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Family Compositae

Taragon
Artemisia dracunculus L.
TARRAGON

Long hao

Scientific names Common names
Artemisia dracunculus L. Little dragon (Engl.)
Artemisia officinalis Gatteran Estragon (Span.)
Artemisia glauca Pall. ex Willd. Tarragon (Engl.)
  Long hao (Chin.)



General info
First called "Estragon" derived from the Arabic word "tharkhoum'" and the Latin word "dracunculus" meaning "little dragon" probably from the way the roots curls up like a dragon. The French refer to it as the "King of Herbs," flavoring many of its classic cuisine.

Botany
An aromatic perennial growing to a height of 2 feet. Leaves are linear or lanceolate , 1 - 4 in long, with small globe-shaped yellow or greenish-white flowers in terminal panicles.

Constituents and chemical properties
The French variety has the aromatic oils lacking in Russian tarragon.
Estragole is the main constituent of tarragon essential oil.
The undiluted oil may be irritating to the skin.
Probably antibacterial.
A rich plant source of potassium.
Considered antiscorbutic, diuretic, emmenagogue, febrifuge, hypnotic, stomachic and vermifuge.


Distribution
Cultivated.

Parts utilized
Above ground parts.

Caution
Shares a common name with Artmesia vulagris.
Cross-allergenicity in those sensitive to plaqnts in the Asteraceae/Compositae family; ie, ragweed, chrysanthemums, marigolds and daisies.


Uses
Culinary
A culinary herb with distinctly flavored leaves that enhances the flavors of food (fish, poultry, pork, lamb, etc.). Used fresh in salads and as garnishes. Use in small amounts. Bitter when overcooked.
Leaves used in the making of tarragon vinegar.
Folkloric
Used for digestive disorders, toothache.
To promote menstruation.
Used as a diuretic and to enhance the appetite.
In Iranian folk medicine, used for its anticoagulant activity; also as antiepileptic.
Others
Tarragon oil is extracted from the leaves and flowering tops..Used as a fragrance in soaps and cosmetics.
Essential oil used in aromatherapy for digestive and menstrual problems.


Studies

Anti-Diabetic: Polyphenolic compounds were isolated from A dracunculus which inhibited PEPCK gene expression and gluconeogenesis in a hepatoma cell line. Results suggest the isolated compounds maybe responsible for its glucose-lowering activirty.
Anti-Platelet Adhesion and Aggregation:
Study of extracts of Artemisia dracunculus showed inhibition of platelet adhesion, aggregation and secretion and supports its traditional use as an anticoagulant.
Benzodiazepines:
Study showed binding activity in the extracts of Artemisia dracunculus showed a binding affinity to the central human benzodiazepine receptor.
Antifungal:
Study isolated antifungal constituents, 5-phenyl-1,3-pentadiyne and capillarinin - from the essential oil fraction of AD. It also isolated methyleugenol, another antifungal constituent of the oil.
Toxicological Evaluation:
Tarralin is an ethanolic extract of A dracunculus (Russian tarragon). In an acute limit test in rats, no signs of toxicity was noted. In an oral subchronic 90-day toxicity study, no signs of toxicity were noted.
Anti-Thrombosis:
Study showed inhibition of platelet adhesion; also,self-aggregation and protein secretion were affecdted by crude methanol extracts. Results provide the basis for traditional use in the treatment of cardiovascular diseases and thrombosis.
Antimicrobial: Study showed the methanol extract of A dracunculus is more effective against tested organisms than chloroform or acetone extracts. There was inhibition of P aeruginosa, E coli, Shigella, L monocytogenes.
Anticonvulsant / Sedative:
Study of the essential oil revealed the presence of trans-anethole, limonene, a-pinene, allo-ocimene, methyl eugenol, ß-pinene, a-terpinolene, bornyl acetate and bicylogermacrene. Results showed anticonvulsant and sedative effects probably related to the presence of monoterpenoids in the essential oil.
Anti-Platelet Adhesion / Cardiovascular Thrombosis:
Platelet hyperactivity, resulting in platelet adhesion to the vessel wall, is one of the most important factors in thrombosis and incidence of cardiovascular diseases. Study of the methanol extracts of three herb spices, including Artemisia dracunculus, showed inhibition of platelet adhesion. In addition to alteration of cell adhesive properties, cell aggregation and protein secretion were also affected in the treated platelets. Results provide a basis for the use of the herbs in the treatment of cardiovascular disease and thrombosis.
Tarralin / Safety Studies:
Tarralin, an ethanolic extract of Artemisia dracunculus, a common medicinal and culinary herb, was shown to be safe and non-toxic in studies, with no-adverse effects in rat study at 1000 mg/kg/day.
Hypoglycemic Effects / Screening / Tarragon on Insulin Action in Humans:
Results are awaited on study of PMI-5011, investigated on its effects on improving carbohydrate metabolism by enhancement of molecular events of insulin action in skeletal muscle.


Availability
Cultivated.

Last Update November 2010

Photos © Godofredo Stuart / StuartXchange
Line Drawing: Public Domain / Artemisia dracunculus / USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database / Britton, N.L., and A. Brown. 1913. An illustrated flora of the northern United States, Canada and the British Possessions. Vol. 3: 524. / alter VISTA

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings
(1)
Polyphenolic compounds from Artemisia dracunculus L. inhibit PEPCK gene expression and gluconeogenesis in an H4IIE hepatoma cell line / Dmitry Govorko et al / Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab 293: E1503-E1510, 2007. First published September 11, 2007; doi:10.1152/ajpendo.00420.2007
0193-1849/0
(2)
Tarragon / Essential Oil
(3)
Inhibition of blood platelet adhesion, aggregation and secretion by Artemisia dracunculus leaves extracts / Journal of ethnopharmacology ISSN 0378-8741 CODEN JOETD7 / 2007, vol. 114, no2, pp. 194-19
(4)
Identification of benzodiazepines in Artemisia dracunculus and Solanum tuberosum rationalizing their endogenous formation in plant tissue / Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2000 Mar 5;269(1):290-5.
(5)
Antifungal Constituents of the Essential Oil Fraction of Artemisia dracunculus L. Var. dracunculus / J. Agric. Food Chem., 2002, 50 (24), pp 6989–6992 DOI: 10.1021/jf020466w
(5)
Artemisia dracunculus - L. / Tarragon / Plants For A Future
(6)
Toxicological evaluation of the ethanolic extract of Artemisia dracunculus L. for use as a dietary supplement and in functional foods / Ribnicky David et al / Food and chemical toxicology • 2004, vol. 42, no4, pp. 585-598
(7)
Comparative effects of Artemisia dracunculus, Satureja hortensis and Origanum majorana on inhibition of blood platelet adhesion, aggregation and secretion / Razieh Yazdanparast and Leila Shahriyary / Vascular Pharmacology • Volume 48, Issue 1, January 2008, Pages 32-37doi:10.1016/j.vph.2007.11.003
(8)
Screening antimicrobial activity of various extracts of Artemisia dracunculus L. / Mehika Benil et al / Cell Biochemistry and Function • Volume 25 Issue 6, Pages 681 - 686 / DOI 10.1002/cbf.1373
(9)
Anticonvulsant activity and chemical composition of Artemisia dracunculus L. essential oil / Mohammad Sayyah et al / doi:10.1016/j.jep.2004.05.021 / Journal of Ethnopharmacology • Volume 94, Issues 2-3, October 2004, Pages 283-287
(10)
TWO NEW COMPOUNDS FROM ARTEMISIA DRACUNCULUS L. / Razieh Yazdanparast et al / DARU, VOL. 8, No. 1 & 2, 2000
(11)
Comparative effects of Artemisia dracunculus, Satureja hortensis and Origanum majorana on inhibition of blood platelet adhesion, aggregation and secretion / Razieh Yazdanparast and Leila Shahriyary /
Vascular Pharmacology, Volume 48, Issue 1, January 2008, Pages 32-37 / doi:10.1016/j.vph.2007.11.003
(12)
Toxicological evaluation of the ethanolic extract of Artemisia dracunculus L. for use as a dietary supplement and in functional foods / Ribnicky DM, Poulev A et al / Food Chem Toxicol. 2004 Apr;42(4):585-98.
(13)
Safety and Efficacy Study of Tarragon on Insulin Action in Humans (5011) / Clinical Trials / NIH



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