What is Myrtle?
Myrtle is an aromatic evergreen shrub coming from the genus Myrtus. It is also called a tree because it could grow up to 15 feet. Much of myrtle can be seen in the Mediterranean area, particularly the southern parts of Europe and northern Africa. Myrtle shrubs also grow flowers and berries especially during the late summer months. It is said to contain oils that are primarily used for aromatherapy.
Various myths and lores mention myrtle several times. In Roman mythology for example, myrtle was associated with Venus, the goddess of beauty. Myrtle was also used in ancient times for its healing properties. In ancient Turkey, its leaves were used for the oil which is said to help lower the blood sugar levels of those with diabetes.
In its topical oil form, myrtle is said to be effective in the treatment of several respiratory-related illnesses. These include asthma, bronchitis, and the common cough. Its aromatic properties are used to clear up airway passages, resulting to improvements and healing of respiratory disorders.
Myrtle also has antiseptic properties; so many people use the leaves to cover wounds or bruises and to treat hemorrhoids. It is also said to be effective in preventing infections as it also has anti-inflammatory properties. Myrtle is also used to aid in digestion and to heal infections in the urinary tract.
Aside from the leaves, the seeds of the myrtle plant may also be used in making oil extracts. These oil extracts may be applied topically or may be taken orally in liquid form. But one must contact his/her doctor first before ingesting the myrtle extract. In its topical form, myrtle extract is considered safe for use in children.
But aside from its medicinal and health benefits, myrtle also has a culinary application. The leaves of the myrtle plant can be a substitute for bay leaves in cooking setups.