What is Dittany of Crete ?
Dittany of Crete/Origanum dictamnus or Το Δίκταμο τις Κρήτης is a small ground covering herb found only in the rocky mountainous regions of the island of Crete in Greece.
It grows 20–30 cm high and It is a healing, therapeutic and aromatic plant that only grows wild on the mountainsides and gorges of the Greek island of Crete. The dittany of Crete is widely used for food flavouring and medicinal purposes, in addition to it featuring as an ornamental plant in gardens.
This small, lanate shrub is easily recognised by the distinctive soft, woolly covering of white-grey hair on its stems and round green leaves, giving it a velvety texture. Tiny rose-pink flowers surrounded by brighter purple-pink bracts add an exuberant splash of colour to the plant in summer and autumn. The dittany is classified as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Plant Species 1997.
Said to symbolize love and to be an aphrodisiac, only the most ardent young lovers scrambled on mountainsides and the deep gorges of Crete gathering bunches of the pink blooms to present as love tokens. Other legends recommend Dittany of Crete as an instant cure for wounded soldiers, and that eating the herb would make embedded arrows fall out and wounds instantaneously heal.
Even in recent times the collection of Dittany of Crete was a very dangerous occupation for the men who risked life and limb to climb precarious rock faces where the plant grows wild in the mountains of Crete. They were named Erondades (love seekers) and were considered very passionate men to go to such dangerous lengths to collect the herb.
Dittany of Crete is an old European love herb popular since Medieval times although it appears in many recipes for potions and spells in Harry Potter The Deathly Hallows.
But magic put on side Dittany of Crete has always been highly prized and is gathered while in bloom in the Summer months and is exported for use in pharmaceuticals, perfumery and to flavor drinks such as vermouth and absinthe. Combined with Rue, Parsley and Pepper, Dittany can also be used to make a delicious sauce for fish.
Health Benefits of Dittany of Crete:
- Dittany has antibacterial, antifungal and antimicrobial properties due to the phenol carvacrol. It can be used as an antirheumatic, oxytocic, stomachic and vulnerary.
- Dittany is used for digestive tract disorders including cramps, stomach problems and worms in the intestines. It is also used for urinary tract and genital tract disorders.
- The beverage of this herb relieves headaches and neuralgia.
- According to a research done by O. Gortzi and her colleagues, dittany acts against pathogenic bacteria of the oral cavity, but also against potential pathogenic fungi such as Candida albicans.
- It also acts as an antidiabetic, emmenagogue and as aphrodisiac.
- Dittany is also used externally as a poultice on wounds and bruises. Moreover, it is often used in cosmetics industry, to nourish and hydrate dehydrated skin. Great interest has been shown in the natural beauty remedies made, which include 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.
- Other uses include treatment of epilepsy, spasms, fluid retention and liver diseases.
Dittany of Crete is one of the main ingredients in Doc Pharma DOC NATURAL ADULTS Syrup.DOC Natural™ adult syrup is a herb syrup/diet supplement with Honey Thymus, Althaea, Fennel and Dittany. It relieves, due to its constituents, the symptoms of common cold (cough, catarrh), soothes sore throat and enhances body’s defense.