Tarragon, (Artemisia dracunculus), is a perennial aromatic herb native native to most of the Northern Hemisphere including Europe, Asia, India, western North America and parts of Northern Mexico. It is primarily cultivated for its aromatic leaves, which are commonly used as a culinary herb. It belongs to the Asteraceae family, which also includes sunflowers and daisies.

Tarragon Plants

Averaging about four feet in height when mature, Tarragon has narrow, elongated leaves . The slender green leaves produced from branched stems of this herb contain aromas and flavors with a distinctively sweet and slightly licorice-like flavor, similar to Anise.

Both the leaves and stems are can be used, either fresh or dried, as seasoning in a wide variety of dishes.

There are two main varieties of tarragon:

French Tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus var. sativa): This is the most widely used and preferred variety for culinary purposes. French tarragon has a stronger flavor and aroma compared to Russian tarragon.

Russian Tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus var. inodora): This variety has a milder flavor and aroma than French tarragon and is often considered inferior for culinary use. It is sometimes grown as an ornamental plant rather than for culinary purposes.

Tarragon Culinary Uses

Tarragon is a versatile herb prized for its distinctive flavor and aroma, making it a popular choice in kitchens around the world. Tarragon leaves and stems are often steeped in vinegar and soft drinks to impart their unique flavors into the surrounding liquids.

Tarragon is considered one of the four finest seasoning ingredients in traditional French cooking. It is commonly used as a seasoning in French cuisine, where it is a key ingredient in fines herbes, a mixture of finely chopped fresh herbs that also includes; parsley, chervil and chives.

Tarragon is a superb herb to incorporate into ones diet as it is high in vitamins, potassium and other nutrients that have been proven to provide health benefits.

Tarragon pairs well with; chicken, fish, eggs, vegetables and salads and is often used to flavor sauces, dressings and marinades.

Tarragon Medicinal Uses

While many people are familiar with the culinary uses for tarragon, most may not be aware of its unique medicinal qualities. In addition to its culinary uses, tarragon has been used in traditional medicine for its potential health benefits.

This herb has been used by numerous cultures for centuries as a natural treatment for many ailments. There are written records of tarragon cultivation dating back to 500 B.C.

Tarragon is believed to have digestive properties. It may help stimulate appetite and relieve indigestion. Tarragon essential oil is also used in aromatherapy for its calming and stress-relieving effects.

Here are some of the ways tarragon has been proven to be such a beneficial herb:

Antioxidant Properties of Tarragon

Tarragon, especially the Turkish variety, has antioxidant properties that can help neutralize the actions of free radicals throughout the body. Free radicals, which are a byproduct of metabolism, have been proven to damage cells unless they are quickly expelled as waste.

Studies have found that tarragon oil works as a free radical scavenger to help stop or decrease the damage these radicals can cause.

Tarragon as a Toothache Remedy

Throughout history, tarragon has been widely used as an aid for toothaches. The Ancient Greeks chewed it because of its ability to numb the mouth. This pain relieving effect is due to the high levels of eugenol found in the plant. This is the same pain relieving compound contained in clove oil. It has also been proven that tarragon can also help decrease the sore gums that often occur along with toothaches.

Tarragon as an Appetite Stimulant

Based upon several studies, tarragon appears to have chemicals that can help to increase appetites. Whether used as a seasoning herb in cooking or consumed raw as a small garnish, it may help people who have poor appetites due to age or illness.

Tarragon as a Digestive Aid

Tarragon has long been used as a digestive tonic because it aids in the production of bile by the liver. Not only can it improve natural digestion, but it has also been found to relieve common digestive problems like an upset stomach, irritable bowels and dyspepsia.

Tarragon to Expel Worms

Tarragon has also been used in traditional folk remedies for ridding the bowels of intestinal worms.

Calming Effect of Tarragon

Tarragon tea or tincture could have mild calming or relaxing effects due to its aromatic compounds. It can be used as a mild sedative to help relieve anxiety and stress. It is also beneficial in promoting a good night’s sleep.

Tarragon for Heart Health

Tarragon contains chemicals that can help support cardiovascular health. These chemicals can assist in keeping blood platelets and other compounds from adhering and accumulating in the heart’s blood vessels.

Tarragon for Female Health

Tarragon has proven useful as a supplement for women who suffer from suppressed menstruation. It has also been promoted as a means for maintaining the overall health of the female reproductive tract. However, it has been found that tarragon should not be used for these reasons while pregnant or nursing.

Tarragon for Eye Function

Because it is rich in potassium and the vitamin A precursor beta carotene, tarragon can assist in the overall health and function of the eyes.

Tarragon for Building Muscle Mass & Weight Control

Recent studies have shown that tarragon, primarily the Russian variety, helps to increase muscle creatine absorption. This is similar to the muscle creatine absorption that occurs when large amounts of carbohydrates are ingested.

Since tarragon creates the same effect, consuming large amounts of carbohydrates is no longer necessary to increase muscle mass. Similarly, this property of tarragon can also be developed for use in weight control programs.

How to Take Tarragon

Whether added to foods as a seasoning or taken as a supplement, there are many good reasons for making tarragon a part of an overall diet. Today, the medicinal benefits of tarragon can easily become a part of any diet whether it is in the form of pills, powders, teas, used as a seasoning or consumed raw.

The appropriate dosage will depend on several factors including age, overall health and other medical conditions.

Always take care when taking herbs and Read Our Disclaimer.

Tarragon Notes / Side Effects

Tarragon is generally considered safe for most people when consumed in moderate amounts as a culinary herb. However, individuals with known allergies, sensitivities, or underlying health conditions should exercise caution and consult with a healthcare professional before using tarragon medicinally or in large amounts.

However, there are a few considerations and potential side effects to be aware of:

Allergic Reactions: Some individuals may be allergic to tarragon or other plants in the Asteraceae family, such as ragweed, marigolds, or daisies. Allergic reactions to tarragon can manifest as skin irritation, itching, hives, or respiratory symptoms such as sneezing or nasal congestion.

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding: There is limited information available regarding the safety of consuming tarragon in medicinal amounts during pregnancy or breastfeeding. Due to the lack of sufficient data, it is advisable for pregnant and breastfeeding women to avoid excessive consumption of tarragon or tarragon supplements.

Blood Clotting: Tarragon contains compounds that may have mild blood-thinning effects. While this is generally not a concern when consumed in culinary amounts, individuals taking anticoagulant or antiplatelet medications should use caution and consult with a healthcare professional before consuming large amounts of tarragon or tarragon supplements.

Digestive Upset: In some cases, consuming large amounts of tarragon or tarragon supplements may cause digestive upset, including stomach discomfort, nausea, or diarrhea. This is more likely to occur with excessive consumption of tarragon or concentrated tarragon extracts.

Sensitivity to Estragole: Tarragon contains a compound called estragole, which is considered mildly toxic in high doses. However, the levels of estragole in culinary amounts of tarragon are generally considered safe. Still, individuals with liver disease or sensitivity to estragole may wish to limit their consumption of tarragon or avoid it altogether.

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