Herb Gardening: Spices or Health Remedies?

According to Culpeper's Complete Herbal on the Bay Tree (a 17th century book):
"The Delphic priestesses are said to have made use of the leaves. That it is a tree of the Sun, and under the celestial sign Leo, and resisteth witchcraft very potently, as also all the evils old Saturn can do to the body of man, and they are not a few, for it is the speech of one, and I am mistaken if it were not Mizaldus, that neither witch nor devil, thunder nor ightning, will hurt a man in the place where a bay-tree is."

Dill was grown by the Romans who used it to purify the air in their banquet halls.

Dill’s history can be traced back to the mention of it made on tablets in Egyptian tombs. Dill, along with yarrow, trefoil, verbena, rue and roses, is connected to the old and now neglected festival of Midsummer Eve.

Mint was used to purify water and even to ward off the evil eye during the middle ages.

Rosemary was used for headaches during the 5th century

Sage earned its botanic name, Salvia, from the Latin word that means "to heal," and has been prescribed for everything from snakebites to intestinal parasites to arthritis

The Egyptians grew Parsley.

Thyme was popular during the reign of Elizabeth.

Roman soldiers believed garlic gave them fortitude and endurance in battle. It was also believed to be protection from vampires and the evil eye.

In 1991, the International Herb Association established National Herb Week to be celebrated every year during the week prior to Mother's Day.

The purpose of National Herb Week is to develop and coordinate national attention on herbs, herbal uses, herb businesses, and the IHA.

Bay Laurel is the herb of the year for 2009.

Penn State University Dept of Horticulture has a very good tool for researching herbs. Just click on the Herb Directory link on the left side to get started.

For an in depth tool for looking into some modern uses for herbs, take a look at Annie's Remedy.

She lists hundreds of herbs with comprehensive data on each that includes the benefits, preparation, medicinal uses, side effects, plant description and any folklore, myths and legends associated with that plant.

Today, modern herb gardens may be purely functional or can include a blend of functional and ornamental parts. They are usually only used to flavor food in cooking, thereby sometimes also triggering positive medical side-effects. In addition, plants grown within the garden are also specifically targeted to cure common illnesses or maladies such as colds, headaches, or anxiety.

A good source for herb seed kits, both culinary and medicinal is HerbKits , and another good source for herb seeds is at Park Seed Co.

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