Myrtle is an evergreen shrub in southern Europe. It has glossy leaves and white or purple flowers that give off a pleasant scent. It produces berries that are oval-shaped and a purple-black color. Myrtle is mentioned several times in the Bible and in ancient Greek and Roman history.
Myrtle is associated with Aphrodite, the goddess of love, beauty and fertility. Roman women bathed in myrtle scented water. In Judaism myrtle is called Hadassah, the Hebrew name for Esther.
Myrtle can be used for both culinary and medicinal purposes. In the culinary world myrtle berries can be made into jam, the berries can be dried and ground up and used like a spice, and they can be made into mirto, a liqueur made of myrtle berries, alcohol, water and sugar or honey.
In the health realm myrtle essential oil can work like an antiseptic, astringent, deodorant, expectorant and a sedative. The essential oil is extracted by steam distillation of the flowers, leaves and stems. Some of the benefits of the essential oil are protecting wounds, relief for breathing problems, relief from stress and anxiety, and infections of the stomach and intestine. Myrtle essential oil is used by aromatherapists for skin problems and respiratory health. It can be used to keep away mosquitoes and insects.
Myrtle oil is generally safe to use but it should be diluted with carrier oils like olive or coconut oil. Do not use on pets especially cats, it is toxic to them. Always consult your doctor if you want to use myrtle oil, and consult the vet if you have questions about its use on pets. Also ask your physician about ingesting myrtle essential oil. Some essential oils are not meant for internal use and are toxic. They may not mix with prescription drugs.
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