We are not surprised by the fact that many plants growing in Crete have healing properties. In the pages of our site we have written many times about the unusual properties of malotiry, dictamus, purge or oregano. This time, we read that the scientists took another Cretan endemic plant under the microscope. Stamnagathi is a chicory variety growing in the wilderness of the Omalos plateau and the White Mountains. Currently, it is also grown by some garden farms.
The University of Sheffield and the Cretan Institute of Nutrition, which studied the properties of this wild plant, have come to interesting conclusions. One of the most important is that it lowers the level of glucose in the blood. Thanks to its hypoglycemic properties, it can be used to treat and prevent the development of diabetes. Researchers also noted the beneficial effects of this plant on human cognitive mechanisms such as memory or attention. Interestingly, this plant was an important part of the diet during the German occupation.
Researchers decided to use the health-related features of stamnagathi and to create a medicine based on it that contains all its properties. This pill, already known as Glucospin, has not yet been marketed due to the ongoing drug registration procedure. The Glucospin manufacturing company must comply with the international regulations governing the production of medicines, so a number of bureaucratic requirements are still met.
As we wrote above, this plant occurs mainly in the mountainous regions of Crete located above 1000 m above sea level. Due to the atmospheric conditions there, stamnagathi is therefore very resistant to low temperatures and snow. Its healing properties have been known since ancient times, for example, Aristophanes, Theophrastus and Dioscoridess.
A slightly bitter taste, which some people may disturb slightly, is rewarded by the valuable properties of this plant. Modern analysis of its composition shows the content of polyphenols, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins and many other valuable micronutrients. Their occurrence has a direct impact on the stimulation of the immune system, antioxidant, disinfectant, prevention of rheumatism, heart disease. This plant also has properties that support digestion and also, as described above, has hypoglycaemic properties. Earlier studies conducted at the University of Lancaster also indicate that eating stamnagathi can reduce the negative effects of stress.
Stamnagathi is still a component of the modern diet of the Cretans. It is usually cooked with a little olive oil and lemon juice. It can be found in taverns where it appears as so-called. horta. It is worth remembering that under this name also other green edible plants are served. Depending on the time of year and the place where you order this dish, horta can be cooked on the basis of various plants.
Anyway, research, research and for the inhabitants of the island boiled stamnagathi leaves are, among others, a remedy for abdominal pain, kidneys or liver, as well as a condition for long life and well-being.
Origanum dictamnus plant is another flagship product of Crete, also known under the names: Dittany, Δίκταμο, hop majoram, Dittany of Crete or Cretan dittany. It is a perennial crop plant occurring in natural environment only in Crete. Over the centuries, many gatherers have died or injured during attempts to obtain a plant, because it occurs on quite hard to reach areas. Its 20-30 cm bushes are most easily found on limestone mountain slopes, in ravines and on cliffs.
It is herbs added alone or in compositions that add this unique accent to simple Greek dishes. Those growing in Greece are unique due to the unique climate: a large number of sunny days throughout the year, soil, sea climate.
Purge belongs to a group of plants that are sometimes also called rock roses. Usually, these are small evergreen shrubs that are intensely covered with flowers during flowering. The area of occurrence of these plants is the southern part of Europe, characterized by a moderate climate - mainly the area of the Mediterranean and Black Sea basins. Many of the 120 species of these plants are also found in the area of both Americas.