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bgent
04-14-2009, 10:39 AM
seems a little slow, post wise in here so here goes a nutty question:

which came first using herbs for cooking or medicine (those used for both)? And the basis for your answer

hanktrent
04-14-2009, 12:08 PM
I may be misunderstanding the question, but I'll take a stab at it, even though my lack of knowledge about anthropology limits me.

I'd say herbs for medicine, and here's my reasoning.

The human consumption of herbs would have begun when humans first became what we'd define as human, since all animals that are omnivores and herbivores eat them. Thus the use of herbs in cooking would have begun whenever humans started using fire for cooking.

Depending how one defines "herbs," one might also require the herbs to be consumed for flavor alone, but I'd argue that even animals show preferences for different flavors, and will graze selectively if given an overabundance of food. So the choice to eat some things merely because they tasted good would have come "built in" as humans emerged, and the use of fire for cooking would still have been the start of herbs in cooking.

Using herbs for medicine is difficult to define. One might say that it requires a conscious awareness of cause and effect, i.e. if you consume plant A, effect B is produced. However, if instinct alone is allowed, other things might be considered a use of medicine, such as chickens eating egg shells to counteract a calcium deficiency, or the various reasons dogs and cats may eat grass. (http://books.google.com/books?pg=PA24&dq=cats+eat+grass&id=2rRNYfOIoaEC&output=html)

But either way, whether or not a conscious awareness of cause and effect is required as part of the definition, I'd guess that humans became aware of cause and effect before they used fire. And even before that, they had the dietary instincts of animals, if we count those things as medicines. So using herbs as medicine would have come first.

However, if you'd said the use of herbs as food vs. the use of herbs as medicine, that would make it a lot more difficult, and would hinge on the terms being more precisely defined.

Hank Trent
hanktrent@voyager.net

Blair
04-14-2009, 01:06 PM
I feel very safe in saying there are two things that fuel evolution throughout 4.5 Billion years.
Sex and getting enough food to be able to have Sex as often as is/was possible within any given life cycle.
Man (Human kind) comes along with his superior mind and instantly over evaluates everything.
Speaking from my own experience, Food and Sex have been very high on my list of very important things to do. I got to tell you if I don't eat pretty regular I don't feel like having sex very often.
Medicine or health issues have only been important to me when I'm not feeling very well.
OK it's not very scientific and it didn't take volumes of research documentation, just ask yourself the same question in about 8 hours when you get hungry?
Blair Taylor

bgent
04-14-2009, 10:22 PM
I'll give you an example:
GINGER
Used for nausea, heart cramps, forms of diarrhea, and colds its food use is as an addative is legendary
so plants /herbs in this case ginger was it used as a food or for the treatments?
hope it clears up my question

hanktrent
04-14-2009, 11:52 PM
I'll give you an example:
GINGER
Used for nausea, heart cramps, forms of diarrhea, and colds its food use is as an addative is legendary
so plants /herbs in this case ginger was it used as a food or for the treatments?
hope it clears up my question

Well, we're still back into pre-historic speculation. A quick google search shows ginger is a native of Asia, so now we've got it narrowed down to a continent. But I just don't see how we can know what prehistoric people in Asia thought about indigenous ginger root or how they used it, unless there have been some lucky archaelogical finds.

When cooking is eliminated as a factor, then Blair has some good points. You've got to eat something before you can even notice its medicinal effects, and you may have to eat it often before you can correlate it with mild effects. Ginger can be consumed without cooking, so the discovery of fire isn't a factor.

And it's still difficult to define. If one of the early members of the genus homo dug up some ginger root with a stick and chewed on it primarily because it tasted good, but he or she also noticed it made his/her stomach feel better, is that using it for food or medicine?

The Neanderthal burial sites (http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3406300011.html) show placement of selected herbs and flowers, but still...


An analysis of the flower specimens revealed them to be cornflowers, St. Banaby's thistle, and grape hyacinths, among other plants. Many of the plants found have curative qualities that range from pain relief to inflammation suppression. It is not known if Neanderthals were advanced enough to realize the exact medicinal properties of the plants to their specific uses, or if this was only a coincidental placement of flowers and herbs.

And of course, even if medicinal/cullinary herbs were found placed in burial sites in a way to make us sure they were there for their medicinal properties, that doesn't mean they weren't also used with food in the same culture, and perhaps used as food first.

I dunno. It's an interesting question, and I bet anthropologists could have a field day with it.

But I wonder if we're still not addressing the question as you mean it. Do you mean, when and why were particular foreign herbs imported to North America? Or introduced to western European culture?

Hank Trent
hanktrent@voyager.net

Linda Trent
04-15-2009, 12:10 AM
If we're talking historic man rather than pre-historic, my assumption would be that herbs were first used as food. My reasoning being that they ate it and it had a certain effect on them time and time again to the point that they discovered that if they ate that particular food then they felt better. However I'll admit that most herbs used for food have little to no effect on me as a person, so I guess it's not something that I would tend to think of as a medicine.

I suppose one could go back and look at the old records of the early empires and see when a certain herb was first mentioned as an herb for cooking and when it was first used for medicine. Surely someone's covered this topic somewhere online. Everything's online these days. :lol:

Linda.

Blair
04-15-2009, 08:04 AM
I think if you found an herb that has known medicinal properties to it, but doesn't smell good or taste good, or otherwise change or enhance the flavor of food, then you could probably say it was used as a medicine first.
The ancient Egyptians used honey to protect open wounds from infection. And there is a property within honey that restricts bacterial growth. We know this today because of science and being able to brake those properties down.
Now that is an example of what would seen to be an obvious food source in a medical application. This kind of makes you wonder what gave the guy the idea to put honey on a wound? or why the wounded person allowed it?
Honey is not an herb or a spice?
I'm still inclined to believe food would come to mind first for most herbs and as a medicine after.
Now here is something to think about, how hungy must the first guy have been to eat a Lobster? Oyster?
Blair Taylor

hanktrent
04-15-2009, 10:49 AM
I think if you found an herb that has known medicinal properties to it, but doesn't smell good or taste good, or otherwise change or enhance the flavor of food, then you could probably say it was used as a medicine first.

Yep, definitely. The effects of outright poisons like jemson weed, some mushrooms, ipecac, etc. were surely noticed almost immediately, and then it was necessary to figure out what to do with them--avoid them, declare them "magic," correlate them (right or wrong) with curing some ailment, etc.

Here's a puzzler in defining the difference between food and medicine. Is a substance medicine, if it cures a condition like beri beri or goiter? If yes, then is it still a medicine if it's taken to prevent the condition, before symptoms appear? If yes, then what isn't medicine? Every food has components that prevent a deficiency of something.

If we only declare it a medicine when we understand specifically how it works, for example by identifying beri beri as a lack of thiamine and the thiamine in rice husks as a cure, then that would bring the first use of some herbal medicines very late, well into the 19th or 20th centuries.

And what about herbal medicines that didn't work? Would they still be counted as medicines, if they were believed to work at the time, like mandrake root for fertility?

It's one reason I find these kind of questions always seem to devolve into semantics, and though that can be interesting as an intellectual exercise, it doesn't add as much actual knowledge as just trying to understand the social context of something in a particular culture, rather than to look for "firsts" or put things in categories.


Now here is something to think about, how hungy must the first guy have been to eat a Lobster? Oyster?

I've often heard that joke/question/puzzler, and though it's superificially funny, I never really got it. There must be something more to it that I'm missing, like lobsters or oysters definitely weren't eaten by early man, or something. Animals eat oysters when they can get them, so I always figured that early hominids living near the sea surely just ate them like other primates. Google capuchins and oysters, for example. It's like saying, how hungry must someone have been to eat raw bloody meat? Well, that's how we started. We've given up eating a lot more gross stuff than we've added.

Hank Trent
hanktrent@voyager.net

Curt-Heinrich Schmidt
04-15-2009, 02:05 PM
Hallo!

IMHO...

In brief and to over-simplfy...

We learn by trial and error.

Animals enter an environment and exploit it whether carnivore, herbivore, or omnivore. (Primary Forest Efficiency, and/oragriculture, and/or domesticated animal husbandry replaced big game hunting 10,000 years ago.)
Somethings are good to eat. Somethings make you sick. Somethings kill you.
Some life forms instintively eat the right things. Other forms teach their young what to eat.

Those blue berries good. Those red berries bad.

I would blame it on the "Homo's. (Homo habilis, Homo rudolfensis, Homo ergaster, Homo georgicus, Homo erectus, Homo cepranensis, Homo antecessor, Homo heidelbergensis, Homo rhodesiensis, Homo neanderthalensis
Homo sapiens.)

CHS

"Three of the leaves . . . make enough fluid to keep Kharis' heart beating, one each night during the cycle of the full moon. You will dissolve three tana leaves and give the fluid to Kharis.....and nine leaves each night to give life and movement to Kharis; thus you will enable him to bring vengeance on the heads of those who try to enter."

Blair
04-15-2009, 02:10 PM
Beef Tatar? Sushi? People like raw meat even in this day and age of fire and cooked meat. Is this because they get some kind of medical benefit from doing so? Maybe. Or maybe they just like the taste?
It very easily could be simply a matter of semantics. Could it over analyzing a thing? Or is it what evolves into the Sciences?
Blair Taylor

Linda Trent
04-15-2009, 03:22 PM
People like raw meat even in this day and age of fire and cooked meat. Is this because they get some kind of medical benefit from doing so?

Red meat was actually prescribed to me years ago when I had a case of severe anemia. I had three bags of blood given me and orders to eat red meat and green leafies. I love when the doctor gives me prescriptions like that. :lol:

Linda.