What’s The Difference Between
An Herb & A Spice?
Spices.. herbs.. they’re all the same right? I didn’t even know there was a true difference until I really started thinking about it. I thought about the spices in the pantry, the herbs in the backyard and then it hit me, there is a difference but where does that line get drawn? What separates an aromatic herb from a potent spice?
As it turns out, it all comes down to what part of the plant you are using. Herbs are primarily taken from the leafy or green part of a non-woody plant such as rosemary, basil, thyme, mint etc. Spices however, are primarily dried bits from the root, stem, bark, flower, bulb, or seed. Examples of spices include peppercorn, turmeric, ginger, cayenne and cinnamon. Spices are generally more potent and can also be used as a preservative for meats. Herbs on the other hand, give off an aromatic smell and fresher taste.
Furthermore, spices are grown in sub-tropical or tropical climates whereas herbs are grown in more temperate climates. It is not unusual to use a plant as both a spice and an herb. For example, Cilantro is mainly used as an herb but when the root is dried it becomes the spice of coriander.
Put A Little ‘Spice’ In Your Life
5 most common spices in the pantry
Helps to balance blood sugar and triglyceride levels in the body. This could aid in preventing diabetes and heart disease. The compound ‘cinnamaldehyde’ found in cinnamon has been known to be used for it’s antiseptic qualities as well, fighting off bacteria, viruses, and fungal infections. It also has anti-inflammatory properties and could help boost cognitive function by smelling the aroma.
*Cinnamon was one of the first traded spices in history dating back to 2000 B.C
This powerful spice can help your body adapt to life’s demands. It can act as both a stimulant and a sedative, depending on what your body needs. It acts by lowering your blood pressure, decreasing the stress on the body. The oil from nutmeg can also help treat joint and muscle pain. Furthermore, consuming nutmeg can soothe diarrhea, flatulence, and or an upset stomach.
*In very large quantities, nutmeg can have a hallucinogenic effect on the body
Also known as black pepper, this guy can aid in your digestion and helps to stimulate appetite. It also has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agents that have been used to detoxify the lungs and ease lung infections. The compound ‘peperine’ found in peppercorns has been studied in science laboratories and has been found to halt breast cancer cells.
*For best usage, buy whole peppercorns and grind when needed. Pre-ground pepper DOES NOT contain the same qualities
This spice has many uses ranging from antiseptic properties to calming sugar cravings. It can help treat low blood pressure when regularly taken in small amounts. It can also support the liver, calm upset stomaches, fight respiratory infections and aid in the treatment of metabolic syndrome (which can help reduce the risk of diabetes and heart disease.) The compound ‘Glycyrrhizin’ is responsible for the aroma of licorice and for the healing properties that are used to treat gastrointestinal ulcers and inflammatory conditions in the body.
*The botanical name for licorice, ‘Glycyrrhiza glabra’ literally translates into ‘sweet root’
It is said that this spice can relieve heartburn, nausea, bloating and flatulence in the body. It has been used in history to treat poor circulation, arthritis, rheumatism, period pain, and prevention of blood clots in the body. It does this by lowering the cholesterol levels in the blood.
*Greeks used to treat digestive problems by wrapping bread around a root of ginger and eating it. Eventually the ginger was added into the bread dough and gave rise to the famous gingerbread treat.
Put the ‘Herb’ in Herbivore
5 most common herbs in the backyard
Can be used medicinally for diabetics to help reduce blood sugar because it has a hypoglycemic effect. It also has properties to improve concentration and memory and contain antiallergic agents that help reduce seasonal allergies to hay fever and asthma.
*Ancient European history relates the term basil to it’s latin root word ‘basilicum’, which Greek and Roman history links to the deadly mythical serpent ‘basilisk.’ When sowing the basil plant, they believed uttering a curse would ensure it’s germination.
When eaten regularly, garlic has antibiotic properties that keep the lungs and gut clear of infections. This is also why it has been used to treat colds and coughs. It also has a preventative effect to reduce cancer in the stomach and colon. People who take garlic pills see a reduced cholesterol level, better circulation, reduction of artery plaque, and reduced blood pressure.
*Back in the days of World War I, garlic juice was eaten primarily to prevent gangrene in the field soldiers.
Used to treat stomachaches, this herb has sedative & relaxing properties on the gut causing relief from indigestion, nausea, flatulence, and cramping. Peppermint oil has pain-relieving effects on joint and muscle tissue as well as headaches. When inhaled, the peppermint oil can act as a decongestant and reduce feelings of nausea.
*Peppermint is a great natural insect repellent. You can spray it around the house and ensure pests and rodents stay clear. Wipe down the floors or cabinets in the garage to keep them out. Fleas also can’t stand peppermint, if your dog has fleas put a drop of pennyroyal mint oil on his/her collar or under their bed.
This herb can be used to help alleviate fatigue, depression, and poor circulation through it’s nerve stimulant properties. Rosemary can also enhance memory and concentration by increasing blood flow to the head.
*Ancient magical folk-tails also call this herb ‘Elf Leaf’ where bunches of it were used to hang on the outside of doors to keep the thieves and witches out.
Tea Tree is known for its antimicrobial properties that treat bacterial, viral, and fungal disease-causing organisms. It can be used to treat acne, gum infections, and even athletes foot.
*In World War II, soldiers used Tea Tree to cure infections, wounds and fungal infections in the field.
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