Tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus)
Natural Standard Bottom Line Monograph, Copyright © 2013 (www.naturalstandard.com). Commercial distribution prohibited. This monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. You should consult with a qualified healthcare provider before making decisions about therapies and/or health conditions.
While some complementary and alternative techniques have been studied scientifically, high-quality data regarding safety, effectiveness, and mechanism of action are limited or controversial for most therapies. Whenever possible, it is recommended that practitioners be licensed by a recognized professional organization that adheres to clearly published standards. In addition, before starting a new technique or engaging a practitioner, it is recommended that patients speak with their primary healthcare provider(s). Potential benefits, risks (including financial costs), and alternatives should be carefully considered. The below monograph is designed to provide historical background and an overview of clinically-oriented research, and neither advocates for or against the use of a particular therapy.
Acetylcoumarin, acetylenes, aglycone, alkamide, allo-ocimene, alpha-terpinolene, alpha-trans-ocimene, anethole, artemidin, artemidinol, artemidiol, Artemisia absinthium, Artemisia argvi, Artemisia biennis, Artemisia cana, Artemisia dracunculus, Artemisia frigida, Artemisia longifolia, Artemisia ludoviciana, Asteraceae (family), benzodiadepines, beta-ocimene, beta-pinene, bicyclogermacrene, bornyl acetate, butylisocoumarin, caffeoylquinic acid, capillarin, capillarin isovalerate, coumarins, davidigenin, demethoxycapillarisin, diacetoxycoumarin, dimethylcoumarin, dracumerin, dragon, dragon mugwort, dragoncillo (Spanish), dragon's-wort, (E)-beta-ocimene, epoxyartemidin, esdragon (French), estragão (Portuguese), estragole, estragon, flavanone, French tarragon, glycoside-7-rhamnonaringin, herbe au dragon (French), herniarine, hydroxyartemidin, hydroxycapillarin, hydroxycoumarin, limonene, methoxycoumarin, methoxydihydroartemidin, methoxydihydrochalcone, methoxypsoralen, methylchavicol, methylcoumarin, methyleugenol, monoterpenes, naringenin, neopellitorine, nepellitorine, octatriene, pellitorine, pentadiyne, phenols, pinene, piperitone, Russian tarragon, rutin, silky wormwood, tarrilin, trans-anethole, Turkish tarragon, vomifoliol A glucosides.
Note: This monograph does not cover Tagetes lucida Cav. (syn. T. florida Sweet, T. schiedeana Less.), which is also known as Mexican tarragon and Texas tarragon. Tagetes belongs to the same family as Artemisia but to a different botanical tribe.
Tarragon is a perennial herb of the Asteraceae family and is related to wormwood. Tarragon is widely used to flavor food. The plant's fragrant leaves give foods an anise-like flavor.
Tarragon has a long tradition of use as a tea in the West and in Asia for treating upset stomach. It has been studied in combination with ginger and cardamom as a treatment for vomiting and nausea. Tarragon has also been studied as an herb to help manage blood sugar.
Tarragon contains estragole, a compound which may cause liver cancer. However, the amount of estragole from short-term use of herbs and supplements in adults at recommended doses does not seem to have a high cancer risk.
These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.
Nausea and vomiting (post-operative)
Tarragon, in combination with ginger and cardamom, may reduce nausea and vomiting following surgery. The effects of tarragon alone cannot be determined from this study. Additional research is needed before conclusions can be drawn.
*Key to grades:A: Strong scientific evidence for this use; B: Good scientific evidence for this use; C: Unclear scientific evidence for this use; D: Fair scientific evidence against this use (it may not work); F: Strong scientific evidence against this use (it likely does not work).
The below uses are based on tradition or scientific theories. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious and should be evaluated by a qualified health care professional.
Allergies, antacid, anti-inflammatory, appetite stimulant, blood thinner, cancer, diabetes, digestive aid, epilepsy, flavoring agent, food allergies, H. pylori infection in stomach ulcers, metabolic disorders, muscle mass/body mass, painful menstruation, rabies, sedation, snake venom antidote, toothache, uterine cancer, uterine complaints.
The below doses are based on scientific research, publications, traditional use, or expert opinion. Many herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested, and safety and effectiveness may not be proven. Brands may be made differently, with variable ingredients, even within the same brand. The below doses may not apply to all products. You should read product labels, and discuss doses with a qualified healthcare provider before starting therapy.
Adults (18 years and older)
Tarragon has been used as a tea, made from one teaspoon of powdered or dried tarragon boiled in a cup of water.
Children (under 18 years old)
Insufficient available evidence.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.
Avoid with known allergy or sensitivity to tarragon, its constituents, or to members of the Asteraceae family.
Side Effects and Warnings
Tarragon may increase the risk of bleeding. Caution is advised in patients with bleeding disorders or taking drugs that may increase the risk of bleeding. Dosing adjustments may be necessary.
Tarragon may lower blood sugar levels. Caution is advised in patients with diabetes or hypoglycemia and in those taking drugs, herbs, or supplements that affect blood sugar. Blood glucose levels may need to be monitored by a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist. Medication adjustments may be necessary.
Drowsiness or sedation may occur. Use caution if driving or operating heavy machinery.
Tarragon contains estragole. Although not well-studied in humans, estragole may cause liver cancer. Use caution in those who may be at greater risk of liver cancer.
Use caution at high doses, based on secondary sources.
Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
Tarragon is not recommended in pregnant or breastfeeding women, due to a lack of available scientific evidence.
Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments, or traditional use. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy.
Interactions with Drugs
Tarragon may increase the risk of bleeding when taken with drugs that increase the risk of bleeding. Some examples include aspirin, anticoagulants (blood thinners) such as warfarin (Coumadin®) or heparin, antiplatelet drugs such as clopidogrel (Plavix®), and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen (Motrin®, Advil®) or naproxen (Naprosyn®, Aleve®).
Tarragon may lower blood sugar levels. Caution is advised when using medications that may also lower blood sugar. Patients taking insulin or drugs for diabetes by mouth should be monitored closely by a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist. Medication adjustments may be necessary.
Tarragon may increase the amount of drowsiness caused by some drugs. Examples include benzodiazepines such as lorazepam (Ativan®) or diazepam (Valium®), barbiturates such as phenobarbital, narcotics such as codeine, some antidepressants, and alcohol. Caution is advised while driving or operating machinery.
Tarragon may interfere with the way the body processes certain drugs using the liver's cytochrome P450 enzyme system. As a result, the levels of these drugs may change in the blood and may cause increased or decreased effects or potentially serious adverse reactions. Patients taking any medications should check the package insert and speak with a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist, about possible interactions.
Tarragon may also interact with antiallergy agents, antibiotics, anticancer agents, antifungal agents, anti-inflammatory agents, antiseizure agents, drugs that may affect the immune system, drugs that may affect the nervous system, drugs that may damage the liver, and drugs that prevent nausea and vomiting.
Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements
Tarragon may increase the risk of bleeding when taken with herbs and supplements that are believed to increase the risk of bleeding. Multiple cases of bleeding have been reported with the use of Ginkgo biloba, and fewer cases with garlic and saw palmetto. Numerous other agents may theoretically increase the risk of bleeding, although this has not been proven in most cases.
Tarragon may lower blood sugar levels. Caution is advised when using herbs or supplements that may also lower blood sugar. Blood glucose levels may require monitoring, and doses may need adjustment.
Tarragon may increase the amount of drowsiness caused by some herbs or supplements.
Tarragon may interfere with the way the body processes certain herbs or supplements using the liver's cytochrome P450 enzyme system. As a result, the levels of other herbs or supplements may change in the blood. It may also alter the effects that other herbs or supplements potentially may have on the P450 system.
Tarragon may also interact with antiallergy agents, antibacterials, anticancer herbs and supplements, antifungals, anti-inflammatory herbs and supplements, antioxidants, antiseizure herbs and supplements, herbs and supplements that may affect the immune system, herbs and supplements that may affect the nervous system, herbs and supplements that may damage the liver, and herbs and supplements that prevent nausea and vomiting.
This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com).
Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.
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Copyright © 2013 Natural Standard (www.naturalstandard.com)
The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.
March 22, 2017