You can gain the many health benefits of tarragon by using teas, dried/fresh leaves, the essential oil and tinctures. (Tarragon mixed with isopropyl alcohol makes a good disinfectant.) Tarragon contains caffeic acid, which can stop or kill many bacteria, viruses and fungi. It makes a good cleansing disinfectant to rub on wounds or can be used as a deodorant. Components of tarragon help digestion by stimulating the secretion of digestive compounds in the saliva as well as gastric fluids (like bile and other acids) into the lower digestive tract. This stimulates faster processing of foods already in the stomach (which helps get rid of wastes and potential toxins faster) and increases appetite. Its antimicrobial action enables tarragon to kill intestinal worms. Tarragon also increases circulation, which helps distribute nutrients, oxygen, hormones and enzymes to tissues and remove toxins. Tarragon has calming properties, too. Many people use it to help relax the nerves and facilitate a good night’s sleep. Despite these health benefits, use in moderation. Tarragon oil contains estragole, which is toxic at high levels. As an extra precaution, young children and pregnant women should avoid the oil. The spice is safe, as the essential oil concentrations are too small to cause harm.
Vitamin and Mineral Content
Vitamins – B6 (Pyridoxine), A, C and B2 (Riboflavin)
Minerals – Manganese, Iron, Calcium, Magnesium and Potassium
Plays a role in helping reduce the symptoms or delaying the onset of rheumatism, indigestion, anorexia, insomnia and excessive flatulence.
How to Grow
Tarragon is a hardy perennial herb tolerant of many soil types. It comes in two varieties, French and Russian. The French has a far superior flavor for cooking purposes. Tarragon plants prefer a sheltered site with full sun and good drainage. The best way to grow is from purchased young plants. Growing French tarragon from seed is not an option, but the Russian variety sows easily. Plant them 1.5 feet apart. Water regularly as necessary to keep the soil moist. Weed also to prevent nutrient competition. Harvest the leaves throughout the season. You can store them in vinegar or dry them. If you choose vinegar, wash it off before eating, and then use the vinegar in a salad dressing. For French tarragon, put a few inches of mulch over the top to protect from direct contact with frost. They need to be lifted, divided and replanted every 3-4 years to maintain tastiness in the leaves. They should grow well enough to divide into many plants every spring. To divide them, manually lift them out and divide in half by hand or use a back-to-back garden shovel/fork. Once out, cut all the leaves down to about 2 inches from the roots and replant right away.
Tarragon is generally pest free.
For a good sleepy time tea, try it mixed with chamomile just before bedtime.