flavor. It’s also commonly found in seasoning blends. Fresh tarragon is best to use, and the herb gives off a sweet and powerful flavor similar to anise or licorice root.
But don’t think this herb is just a key ingredient for that tarragon chicken recipe. It can go from your kitchen pantry straight into your medicine cabinet. Tarragon is used medicinally to treat digestive issues, poor appetite, water retention, toothaches, as well as sleep and menstruation problems.
The health benefits can easily and immediately become a part of your life once you start consuming the fresh or dried herb.
In fact, the essential oil has even been shown to fight Staph infection and E. coli!
5 Health Benefits of Tarragon
1. Improved Digestion
The oils in tarragon trigger the body’s natural digestive juices, making it an excellent digestive aid not only as an aperitif (which helps spark the appetite), but also to digest food properly. It can assist the digestive process from beginning to end, starting with saliva excretion in the mouth to production of gastric juices in the stomach to peristaltic motion in the intestines.
Most if this digestive prowess is due to tarragon’s carotenoids. The Department of Food and Nutritional Sciences at the University College Cork in Ireland examined the effects of herbs that contain carotenoids on digestion. Results showed these herbs “contribute to the intake of bioaccessible carotenoids,” which in turn improves digestive health.
2. Better Sleep
While not scientifically proven, tarragon might help with sleep issues like insomnia. Some herbalists suggest having tarragon tea before you hit the hay to calm the nervous system and encourage a restful sleep. If taken at bedtime, a tea made from one teaspoon of the fresh leaves to one cup of hot water could help you get a better night’s sleep.
The French have traditionally used tarragon tea to treat insomnia, and even the authorities at WebMD mention its use to promote sleep.
3. Encourages Menstruation
Some women who have suppressed menstruation find tarragon to be helpful. It’s promoted by herbalists to encourage menstruation and help maintain the overall health of the female reproductive tract. There is no scientific research to back up this claim, but to be on the safe side, don’t overdo it on tarragon or take it in supplement form if you’re pregnant or nursing.
However, thyme, a similar herb, has recently been shown to relieve period pain and promote menstruation. (5) Since tarragon has many of the same effects, it may show why herbalists have used it for menstruation purposes. Additionally, while this claim still needs additoinal research, it’s also mentioned by the experts at WebMD as well.
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