Artemisia dracunculus, or commonly known as tarragon or estragon, is a perennial herb that is a member of the sunflower family with broad, glossy green leaves and yellow-green flowers. Tarragon is native to Europe, Asia, and North America where it was first cultivated not only for its ability to add a bittersweet flavor to cooked dishes, but also for its various medicinal benefits.
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- History of Tarragon
- Tarragon Nutrition Facts
- Top Health Benefits of Tarragon
- Potential Side Effects of Tarragon
- Tarragon Fun Facts
- Ideas to add more Tarragon into Your Diet
History of Tarragon
The name of the genus of this herb, Artemisia, was believed to have come from the Greek goddess Artemis, who gave tarragon and other similar species of the plant to the centaur Chiron. The name tarragon might have come from the French word estragon or the Arabic word tarkhum, and the Latin word dracunculus, all of which mean ‘little dragon’. It was called ‘little dragon’ due to its fibrous root system that resembles a dragon’s tail.
The Greeks used tarragon during 500 B.C. as a remedy for minor ailments such as indigestion, flatulence, rheumatism, toothaches, and abdominal pain. It was said to have been brought to Italy from Mongolia, where it was used to induce sleep, freshen the breath, and season cooked dishes. It became widely cultivated in Europe during the 1500s and wasn’t introduced to the West until the 1900s.
Tarragon is one of the fines herbes, a combination of four herbs (parsley, chives, chervil, and tarragon) that is a mainstay in the French cuisine. It is used as an ingredient in Béarnaise sauce and goes well when added to beef, pork, fish, poultry, and vegetables. Tarragon vinegar, a mixture of white vinegar and tarragon leaves, is also a popular flavoring to dishes.
Tarragon Nutrition Facts
For every 5 grams (1 tablespoon) of dried tarragon leaves, you will get the following nutrients:
- 0 Calories (1% Daily Value)
- 8.5 From Carbohydrate
- 2.9 From Fat
- 2.6 From Protein
- 4 grams Total Carbohydrate (1% Daily Value)
- 0.4 grams Dietary Fiber (1% Daily Value)
- 3 grams Total Fat (1% Daily Value)
- 0.1 grams Saturated Fat
- 0.0 grams Monounsaturated Fat
- 0.2 grams Polyunsaturated Fat
- 140 milligrams Total Omega-3 Fatty Acids
- 35.2 milligrams Total Omega-6 Fatty Acids
- 1 grams Protein (2% Daily Value)
- 199 IU Vitamin A (4% Daily Value)
- 4 milligrams Vitamin C (4% Daily Value)
- 0 milligrams Thiamin (1% Daily Value)
- 1 milligrams Riboflavin (4% Daily Value)
- 4 milligrams Niacin (2% Daily Value)
- 1 milligrams Vitamin B6 (6% Daily Value)
- 0 micrograms Folate (3% Daily Value)
- 0 micrograms Vitamin B12 (0% Daily Value)
- 1 milligrams Calcium (5% Daily Value)
- 5 milligrams Iron (9% Daily Value)
- 9 milligrams Phosphorous (1% Daily Value)
- 143 milligrams Potassium (4% Daily Value)\
- 9 milligrams Sodium (0% Daily Value)
- 2 milligrams Zinc (1% Daily Value)
- 0 milligrams Copper (2% Daily Value)
- 4 milligrams Manganese (19% Daily Value)
- 2 micrograms Selenium (0% Daily Value)
- 8 milligrams Phytosterols
- 4 grams Water
Top Health Benefits of Tarragon
Purges intestinal parasites
The use of tarragon to kill parasites living in the intestines (roundworms, hookworms, and tapeworms) is a good alternative to anthelmintic drugs. However, taking tarragon should be administered carefully since it can cause intoxication.
Stimulates the appetite
Tarragon oil helps stimulate the appetite and prevent the onset of anorexia. It has been traditionally used to help people gain more weight in a natural way. It also helps in the proper digestion of food by stimulating the secretion of digestive juices, thereby preventing constipation, indigestion, and bloating.
Maintains proper blood circulation
Aside from aiding in digestion, tarragon extracts also ensure the proper flow of blood and oxygen throughout the body by preventing blood clots from forming inside the blood vessels. This helps prevent heart attacks, stroke, and heart dysfunction.
Relieves joint pain
Rheumatism and arthritis are prevalent among the elderly people and it can cause extreme pain and discomfort. The anti-inflammatory properties of tarragon make it an excellent joint pain reliever that is caused by these diseases. It does this by soothing the swelling, stiffness, pain, and redness around the joints.
Prevents body odor
Since tarragon possesses antibacterial properties, it can also be applied on the underarms as a deodorant to prevent body odor. Bacteria is the number one culprit of an unpleasant body odor, so using tarragon on parts that sweat profusely will prevent it from developing an odor.
Stimulates menstrual flow
Hormonal imbalance caused by genetics or stress is one of the leading causes of irregular menstruation. Regularly consuming tarragon in moderate amounts will help stimulate menstrual flow, since it is an emmenagogue.
Refreshes the mind
If you are feeling worn down due to stress and exhaustion, inhaling tarragon essential oil will help you feel refreshed and energized. This is because the compounds found in this herb, such as cineol, stimulates the nervous system and improves the mood of the individual.
Reduces risk of cardiovascular disease
Potassium is linked with many metabolic processes in the body, but it also plays an essential role in lowering the blood pressure and reducing the risk of contracting cardiovascular diseases. A diet rich in potassium also protects the kidneys from renal diseases.
Lowers glucose levels
The polyphenolic compounds that are found in tarragon extracts can help in lowering the blood sugar levels and preventing the sudden dropping and rising for people with hyperglycemia.
Chewing tarragon leaves helps relieve toothaches and sore gums caused by tooth decay. The analgesic properties of this herb numb the pain while the antibacterial properties kill the bacteria that worsen the pain.
Potential Side Effects of Tarragon
- Tarragon is safe when consumed in amounts that are normally used in food. It is also safe when taken orally as a medicine for a short period of time. However, taking it for a long time is not advised. Since tarragon contains estragole, which can potentially cause cancer.
- For pregnant and breastfeeding women, taking tarragon orally as a medicine is highly discouraged since it might trigger your menstruation.
- For people with bleeding disorders, tarragon might slow blood clotting and increase bleeding when taken as a medicine.
- For people who are allergic to chrysanthemums, marigolds, daisies, ragweed, and other members of the plant family Asteraceae, tarragon might cause the same allergic reaction.
- For people who are about to undergo surgery, discontinue the use of tarragon two weeks prior to the operation.
Tarragon Fun Facts
- Aside from being one of the fines herbes, the French call tarragon the ‘king of the herbs’ since they often use it as a sauce base.
- The ancient people thought that tarragon could draw out the venom from snake bites and cure rabies.
- James Andrew Beard, a cookbook author, expressed his favor for the importance of tarragon by saying, “I believe that if ever I had to practice cannibalism, I might manage if there were enough tarragon around.”
- John Gerard, an English botanist, retold a legend in the tarragon history text that he wrote, which states that if a flax seed is placed into a radish root or sea onion and then planted to the ground, tarragon will grow from it.
- The English gardener John Evelyn, wrote that tarragon was “highly cordial and friendly to the head, heart, and liver.”