Herbs have many uses, from adding a little bit of flavor to your food to treating common ailments and illnesses. The practice of using herbs goes back tens of thousands of years. Even the ancient Egyptians were into herbs, and they actually had records listing herbs and their associated uses. They used herbs to relieve headaches and as laxatives much like we do today.
Both the ancient Greeks and Romans used herbs as well. In 460 B.C. Hippocrates systemized herbs into catagories. He used many different herbs to treat illnesses in ancient Greece. Herbs, back then, treated the same illnesses that they do today. In fact, Hippocrates used parsley to treat things like kidney pain and rheumatism.
Both Greeks and Romans used basil and Roman soldiers often carried coriander as a preservative when they were on long campaigns. The Greeks used tarragon is a toothache remedy, and chives were used to relieve sore throats.
There were a few years when using herbs fell out of favor. Then in the Middle Ages the practice sprang back, employing knowledge from ancient times as well as Arabic cultures. Of course, as they did with everything in the Middle Ages, there were some myths associated with Arabs. Dill was thought to be magical, and Rosemary was thought to be able to ward off the plague.
During the 16th century, botanical knowledge, particularly of the Arabs, had a huge growth spurt. An herbal compendium was published in 1652 by Nicholas Culpepper. This book listed a large variety of herbal remedies known at the time.
With the advance of modern medicine many people have forgotten about the use of herbs. They have turned to pharmacueticals. Even so, there seems to be a resurgence of the use of herbs and natural medicines today. This old knowledge which was passed from century to century may just be making a comeback. Who knows? Pretty soon you might be going out in your garden and snipping off a few bits of some herb to treat an ailment instead of running down to the pharmacy.