An Introduction To Herbs
If You Do Not Use Herbs in Your Diet…Why Not?
Natural herbs have been in use since the dawn of time. The Chinese have been using these flavorful weeds for everything from spicing up a favorite dish to curing allergies. Common herbs are most known for their culinary uses. There are medicinal applications for herbs as well.
The Native Americans knew the value of an herb. Whether it was to cure a toothache or cure an upset stomach, there was an herb for everything. Some of the best foods are made to taste that way because of an herb.
What would a pumpkin pie be without the herbs? The most popular sausages get their flavoring from natural herbs. Most of them can be grown right in the household garden. People forget the value of an herb until they try to cook without them. Herbs may be an overlooked little plant in the yard, but it is a plant that can pack a punch. They have been for centuries.
While hiking in the Alps two people came across the body of a man whom the hikers thought had fallen and been injured. As it turned out, it was the discovery of the century. The body was that of a man who had lived over 5,000 years ago. He had been caught in the big freeze with the entrance of the ice age. What made this so unique were the things he carried with him. One of these items was a small leather pouch of herbs. The herbs were reputed to be for medicinal purposes.
Herbs have been used for trading in ancient times. Travels to the far east brought wonderful spices like ginger and cinnamon to Europe. Sage was in demand in Asia. From the desire to have these aromatic and medicinal plants came many trade routes. The demand for herbs opened many doors to different cultures.
The early uses of herbs were mainly dedicated to medicine. People discovered certain plants made the body feel better, more relaxed, or in less pain. Chamomile gives a calming effect. Most mints can settle an upset stomach. For the longest time, herbs were the only medicines anyone knew about. Once it was realized that supernatural spirits were not the cause of many illnesses, herbs became more and more important.
With the onset of new medical practices, the use of herbs became less relied upon. In some countries it even became illegal to practice the use of herbal medicine. Herbs were considered substandard. Many people who had relied on herbs for healing were now being accused of witchcraft.
It was not until the 1960’s and 1970’s that herbs started making a comeback. The use of herbs once again started to gain popularity. Now people are realizing that many illnesses are better treated with herbs than any other medicines. In fact, when it was discovered that many prescribed medications were based on a natural herb remedy, some people swore off medicines and started using only natural herbs.
Somehow, though, herbs never did leave the cook pot. Whether is was to add flavor to a cake or pie or season a pot of stew, herbs have been in the kitchen forever.
Next: Herbs in the Kitchen