The Bible mentions 128 plants and herbs that were part of everyday life in ancient Israel. Some of these plants include almonds, apples, mustard, cucumber, grapes, mandrake, nettle, poppy, and wormwood and many others.
I wanted to look into a few of the most talked about herbs in the Bible and their roles in health, hygiene, and beauty and how they were traditionally used. You’d probably be surprised by how many of these you use on a regular basis!
Aloe vera has been used for thousands of years to heal a variety of conditions, most notably burns, wounds, skin irritations, and constipation. Aloe was also used to embalm the dead, as well as for perfume. We use it in a lot of the same ways today.
All parts of the anise plant were used during Biblical times. The seeds, leaves and stem were used to reduce fevers as well as for other medicinal purposes. Today we use it for indigestion, coughs, colds and insomnia. All you have to do is crush the seeds into a tea and enjoy!
Bitter herbs are a collective term used for lettuce, horehound, tansy, horseradish, endive and coriander seeds. Bitter herbs were mostly used for food. In fact, the people of Israel were commanded to have bitter herbs with their Passover lamb. Today you can take an elixir of bitter herbs for indigestion, and can also be used for UTI’s, kidney stones, achy joints and fluid retention.
Cinnamon, once considered more precious than gold, has some amazing medicinal benefits. The bark, where the oil comes from, was traditionally collected for anointing oil, as well as perfume. Now we use it for many things including indigestion, lowering blood sugar, brain function, and as an antifungal agent. Plus it tastes great so I love adding it to smoothies, hot tea and on toast.
The ancient Israelites took cumin seeds, dried them, and used them to flavor their food. We not only use it as a spice for our food, but it is great for digestion, urinary disorders and cardiovascular disease.
Most popularly known for incense, Frankincense was used during ceremonial offerings and considered an article of luxury. It was also one of the gifts given to Jesus when he was born along with myrrh and gold. I love this essential oil. It is an analgesic, antidepressant, sedative and anti-inflammatory.
Garlic has been used as both food and medicine in many cultures for thousands of years, dating back to when the Egyptian pyramids were built. Garlic is used to help prevent heart disease, including atherosclerosis and plaque buildup in the arteries, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and to boost the immune system. Garlic may also help protect against cancer.
Mint has been used for thousands of years as a culinary herb and for medicine. Mint can help with stomach aches, poor digestion, fever, hiccups, ear aches and sinuses. I love making mint tea, so yummy and soothing!
One of Jesus’ most famous parables was about the mustard seed. This may be because mustard grew so abundantly in Palestine. Mustard can be used for sore throats, muscle and back relaxing, and as a hair conditioner to treat damaged hair. They’re also great for chest congestion. Remember the old mustard packs that our mothers and grandmothers used to use? They work wonders.
In Biblical times, it was sold as a spice or an ingredient of the anointing oil used in the Tabernacle, or as a salve for the purification of the dead. In the Roman world, it was considered a natural remedy for almost every human affliction, from earaches to hemorrhoids. I love using myrrh essential oil. Not only does it smell wonderful, it is a cleansing agent, anti-inflammatory and great for teeth and gum health.