Herbal Remedies and the Egyptian Influence
Where it all started....
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The history of herbal medicine probably began with our most ancient ancestors, hunter-gatherers, who would have learned that eating certain herbs resulted in a palliative effect. Most likely this began with a marshmallow plant, which has the effect of calming stomach upsets. Today, herbal medicine is a constantly evolving science and incorporates information we have learned over the centuries and from herbal practitioners around the globe.Herb gardens around the world have helped shape the best known dishes of Arabia, China, Egypt, Greece, India, and Persia.The way these cultures used herbs has built culinary traditions that have lasted into modern times, creating the distinct flavors upon which their cuisines are based today.
The history of herb use in Africa begins in ancient Egypt, where pharaohs and commoners alike used herbs extensively. Some of the world’s earliest known herb gardens were planted nearly 4,000 years ago in Egypt, often near temples where certain herbs and flowers were needed on a daily basis for worship. One such flower, the water lily or lotus (Nymphaea lotus), was considered sacred, and every part of the lotus plant was used in Egyptian art, food, and medicine.Another very important herb, garlic, was found in the tomb of Tutankhamen (1341–1323 BCE) and was thought to possess magical powers. If Egyptians took a solemn oath, they swore on a clove of garlic, and garlic was eaten by slaves as they built the great pyramids at Giza because it was believed that it would endow the workers with strength and endurance. Frankincense and myrrh were important in Egyptian rituals, as well. Reliefs in the tomb of Queen Hatshepsut (ca. 1512–1457 BCE) in Luxor show frankincense trees growing in pots. Myrrh was believed to cure cancer, leprosy, and syphilis and was used in embalming.