Herb, a plant used for its taste or smell, or for its coloring or medicinal properties. The term herb is sometimes used to refer to any herbaceous plant (a plant having a nonwoody stem). In many cultures, herbs are used extensively as flavorings for food and beverages. Fresh or dried herbs can be added directly to food during preparation, or they can be used to flavor condiments. Many popular herbs belong to the mint family (for example, majoram, oregano, rosemary, and sage) or the parsley family (for example, anise, chervil, coriander, and dill).Herbs are used extensively as flavorings for food and beverages.
Herbs are used for their fragrance in such items as potpourris. They are also used in cosmetics, dyes, and ornaments.
Herbs have been used medicinally for ages. China has a long history of using herbs as medicines. Traditionally, herb gardens were the medicine cabinets of many homes. Herbals, books describing the various plants and their uses, were among the first books printed by movable type.
In the United States, the use of herbs for their medicinal qualities grew during the late 1900's. They are typically sold in health food stores but are also available at large drugstores. Some of the more common herbs used medicinally are echinacea, garlic, goldenseal, ginseng, saw palmetto, and gingko. Garlic, for example, is used to lower cholesterol and inhibit the formation of blood clots.