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 Long associated with queens and goddesses, mention of myrtle extends back thousands of years. Historically, myrtle is considered one of the most significant plants. It plays a fundamental role in traditional medicine; in Europe and throughout the Mediterranean it is also used in cooking.

 The Myrtle tree is native to the Indian subcontinent, the Mediterranean basin, and Western Asia. A species of the tree, grows in the mountains of the Central Saharan Desert, in the mountains of Southern Algeria and Northern Chad. The plant is evergreen. The flowers are usually white and the petals form a star shape. There are multiple stamens at the center. Purple berries develop from the flowers. They are a round fruit, and are the color of blackberries. The leaves, bark, flowers and fruit are used as medicine, and as food. In some areas, essential oil is also extracted from the seeds.

Blue myrtle berries in sardinia By Japs 88

 In Hebrew, myrtle is called hadas, and is associated with righteousness. The tree was described as a good tree with a pleasant smell. Hadassah, another of Queen Esther's names, refers back to the tree. The Purim holiday commemorates her role saving the Jews from Haman's plot to annihilate them.

 Myrtle branches are incorporated into Sukkot celebrations, which usually take place in the fall. Myrtle along with three other species of sacred plants are bound together.

Myrtle tree in a garden

 The Romans valued myrtle, and associated the plant with Venus, their goddess of love and fertility, and are responsible for its spread to other regions. The Roman legions often took cultivars with them into the lands they conquered because it reminded them of Rome. It has been introduced as far north as the United Kingdom.

 In many cultures, it plays a role in wedding ceremonies - in the Ukraine brides wear a crown woven of myrtle. In England, Queen Victoria was given a bouquet containing Myrtle by her soon-to-be mother-in-law. The Myrtle from that bouquet was planted at a royal estate. That original sprig grew into a tree, and by tradition every royal wedding bouquet includes a sprig of myrtle from the tree.

 As a culinary herb the leaves are dried and used much like bay leaf. It is said to taste like allspice with a hint of menthol. The berries are dried and ground and used like juniper berries. In Sardinia and Corsica, the Mirto liqueur is made of the berries and in some cases a combination of leaves and berries.

Myrtle flower and leaves close-up

 Medicinally, Myrtle is used across Africa and Europe. The plant has a long list of benefits with applications for almost every system of the body. For many centuries the oil of the leaves has been used to lower blood sugar levels. Throughout the Mediterranean it is used to treat urinary and bladder infections, and for respiratory issues. It is used for its positive affect on the endocrine system and the release of hormones. It is particularly effective when used to regulate the thyroid gland for low thyroid. 

 Myrtle contains flavonols and one of these compounds myricetin is thought to have anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, and anti-oxidant properties. This compound is currently being studied as a treatment to relieve the symptoms of Alzheimer's and dementia. Myrtle assists with heart health as it helps to reduce the oxidation of LDL cholesterol. The oxidation is a contributing factor of heart disease. The essential oil is also thought to boost cognitive strength and relieve stress and nervousness.

 Myrtle is an astringent and will alleviate oily skin and reduce the size of the pores. A powerful antioxidant, it helps cells to heal and regrow. This improves the over-all health of the skin.  In many places, Myrtle has traditionally been used to heal acne and other skin disorders. 

 Made especially for sensitive skin, our Chamomile & Lupine Repartive Eye Gel Mrytle's astringent and healing properties combine with other ingredients to soothe the skin, increase circulation and reduce puffiness.

 Perfect for sensitive skin, our Mineral & Botanical Cleanser combines essential minerals with botanicals to both soothe and nourish your skin. Myrtle, along with other anti-inflammatory ingredients calms the skin.  The astringent properties of Myrtle help to balance and reduce unnecessary oil, while the antioxident properties help the skin to heal at a cellular level.

Bringing the relaxing qualities of Myrtle, our Essential Oil Blend Evening (Neroli Lemon) is perfect aromatherapy for when you need to unwind and calm from the stresses of your day.

 

Botanical illustration of Myrtle 

 

Notes -- Illustration 1: By Japs 88 - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https-_commons.wikimedia.org_w_index.php?curid=17898041

Illustration 2: Myrtle Communis in the garden by By Raffi Kojian - http-_Gardenology.org, CC BY-SA 3.0, https-_commons.wikimedia.org_w_index.php?curid=12734838

 

Written by Jen Bator — April 02, 2017

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