Anethum graveolensFamily Apiaceae
Synonyms and Common names: Dilly, Dillweed, Common dill, Garden dill.
Description and Habitat: Dill is one of the easiest herbs to grow, and will readily sprout wherever you scatter the seed. Although it is a herb of the Mediterranean and Southern Russia it has been cultivated in Europe since before the early middle ages. The herb will grow in most soils and conditions, sow thinly in April, covering with only a fine layer of soil, the seedlings will emerge in two weeks or so. The only care required is to keep the plants weed free, the long tapered roots of dill will ensure that it is unlikely to need watering in all but he most extreme dry conditions.
The plant grows up to around 2 ½ feet high and is very like fennel, though smaller, having the same feathery leaves, with linear and pointed leaflets. Unlike fennel, however, it has seldom more than one stalk and its long, spindle-shaped root is only annual. It is of very upright growth, its stems smooth, shiny and hollow, and in midsummer bearing flat umbels with numerous yellow flowers, whose small petals are rolled inwards. The flat fruits, the so-called seeds, are produced in great quantities. They are very pungent and bitter in taste and very light, an ounce containing over 25,000 seeds. Their germinating capacity lasts for three years. The whole plant is aromatic
Parts used: The seeds are used, although the feathery leaves can also be used if required.
Collection and preparation: Dill will produce wispy leaves growing on a single stem, which can be harvested about 8 weeks after sowing, if you are harvesting the leaves then the best time to do this is early morning before the suns heat is hottest. At this stage the plant will begin to produce flower heads, causing the leaf production to cease. When the flower heads produce seed then the seed can be harvested when fully ripe, that is when the seed has turned brown in colour, and dried in a cool, dark place, (do not dry in heat) where they need to be spread out to dry before being placed in airtight containers.
Constituents: 4% volatile oil, which includes carvone and limonene.
Actions: carminative, aromatic, stimulant, anti-spasmodic, galactogogue, anti emetic,
Indications: flatulence, colic, stimulates the flow of milk, bad breath, constipation, indigestion, insect repellent and stress, colds, influenza and bronchitis
Therapeutics and Pharmacology: Dill is an excellent remedy for flatulence and the colic that is sometimes associated with it. This is the herb of choice in the colic of children. It will stimulate the flow of milk in nursing mothers, and chewing the seeds will clear up bad breath (halitosis).
Dill leaves are stimulant, they are useful in increasing secretion and discharge of urine and in counteraction spasmodic disorders, and they are a soothing medicine and help improve the functioning of the stomach. Dill oil is also an effective medicine for hyper acidity, flatulent colic, hiccup and diarrhoea due to indigestion.
Dill seeds are effective in respiratory disorders like colds, influenza and bronchitis, about 60 grams of infusion of the seeds mixed with honey taken three times daily will help alleviate these conditions.
Dill is useful in stimulating and regulating menstrual flow, it is effective in spasmodic menstrual pain and the absence of menstruation due to anaemia, about 60 grams of decoction of the fresh leaves, mixed with a teaspoon of parsley juice taken three times daily.
A tincture of dill sprayed onto garden plants will deter aphids.
Contraindications. There are no known indications for Dill.
Preparation and dosage: Eating cooked dill regularly aids digestion and prevents constipation. The herb is especially useful for children; one or two teaspoons of decoction of the fresh leaves given and mixed with each baby feed will prevent digestive disorders in babies and help them sleep well.
A drop of dill oil mixed with a teaspoon of honey should be licked immediately after meals will aid digestion and prevent constipation.
A paste of fresh dill leaves can be applied as a poultice to ripen blood boils. Its application with a little turmeric powder prevents any formation of pus in ulcers and heals them quickly. Leaves boiled in sesame oil makes an excellent liniment for reducing swelling and pain of the joints.
Infusion: Pour a cup of boiling water onto 1 to 2 teaspoonfuls of the gently crushed seeds and let infuse for 10 to 15 minutes, for the treatment of flatulence take a cup before meals
Tincture: take 1 to 2ml of the tincture three times a day.
Folklore and additional comments: Dill can be used in many dishes; it is perfect for any seafood dish. Used for its flavour which is similar to aniseed but milder; remember to add Dill at the end of cooking as it will loose its flavour. Use Dill with lamb and fish. Mix with melted butter and add to new potatoes. Use Dill sparingly as it can overwhelm other flavours. Use the flower heads in salads and the leaves make a wonderful sauce to accompany fish. Make herb butters, add to cottage cheese, soups and chutney. To sweeten the breath try chewing Dill, a Dill tea will help you to sleep.
People were clipping dill as far back as the ancient Greeks, who considered dill to be a sign of wealth. They even flaunted their wealth by burning dill scented oil. In the middle ages, dill was used as an ingredient in love potions, and also as a protection against evil and witchcraft. If someone thought a witch had cast a spell on them, they would make a special drink which contained dill leaves to protect them selves from the spell or wear a charm made from dill leaves. There is an old country rhyme “Vervain and Dill hinderith witches of their will”, it was also regarded as a plant with aphrodisiac properties, although this may have come about by cleansing the breath which made for a pleasant encounter with one of the opposite sex. They also burned dill leaves to clear thunderstorms.
It is from the Norse word "dilla" (to lull) that we get our modern word dill. It is for this calmative property that dill is best know medicinally, although another origin of the word is said to be from Indo European language with a meaning of ‘to blossom’, originating from Asia.. Even Charlemagne, in the 8th century knew of the curative properties of dill seed. He ordered crystal vial of it placed on his banquet tables to stop the hiccups of guests who ate and drank too much.
Dill was placed in the baby's cradle and over door jams for this protection it serves. It was used in money spells, added to baths to make bathers irresistible.
It is also used as a perfume in cosmetic soaps.