Myrtle (scientific name Myrtus communis) is an evergreen shrub or an undersized tree with significantly broad leaves. This species has its origin in the Mediterranean region. Usually, myrtle grows up to a height of anything between 5 feet and 6 feet, but some trees may grow up to 15 feet to 20 feet over a period of time. The leaves of this species are pointed and appear opposite to each other on a stalk, but sometimes they may also appear in whorls. The leaves of the myrtle are shiny, deep green hued which vary from ovate to lance-like and usually grow up to 2 inches in length. When bruised, myrtle leaves emit a potent aroma.
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The flowers of Myrtus communis are white and aromatic having a length of about 3/4 inch. The flowers bloom towards the end of spring or beginning of summer (between May and July) and have many white stamens with yellow tip. The flowers give way to blue-black edible berries, which can be consumed raw. They are modestly flavourful. The flowers, leaves and fruits of myrtle are dried and employed to add essence to foods. Occasionally, some people use the leaves of myrtle in place of bay leaves. Freshly obtained myrtle flowers may be included in salads to enhance their flavour. Even the leaves and wood of the shrub are added to charcoal with a view to give flavour to grilled meats.
The leaves, flowers and stem of Myrtus communis are used to obtain myrtle essential oil. This oil is extracted by steam distilling these plant parts. The major constituents of myrtle essential oil include borneol, cineol, camphene, geraniol, myrtenyl acetate, myrtenol, pinene and linalool.
From the point of history, Myrtus communis appeared for the first time in ancient Greece where the plant was associated with Aphrodite - the Greek Goddess of love and beauty. In addition, the leaves of myrtle were given to nobles, successful athletes and bravest soldiers with a view to honour them. The ancient Greek also valued Myrtus communis for its therapeutic properties. Below is a brief discussion on how the ancient Greeks used this herb for medicinal purposes and learn from it to improve our health in contemporary period.
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The aroma of myrtle is fresh, clear and herbaceous - something akin to the scent of eucalyptus. This herb as well as myrtle essential oil support the health of our respiratory system, hair and skin. Several scientific studies have been undertaken to find the impact of this oil on glandular imbalances as well as its comforting effects on being inhaled. Myrtle essential oil also helps one to meditate and, at the same time, lifts the spirit.
Myrtle essential oil possesses gentle sedative properties and, hence, it can prove to be beneficial for people having problems in sleeping, particularly those suffering from insomnia. It is believed that myrtle essential oil has a purifying effect on the emotions and may also be useful for people having addictive patterns and is working hard to change it. In addition, this oil also helps one to give up smoking, because the deep green color of its leaves is often connected with the heart chakra. At the same time, this oil also facilitates in releasing the obstructions associated with our emotions.
When used in the form of a mouthwash, myrtle essential oil helps the gums to contract and also make their clasp on the teeth stronger. When taken orally, this oil helps the muscles as well as the intestinal tracts to tighten. Moreover, topical application of myrtle essential oil onto the skin makes it contracts the skin and, at the same time, helps to tauten it, thereby assisting in preventing wrinkles. In addition to the above mentioned actions, myrtle essential oil also helps to bring to an end hemorrhaging by causing the blood vessels to constrict.
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Applying myrtle essential oil to the skin also helps to get rid of foul smell of the body. This oil can be used in burners, making incense sticks, vaporizers and fumigants for use as room fresheners. In addition, you can use this oil as a perfume or in the form of a body deodorant. Unlike some body deodorants that contain chemicals, use of myrtle essential oil does not result in adverse side effects like skin irritations or patches on the skin.
Myrtle essential oil also possesses antiseptic property which makes it appropriate for application on wounds. This oil prevents microbes from infecting the wounds and, in this way it protects us from tetanus and sepsis. Tetanus is often attributed to infection of wounds caused by any iron object, especially rusted iron.
The essential oil extracted from the leaves, flowers and stems of Myrtus communis is also a useful expectorant. As a result, it helps to lessen the build-up of phlegm and also prevent further accumulation of the substance in the respiratory tracts. Use of this oil helps to clear congested nasal tracts, bronchi and the lungs caused by colds. At the same time, it provides excellent respite from coughing.
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Myrtle essential oil helps the nerves to remain steady, thereby preventing nervousness. It also keeps one from becoming stressed over trivial issues or without any cause. It has been found that this essential oil is highly beneficial for people enduring various neurotic disorders such as anxiety, fear, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, vertigo, chronic stress and trembling limbs.
This essential oil also possesses soothing and sedative properties, which help to alleviate anger, annoyance, depression, distress, and strain. What's more, myrtle essential oil provides relief from irritation, inflammation and several different types of allergies.
The essential oil obtained from Myrtus communis is considered to be a potent aphrodisiac. It is possible that this property of the essential oil is responsible for its association with the Greek Goddess of love Aphrodite. This is an excellent herbal remedy for various conditions related to sexual performance such as erectile dysfunction, frigidity, impotence and even loss of libido.
Myrtle essential oil also possesses anti-catarrhal property, which helps to neutralize phlegm and catarrh build up in the respiratory tracts. This attribute of the oil also helps to hold back mucus formation and, at the same time, provides respite from coughs as well as breathing problems. In addition, this essential oil protects one from various infections. This is mainly because myrtle essential oil possesses germicidal, anti-bacterial, anti-viral and fungicidal properties. This oil also helps in treating infections in the stomach as well as intestines, thereby aiding in curing diarrhea.
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Myrtle essential oil can be employed for skin care as well as to treat various other problems including acne, cystitis, pimples, hemorrhoids, urinary tract infections and even for chronic disorders such as leucorrhea.
Last, but not the least important, the essential oil of myrtle is also useful in treating chest infections in infants as well as aged people.
The essential oil of myrtle is considered to be safe for use by almost everyone and it does not have any inherent risks. Nevertheless, it is always important to take notice of how your body reacts to any new supplement or other substance. Call your physician right away if you notice any unusual reactions.