Myrtle oil comes from a large bush or small tree native to regions in North Africa. The myrtle bush can also be found in a number of Mediterranean regions including Tunisia, Italy, France, Corsica, and Spain. The myrtle bush grows up to three feet tall (0.9 meters) and has white flowers and black berries. The bush is related the tea tree as well as the eucalyptus bush and has been used for many years because of its healing properties. Myrtle oil is extracted from the leaves and twigs of the tree and the flowers of the myrtle are also commonly used in aromatherapy.
The oil is famous for its use by a Greek physician named Dioscorides. The physician frequently used the oil for its antiseptic properties. Dioscorides would direct his patients to consume the oil with a little wine to cure lung and bladder infections. Historically, myrtle oil has been used for medicinal purposes such as relief from diarrhea and other infections of the intestines.
In Greek culture, myrtle oil is also associated with love. Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, was once worshiped with offerings of myrtle. Today, the oil is still correlated with love and it is not uncommon for Greek bridal bouquets to include myrtle. A Greek bride would wear a crown of myrtle on her wedding day.
In aromatherapy, green myrtle oil is valued because of its respiratory benefits. It is believed to relieve a number of respiratory problems. Green myrtle oil has been used to fight issues such as bronchitis, asthma, coughs, and colds.
In addition to being helpful for respiratory problems, the oil has also been researched for its ability to balance the ovaries and thyroid. In the Mediterranean, myrtle oil is a traditional remedy for regulating the menstrual cycle. The oil is believed to regulate hormones and relieve imbalances in the ovaries or prostate.
Myrtle oil is also helpful for the skin. The oil is a natural astringent and can be useful in cases of oily skin and acne because of its ability to balance the skin. In the 16th century, the oil was incorporated in a skin care lotion commonly referred to as "angel's water." The oil was used as an effective way to treat skin conditions such as acne. Although the oil is frequently cited as being suitable for the elderly and children, individuals should always consult a physician for professional advice before taking the oil.