Tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus)
Fast facts: prevents certain cancers, heals herpes outbreaks, fights flu
Although tarragon has a long and venerable history as a healing plant, you probably know it as a kitchen herb — the pretty green, spiky-looking plant that’s used in expensive bottles of tarragon vinegar. You can still enjoy it just for its flavor, of course, but there’s plenty of reason to think of it as a therapeutic agent as well.
Tarragon contains 72 potential cancer preventives, according to James A. Duke, PhD, a botanist retired from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and author of The CRC Handbook of Medicinal Herbs. The herb’s main cancer-blocking punch comes from a chemical called caffeic acid, which has the ability to cleanse the body of naturally occurring harmful substances known as free radicals. Caffeic acid also has some ability to kill viruses. “Caffeic acid is one ingredient in tarragon I would seek if I were looking to prevent cancer, flu or herpes,” says Dr. Duke.
Help for Herpes “If I had herpes, I would be drinking lemon balm tea with tarragon in it, and I would be applying the tea bag to the blisters,” says Dr. Duke. “Both have antiviral activity, and I’m a great believer in synergy.” Besides, tarragon will add a pleasant flavor to the tea, he says.
For relief from either oral or genital herpes, try a cup of tea with a lemon balm tea bag and one teaspoon of dried tarragon. (You can purchase lemon balm tea in many health food stores.) Let the brew steep for 10 to 15 minutes before drinking. Drink up to three cups a day.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.