Healthy and Healing Herbs
Throughout the history of man, there has been an attempt to find certain substances and foods that have the ability to serve a medicinal purpose. Herbs have traditionally been defined as a plant whose stem does not become woody.
Yet, the term herb can, in this context, be applied to any plant, mineral, or substance that occurs naturally in nature and is used for medicinal purposes. The practice of using herbs to solve ailments of the body has many different names including:
Whatever name you choose to use, the purpose remains the same. Many people have strong faith in the beneficial properties of a variety of different herbs. They often cite the impure properties associated with synthetic drugs. While it is hard to argue against the beneficial results that are often associated with synthetic drugs, it seems like many people simply overlook the benefits that naturally occurring herbs can provide.
Healing herbs are often only sought out after other, more modern methods have failed. While it seems ill-advised to simply disregard all the various healing substances that modern science and technology has provided us with, there is evidence that incorporating a variety of different herbs into your daily diet can have extremely beneficial consequences.
A Short History of Herbalism
From 8,000 to 5,000 B.C., herbalism was primarily a woman's profession, with tribal females spending much of their time gathering and processing various plants and organic materials. Women that practiced herbalism often prepared herbs to treat illnesses in their own family, and often for other members of the tribe. But while the women were to spend their time picking and preparing herbs, it was the men that diligently recorded many of the tinctures and tonics that these herbs were used to create. As such, we now enjoy a lush history of healthy and healing herbal remedies passed down through both written and oral traditions since the early stone age.
The idea of choosing herbs for medicinal treatments is not even a practice reserved only for humans -- scientists have even found that chimpanzees will commonly select and apply herbs to treat ailments and injuries.
However, at the heart of early herbal medicine for humans was a concept foreign to other species; it was the deeply spiritual aspect. Many herbal remedies were prepared for and used, or featured, as part of many forms and types of rituals and magic rites ceremonies, with equal emphasis being placed on the pleasure of higher beings and the treatment of worldly ailments.
By the time of the ancient Egyptians, roughly 2500 B.C., herbal healing ceremonies were a common feature of normal societal life. In addition, herbal healing established a firm foundation for medical treatments rooted in more scientific, albeit no less meaningful to the practicing cultures.
Perhaps the greatest contributions to herbal medicine would come from the Arabians and Greeks, two cultures not only obsessed with the human body and its ailments, but also famous for diligent record-keeping and fine literary works. From Greece came many major works that would describe some herbal treatments still in use today:
The Medicine of Hippokrates -- Although it's still debated whether Hippokrates was simply a term used to describe a Greek school of rational medicine, or if Hippokrates himself was a living person, the work attributed to him still stands as one of the most comprehensive works on herbal remedies. Around 257 different drugs are mentioned in The Medicine of Hippokrates, 27 of which have now been reclassified as food.
Inquiry into Plants -- Another important look into the herbal treatments of ancient Greece, Inquiry into Plants was probably written by Theophrastus in 340 B.C. This was one of the first works that not only described the herbal remedies themselves in great detail, but also instructions on how to grow the plants and observations on their intended (and often unintentional) effects on multiple ailments.
Natural History -- A later work by Pliny in 60 A.D., Natural History is the largest surviving collection of plants popular during the Greek period. Pliny not only provided analysis of other popular herbalist literature of the time, but also contributed more new knowledge on healthy and healing herbs than any of his other Greek peers.
De Materia of Dioscorides -- The first example of an illustrated book on herbal medicine, written and illustrated by Krateus has since been lost, but Krateus' influence on herbs and medicinal techniques is thought to be reflected in a later work called De Materia of Dioscorides, written by the famous Greek writer, Dioscorides.
Incorporating Herbalism Into Your Life
The goal of the following pages and articles is to outline the important role that healthy and healing herbs can play in your attempts to improve your overall levels of health and well being. Many of the herbs and plants that will be discussed will be quite familiar and are often used in many cooking recipes. Some of the other herbs and plants covered will be less familiar but this does not in any way take away from their potential for producing favorable outcomes.
Rather than simply looking to tradition and word of mouth as a guideline for judging the efficacy of various herbs and plants, we seem to find it more prudent to look for those herbs and plants that have been scientifically documented to bring about beneficial consequences through research.
In the past, many people adopted the use of a variety of different herbs and plants that were actually harmful to their health. Unfortunately, there are a few of these sentiments that still perpetuate today.
This being said, it is important to understand that not all herbs are suited for human consumption. Thusly, we have decided to only focus on herbs and plants that have been researched adequately and have been deemed safe for human consumption.
Along with outlining the various healthy and healing herbs that you should incorporate into your daily dietary regime, there was also an effort made to describe how these herbs can be incorporated into the food that you already eat.
Many of the more popular herbs have very distinct tastes and aromas that can be used to season various dishes. The ability to incorporate different herbs into you existing diet is the best way to assure that you consume them on a regular basis.