Updated: Apr 3
You can and should be cautious in using herbal remedies, but not fearful. Your body is unique in its makeup, and your reaction to the ingestion of botanicals (plants: roots, seeds, flowers, leaves, stems, fruits, vegetables, extracts) may differ from the experience of others.Take a moment and consider the difference between herbs, spices, fruits, vegetables, and foods. You’re right–the only difference is in semantics. To illustrate:
Broccoli, a food, is the flower of its plant
Cayenne pepper, a spice and an herb, is the fruit of its plant
Chamomile, an herb, is the flower of its plant
Peppermint, an herb, is the leaf of its plant
Carrots, an vegetable, is the root of its plant
Celery, a food, is the stem of its plant
Ginkgo, an herb, is the leaf of its plant
Maple syrup, a food, is the extract of its plant
Vegetables, weeds, produce, botanicals, raw foods, and herbs are all words used interchangeably to describe the contents of the vegetable kingdom. Words such as flora, botany, or botanical gardens open up vast areas of study. Garlic, ginger, and cayenne are foods sold in grocery stores. They are also very powerful herbs used in countless domestic and oriental herbal medicines.
Normally, herbal medicines are sold as tablets, capsules, or liquid concentrates. Bulk herbs are also available fresh or dry, in whole, cut, or powdered form. Herbs may be growing right in your own neighborhood. Do you have any in your yard?
More than 300,000 plants have been categorized and studied in our garden here on planet earth. Whether the plant is called a food or a medicine depends on many factors.
For instance, koalas in Australia use eucalyptus leaves for food, while humans use them as medicine. Some natural remedies for the liver are both foods and herbs (medicine): beets, olive oil, lemon, garlic, dandelion, and milk thistle.
Have no fear of herbal medicine. Enjoy your exploration of our earth’s vegetable garden. We can tend it and keep it beautiful.