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Friday, 3 July 2015


The study of herbs (plants with medicinal properties) dates back over 5,000 years by the Sumerians.

Herbs come from the leaf of a plant, spices from other parts such as root, stem, bulb, bark or seeds.

There are 32 references to herbs in the Old Testament and only five in the New Testament.

Shennong, a legendary Chinese ruler from around 2500BC was aware of the curative virtues of herbs and wrote the Pen Ts'ao Ching, or The Classic Herbal, one of the earliest treatise on medicine. In it he detailed 365 medicinal plants, including rhubarb. Shen Nung personally pounded plants, grasses, and barks with a red stick, then tested their properties on himself, sometimes taking as many as twelve potions a day during this experiments.

Laserpithium was a delicious North African herb, similar to but more tasty than garlic. The root and its juice was much favored by Roman chefs. In around 50AD, it was believed to have been eaten to extinction and to have disappeared altogether. However, ten years later, a single plant was found in the Cyrenaic desert. However rather than cultivating it, so that it would be made available to future generations, this last remaining plant was dug up and devoured by the Emperor Nero.

In the 17th century, a bunch of lavender round the wrist was worn to protect from the plague.

Nicholas Culpeper (1616-54) recommended burdock for treating dog bites or flatulence.

Oregano was practically unheard of in the U.S. until American G.I.s in World War II returned from Italy with a taste for the "pizza herb."

Culinary herbs are distinguished from vegetables in that, like spices, they are used in small amounts and provide flavor rather than substance to food.

Simon and Garfunkel's Parsley, Sage, Rosemary And Thyme (1966) is the most successful album ever to be named entirely after herbs.

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