Herbs and spices can be used either fresh or dried. When herbs are harvested, different parts of the plant will be gathered at different times. Herbal products may be prepared from and include leaves, roots, oils, seeds, barks, flowers, or fruits of various trees or plants. Herbs are usually picked when they contain the highest amount of flavor essence. For example, leaves are usually picked just before the plant is about to flower; flowers are picked justbefore they reach full bloom; fruits and berries are picked at their peak of ripeness; and roots, like garlic, rhizomes, turmeric, and ginger, are collected in the fall, just as the leaves begin to change color.
Herbs are then packaged for health-building or culinary use.Medicinal herbs are usually available in capsule, pill, powder, or liquid form. The liquids usually consist of an extract based on alcohol, water, glycerine, apple cider vinegar, or a combination of these extracting agents.
Today, spices in food, as well as herbal teas, baths, salves, and ointments, are more popular than ever for bringing relief from illness. They have recently become even more popular as a tool in weight-management programs. Today, as much as 75 percent of all pharmaceutical drugs contain plant-derived substances or variations of plant compounds. Examples include red rice yeast for reducing high cholesterol; aspirin, a synthetic variation on salicylic acid, which was discovered in white willow bark; St. John’s Wort, which is recommended for depression; black cohosh, red clover, and soy for menopause; hawthorn berries for congestive heart disease; saw palmetto for prostatitis; and ginkgo leave extracts for Alzheimer’s disease.
Numerous studies have shown that certain herbs can reduce appetite and increase the body’s metabolic rate. These are two factors that are key elements to most successful weight-management programs.Although there is now more sophisticated research on the value of herbal medicines than ever before, most of the information on herbs used in weight management and food preparation is based on folklore passed down from generation to generation.
Over the past fifteen years, the use of many culinary herbs and spices as healing medicines has increased to an amazing level because of:
1. A desire amongst people to live a more natural lifestyle
2. A fear of the side effects associated with many over-the counter and prescription drugs, heightened by recent scares related to weight-loss drugs used at professional dieting centers
3. Dissatisfaction with the high cost and impersonal style of orthodox medicine
4. The effect of the movement toward multiculturalism, which has caused a refocusing on the importance of herbal
medicine in Indian, African, Asian, and South American cultures Though herbs may not act as quickly on the body as drugs do, many people experience a qualitative as well as a quantitative difference in favor of herbs.
Herbs and spices are among the most versatile foods and healing tools in nature. They can be used in oil form or in powders, pills, and liquids. They can be prepared fresh, sprouted, cooked, and can even be juiced. Not only do they have a naturally detoxifying and cleansing effect on the body and mind, but they also help purify the blood and the internal organs, neutralize the waste products of metabolism, and help in building new healthy tissue.