Cretan Herbs


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Dittany (Origanum dictamnus) (Greek: diktamos, erontas) is an endemic herb of Crete, the most famous of all, which is mainly used as a tea and as a therapeutic sip. Its name is taken after the Dikti Range (Lassithi Mountains), though it is also met in all ranges of Crete.

The plant is grows exclusively on cliffs and gorges, making its collection very tough. However, today it is grown in domestic gardens and people do not need to climb rocks. The leaves are small, fluffy, gray-green and very fragrant, the flowers are purple, while the overall length of the plant does not exceed 40 cm.

In Minoan times, dittany was the most important healing herb. Even Hippocrates used it for diseases of the stomach and digestive tract, rheumatism, arthritis. It has healing, antiseptic, antioxidant, tonic and antispasmodic properties. It is also considered an aphrodisiac; therefore it is also called erontas (eros means love) by Cretans.

An interesting story about dittany is that the ancients considered that as a poultice for healing wounds, as well as inducing menstruation. This was thought because wild goats were said, when wounded by arrow, to go in search of dittany, which is supposed to have the property of ejecting arrows in the body.

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