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Herbal Terminology

Herbal Terminology

Herbalism is the oldest known method of systematic healing using plants and many of today’s herbs are known to have been used therapeutically for thousands of years. The word ‘Herb’ refers to a plant of which the leaves, flowers, stems or roots are used for food, flavouring, scent, dyeing, healing remedies and preventative medicines.

Herbs have also long been employed as air fresheners, perfumes, cosmetics, disinfectants, insect and animal repellents and attractors. The distinction between an herb and a spice is this: herbs are the fresh and dried leaves generally of temperate plants, often green in colour. Spices are the flowers, fruit, seeds, bark and roots typically of tropical plants, which range in colour from brown to black to red.

In the 17th century there was a great influx of herbs into Europe from the New World as a result of the Spanish and Portuguese conquests and a number of herbals (books) were published, written by doctors for doctors and apothecaries. This signalled a breakthrough in healing, with authors focusing upon the botanical properties and characteristics of the plants.

When Nicholas Culpeper, an astrologer, herbalist, physician and botanist, published the ‘Compleat Herball’ in 1653, he listed all the known herbal remedies of the time, wishing to create a book that would help ordinary people to make their own herbal remedies – his book has been in print continuously ever since.

Herb Actions and Properties – A

Herb Actions and Properties – B, C & D

Herb Actions and Properties – E, F, G & H

Herb Actions and Properties – I, L, M, O & P

Herb Actions and Properties – R, S, T & V



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