Tarragon (Artemisia Dracunculus) Overview, Health Benefits, Side effects

Tarragon (Artemisia Dracunculus) Overview, Health Benefits, Side effects

Tarragon (Artemisia Dracunculus) Overview

Tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus) Overview, Health Benefits, Side effects
Tarragon (Artemisia Dracunculus) plant 

Tarragon (Artemisia Dracunculus) other names: Armoise Âcre, Artemisia dracunculus, Artemisia glauca, Dragonne, Estragon, Estragón, Herbe Dragon, Herbe au Dragon, Little Dragon, Mugwort, Petit Dragon.

Tarragon is an herb. Some people call it “mugwort.” Be careful not to confuse tarragon with mugwort (Artemisia Vulgaris).

Tarragon is a green perennial shrub that is smooth and lacking in hairs and bristles. The shrub is native to the sunny and dry regions of the northern hemisphere, especially the United States, Asia and Siberia. The plant derives its English name from the French estragon denoting ‘little dragon'. People in Europe grow this shrub commercially for it perfumed leaves that pass on a licorice-anise essence to salads, sauces and foods prepared with vinegar. 

Normally, the tarragon plant, having slender stalks, grows up to a height of two feet and bears glossy green, elongated and slender leaves that are undivided. This shrub is intimately related to wormwood. Tarragon has fibrous roots that are long and extend to all areas where they are grown by means of runners. The shrub bears small flowers that are circular and have a yellow hue with black heads. Flowers of this herb rarely open completely.

The herb is a perennial shrub belonging to the Composite family - the family of which daisies are also members. The shrub usually has slender stems and grows up to a height of two feet. Tarragon bears slender leaves that have a profoundly green hue. The flowers of the plant are diminutive and yellowish in color. The herb has a preference for a temperate and arid climatic condition and grows best in moderately rich soil having a perfect drainage system. However, tarragon can also grow on any other soil, even soils bereft of adequate nourishments for the plant.

The tarragon plant develops best in temperate and arid climatic conditions. The herb has a preference for light soils that have a good drainage system. 

Tarragon shrubs seldom bear seeds and, hence, the plant is propagated by means of root division and root cuttings. Even if some plants bear seeds, they are usually sterile.

The propagation of tarragon is usually undertaken during the spring or in autumn by means of root cuttings and root divisions. These root cuttings are initially planted in pots indoors and later put in their permanent positions outdoors in a temperate, summer climate when they are well established. The tarragon shrubs require proper side dressings with superior quality composed manure during spring each year. This shrub has extended fibrous as well as runners on the sides of the roots and they do not like wet conditions. 

Tarragon plants thrive best when grown in a container having a depth of 12 inches or 30 cm and are placed in full sunlight. Tarragon shrubs have long roots with runners and, hence, it is essential to ensure that the roots do not entangle or form a mesh.

Many people plant tarragons on sloped terrains with a view to avoid water-logging at the base of the plants. Although the tarragon plants do not like much of water, it is also essential to be careful that the roots do not become dehydrated. Providing the plants with a protective cover like mulches is an excellent way to preserve the soil humidity at the base of the shrub. In fact, whenever there is a threat of heavy frosting, it is essential to mulch the tarragon plants a great deal. On the other hand, if you are growing the shrub in an area where the winters are very harsh, it is advisable to dig up the tarragon plants and plant them in separate containers during autumn and place them indoors with a view to protect them from frosts. The plants may again be planted outdoors when the weather becomes warm once more.

It is best to harvest tarragon plants just before they start flowering, as this is the time when they possess maximum essence and therapeutic value. While harvesting the plant, it is important to leave one inch of the stem from the ground to enable new shoots to grow from of the stem. Following the harvesting, the tarragon plants need to be cut down to reasonable size that is easy to handle and store. For culinary purposes, tarragon is used both fresh as well as dehydrated. 

In addition, the cooks also use the plant preserved in vinegar or stored in frozen conditions. Similarly, both frozen and dried tarragon is used for therapeutic purposes. However, it is important to note that the herb loses some of its aromatic aspects when it is dehydrated for preserving. It is important not to dry tarragon mechanically or in sunlight. The best way to dry this herb is to hang the tarragon branches upside down in bundles in a warm and dark place. When the stems of the plant have dehydrated, carefully collect the dry leaves.

Tarragon (Artemisia Dracunculus) Health Benefits

The tarragon, still known as the ‘little dragon' in France, continues to be a favorite ingredient in French cuisines. However, the fact remains that apart from the plants mild licorice essence, very few people are aware that the herb also possesses several therapeutic properties. 

The parts of the tarragon plant that grow above the ground are used to make medicine.

Tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus) Overview, Health Benefits, Side effects
Tarragon (Artemisia Dracunculus) flower

That tarragon encourages the digestive process and alleviates a number of problems associated with the digestive system has already been discussed. In addition, the herb is also believed to possess a gentle tranquilizing property and helps in alleviating insomnia. The herb also mildly stimulates menstruation and, hence tarragon is administered to women who endure delayed periods. The root of the herb has been traditionally used to cure tooth aches.

A tea prepared with tarragon is a traditional French remedy for treating insomnia and hyperactivity or learning disorder. This tea has shown to be very effective in healing these conditions and the success rate has been considerably high.

Tarragon leaves that are flavored like anise as well as the crests of the flowers are often used to spice up stews, sauces, soups, meat, eggs, fish and even pickles. Tarragon leaves as well as the essential oils derived from the herb too are used in the preparation of tarragon vinegar, mustard, tartar sauce as well as alcoholic beverages. It may be noted here that the Russian tarragon, a different species of the herb, is regularly mistaken for the French tarragon and also sold as French tarragon in the market. 

Early research suggests that applying a mixture of ginger, cardamom, and tarragon essential oils to the neck after anesthesia and surgery may help relieve nausea and prevent vomiting for up to 30 minutes in some people. However, the effect seems to vary depending on the number of vomit-causing drugs that were given during anesthesia or as pain relievers during and/or after surgery.

In addition, the herb is also believed to possess a gentle and non-irritating diuretic property that facilitates our system to get rid of toxic substances let loose during the digestion of meat and a number of other proteins.

An infusion prepared with the leaves of tarragon has been traditionally recommended to improve appetite, alleviate flatulence and colic, to provide relief from the pain caused by arthritis, gout and rheumatism as well as flush out worms from the body. It is said that when freshly collected tarragon leaves or roots are topically applied to cuts, sores and even teeth, they act as a local painkiller.

In foods and beverages, tarragon is used as a culinary herb.

In manufacturing, tarragon is used as a fragrance in soaps and cosmetics.

Tarragon (Artemisia Dracunculus) Side effects

Tarragon is likely safe when taken by mouth in food amounts. Tarragon is possibly safe when taken by mouth as a medicine, short-term. Long-term use of tarragon as a medicine is likely unsafe . Tarragon contains a chemical called estragole, which might cause cancer.

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: It’s likely unsafe for women who are pregnant or breast-feeding to take tarragon by mouth as a medicine. Tarragon might start your period and endanger the pregnancy.

Bleeding disorder: Tarragon might slow blood clotting. There is concern that tarragon might increase the risk of bleeding when taken as a medicine. 

Tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus) Overview, Health Benefits, Side effects
Tarragon (Artemisia Dracunculus) tree

Allergy to ragweed and related plants: Tarragon may cause an allergic reaction in people who are sensitive to the Asteraceae/Compositae family. Members of this family include ragweed, chrysanthemums, marigolds, daisies, and many others. If you have allergies, be sure to check with your healthcare provider before taking tarragon.

Surgery: Tarragon might slow blood clotting. There is concern that tarragon might prolong bleeding during and after surgery. Stop taking tarragon at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.