Russian tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus, Asteraceae), also known as wild tarragon, false tarragon, and dragon's wort, is native to Siberia, but grows in other parts of Russia as well as Asia. The herb has long, thin, spikey leaves on wire-like stems that tend to grow every which way but up. It is easier to grow than French tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus 'Sativa', Asteraceae), but has no distinct flavor.
Both forms of tarragon contain iodine, potassium, and vitamins A and C, as well as trace elements and beneficial mineral salts. However, Russian tarragon is used more for medicinal purposes, while French tarragon is used primarily for culinary purposes. The herb has been used to treat gastrointestinal disorders in both Russia and Asia. It is thought that Russian tarragon can stimulate the appetite, and tinctures have been made and drunk as tea. The herb was also used to sweeten the breath, stimulate the appetite, and prevent scurvy. It has been used in traditional Persian medicine as a blood cleanser and for the treatment of headaches and dizziness.
Russian tarragon may support cardiovascular health. Studies have shown that Russian tarragon can aid in inhibiting blood platelet aggregation, adhesion, and secretion. The herb has hyperglycemic properties and can help the body to use insulin more effectively, resulting in lower blood glucose levels (See HC 111232-469). Russian tarragon may be useful for women who experience suppressed menstruation, since it is considered to have emmenagogue properties. Russian tarragon essential oil may provide anticonvulsant properties as well as act as a mild sedative. Russian tarragon contains eugenol, a natural anesthetic, and therefore provides relief to nagging toothaches. Russian tarragon is also considered to be a diuretic.
Weight lifters and bodybuilders have begun using Russian tarragon for its supposed bodybuilding effects, as the herb may increase muscle creatine absorption. Normally, creatine is ingested with large amounts of carbohydrates for absorption, but since Russian tarragon may provide similar effects with creatine, consumption of high doses of carbohydrates would not be necessary. This means that the herb may possibly help with weight loss as well.
Lori Glenn, Managing Editor