Dill

Anethum graveolens

Dill has been around since the time of the ancient Egyptians and throughout its history has been added to love potions and used as protection against witchcraft. It was popular in the ancient Greek and Roman cultures for its many culinary uses but also for its medicinal qualities and as a sign of wealth. The name dill comes from the Old Norse word "dilla" meaning "to soothe" and it's most well-known for calming effects on the stomach and digestive system, being gentle enough to give to babies. Dill plants produce yellow flowers with wispy, bright green leaves or feathers. The plants reach a height of two to three metres and when fresh, have a pleasant citrus smell. Dill is unique in that both its leaves and seeds are used as a seasoning, although they differ in flavour. The leaves have a rather mild, sweet taste, while the seeds taste like caraway: aromatic and citrusy with a hint of bitterness. Dill leaves go very well with fish dishes and dill seeds are best-known for their role in pickling.

Health Benefits

Dill is commonly used in pickling in many northern European countries in order to preserve vegetables for the long winter months. This allows populations to obtain some sort of nutrients while their gardens are covered in snow. Once thought to cure insomnia and the hiccups, dill has a calming effect on the body, is a powerful antioxidant, helps to regulate bacteria, is a high source of calcium, aids digestion, and helps relieve flatulence.

Promotes Digestion

Dill itself is an appetizer, and therefore extensively used in culinary applications. The essential oils present in it are stimulating and they activate the secretion of bile and digestive juices. These oils also stimulate peristaltic motion of the intestine, easing the passage of bowel movements and relieving constipation.

Prevents Insomnia

The essential oils found in herbs have peculiar and powerful properties. They are simultaneously stimulating, sedative, and hypnotic, that is, they stimulate as well as pacify. The essential oils in dill are no exception. The flavonoids and vitamin-B complex present in its essential oils, activate the secretion of certain enzymes and hormones which have calming and hypnotic effects, thereby helping people get a good night’s sleep.

Maintains Bone Health

The calcium content of dill means that it is an important element in protecting you from bone loss and the loss of bone mineral density. Osteoporosis affects millions of people each year, and calcium, along with other essential minerals, are a key component in the proper growth and development of bones, and the repair of injured bones as well.

Manages Diabetes

Dill has long been associated with diabetes and the management of insulin levels. Despite the fact that research is somewhat limited in this area, particularly on human subjects, studies have indicated that they can help reduce the fluctuations of serum lipids and insulin levels in corticosteroid-induced diabetes.

Prevents Excess Gas

As a well-known carminative, dill can help prevent the embarrassing condition of excessive gas. It is not only an uncomfortable condition to experience in public, but if gas continues to build up, it can actually be a dangerous situation where it presses on the delicate organs of the chest cavity. A carminative forces gas downward through the digestive tract and allow it to leave the body in a safe way.

Boosts Immunity

Dill has long been associated with antimicrobial activity. It has been shown to prevent a number of microbial infections throughout the body, those in various organs and those potential infections that land in wounds or small cuts on the skin.

Calms Hiccups

Hiccups occur for various reasons, but primarily, they occur due to trapped gas and repeated upward movement of gases through the food pipe. The second cause is due to certain allergies, hypersensitivity, hyperactivity, and nervous malfunctioning. Dill can actually help in all of these situations. As a carminative, it helps the expulsion of gases and also reduces gas formation; while as a sedative, dill helps to calm down hiccups due to allergies, hyperactivity, or nervous disorders.

Cures Diarrhea

Diarrhea is mainly caused by two things, indigestion, and microbial action. In terms of indigestion, dill can be quite helpful, as it has very good digestive properties. Secondly, dill can help due to the monoterpenes and flavonoids present in its essential oils, which are germicidal or bactericidal in nature. They can help cure diarrhea by inhibiting microbial infections that try to attack the body.

Treats Dysentery

Dysentery is primarily caused due to fungal infections. For this condition as well, dill can help, since its essential oils are disinfectant in nature and help to inhibit fungal infections effectively.

Relieves Arthritis Pain

Dill has long been known as an anti-inflammatory herb, meaning that it helps to reduce the inflammation and the associated pain of diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, gout, and arthritis. Dill has been used since ancient times for precisely this reason.

Stimulates Menstruation

The flavonoids in the essential oil of dill are stimulating and emmenagogic in nature, which means that they stimulate the secretion of certain hormones that help maintain proper menstrual cycles in women.

Treats Respiratory Disorders

Kaempferol and certain other components of flavonoids and monoterpenes in the essential oils of dill are anti-congestive and antihistaminic in nature and help clear congestion in the respiratory system due to histamine, allergies or coughs.

Oral Care

Dill seeds and leaves are good mouth and breath fresheners. Apart from that, the essential oils in it are germicidal, antioxidant, and disinfectant in nature. Due to these properties, they help end microbial infections in the mouth and their antioxidants minimize the damage caused to gums and teeth by free radicals.

Prevents Cancer

Let’s turn our attention to these monoterpenes we’ve been talking about. Monoterpenes are chemopreventive, and since they are stimulating by nature, they activate the secretion of an enzyme called glutathione-S-transferase (the radical glutathione is an effective antioxidant) which is very effective in neutralizing carcinogens. It is particularly effective at neutralizing Cyano- and Benzo- derivatives and free radicals, thereby protecting the body from cancer. The other antioxidants in the essential oils of dill also contribute to this cancer protection that people enjoy from adding dill to their diet.

Other Benefits

Dill is a relaxant, increases strength, and increases urination to help in the removal of toxins, excess salts, and water from the body. Furthermore, it is a carminative (helps remove excess gas), antispasmodic (prevents cramps), and an antiflatulent substance. It stimulates lactation (galactagogue) and endocrinal secretions, enhances the libido due to the presence of arginine and last but not the least, it ensures bone and dental health since it is a good source of calcium.

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