A Brief History of Herbs

by | Updated: December 3rd, 2016 | Read time: 1 minute

Back in February, we gave you a (very) quick rundown of the origin of vitamins. Today, the lesson continues, this time chronicling the history of herbs.  


No one is sure precisely when people began to utilize them, but some say that herbs have been used for tens of thousands of years to enhance food and provide remedy. At first, they were considered “magical,” with unexplained powers and effects on health. But as civilization evolved, so did the knowledge and use of these powerful plants. Greek physicians and Chinese herbalists studied and wrote about the properties and effectiveness of many herbs, including anise, buckthorn and wormwood.


Along with the Dark Ages came a return to the superstitious beliefs surrounding herbs. There was a certain stigma attached to herbal remedies, as they were sometimes associated with witchcraft. Some herbs were even outright feared””take basil, for instance, which supposedly attracted scorpions, and was avoided by many.


With the start of the Renaissance came an influx of explorers and traders, spreading spices and herbs all over the globe. Eventually, in the 18th century, botanist Carl von Linné classified each known herb species, giving them the Latin names used today.


Although herbs have not been very prevalent in modern Western medicine, they remain popular in many different cultures throughout the world. Herbs serve many diverse purposes, as flavor enhancers, remedies, incenses and more. Their use will likely continue for all of time. (Or should I say, thyme?)