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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Basil, a common culinary herb.

A herb is a plant that is valued for flavor, scent, or other qualities.[1] Herbs are used in cooking, as medicines, and for spiritual purposes.



In American English the initial "h" is normally silent: /ˈɜrb/.[2][3][Full citation needed] In standard British English the "h" is pronounced: /ˈhɜːb/ Also see American and British English pronunciation differences.


Herbs have a variety of uses including culinary, medicinal, or in some cases even spiritual usage. General usage differs between culinary herbs and medicinal herbs. In medicinal or spiritual use any of the parts of the plant might be considered "herbs", including leaves, roots, flowers, seeds, resin, root bark, inner bark, (cambium,) berries and sometimes the pericarp or other portions of the plant.

Culinary herbs

Culinary use of the term "herb" typically distinguishes between herbs, from the leafy green parts of a plant, and spices, from other parts of the plant, including seeds, berries, bark, root and fruit. Culinary herbs are distinguished from vegetables in that, like spices, they are used in small amounts and provide flavor rather than substance to food.

Many culinary herbs are perennials such as thyme or lavender, while others are biennials such as parsley or annuals like basil, and some are shrubs (such as rosemary, Rosmarinus officinalis), or trees (such as bay laurel, Laurus nobilis) – this contrasts with botanical herbs, which by definition cannot be woody plants. Some plants are used as both a spice and a herb, such as dill seed and dill weed or coriander seeds and coriander leaves. Also, there are some herbs such as those in the mint family that are used for culinary purposes as well as medicinal.

Medicinal herbs

Plants contain phytochemicals that have effects on the body. Throughout history, from the Bible, Koran, Siddhar poems of Tamils,Vedas and other old texts, the medicinal benefits of herbs are quoted.

There may be some effects when consumed in the small levels that typify culinary "spicing", and some herbs are toxic in larger quantities. For instance, some types of herbal extract, such as the extract of St. John's-wort (Hypericum perforatum) or of kava (Piper methysticum) can be used for medical purposes to relieve depression and stress. However, large amounts of these herbs may lead to poisoning, and should be used with caution. One herb-like substance, called Shilajit, may actually help lower blood glucose levels which is especially important for those suffering from diabetes. Herbs have long been used as the basis of traditional Chinese herbal medicine, with usage dating as far back as the first century CE.[4]

Some herbs are used not only for culinary and medicinal purposes, but also for recreational purposes; one such herb is cannabis.

Sacred herbs

Herbs are used in many religions – such as in Christianity myrrh and frankincense which was used to honor kings. (Commiphora myrrha), ague root (Aletris farinosa) (Boswellia spp)) and in the Anglo-Saxon pagan Nine Herbs Charm. The Tamils worship Neem called Vempu (Tamil: வேம்பு). In Hinduism a form of Basil called Tulsi or Holy Basil is worshipped as a goddess for its medicinal value since the Vedic times. Many Hindus have a Tulsi plant in front of their houses. Many Rasta consider Cannabis sativa as being a holy plant set aside by God for man.

The Shamans in Siberia also used herbs for spiritual purposes. Plants and drugs that have been used world wide, can be used in order to induce spiritual experiences and rites of passage, such as Vision quests.

The Cherokee Native Americans use Sage and Cedar to spiritually cleanse and smudge.

Pest control

Herbs are also known amongst gardeners to be useful for pest control. Mint, spearmint, peppermint, and pennyroyal are a few of such herbs. These herbs when planted around a house's foundation can help keep unwanted critters away such as flies, mice, ants, fleas, moth and tick amongst others. They are not known to be harmful or dangerous to children or pets, or any of the house's fixtures [5].

Botanical herbs

In botanical usage a herb or herbaceous plant is any non-woody plant, regardless of its flavor, scent or other properties. A botanical herb cannot therefore be a woody plant such as a tree or shrub.

See also


  1. ^ "". Retrieved 2007-12-19. 
  2. ^ Cambridge Advanced Learners' Dictionary, Cambridge University Press: headword "Herb" Online version
  3. ^ Wells, Professor John, Longman Pronunciation Dictionary, Longman Education, March 2000, ISBN 0-582-36467-1
  4. ^ "Chinese Herbal Medicine". Retrieved 2007-12-19. 
  5. ^ Herb Garden Plants

Bible wiki

Up to date as of January 23, 2010
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From BibleWiki

  1. Heb. 'eseb, any green plant; herbage (Gen 1:11, 12, 29, 30; 2:5; 3:18, etc.); comprehending vegetables and all green herbage (Amos 7:1, 2).
  2. Yarak, green; any green thing; foliage of trees (2Kg 19:26; Ps 372); a plant; herb (Deut 11:10).
  3. Or, meaning "light" In Isa 26:19 it means "green herbs;" in 2Kg 4:39 probably the fruit of some plant.
  4. Merorim, plural, "bitter herbs," eaten by the Israelites at the Passover (Ex 12:8; Num 9:11). They were bitter plants of various sorts, and referred symbolically to the oppression in Egypt.
This entry includes text from Easton's Bible Dictionary, 1897.

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