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What is Myrtle Oil?

By Haven Esme
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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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.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By ysmina — On Aug 05, 2011

@turquoise-- Myrtle oil is safe for cooking. I know this because my dad puts a drop or two in his orange sorbet.

Are myrtle oil and lemon myrtle oil the same thing?

I think that they might be the same because we have a bottle of what is labeled as just "myrtle oil" at home and it smell citrus-like, kind of lemony. We use it at home with our oil candles for an aromatherapy affect and my dad uses it in desserts.

I want to know if the two are the same because I read that diluted lemon myrtle oil is especially good for acne breakouts and I want to try it.

By turquoise — On Aug 04, 2011

I don't know if myrtle is technically categorized as a spice but I have heard of cooks use it in their cooking and sometimes replacing other spices like bay leaves with dry myrtle leaves.

And I have also tried a liquor that was made with myrtle fruit, it had very different, flavorful and somewhat strong taste.

I think the good part with cooking with myrtle is that it will help digestion thanks to its wonderful benefits, and even potentially protect you from some bacteria as the other commentator mentioned.

But I think for cooks, it has a culinary importance, it's something to experiment with and to add different flavors into dishes. I don't know if myrtle oil could be used in cooking in any way, but I'd imagine that it would be too potent to actually cook with. It would probably release unwanted toxins when it's heated, although I really don't know about this at all. I think for now, I'm just going to experiment with myrtle leaves in my cooking and not the oil.

By ddljohn — On Aug 04, 2011

Did you know that myrtle oil may be able to kill of salmonella? I really got interested in this after a rash of salmonella infections in my country. There was a whole crisis centered around around spinach crisis where the spinach of a popular food chain were found to carry salmonella bacteria and people were getting sick.

I was reading up on the subject and read an article on salmonella and the article mentioned a study that was done with salmonella and myrtle oil. They found that the application of myrtle oil on vegetables with salmonella killed most of the bacteria.

Dioscorides was doing the right thing by giving this oil to patients with intestinal infections and diarrhea because those are the types of symptoms caused by bacteria like salmonella! It's amazing how today's research proves physicians from centuries ago right!

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