Medicinal and Culinary Herbs

            Medicinal and culinary herbs are numerous and indispensable. On an herb-walk in Williams, Oregon in the spring of 2009, the herbalist James Jungwirth declared that the difference between foods, herbs, and poison is in the amount you can eat before it causes dis-ease. According to this standard, mild edible plans such as carrots, potatoes, rice, and so on, would be classified as food; garlic, ginger, onions, and the like are considered herbs, as eating too much could easily upset one’s digestion and overall well-being; and the plants with the most extreme effects, such as poison oak and ephedra, can quickly turn to poison in large doses but can be seen as very healing herbs when consumed in a controlled environment for the appropriate ailment.

Herbs have been incorporated into meals with positive medicinal consequences longer than recorded history. Many herbs are regularly isolated in different folk-remedies and used in tincture form or decoctions to treat specific ailments. With the advent of modern science, herbs are now broken down to their active constituents, and while it is not conventionally common to use the traditional formulas, as many as 25% of modern pharmaceuticals contain herb-derived ingredients2. Notwithstanding, common knowledge about the medicinal properties of herbs is lacking in the United States, despite the fact that much of the population already uses medicinal herbs on a daily basis. This is especially true of the seasonings in popular “ethnic” dishes such as Italian fare, where garlic and rosemary, are essential ingredients for authentic taste, as well as Indian cuisine, which regularly features spices such as turmeric and nigella.

Turmeric

Turmeric

Garlic

Garlic

Nigella

Nigella

Rosemary

Rosemary

Licorice

Licorice