Spices and Herbs Possess Medicinal Benefits

Herbs and spices: By Vicki Nunn (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Spices and herbs are popularly used in majority of dishes or foods across the whole wide world.  In every kitchen, there are some amount of herbs and spices used for various reasons.  Herbs and spices are very much important to Jamaicans.  They are abundantly used and our numerous dishes are highly seasoned with spices.  This is a tradition for us, passed down from one generation to the next and I am convinced that it will continue for a very long time.

Although they are primarily used to flavor or season foods, they are also used for healthy purposes and they are very effective too.  This practice is not unique to us because traditionally, they have been dominantly utilized throughout the ages.

During this time herbs and spices were rarities used only by the rich and famous.  They were also very often bartered between the populace throughout the medieval times.

Is there a difference between herbs and spices?

Some may ask, but what is the difference between herbs and spices?  Is there really a difference? Although they may seem as one, there are actually few differences that are not known to many persons.  Also, many persons think that there is no difference at all between spices and herbs.  To me personally, it is just a thin line of difference and they are deeply connected because they are both originated from medicinal plants.

Spices are derived from seeds, roots, flowers, barks and fruits of plants, while herbs are centered around the leaves of non-woody plants.  However,  the seeds, flowers, roots, barks and fruits are sometimes referred to as herbs.  So the slight difference is almost no difference at all.

While some herbs can be utilized fresh, spices are most times not necessarily as fresh as herbs.  Also, herbs are commonly found in most countries, if not all, while spices are most times found in the Caribbean islands and other tropical countries as well as in the Far East.

Herbs are more globally used than spices in the sense that they can be found in cosmetics, natural repellents, preservation of food and also in the medicinal arena.  Spices are much stronger in flavor than herbs and so smaller amount is required to use in foods.  Spices may also be utilized as preservatives.

History of spices and herbs

Due to their importance because of their multiplicities of uses, herbs and spices had been revered by great men of old.  Some set to the sea searching for them.  One such person is a Navigator of Portuguese by the name of Vasco Da Gama who went sailing in search of spices.  Christopher Columbus, after he landed,  made effort to portray to investors the various spices that were accessible in the new world.

Also, for the treatment of various ailments, all throughout history, herbs have been utilized and recorded.  One cannot omit the Chinese Traditional Medicine, Herbalism, Herbology or Herbal Medicine that have been in existence for eon of years.  Spices and herbs will always be on the lips of men.

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