Introduction to Herbs

Herbs are intrinsically woven into the histories of peoples and civilisations across the world. Wild plants were picked by ancient tribes of hunter gatherer’s, when the medicine woman knew that the inner bark of the willow tree would ease pain (where the first painkillers came from). Today herbs are still fundamental to our everyday life, whether in cooking, beauty products or as the foundation of many medicines. Increasingly as people look to a healthier lifestyle, herbs have come to symbolize that more natural approach.

So, what is an herb? Well it depends whom you ask. Botanists describe herbs as small, seed bearing plants with fleshy parts, from which we get the term herbaceous; the Oxford English Dictionary defines herbs as, ‘plants of which the leaves, stem or flowers are used for food or medicine, or in some way for their scent or flavour’. In reality they are a broad group of herbaceous plants, trees, shrubs, annuals, mosses, and ferns that are valued for their flavour, fragrance, medicinal, industrial and economic uses.

Historically, herbs have been grown for a myriad of uses, since the dawn of time and in every region of the world. Medicinal herbs have been used for 5000 years by the Chinese, whilst in India Ayuvedic medicine has used over 600 indigenous herbs for over 4000 years. The Romans used many plants as household herbs, such as Horsetail to make pan scourers. The Tudor house-wife used a variety of aromatic herbs such as lavender, and bedstraw to keep the house smelling pleasant. In recent years there has been a resurgence in the use of herbs, whether it is because people are fed up of the side effects of conventional medicines and so are looking for herbal remedies or whether people no longer want to use chemicals in their homes, there are now a number of books and websites that cater for those interested in herbs and their uses.

Whether you want to learn how to use culinary Herbs, make your own herbal remedies or perhaps make your own cosmetic using herbs, Click on each page to learn more about herbs and their many uses, including many interesting and unusual recipes.

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