Aromatic Plants: An Invaluable Extra in Our Home
Aromatic plants have acquired a value in the course of the human race that we could truly say is invaluable. From antiquity, man discovered their medicinal properties as well as their use in cooking. Many of the aromatic plants are endemic and give a quality to the flora of Greece. Lavender (Lavandula), rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis), oregano (Origanum vulgare), marjoram (Origanum majorana), dictamus (Origanum dictamus), thyme (Thymus vulgaris), sage (Salvia officinalis) and many more have been established as basic ingredients of medicinal products, gastronomic delights, aromatics, intensive crops in the context of alternative land cultivation, and in garden construction.
Diktamus or erontas (Origanum dictamnus)
Diktamus or erontas (Origanum dictamnus) is the most famous of the Cretan endemic plants. It is a low semi-woody shrub, whose shoots reach 40 cm. The plant is hairy and has a velvety texture. The leaves are greenish white, the flowers are pink, and the aroma is gorgeous. Plant of the Labiant family. It is rare because the place that produces it is small and the goats graze it because they like it.
Pliny refers to this plant: "The plant called diktamon in greek, grows in no other place on the island of Crete".
Theophrastus in his work "Plant history" writes: "The diktamus is a plant that grows only in Crete".
Diktamus has been known since antiquity and ancient physicians attributed many healing properties to it. In ancient times the statue of the goddess Artemis, who among other things was the protector of childbirth, wore a wreath of diktamus on her head. The plant of the diktamus from antiquity found many uses in several health problems. Nowadays, in addition to the already known healing properties, some more were found either by studies or by their references to folk medicine. Diktamus has healing and astringent properties and for this reason it is considered a medicine for the stomach, but also for abscesses and pimples (as a poultice). It also soothes stomach and intestinal pains. For the above reasons it is recommended in disorders, colic and inflammations of the gastrointestinal tract. It is tasty and very digestive. For headaches and toothaches, it is good when you chew diktamus leaves for a long time. Fights bad breath and helps treat gingivitis. Its decoction is diuretic. As an emmenagogue it is famous for helping in cases of amenorrhea, which comes from exhaustion of the body (lack of period). It is recommended for nervous disorders, nervous headaches, and other diseases of the nervous system, due to its soothing properties. For its antiseptic properties it is used in intermittent fevers, flu and colds. As an ointment, its root is used against sciatica, while its juice is consumed in wine to cure snake bites. Some recommend its use in scurvy.
Marjoram (Origanum majorana)
Marjoram is an herbaceous plant, biennial or perennial (depending on the species) and native. In Greece it has been cultivated since antiquity. Hippocrates used it as an antiseptic. The Egyptians and Arabs also knew it and used it as a medicinal plant. Its red flowers give off an exceptionally beautiful aroma and have been widely used in perfumery.
Marjoram decoction (from the leaves and flowers of the plant) has antiperspirant, antispasmodic and sedative properties. In case of spasmodic cough or whooping cough, take deep breaths over the boiling pot of the decoction. The compresses with hot decoction of marjoram, soothes rheumatic pains, swellings and colic. Immediately relieves toothache, placing a cotton ball with a few drops of marjoram essential oil on a damaged tooth.
In the kitchen:
Marjoram is used in salads, sauces, meat, fish, pasta, green pies, cheese, bread, as well as for flavoring drinks. It is also used in confectionery.
The name lavender comes from the Latin verb lavare which means wash, because the Romans used lavender flowers to scent the water of their baths. The essential oil contained in its leaves is used in perfumery, soap making and generally in the production of cosmetics. Due to its antiseptic properties, it accelerates wound healing, while in large doses it acts as a hypnotic and drug, so it is used to treat various neurological diseases.
The flowering shoots are collected and used as an aromatic in closets, drawers and generally in places where we want to have nice scents. Also, because it has antioxidant properties it is used as an anticorrosive, even as an insect repellent. It is considered one of the top essential oils and undoubtedly one of the safest. In all kinds of lavender, only its flower is used. The most suitable harvest season is the stage of the final development of the flowering stem and the beginning of flowering.