Myrtus communis (myrtle) is a medicinal plant that grows as a small tree to a height of about 2 meters. In the Bible, Nehemiah 8:15 mentions the use of myrtle in relation to the celebration of the feast in the Tabernacle. Myrtle is an evergreen, with waxy green leaves and it produces small blue berries. Myrtle is an important medicinal plant and its medicinal effects may relate to the high levels of antioxidants it contains. The berries, leaves and root can all be used for medicinal purposes and there is no known toxic effects from the plant as evidenced by its use in the food industry as a flavouring. Phenolic compounds, flavonoids (including anthocyanins) are the major phytochemicals found in myrtle berries. Terpenes are the main phytochemical in the essential oil from the leaves. Terpenes, phenolic compounds and flavonoids are antioxidants and likely account for much of the antioxidant capacity of the plant. The high antioxidant capacity of myrtle likely explains the excellent anti-inflammatory effects of the plant.
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