Dittany of Crete is a native plant of island of Crete of Greece and belongs to Lamiaceae family and origanum genus. Ancient Greeks considered it to be panacea and used for healing effects in folk medicine. It grows on wild on the Crete Island and also cultivated as an herbal tea plant, condiment and spice in distilleries. Dittany of Crete is a short green white lanate shrub with stems reaching 35 cm. Stems are ascending and rooting at the base, lanate and yellow or purplish brown. Branches of first order in upper half of the stems are upto 5 pair per stem, 1.5 cm long and not ramified. Leaves are 15 pairs per stem and lower ones are petiolate, roundish to oval or ovate and tops are obtuse or acute, about 15 mm long and wide. Spikes are subglobose to cylindrical measuring 16 cm long and 7 cm wide. Flowers are subsessile and two per verticillaster. Corolla is two lipped, pink and 11 mm long; upper lips are divided into two and about 0.3 mm long lobes, lower lips are subequal and 1.5 mm long lobes. Staminal filaments are 12 to 14 mm long. Roots are 1 cm in diameter.
As various names are assigned to the plant but among them dictamnos is derived from the Greek words "Dicti" and "thamnos". The term Dicti refers to the name of the Cretan mountain where Zeus was raised up by the goat Amalthia and the term thamnos refers shrub in Greek. The plant grows in fields, swamps, marshes, and high mountain cliffs. It has long roots that make it hard to move. It was moved from the southern part of Asia to France and made into drapes. Apart from being an ornamental plant in the garden, it is widely used for medicinal purposes and food flavoring. This lanate and small shrub can be easily identified by its crocheted and typical soft covering of white-gray hair on the stems as well as round green leaves. This gives dittany a smooth texture. The aerial parts are used to treat gastric and stomach disorders and also to maintain good health.
We know from historical evidence that the Minoans of Crete were using dittany as early as 2700 BC and was used throughout history by the ancient Greeks and remains popular today. It has a reputation as being an aphrodisiac and throughout the centuries young men have risked life and limb to collect this herb. Many have reportedly died in their attempts to collect the plant as it grows in inaccessible places. In Greek mythology it is said to have been given to the island of Crete by the father of the gods, Zeus, particularly to grow on his birthplace, Mount Dikti where even today it grows abundantly. Thamnus is the Greek word for bush so we have the name diktamnus. It was used by the goddess of love and beauty Aphrodite (Venus in Roman mythology) both for beauty and as an aphrodisiac. However dittany has been known as a miracle herb since the times of Hippocrates, and Theophrastus, in ancient times and was also known to the earlier Minoans on Crete. Hippocrates used it for stomach problems, prescribing a poultice of it to be put over the painful area.
Virgil wrote this of its healing powers in his Aeneid (book 12: lines 411-431):
"A branch of healing dittany she brought,
Which in the Cretan fields with care she sought:
Rough is the stem, which woolly leafs surround;
The leafs with flow'rs, the flow'rs with purple crown'd,
Well known to wounded goats; a sure relief,
To draw the pointed steel, and ease the grief.
This Venus brings, in clouds involv'd, and brews,
Th' extracted liquor with ambrosian dews,
And od'rous panacee. Unseen she stands,
Temp'ring the mixture with her heav'nly hands,
And pours it in a bowl, already crown'd,
With juice of med'c'nal herbs prepar'd to bathe the wound.
The leech, unknowing of superior art
Which aids the cure, with this foments the part;
And in a moment ceas'd the raging smart.
Staunch'd is the blood, and in the bottom stands:
The steel, but scarcely touch'd with tender hands,
Moves up, and follows of its own accord,
And health and vigor are at once restor'd".
The Roman author Cicero (106 BC - 43 BC) in his work De Natura (2.126) states:
"In Crete, the wild goats, when they are wounded with poisoned arrows, seek
for an herb called dittany, which, when they have tasted, the arrows (they say)
drop from their bodies".
The presence of phenol carvacrol offers antibacterial, antimicrobial and antifungal properties. It is used as oxytocic, antirheumatic, vulnerary and stomachic. It is used as a cure for cough, sore throat, aching stomach, menstrual pains, diuretic, hypertensive; cure wounds and helps child birth. Roots are used for treating sciatica and juice is added to wine and consumed to cure snake bites. Moreover, it is used as a cure for stomach problems, rheumatism and gastric. The warm drink acts as anticonvulsive, strengthen heart muscles and arteries and acts as a menstrual tonic. Take it with the mix of honey and cinnamon to soothe cough.
Dittany of Crete is one of the most important and highly regarded herbs. Modern herbalists have identified dittany of crete as having antiseptic and expectorant properties while having anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. One of the main reasons for its popularity is that it contains a significant amount of soluble fibre. It is very important for people who need to maintain their regular bowel movements.
The health benefits of Dittany of Crete include preventing constipation and also aiding in weight loss. It is because of its high fibre content that regulates the metabolism, thereby helping people to reduce their fat intake.
Dittany of crete is an effective natural remedy for colds and coughs. You can consume it as tea with the recommended amount of flowers per day. If a person is sick with a cold and cannot eat or drink on his best terms, the mere smell of the Dittany of Crete, slightly cooling mouth, maybe all that is necessary to provide the body with the resources needed to defeat the infection.
It can also be taken as a medicine when combined with other ingredients. However, you should follow any dosage recommendations given and avoid contact with the eyes or mucous membranes.
When you’re experiencing a cough because of a common cold, drinking a cup of tea made using the Cretan Dittany may help in relieving it. To give your tea a sweet flavor, consider adding lemon or honey. But if your cough persists or lasts longer than one week, it’s best to consult a medical professional to prevent a more serious problem.
The Committee on Herbal Medicinal Products (HMPC) concluded that dittany tea can relieve cough associated with the common cold. Try adding honey or lemon to sweeten your tea, as desired. Limit use to short periods and consult your doctor if your cough lasts longer than a week.
Regulates Blood Flow:
Since it is an emmenagogue, Cretan Dittany can help in regulating the flow of blood in one’s pelvic area. Traditionally, this plant can be used as a remedy especially when menstrual flow is irregular or absent.
Another great thing about the Dittany of Crete is that it is rich in antioxidants. With that in mind, this plant, in the form of an essential oil, may help in reducing the damage caused by free radicals in the body. This medicinal plant may help keep the free radicals from causing damage to the organs and cells in the body.
Dittany of Crete is also utilized in the cosmetic industry. In fact, it’s used to hydrate and nourish dehydrated skin. Many are interested to see the natural beauty that the Dittany of Crete can create. Aside from skin problems, it can also be used to lessen cellulite. So, if you want to keep your skin healthy, you may want to use this medicinal plant.
Dittany of Crete can be used to treat skin disorders such as psoriasis, dermatitis, eczema, treatment of warts, and other skin afflictions. The ancient Celts often believed that herbs had medicinal properties and considered the Dittany of Crete a very valuable herb. Dittany of Crete can be used by anyone who wants to treat their skin condition externally. There are several different methods of using this herb depending on the type of problem.
For example, if your skin is bleeding and looks like it is about to come apart, it is recommended that you apply Dittany of Crete right before bedtime or on your last meal of the day. You can also mix the powder into a bowl of hot water before taking a bath. The herb works as quickly as possible. Dressing with Dittany of Crete can also help reduce mild bruising.
It is effective when it comes to treating skin infections and skin disorders like psoriasis and eczema. Dittany of Crete has no adverse side effects and can provide a safe and effective treatment for your skin condition.
Skin Irritations, Cuts and Wounds:
Rather than using over-the-counter medications, you can soak dressing with Dittany of Crete tea and apply it directly to the skin to help with minor skin irritations, cuts, and wounds.
Traditionally, juice that comes from the Cretan Dittany was added to wine. This may be used in curing a snake bite. While there isn’t any research showing the effectiveness of this plant on snake bites, the dittany of Crete may help in reducing its skin-related problems and inflammation.
There isn’t any specific research that shows its effectiveness against snake bites, but we do know that it helps reduce inflammation and skin-related issues. Remember to immediately consult a doctor in case of an emergency.
Dittany of crete is also very useful as a digestive aid. If you’re experiencing a mild digestive problem or a feeling of bloatedness most of the time, you can try drinking a cup of Dittany of Crete tea after eating. In fact, it is called the stomach herb for this reason.
Nevertheless, if your digestive problem lasts longer than 14 days, make sure to consult with your doctor right away.
A tea of Dittany of Crete is very effective for those suffering from diarrhea caused by the over-production of digestive juices.
Arthritis is a chronic disease that affects all tissues. However, it affects the joints and the muscles. While there are many medications and types of treatment available to relieve the pain caused by arthritis, it is only recently that new ways of treating this painful disease were discovered. Dittany of Crete has also been used to help treat rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis by relieving joint inflammation, promoting flexibility, and increasing joint fluidity.
Nowadays, the use of Dittany of Crete has combined with scientific discoveries to a new and improved treatment for arthritis. If you are looking for a way to help treat arthritis, you will be happy to know that this type of treatment is both an effective and safe way to deal with the pains caused by arthritis.
Dittany of Crete essential oil was effective in fighting off liver cancer cells, called HepG2.
Chewing on Dittany of Crete leaves can help kill off odor-causing bacteria in your mouth. It has a great aroma that will freshen up your breath.
Detox the Body:
What makes this product different is that it provides complete detoxification of your body from head to toe, removing toxins, fat deposits, and all the other nasty things we put into our digestive system daily. Dittany of Crete not only gives you complete detoxification of your body but also helps you look younger and healthier.
This powerful herb was also often used as a diuretic to could help reduce urine output.
In one laboratory study, Dittany of Crete in the form of oil may help in stopping dangerous microbes from developing. As a matter of fact, this study includes bacteria like Salmonella and E. coli, which are responsible for many food poisoning illnesses every year.
Remember, these two bacteria are responsible for food poisoning.
According to a research done by O. Gortzi at al, Dittany of Crete acts against pathogenic bacteria of the oral cavity, but also against potential pathogenic fungi such as Candida albicans.
Traditional Uses of Dittany of Crete:
- On the Island of Crete it is considered as a "miracle cure all" local remedy for almost everything: sore throat, cough, menstrual pains, aching stomach, hypertensive, diuretic, helps at child birth, cures wounds, etc.
- The flowering plant is used as oxytocic, anti-rheumatic, vulnerary and stomachic.
- It is used to heal gastric ulcers, stomach disorders, spleen problems, facilitate childbirth, rheumatism and gynaecological disorders.
- It has antibacterial, antifungal and antimicrobial properties due to the phenol carvacrol. It has been used as an antirheumatic, oxytocic, stomachic and vulnerary.
- Bitter root was a cure for bleeding and gastric ulcers.
- Antimicrobial activity against Listeria monocytogenes.
- It provides relief from cold and mild disorders of stomach.
- Cures liver diseases.
- Dittany of Crete has been scientifically tested as an effective treatment for skin conditions, for anti-aging, and helping reduce cellulite.
- Apply the poultice externally on bruises and wounds.
- Dittany of Crete as a warm drink was used as anticonvulsive, to strengthen the heart muscles and arteries and as a menstrual tonic and when mixed with cinnamon and honey, it sooths cough.
- The root was used as a salve to treat sciatica and the juice was consumed in wine to cure snake bites.
- It is effective for treating skin conditions and lower cellulite.
- It is used for cramps, stomach problems and worms in intestines.
- Chew it to provide relief from ailments in mouth and throat.
- Excellent tonic and aphrodisiac.
- Includes treatment of epilepsy and spasms.
Culinary Uses of Dittany of Crete:
- Use the leaves as a flavoring for salads and vermouth.
- Brew the dried flowering tops into herb tea.
- A pleasant aromatic flavour, especially when mixed with Parsley, Thyme, Garlic, Salt and Pepper.
- Although it has a more subtle flavor than Oregano or Thyme, Dittany of Crete is perfect for flavoring alcoholic beverages like wine, liquors, soups, and sauces.
Other Uses of Dittany of Crete:
- Often used in cosmetics industry, to nourish and hydrate dry, dehydrated skin.
- Great interest has been shown in the natural beauty remedies made using Dittany of Crete.
- The rejuvenating anti-aging facial treatments and anti-cellulite body creams are proving to be the newest, most groundbreaking and most talked about innovative beauty products today.