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History and Origin

Dill, formally known as Anethum graveolens, is a short-lived perennial herb with a history of use going back more than 2000 years.1 Dill originated in Eastern Europe, although the earliest archeological evidence for its cultivation comes from late Neolithic lakeshore settlements in Switzerland, and traces have been found in Roman ruins in the United Kingdom. The Romans believed that eating and displaying dill brought good luck. It is believed that the first French King, Charlemagne, used it at banquets to relieve hiccups in the 8th century and that it was used as a love potion and to keep witches away in the Middle Ages. Today, dill seeds are used as a spice, and its fresh and dried leaves are used as herbs. The seeds in particular are used as a remedy for a wide range of digestive problems.

Components and Activities

Dill seeds contain a range of vitamins and minerals, including calcium, phosphorus, iron, magnesium, sodium, potassium, zinc, vitamin A, thiamine, niacin, riboflavin, and vitamin C.2 Each seed also contains approximately 10% essential oils, primarily monounsaturated fatty acids.2 Dill leaves have the most of the same vitamins and minerals as those of the seeds; however, they also contain vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) and have higher vitamin A and vitamin C content and lower niacin and thiamine content.2,3

Potential Skincare Applications

Within the skin, fine fibers composed of the protein elastin are linked together into an interconnecting network to give skin elasticity and resilience.4 A number of enzymes from the lysine oxidase (LOX) family are responsible for the cross-links between elastin fibers, including the LOX-like (LOXL) enzyme.5,6 As people age, their skin loses elasticity as a result of changes to the amount of elastic proteins in the dermis and the formation of abnormal proteins.4 One of the age-related changes in skin is a marked reduction in the amount of LOXL produced.5

Recent tests on human adult skin cells have indicated that an extract from dill increases LOXL production significantly and increases elastin synthesis as well.5 These effects help restore skin elastogenesis, which is diminished or inefficient in older skin.5

Preliminary research also suggests that dill fruit extract has a strong antioxidant activity that is superior to that of ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and fennel.7 In 3 different models of antioxidant activity, the same quantity of dill fruit extract produced greater inhibition of free radical formation or activity than did an extract of fennel fruit or vitamin C (Figure 1).7

Figure 1. Percent inhibition of free radical activity in 3 separate in vitro models. Identical quantities of each substance were used in each model as follows—superoxide radical formation: 200 mg; lipid peroxidation: 200 μg; hydroxyl radical formation: 1000 μg.7

Safety and Tolerability

On rare occasions, the dill plant may cause contact dermatitis; 2 such case reports have been published in the scientific literature, one in a person with a history of skin allergies.8,9


  1. Anethum graveolens. Available from:
    May 21, 2009.
  2. Spices, dill seed. Nutrient values (NDB No. 02016). USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 21 (2008). Accessed October 12, 2009.
  3. Dill weed, fresh. Nutrient values (NDB No. 02045). USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 21 (2008). Accessed October 12, 2009.
  4. Uitto J. The role of elastin and collagen in cutaneous aging: intrinsic aging versus photoexposure. J Drugs Dermatol. 2008;7(2 suppl):s12-s16.
  5. Cenizo V, André V, Reymermier C, Sommer P, Damour O, Perrier E. LOXL as a target to increase the elastin content in adult skin: a dill extract induces the LOXL gene expression. Exp Dermatol. 2006;15(8):574-581.
  6. Noblesse E, Cenizo V, Bouez C, et al. Lysyl oxidase-like and lysyl oxidase are present in the dermis and epidermis of a skin equivalent and in human skin and are associated to elastic fibers. J Invest Dermatol. 2004;122(3):621-630.
  7. Satyanarayana S, Sushruta K, Sarma GS, Srinivas N, Subba Raju GV. Antioxidant activity of the aqueous extracts of spicy food additives—evaluation and comparison with ascorbic acid in in-vitro systems. J Herb Pharmacother. 2004;4(2):1-10.
  8. Monteseirín J, Pérez-Formoso JL, Sánchez-Hernández MC, et al. Occupational contact dermatitis to dill. Allergy. 2002;57(9):866-867. 9. Monteseirín J, Pérez-Formoso JL, Hérnandez M, et al. Contact urticaria from dill. Contact Dermatitis. 2003;48(5):275.
  9. Monteseirín J, Pérez-Formoso JL, Hérnandez M, et al. Contact urticaria from dill. Contact Dermatitis. 2003;48(5):275.
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