About Herbs

A few words

Herbs have been used for centuries in medicine, perfumery and in cooking. The use of herbs in medicine, has its roots in antiquity. This is indeed a practice that continued until very recently, when the pharmaceutical industry began to manufacture chemical drugs to replace the valerian, the belladonna, marjoram and many other herbs, but in recent years are beginning to regain the interest not only of simple people, but also scientists, seeking their healing properties that had been identified by both the ancient Greeks and many doctors in later periods. Today, about 80% of world population uses exclusively medicinal plants, while about 50% of drugs are based on a natural substance.

In China, herbs have been used for 4700 years as drugs. The first book of Chinese botany, written around 2700 BC, mentions 365 plants used for medicinal purposes. In Ancient Egypt, people not only used the herbs of the land, but they also import them from other regions. On papyrus found from the early 18th Dynasty (1850-1335 BC) it is mentioned that herbal remedies were imported from Crete. Generally, Cretan herbs were exported to Egypt and the Middle East. Accordingly, the Cretans brought from these areas herbs that did not thrive on the island. The trade of herbs seemed to be a major activity of societies that flourished in the eastern Mediterranean during the Bronze Age.

The 2000 excavation of the Minoan palace of Archanes gave a striking finding to the excavators. The palace was destroyed by a strong fire and the material that had fallen onto the jars had solidified and had closed tightly the jars for 3.500 years. When the archaeologists opened these jars they found stored herbs and textiles, all charred and preserved so as to easily be identified. The palace storeroom was filled with jars, according to initial estimates, they were destined for export! "The herbs of Crete" as explaining the excavators, "were rare and precious in antiquity. They were used for medical purposes but also to produce aromatics. "

In ancient Greece the medical knowledge was quite advanced. Famous doctors of antiquity, mentioned by Homer and later authors, were "rizotomi" (root cutters - so called the practical doctors - botanists who cultivated medicinal plants or gathered them from the forests). Famous rizotomi also appeared in Crete. They knew a large number of plants with exclusive therapeutic use, either in the form of beverages, or in the form of patches and ointments.

Hippocrates, the father of medicine, in a series of books he mentions 236 herbal medicines. At the same time Aristotle, among other books he also wrote two on Plants. Theophrastus, the father of Botany and Mineralogy, precursor of Pharmacognosy, in his nine books of the "Enquiry into Plants" project he describes the plants and their pharmacological properties. Later, Dioscorides of Cilicia, which toured around the known world (40-90 AD) to study the various medicinal herbs and plants. He classified them into 5 books titled "Materia Medica" since then they are considered to be the essential textbooks, used by all those who are involved in the therapeutic practices since the 16th century. Other great physicians of antiquity well known for their herbal remedies were Galen and Celsus.

Because of the temperate and hot climate of the island, the flora of Crete is makes out in relation to other areas of the Mediterranean. In Crete there are currently about 2,000 different species of plants, 160 of which are endemic. Many amazing herbs of Crete grow on the steep mountains of the island and are collected by experienced collectors. They are dried under natural conditions and packaged without any chemical or other treatment.

Today, herbs continue to play an important role in our lives, having a key contribution to the treatment of many diseases and to our well-being. Certainly their purpose is not to replace doctors or medications but to create a small natural pharmacy in our home for mild disorders.

As a footnote, we should mention, as is the case with every plant that has healing properties, it should be used with great care. Careless use may lead to unwanted results and the treatment may become toxic due to an overdose of the active ingredients.