Herbs are the ‘medicinal plants’ used to treating and curing ailments as well as enhancing the health, vigour and vitality of an individual. Other than this, herbs have also been associated with providing seasoning, flavoring and essence to the food items. Today, herbs find immense usage in the field of medicine, food industry and also in manufacturing of beauty products. The simple herbs that can be grown in your own kitchen gardens find meritorious and handy use in treating day to day maladies. In the recent years, herbs have found a lot of acceptance worldwide. This is because these are easy to use, safe with no side effects and an asset that puts our bodies in harmony with the nature. It has been rightly said that A herb is a physician’s friend and a cook’s pride.
Herbs – A Part of Food
Most of the Indian herbs, since times immemorial, have formed a part and parcel of our daily diets. These are used either in the form of spices and condiments so as to flavor the food stuffs, or as vegetable drugs which supplement the daily nutrition as well as diet requirements. The spices and condiment include a as well as diet herbs, which are used as everyday food seasoning and flavoring agents. These are precisely defined as – “ Plant or vegetable products or their mixtures, grounded or whole used for imparting flavor, aroma and piquancy to and for seasoning of foods.” For eg. Turmeric, Asafoetida, Thyme, Cumin, Coriander etc Other than this, a majority of the known spices are ‘health promoting’ and ensure a proper digestion and assimilation of food.
The vegetable drugs are also included in our traditional and inherent pathy. A drug or ‘Dravya’ as specified in the Ayurvedic text, is – “A substance that contains five distinct feature i.e. their morphology, the vegetable drugs are classified as trees, shrubs, herbs and weak plants. The vegetable or plant drugs that grow approx. 2 to 6 feet tall are categorized as herbs.
The herbs that form part of our food can be extracted and used in a wide variety of uses. It could be taken immediately in the form of a vegetable, fresh juice can be extracted by pounding the herb, the herb, the herb can be pounded and dried to make into a powder, preserved and re-sued, used to prepare a decoction or infusion etc. herbs like Sugarcane can be taken raw or as fresh juice, Carrots and Onions can be used as salads, Gourd, Bitter as ‘murabba’ or sweet jelly, coconut can be made into snacks etc. other than these, herbs like Aamla, Mint, Coriander, chillies can be processed into chutneys. Betel leaf, catechu, Fennel can be taken after meals as mouth fresheners, and Ginger, Lemon etc. as appetizers.