Herbs are plants that are grown to use for culinary or medicinal purposes in which the leaves, stem and roots of the plants are used.

The herbs that are used in culinary are non-woody and are used to add flavor and taste to the food.  On the other hand, the herbs that are used for medicinal purposes may be a woody plant or a non-woody plant.

The science of using herbs for medicinal purposes is also known as herbalism.  The method of treating various illnesses through herbalism had been a method of treating diseases since ancient times and it is gaining a worldwide recognition in the recent days as well.

The plants produce chemical substances and it contains of primary and secondary metabolites.  The primary metabolites are sugars and fats whereas the secondary metabolites are the chemicals used for various purposes.  For example, the toxins are extracted, which are used to capture prey, as well as quinine from cinchona, morphine from poppy, digoxin from foxglove plant.

There are several secondary metabolites used, which are Artichoke that reduces total serum cholesterol, black cohosh that contains phytoestrogens that benefits symptoms resulting from menopause.  St. John’s Wort is used for treatment of mild to moderate depression.  Peppermint tea is used to help the problems related to gastrointestinal tract.  Garlic lowers the total cholesterol levels, reduces blood pressure, reduces platelet aggregation and possesses antibacterial properties.

One needs to be cautious that not all herbs are beneficial; there are some, which bear toxic effects on humans such as hemlock and nightshade.

As a last word, it needs to be mentioned here that do not take herbal medications as totally safe, some of the herbal medicines have their toxic doses and must be taken according to the dose prescribed.

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