Crepe Myrtle, Red Myrtle, Green Myrtle, Creeping Myrtle, Wax Myrtle
Middle East, Mediterranean
Native to the Mediterranean and the Middle East, Myrtle is a fragrant evergreen shrub with glossy, emerald green leaves and pretty white star-shaped flowers.
Myrtle has been used in both cooking and healing for thousands of years. The leaves are normally dried and used like bay leaves, Myrtle berries are dried and ground and used as a spice – similar to Juniper berries. In traditional herbal medicine Myrtle essential oil was used to combat acne and other skin conditions, as a herbal tea it has been used to treat diabetes by lowering blood glucose levels. Myrtle tea has also been traditionally used to treat urinary and bladder infections.
Myrtle essential oil has strong expectorant properties due to the compound cineole, which is also known as eucalyptol, and imparts a camphor like aroma. Diffusing in an aromatherapy oil burner or diluting Myrtle oil in a pure carrier oil and rubbing into the chest can alleviate respiratory problems such as bronchitis, asthma and coughs. It soothes the respiratory tract and removes excess mucus, reducing irritation and slowing down breathing. Myrtle is also very calming to the body, relaxing the spasms that come with dry coughs and promoting sleep. This essential oil is gentle enough to make it an effective remedy for the elderly and children who suffer night time coughs and breathing difficulties.
Myrtle is high in a group of flavonols known as myricetins which are found in glycosides. A study on diabetic rats found that this compound can reduce glucose plasma levels, helping to regulate blood sugar levels in the body.
Managing blood sugar levels is especially important in the case of pre-diabetes. The phytochemicals in Myrtle leaves work at the molecular level by fine-tuning the damaged insulin receptor, which is the cause of insulin resistance.
The adaptogenic qualities of Myrtle have been extensively researched, in particular its effect on the endocrine system and its ability to regulate the thyroid gland. It can stimulate the thyroid and normalise imbalances of both the thyroid and the ovaries, regardless of whether they are under or over performing.
Research shows that Myrtle essential oil can prevent the growth and development of 5 different types of bacteria. These include; Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus, Bacillus subtilis, Salmonella species, and Listeria species. It can help to inhibit infections and also functions as an antiseptic making it an excellent herb for wound cleaning and healing.
Containing many powerful antioxidants, tannins and known for its astringent properties, Myrtle essential oil has been found to effectively clear up acne and other skin problems. These compounds help skin cells to heal faster, help to treat oily skin, tighten pores and reduce irritation.
Myrtle essential oil has clarifying, cleansing, refreshing and uplifting properties. Research shows that the myricetins found in this herb can inhibit the formation of beta-amyloid fibril. It is the formation of this protein in the brain that can lead to the neurotoxicity that causes Alzheimer’s and Dementia.
Diffusing the essential oil in a burner or consuming Myrtle leaves and berries can promote a clear mind and prevent the degradation of neural pathways that can lead to these terrible cognitive disorders.
Myrtle Essential Oil
Myrtle essential oil can be used in the bath, or vaporized in an oil burner. It can be added to a massage oil or cream. Use 6-8 drops per bath and 10 -18 drops per 30ml of carrier oil.
According to ancient Greek mythology, Venus the goddess of love visited the Isle of Cytheraea but was ashamed to show herself because she was naked. To hide her nakedness she hid behind the Myrtle tree. She later adopted the tree as her favorite and it became known as sacred to Venus and was thought to inspire lasting love.
Myrtle was also considered an aphrodisiac in ancient times and was commonly used to adorn bridal crowns and bouquets. This tradition made its way to Germany, leading to Queen Victoria adopting it as her own, and Myrtle has since made an appearance in all ensuing Royal Weddings’ bridal bouquets.
The ancient Persians regarded Myrtle as a holy plant and it was seen as a symbol of love and peace. In the 16th century the leaves and flowers were the major ingredient of a skin lotion known as 'angels' water.
Myrtle carries a deep inner wisdom and may serve as a companion for the dying. According to one of the world's leading aromatherapists, Valerie Worwood, the spirit of Myrtle is energetic truth and forgiveness, giving support to the unsupported and teaching us that divine love embraces all living beings.
Myrtle essential oil typically contains: a-Pinene, 1,8-Cineole, Myrtenyl acetate, (+)-Limonene, Linalool, a-Terpineol
Myrtle Essential Oil is considered safe. Caution is advised when pregnant or breastfeeding.
Essential oils need to be diluted first; never apply an essential oil directly to the skin. Avoid contact with eyes and mouth.