Myrtle is a large bush, growing to a height of as much as 15 feet (4.5 meters), which is native to North Africa but now growing throughout the Mediterranean area. It is an evergreen plant with shiny leaves and bright white blossom. Both leaves and flowers are fragrant. In ancient times, myrtle was sacred to the goddess Aphrodite, and it is still worn as a symbol of purity by some brides to this day. Like tea tree and eucalyptus, myrtle is a member of the plant family Myrtaceae. Myrtle oil is produced in several countries, including France, Morocco, Italy and Tunisia.
In traditional herbal medicine, myrtle has been used for respiratory and digestive disorders and also in skin care.
The essential oil of myrtle is obtained by steam distillation from the twigs and leaves of the plant. It is pale yellow to orange in color and has a clean fresh smell. The oil is used in the perfume industry, particularly in the production of eau de Cologne. It is also used as a flavoring ingredient in some commercially produced savory foods.
Therapeutically, myrtle oil is used in aromatherapy for the treatment of respiratory complaints and also in skin care. Myrtle can be used to combat problem catarrh and coughing associated with this. It is also a useful treatment for sinusitis. It is bactericidal and an effective expectorant. Use in steam inhalation for best effect. The oil will also boost the immune system against colds and influenza.
In skin care, myrtle is useful for its astringent and bactericidal properties and can be used in skin preparations to treat oily skin and acne.
Myrtle has a clarifying and uplifting effect on the spirits. It can help those who are feeling low and distracted by worry.
Suitable methods of use
- Skin care
None. Myrtle is nontoxic, non-sensitizing and nonirritant.