Uses of Herb and Spices
Herbs are plants of extreme importance because of their medicinal and aromatic properties. Herbs along with spices have been known from the beginning of mankind and there documented proof of usage has been verified all along. They have been used for various reasons in foods, medicines, perfumery and cosmetics. They helped develop modern civilizations and have fundamentally changed the field of medicine. It has been known since ancient times that some herbs are so powerful that they can change our physiological functioning. Many wars were fought for these special plants and the knowledge possessed by few was transferred from generations to generations. Herbs were also worshipped in temples and used for performing rituals. Herb gardens were planted in Egypt more than 4000 years ago. GFN Food Sales are Herb Wholesalers and major Spice Companies in USA.
Uses of Herbs and Spices in Cosmetics and Perfumery
The importance of herbs has been so significant that fields of horticulture and botany got started with the study of herbs. In modern world the fragrant oils of herbs and spices are extensively used in toiletries such as soaps, toothpastes, face packs, lotions, freshness sachets, toilet waters and hair oils. They are essential ingredients in beauty care products like cleansing agents, infusions, skin toners, moisturizers, eye lotions, bathing oils, shampoos and hair conditioners, cosmetic creams, antiseptic and antitanning lotions and creams, improvement of complexion and purifying blood.
Uses of Herbs and Spices in food
Spices and herbs are used as essential ingredients in foods and alcoholic beverages. In food they are used to impart flavor, pungency and color. They are also used for salt and sugar reduction and texture improvements. Spices are especially used in food preparation for flavoring, deodorizing, pungency and coloring. Because of the antioxidant and antimicrobial properties they are also used to preserve food items.
Herbs and Spices used for Flavoring:
Parsley, cinnamon, allspice, dill, mint, tarragon, cumin, marjoram, star anise, basil, anise, mace, nutmeg, fennel, sesame, vanilla, fenugreek, cardamom and celery are mainly used for flavoring.
Garlic, onion, bay leaves, clove, thyme, rosemary, caraway, sage, savory, coriander, pepper, oregano, horseradish, Japanese pepper, saffron, ginger, leek and mustard are secondary herbs or spices used for flavoring.
Herbs and Spices used for Deodorizing or masking:
Garlic, savory, bay leaves, clove, leek, thyme, rosemary, caraway, sage, oregano, onion and coriander.
Herbs and Spices used for adding Pungency:
Garlic, savory, bay leaves, clove, leek, thyme, rosemary, caraway, sage, oregano, onion, coriander, Japanese pepper, mustard, ginger, horseradish, red pepper and pepper are mainly used for adding pungency.
Parsley, pepper, allspice, mint, tarragon, cumin, star anise, mace, fennel, sesame, cardamom, mustard, cinnamon, vanilla, horseradish, Japanese pepper, nutmeg and ginger are secondary herbs or spices used for adding pungency.
Herbs and Spices used for adding Color:
Paprika, turmeric and saffron.
Herbs and Spices used in Alcoholic Beverages:
- Vermouth – Marjoram, sage, coriander, ginger, cardamom, clove, mace, peppermint, thyme, anise and juniper berry
- Gin – Coriander and juniper berry
- Aquavit – Anise, fennel, dill and caraway
- Curaçao – Cinnamon, clove, nutmeg and coriander
- Kummel – Caraway, fennel and coriander
- Anisette – Anise, fennel and nutmeg
- Ganica – Cinnamon, cardamom, coriander, mint, fennel, clove and pepper
- Geme de cumin – Cumin
- Geme de cacao – Clove, mace and vanilla
- Geme de menthe – Peppermint
- Peppermint schnapps – Peppermint
Medicinal uses of herb and spices
Around 30-40% of medicine preparations are either extracted or based on plants. For example quinine is derived from the bark of Cinchona tree. Similarly aspirin is based on salicin of willow or polar bark. Other important examples of plant derived drugs are morphine and codeine which are derived from opium, and taxol derived bark of Pacific yew.
The reason plants have tremendous potential and used so often for medicinal purposes is that nature provides a vast reservoir of bioactive molecules. Extractable in a variety of ways herbs and spices have been used through ages for health care. Of the large number of ancient systems, Chinese and Indian Ayurvedic are two most important systems of herbal medicine. Herbs contain alkaloids and glycosides which are of great interest to pharmacologists.