Health Benefits of Herbs

Understanding Herbs

Discover herbsIn this article you will learn “what are herbs” and just how versatile herbs are. People have been using herbs for thousands of years. They were used for preserving food, for medicinal purposes and even in religious ceremonies.

Try to imagine food today without the use of herbs, how bland would that be.

For the gardeners amongst you imagine not having the pleasure of growing these wonderful  plants. We should thank are ancestors for discovering the various uses for these amazing plants.

So, what is a herb. Botanically speaking a herb is a plant, that is soft and succulent and that doesn’t develop woody tissue (commonly know as secondary growth). However there are many herbs that don’t fall into this classification. Rosemary is a case in point, it has a woody stem. As you will find out as you journey into the world of herbs they don’t always stick to the rules.

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Understanding Herbs Scientific Names

You may be asking yourself why bother. The simple answer is, if you are buying a herb for medicinal purposes or just simple to grow. You’ll discover that it usually has more than one common name for example: Willow-herb, white willow, Salix Alba. So as you see it can get confusing. Therefore its much simpler just to use its scientific name: Epilobium.

Learning the scientific names of the herbs you want will help you get exactly what your after. You may have noticed that plant names have two parts. The first part refers to the plant group or closely related herbs. The second part refers to the species, a specific plant in the plant group or genus. The scientific names can be easer to remember than you may think, because once you know what the name means you will be able to associate it with the meaning. For an easy example: Edulis means edible.

So as you can see besides helping you accurately know precisely what herb you’re referring too. It also in many cases describes something about the plant: As you will see from the table below:

Common Botanical Names

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  • Albus: white
  • Argenteus: silver
  • Caeruleus: blue
  • Chrysantha: yellow flowers
  • Contorta: twised or contorted
  • Edulis: edible
  • Grandiflora: large flowers
  • Grandifolia: large leaves
  • Lutea: yellow flowers
  • Montana: mountains
  • Nanus: dwarf
  • Nigra: dark
  • Odorata: scented flowers
  • Orientalis: East, Asia
  • Pendula: hanging

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  • Perennis: perennial
  • Prostratus: trailing
  • Pubescens: hairy
  • Purpurea: purple
  • Reptans: creeping
  • Roseus: rosy
  • Ruber: red
  • Sanguinea: blood red
  • Scandens: climbing
  • Semperervirens: evergreen
  • Stricta: upright
  • Variegatus: variegared
  • Vulgaris: common

Characteristics of the Various Herbs

Understanding HerbsRoots: Herbs have many uses, kitchen, beauty, medicinal. By knowing the functions of the various parts of the herb. It will better help you select and identify the right herb for the situation. For example some herbs you use the root whereas other herbs you use the bark. Herbs that you would use the root include ginger this has a thick tapering organ called the taproot. This is where the goodness of the plant lies. Like roots, stems can also store goodness. Blubs like garlic are actually storage stems.

Foliage: One reason people grow herbs is for their aromatic leaves. You will find herb leaves of many shapes colors and smells. Large whole leaves are called “simple”. leaves that are divided into two parts are called “compound”. Parsley is an example of a compound leaves. Herb leaves are further divided by the leaf edges. Sweet Bay has a smooth edge, this is called “entire”. Herb leaves with jagged edges like lemon balm go by the name “toothed”. Another example is parsley which leaves are wavy-edged are called “lobed”.

Scent: One of the most distinguishing features of herbs is the fantastic aromatic smell they exude. We all know the wonderful smell of mint or rosemary. As you travel your path of herbal discovery you will find many more amazing herb scent.

Versatile Herbs

Herbs are a truly fantastical plants, the many types of herbs can grow from just a couple of inches to over 40 feet (Laurus nobilis1  10-40 feet tall). The medicinal component can be derived from its root, leaf, fruit, berries or bark. There are hundreds of herbs commonly used in herbalism and thousands of more exotic herbs used from time to time. Discovering more about herbs helps you understand how herbs can be used to treat medical conditions.

Herbs are different from conventional medicine in that herbs are used to help bring back the body’s natural balance and health. Herbalism treats the whole body not just the condition, so keep on discovering and learning about HERBS FOR HEALTH.

 

Medical information provided is for information purposes only. Always get guidance about a medical condition from a health care professional.

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