Tarragon herb/EO/Hydrosol Profile
Synopsis ~ This perennial herb in the sunflower family, is widespread across much of Eurasia and North America, is cultivated for culinary and medicinal purpose and the EO is used in perfumery and blending.
Tarragon — the herb, the aged oil and the fresh new oil from Eden Botanicals
Common Name/Latin Binomial ~ Tarragon, Artemisia dracunculus, also called dragon’s-wort and Estragon is preferred and called French Tarragon, reproduced by root propagation. The Russian Tarragon, called Artemisia dracunculoides is considered to be rank in flavor.
Family: Tarragon is a member of the Asteraceae (Compositae) family. It flowers from July through September. The French Tarragon has sterile seeds.
Safety/Contraindications: If you are sensitive or allergic to other plants in this family such as Ragweed, Daisy or Marigold you should take caution when adding Tarragon to your diet either as a culinary herb or medicinally.
Please use your best judgment or consult a professional before using Tarragon herb in medicinal quantities. Some sites mention, do not use Tarragon if you are pregnant or nursing. However, science journals also state, “Despite concerns about the toxic effects of two of its main constituents, estragole (up to 82%) and methyl eugenol (up to 39%), no acute toxicity or mutagenic activity has been reported at doses relevant for human consumption. Water extracts of A. dracunculus contain very low amounts of estragole and methyl eugenol and, therefore, are considered to pose a very limited risk.”
This article is meant to be informative only.
The herb is recommended in foods while the essential oil is not recommended internally and only in small amounts for inhalation purpose.
Countries of Origins: in 2007, Alberta, Canada produced approximately one liter of Tarragon, “this luscious licorice-scented oil …. It thrives in our climate and appears to have favorable chemistry and nose appeal. All farms producing it are doing so organically, though the oil produced to date cannot be labeled as such, until our distiller meets certification standards”. I would like to know if they are still growing it.
It grows wild in many European and Asian countries.
Eden Botanicals Harvest Location ~ Cultivated in Italy.
Sustainability/Endangered or Not ~ Sustainable and not endangered at this time
General description of Plant habitat and growth ~ Tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus) contains estragole. This perennial herb of the Asteraceae (Sunflower) family comes in two subspecies. The Russian Tarragon is used medicinally while the French Tarragon has the most powerful scent and taste and is used as a culinary. French tarragon is the variety used for cooking in the kitchen and is not grown from seed, as the flowers are sterile; instead it is propagated by root division. Russian tarragon (A. dracunculoides L.) can be grown from seed but is much weaker in flavor when compared to the French variety.
Portion of plant used in distillation, how distilled, extraction methods and yields: French tarragon is the variety generally considered best for the kitchen, but is never grown from seed as the flowers are sterile; instead it is propagated by root division. It is normally purchased as a plant, and some care must be taken to ensure that true French Tarragon is purchased. A perennial, it normally goes dormant in winter. Tarragon has an aromatic property reminiscent of Anise, due to the presence of estragole, a known carcinogen and teratogen in mice. The danger of estragole is minimal even at 100–1,000 times the typical consumption seen in humans.
“The whole over ground part of the herb is steam-distilled immediately prior to flowering”. Steam distillation occurs mainly in France. “Basil, Anise and Tarragon tend to resinify upon aging and becomes dark yellow and sticky, viscous and loses the fresh green not and pleasant aroma.” —Arctander
Yield ~ One study I read, the yield was 0.57%
Organoleptic Characteristics ~
• Color – colorless and some have a pale green color
• Clarity – clear
• Viscosity – non-viscous
• Intensity of odor – 5 (on a scale of 1-10; 1-2 is Lemon and 8-10 is Massoia or Clove)
• Taste – sweet, then bitter on the tongue
Odor Description/ Aroma Assessment ~ One of the licorice-like scents (Anise, Basil, Cloves) it is vegetative, warm, herbal, sweet-smelling and spicy and a very eponymous scent. The dried herb has a peppery and spicy smell with little to mild taste. The fresh herb is preferred for food.
See the other articles in the blog that refer to the anise/licorice smelling EO such as
Anise seed and Star Anise , Basil & Holy Basil EO, Herb, Hydrosol , Clove Oil/Herb , Fennel ~ Herb, EO, Hydrosol , Licorice Scent in Essential Oils
Properties and Uses: Tarragon – Artemisia dracunculus This cultivated herb’s essential oil is grown in Italy; use it by inhalation for a strong, herbal, celery, licorice scent – to ease digestion, for hiccups or belching. Use it in skin care products or a massage oil to spice up Lavender and herbal scents; and use the herb in your bath; use a scant drop added to food to bring out delicious nuances. Oils like this are considered to be best utilized to kick-start the body’s natural hormone production, rather than relying on them long term.
•Tarragon contains anethole
• said to regulate erratic periods
• Calms menstrual pain
The EO is considered to be an antispasmodic, antiviral and antiallergenic and is indicated for gut spasms, belching, PMS, anorexia and chronic fatigue. This EO can occasionally be used internally in tea (1-drop only at a time) and used externally in massage oils or in perfumery. It has a very pleasant position as a bridge note in perfumery. It is widely used as a flavoring ingredient in fine foods.
Use ~ Tarragon contains antioxidants that help to neutralize free radicals in the body and to help support cardiovascular health. When eaten regularly it can help reduce the risk of blood clots, stroke, and heart attack although it did not help me for the five years before I eventually had my aortic valve replaced. The compounds present in Tarragon can lower blood sugar levels naturally. Tarragon contains many health promoting compounds. It in a natural diuretic and can help reduce water retention.
This lovely oil courtesy of Eden Botanicals
In steam therapy and when diluted in the bath, the scent of Tarragon oil can help with the digestive system and ease farting and belching, and some woman I know use it for menstrual pains. It has a pain relieving or numbing effect.
Tarragon leaf (Artemisia dracunculus) Herbal Use. The herb can be infused in oil and used for massage and is helpful on the abdomen for all sorts of abdominal pain and spasm or to massage sore muscles. You can drink the herbal tea or simply chew the leaves to help with mouth pain. Drinking Tarragon herb tea before bed can help with insomnia. It seems to have a calming effect and can also help to relieve anxiety. Tarragon herb can be uses to maintain the health of the female reproductive tract, and can be used for those who have suppressed menstruation. It should not, however, be used if you are pregnant or nursing.
Recent studies have shown that tarragon can help promote muscle growth by aiding in absorption. Tarragon has been traditionally used at an appetite stimulant for those with poor appetite or even helps those with symptoms of anorexia. ~
This is a very strong essential oil and should be used only sparingly in a carrier oil for a massage for sore muscles. A touch of Tarragon essential oil in the mouth can help fight bad breath, as well as reduce body odor or on the skin reduce microbes.
If you make your own deodorant- add a couple drops of essential oil to 1 oz. of your product get these benefits. ~
Personal Deodorant with Tarragon
1 oz. 70% alcohol (neutral grape spirits or vodka)
2 drops Tarragon oil
2 drops Sage CO2
1 drop Lavender oil
Shake to use. Spray 1-2 sprays per armpit
Application/ Skincare ~ Use it in skin care products or massage oils to spice up Lavender and herbal scents; or a few drops diluted in coconut oil in your bath for a refreshing change.
Inhalation ~ Antispasmodic and antiviral, Tarragon is inhaled for emotional distress and chronic fatigue, as it seems to help these issues. Inhale this oil for a strong, herbal, celery, licorice scent – to ease digestion, for hiccups or belching.
Jeanne Rose Asthma and Wheezing Treatment
I have made and used this formula since 1997
Mix together the following oils —
20 drops each of Red Mandarin and Rosemary verbenone
10 drops each of Tarragon, Ammi visnaga, Thyme borneol and Hyssop decumbens.
Mix EO into a synergy.
Use 3-drops per Ginkgo biloba herbal capsule, 3 times per day but not more than 3 days.
— A French formula seen 25 years ago. Inspired by l’aromatherapie exactement
Diffuse/Diffusion: Personally, I do not recommend diffusing this oil. There is not enough of it and it is wasteful of the EO.
Emotional/Energetic Use ~ In steam therapy and when diluted in a carrier. Tarragon oil can help with the digestive system and for menstrual pains.
~ The delicious but elusive flavor of Tarragon, sometimes described as “bittersweet,” does not share the long history of use that most herbs do. It has a celery-like and fresh green flavor and is excellent in seafood and egg sauces. It came into popularity in the 1600s in France. You will find it in fine French cuisine and many classic French sauces including: béarnaise (egg yolk, butter, vinegar), hollandaise (egg yolk, butter), tartar (mayonnaise, sweet pickle relish, and minced onion, lemon juice, salt and pepper) and béchamel (butter, milk). It is a wonderful herb used for fish such as for sole, shrimp and other seafood and lake fish. Add Tarragon to chicken, rabbit or veal, shrimp or tuna salad. As Jill Jessee says in her 1951 Perfume Album, “Dear to the heart, or rather the tongue, of all salad mixers! But the nose comes in for its due share, for Tarragon oil, also known as estragon, gives a special something to fancy bouquets as well as to the fern and new-mown hay type of perfumes.”
A drop of Tarragon in your herbal blend and a scant drop added to foods brings out many delicious nuances.
While Tarragon is usually used in too small of quantities to contribute much nutrition, it does sport some nice nutritional qualities. Tarragon is an excellent source of minerals such as magnesium, iron, zinc, and calcium. The herb is rich in Vitamin A and Vitamin C as well as B-6.
Jeanne Rose uses this EO/herb for 1890 Christmas Recipe on fish
SAUCE TARTARE ~ Put the yolks of two eggs in a bowl with salt, pepper, the juice of a lemon, and one teaspoonful of dry mustard. Stir with a wooden spoon, and add by degrees– in very small quantities, and stirring continuously– a tablespoonful of vinegar; then, a cup of Olive oil but only a few drops at a time, some good oil, stirring rapidly all the time, until your sauce thickens, and the oil has been absorbed. Chop one pickle and a tablespoonful of capers, a green onion and a few fresh Tarragon leaves, and mix with your sauce.
Blends Best with ~ Blends with earthy odors such as Labdanum, Oakmoss, and Galbanum. Eden Botanicals also mentions others such as Angelica, Anise, Basil, Atlas Cedar, Roman Chamomile, Cistus, Citrus odors, Ginger, Juniper Berry, spices up Lavender, Patchouli, Vanilla and is works well with chypre, ferns and green odors. Arctander mentions that adulteration and ‘cutting’ of this oil is extremely common.
Blending/PERFUMERY formula ~
1000 Flowers & Greens – 1972
Top Notes: Angelica, Bergamot, Coriander, Galbanum, and Tarragon
Bridge Note: Orris root
Heart Notes: Osmanthus, Jasmine, Rose, Violet leaf, Rose Geranium
Bridge Note: Oakmoss
Base Notes: Vetiver, Patchouli, Sandalwood, Amber
Fixative: Diluted Ambergris
HYDROSOL ~ The delicious French Tarragon is more valuable as a food item and to my knowledge, the hydrosol is not available. However, the EO is available and lovely. The Russian Tarragon I have not had the opportunity to try as a hydrosol.
PLEASE NOTE: A true hydrosol should be specifically distilled for the hydrosol, not as a co-product or even a by-product of essential oil distillation. The plant’s cellular water has many components most are lost under pressurized short steam runs for essential oil, or by using dried material. We recommend that the producers specifically distill for a product by using plant material that is fresh.
Key Use: The King of Culinary Herbs
Chemical Components ~ Analyses of A. dracunculus (subspecies not mentioned) shows methyl chavicol (16.2%) and methyl eugenol (35.8%). GC/MS analysis of the essential oil revealed the presence of trans-anethole (21.1%), α-trans-ocimene (20.6%), limonene (12.4%), α-pinene (5.1%), allo-ocimene (4.8%), methyl eugenol (2.2%), β-pinene (0.8%), α-terpinolene (0.5%), bornyl acetate (0.5%) and bicyclogermacrene (0.5%) as the main components.
Historical Uses ~ Tarragon was used in the time of Hippocrates (300 BC) and is still in use today.
Interesting Information ~ There is one main species but two types; one from seed called Russian Tarragon and one from root divisions only called French Tarragon with sterile seeds that produces a plant with superior flavor.
“Charlemagne, king of the Franks (768-814) and Holy Roman Emperor from 800-814, liked Tarragon so much that he ordered it planted on all his estates.”— The Reader’s Digest book, Magic and Medicine of Plants goes on to say much more and was one of my most favorite herb books in 1986.
Abstract/Scientific Data ~ “Based on our findings, tarragon essential oil has antibacterial effect on two important pathogen bacteria (S. aureus and E. coli) and can be applied as a preservative in foods such as cheese” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3391558/
Safety Precautions ~ See the beginning of the article
Patch Test Link: If applying a new essential oil to your skin always perform a patch test to the inner arm (after you have diluted the EO in a vegetable carrier oil). —Wash an area of your forearm about the size of a quarter and dry carefully. Apply a diluted drop (1 drop EO + 1 drop carrier) to the area. Then apply a loose Band-Aid and wait 24 hours. If there is no reaction then go ahead and use the oil in your formulas. —The Aromatherapy Book, Applications & Inhalations, p. 64
Arctander, Steffen. Perfume and Flavor Materials of Natural Origin. 1960
Franchomme and Pénoël. L’aromathérapie exactement. Robert Jollois, editor. 1976
Mabberley, D. J. Mabberley’s Plant-Book, 3rd edition, 2014 printing, Cambridge University Press.
Reader’s Digest. Magic and Medicine of Plants. 1986
Rose, Jeanne. 375 Essential Oils and Hydrosols. Berkeley, California: Frog, Ltd., 1999
Rose, Jeanne. The Aromatherapy Book: Applications & Inhalations. San Francisco, California
Rose, Jeanne. The Herbal Guide to Food. 1989
Herbal Studies Course/ Jeanne Rose publisher. 1988.
interesting articles: http://www.tipdisease.com/2015/04/tarragon-artemisia-dracunculus-overview.html
Eden Botanicals, Aromatherapy supply store in Petaluma, California at 3820 Cypress Dr., #12, Petaluma, CA 94954 and phone (855) 333-6645
DISCLAIMER: This work is intended for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for accurate diagnosis and treatment by a qualified health care professional. Dosages are often not given, as that is a matter between you and your health care provider. The author is neither a chemist nor a medical doctor. The content herein is the product of research and personal and practical experience. Institute of Aromatic & Herbal Studies – Jeanne Rose©
By Jeanne Rose ~ December 21,2017