What Is It About Herbs?

What Is It About Herbs?
Written by Donald Kihenja
Tuesday, 11 July 2006
Many people are interested in herbs these days, and there''s a lot to learn about them. Books, magazine articles, blogs, health newsletters all routinely carry informative articles about herbs. They add flavor to food and they can also promote health.

There is so much information to absorb on this topic that it''s a good idea not to worry about learning everything there is to know all at once. In ancient cultures, the healers, or medicine people, spent their entire lives studying to be expert practitioners of herbal medicine. Some of us have our first exposure to herbs in the kitchen. We love the distinct flavor or cilantro in Mexican food, the oregano, thyme and garlic in many Italian dishes, the aroma and sharp taste of curry when we sample Indian cuisine, and rosemary paired with leg of lamb.

The cuisine of cultures worldwide developed around the herbs available to the people cooking there. The variety is astounding, and now as cultures around the globe are in greater communication than ever, and people are crossing borders in great numbers, more and more people are being exposed to new flavors through herbs. Traditional cultures also still use herbs as medicines.

They don''t have access to all-night pharmacies like industrialized nations do. But even industrialized nations depended on many herbs before the development of antibiotics in the 20th century. They proved to be so effective, many folk remedies fell by the wayside. People didn''t think it was important anymore to learn about herbs and how effective they can be in helping us resist and treat disease. Now, however, people are getting more interested in herbal remedies.

Overuse of antibiotics has caused antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria to develop, which frightens many. We''ve actually learned that many of our common medicines, even aspirin, are derived from traditional healing sources. Western cultures are also increasingly interested in eastern healing modalities, especially Chinese herbal medicine and Indian ayurveda medicine.

These have been practiced for thousands of years. People who enter these healing professions need to learn a lot about herbs, their attributes and uses. They do it, of course, one herb at a time. If you''re new to the study of herbs. Here''s an interesting one to know. Astragalus is a herb in the Chinese medicinal pantheon. Your acupuncturist probably knows a lot about its properties and uses. It is said to be an immune booster and energy builder. It is often prescribed by practitioners of Chinese medicine alone or blended with other immune and energy enhancing herbs such as ginseng and echinacea.

Last Updated ( Monday, 23 October 2006 )