Since antiquity, Greeks were using aromatic plants for their healing attributes and for their nutritional value.
The legend says that Mount Olympus, where the Greek gods lived, was covered with a canopy of flowers and herbs that were of service to the gods, as well as to living mortals. The stories about these gods and goddesses clearly shows the respect the Ancient Greeks held for the beauty of the plants and their attributes.
Hippocrates, the Greek physician and “father of medicine”, advocated the use of herbs, fresh air, exercise, and good diet. He recorded the use of about 400 herbs to heal illness. Hippocates stated that illness was an imbalance of the basic elements within the body, and the proper use of herbs could restore this balance.
Another influential Greek physician, Galen, expanded the philosophy of Hippocrates. His work “De Simplicibus” became the standard medical text in Rome. Another famous work, “De Materia Medica” written in the first century A.D. by the Greek physician Dioscorides, provided a major source of herbal knowledge for the next 1,500 years.
It was the Roman armies that were responsible for spreading herbal lore throughout Europe, as they brought many of their medicinal plants with them on their conquests. Pliny the Elder (A.D. 23-79) was the Roman naturalist who collected an encyclopedia of herbal knowledge called “Naturalis Historia”.
The manuscripts of Hippocrates and Dioscorides were preserved in medieval monasteries, where they were translated and copied by diligent monks.
Through the centuries a handful of traditional herbalists created local centers of herbal treatment throughout Europe. By the 19th century the chemical composition of herbs was being analyzed to discover their effects on the physical body. Many herbs subsequently became the basis of modern medicines.
Nowadays, there is a growing awareness that certain areas are reach in healing resource, which is leading to a change of attitude as pharmaceutical companies search for new cures for modern diseases such as cancer. Herbs are still part of the healing tradition of Europe and North America. Despite the use of sophisticated drugs to cure disease, many people still make use of traditional plant remedies.
Plants take up substances from the earth and convert them into vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, proteins and fats that the human body can use for healing and nourishment. Almost 200 different chemical elements are contained in each of the aromatic plants. Combinations of herbs can benefit by the synergistic way in which the plants work.
During the past few years there is a continuous increasing global interest for the Greek aromatic plants and their multiple uses. Nowadays, the Greek and international industry are using the aromatic plants for the production of cosmetics, medicines and foods. Greeks, throughout the country enjoy the therapeutic benefits of a variety of herbs: Chamomile, lime, sage, mountain tea, mint, spearmint, thyme, fennel, aniseed, St John’s wort, lavender and oregano existed- and still exist in the modern home.
With a return to traditional values, more and more people are reverting to natural products in their daily lives and rediscovering therapies that spring from the depths of time. It is notable that in Greece, the trend toward the use of aromatic and medicinal plants is steadily increasing as a popular therapeutic choice.