250579 – Natural Europe CIP-ICT PSP-2009-3. Aromatic and pharmaceutical wild herbs of Crete. Natural History Museum of Crete. Helen Chatzinikolaki. Aromatic wild herbs.
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250579 – NaturalEurope CIP-ICT PSP-2009-3 Aromatic and pharmaceutical wild herbs of Crete Natural History Museum of Crete Helen Chatzinikolaki
A group of plants that contains essential oils into their tissue. These oils are responsible for the nice smell of these herbs. • Essential oils: complex mixtures of organic compounds, whose composition varies by species or variety of plants. The aroma of each essential oil is the resultant of all its components. • The composition of essential oils has not been fully clarified. We do not know yet the procedure and the part of the plant where the composition of essential oils, is taken place.
Essential oils are found in specific secretion glands Role of essential oils:1. Protection against herbivorous insects2. Protection from extreme temperatures3. wound Healing4. Resistance to drought5. Attract insect pollinators
Containing one or more active ingredients that can prevent, alleviate or cure certain diseases. • Most aromatic herbs are pharmaceutical, but many pharmaceutical plants are not aromatic. • Importance for Crete:- Economic (exports significant quantities, such as oregano, dittany or sage)- Culture (life of Cretans is connected to herbs and their use since ancient times)
Thyme (Coridothymuscapitatus) • Perennial shrub that blooms from May to September. • Thyme’s essential oil has antiparasitic and antitussive properties.
Particularly beneficial is the fruit of thyme that remains after the fall of its flowers. Thyme is a protected plant species. Collection of thyme is prohibited during its flowering period. Thyme is a beekeeper plant and gives honey of high quality.
Lavender(Lavandulastoechas) • Perennial shrub that spreads almost all over mediterranean area. • Its essential oil is used as a natural insecticide preventing mainly moths. This is possibly due to the high percentage of camphor.
The genusOriganum Represented in Greece by 11 species, 5 of which occur in Crete: Origanumvulgare ssp. hirtumO. onitesO. calcaratumO. microphyllumO. dictamnus, the famous Cretan Dittany It is used mainly as a flavoring substance in cooking
Endemic to Crete Cretan Dittany(Origanumdictamnus) • Particularly important for Crete. It is a protected plant due to its great economic interest. • It grows in rough and steep places of the island. • It was known from antiquity. Mentioned by Hippocrates and Dioscorides as a healing wound or as a poultice on swellings. • Today is cultivated in village Embaros in Crete which has its global monopoly.
Sage(Salvia fruticosa) • Perennial shrub occurring throughout the Mediterranean.In Crete it has a high economic importance. • It is used as a seasoning sausages and as a food preservative. It is also consumed as a beverage. • Its essential oil is used against toothache. The decoction of its leaves is tonic and has an haemostatic use. It is also used for treatment of skin diseases.
Endemic to Crete Mountain Tea (Sideritissyriacassp.syriaca) • Perennial plant.Its concoction is good for stomach pain and heating. • Due to the uncontrolled collection it has already disappeared from some areas.
Lemon Balm(Melissa officinalis ) • It is a herbaceous plant of Mediterranean origin.The name officinalis indicates its pharmaceutical properties. • Its essential oil has soothing and antiseptic properties (for healing wounds and injuries). • Its leaves have a strong lemon scent. It is not so well known in Crete.
Winter Savory (Saturejathymbra) • Perennial shrub found throughout the Mediterranean. • Its smell resembles the one of oregano and thyme. This is due to an alcohol, carvacrol. • In Crete, it is used as a tea for stomach aches, intestinal diseases of children, dizziness e.t.c.
Bay laurel (Laurusnobilis) • Plant spread all over Mediterranean. Tree dedicated to the gods and especially to Apollo with therapeutic properties known since antiquity. • Its essential oil contains, as a main component , the alcohol cineol which is antiseptic and disinfectant. Its fruits contain also a fatty oil, laurel. • Laurel’s leaves are used as flavoring in cooking and as a protection against insects in packing of dried fruits (figs, raisins). Products made of laurel are widely used in perfumery and soap.
Soft-Hairy Rockrose (Cistuscreticus) • Perennial shrub known since ancient times. Native in many parts of Greece.Plant aromatic, pharmaceutical and beekeepers. • The leaves are used as a tea substitute. The oleo-resin (ladano) obtained from the leaves and stems is used as a commercial food flavoring baked goods, ice cream, chewing gum e.t.c. • Dioscorides describes a method of collecting this oleo-resin product. This method is applicable even today in the village of Sisses in Crete. • Small quantities of ladano are exported to Arabia where it is used as incense. Previously it was used also against the plague.
Mint (Menta sp.) • Mint is both a native and a cultivated plant and is used for flavoring and for its pharmaceutical properties. • The purpose of its cultivation is the extraction of its essential oil (peppermint oil) from the flowering tops and leaves of the plant. • Peppermint oil is used in confectionery to beverages, perfumery and pharmacy. • Spearmint is also a mint species(Menthaviridis).
Spirmint is found native in damp, mountainous places, but is often cultivated in gardens or pots used in cooking as a seasoning. • All parts of it but especially the leaves, are used to treat skin diseases. They are also used as antispasmodic, digestive and sedative.
Chamomile(Matricariachamomilla) • Annual plant, aromatic, medicinal and beekeepers. It was known from ancient times. The Egyptians, Greeks and Romans used it as medicine. • It has anti-inflammatory properties, spasmolytic and soothing. We use the decoction in bowel disease, bile, stomach and as a digestive. Externally for skin inflammations. • The essential oil is used in the manufacture of pharmaceutical shaving and antirheumatic ointments.
Rosemary (Rosmarinusofficinalis) • Perennial common plant of Greek flora, also known as “arismari”. As a medicinal herb has tonic and antistiptikes properties. It is ideal for combating anemia, insomnia and dizziness. It is also extremely useful for increasing attention, because it improves blood flow to the brain. • As a cosmetic it can be used in the form of steam for deep cleansing and strengthening of the skin. For the body it used as a refreshing and deodorant. • The essential oil which is extracted from the leaves and flowers is useful in pharmaceutical perfume and soap.
St John Wort(Ηypericumsp.) • In Crete, 11 species of this genusare found, some of which are endemic. • It contains the active substances Hypericine & Hyperforine that increase serotonin and adrenaline levels in the brain. • Ancient Greeks used it as a diuretic, healing & haemostatic. In the U.S. and many other countries it is used in pills for mild and moderate depression. • Used in tincture form (extracted by fresh plant into glass jars filled with olive oil, and kept in the sun for 40 days) as healing wounds, skin irritation and burns
Mandrake(Mandragoraofficinalis) • The root is fleshy, long and resembles a human body with 2 feet. • The mandrake is a toxic plant containing atropine, scopolamine and hyoscyamine which are valuable drugs used as anticonvulsants and sedatives. In ancient times the root was used as an hypnotic. In some areas it is cultivated for its medicinal properties. • The fruit is fleshy apple-shaped with a sweetish taste and is considered dangerous if eaten.
Roman Nettle (Urticapilulifera) • This plant is mainly known for its strong irritancy to the skin. Extremely useful is for disorders of bile, stomach ulcers, bronchial conditions, in diabetes and arthritis. • Nettle’s juice is useful for anemia.