SCENTS OF THE GREEK LAND
Greece’s vegetation is one of the richest in the Mediterranean. The country accounts for just 6% of the area of the Mediterranean, but has 26% of its flora. Greece’s great biological wealth is mainly due to its geographical position, its topographic diversity, its complex geological and ecological history and its relatively mild human interventions. In recent years, there has been growing interest in Greek herbs and their dozens of uses. Today, the industrial uses of herbs in Greece and internationally include cosmetics, medicines and food. There are hundreds of different chemicals in each herb. Combinations of different plants and herbs can benefit the human body through the synergies created by the therapeutic substances of each plant.
CRETE, A LAND NOT TOUCHED BY TIME
Crete is the floral crossroads of Eastern Mediterranean. Its flora has not significantly changed over time, mainly due thanks to the morphology of local territory. The climate of the island has contributed to shaping a truly rich flora, through various ecosystems that compose a rarely diverse whole.
There is hardly another part of the globe comparable in size to Crete that contains so many plant species
This wealth of endemic plants is due to the isolation of Crete from the continental mass for millions of years, the existence of high mountains, the wide diversity of habitats, which have become sanctuaries for endemic, rare and endangered plant species that have become extinct in other locations. Aromatic plants represent a long and significant tradition on Crete.
They have been known for their pharmaceutical properties since antiquity
Crete has been an exporting centre for pharmaceutical and aromatic plants. Indeed, it is characteristic that about 15% of the tablets written in Linear B from the 13th century BCE discovered in Knossos concern perfumes and aromatic plants.
THE PAGES OF HISTORY
The use of herbs in Greece began in ancient times. The knowledge that ancient Greek writers had of the therapeutic use of various plant species was preserved over the centuries and is now the main basis of modern folk medicine.
Although there are references to the medicinal properties of herbs in the Homeric era, it was Hippocrates and Dioscorides who created the foundations of modern medicine. Hippocrates, the father of medicine, introduced observation and experimentation into therapeutic practice. He recorded approximately 400 species of herbs whose use became known from the 5th century BCE.
Theophrastus is known as the father of botany, with his writings on the morphology, development and efficacy of plants (Enquiry into Plants, On the Causes of Plants), which have survived to this day.
Dioscorides was the most famous “pharmacognostic”, as he did not only mention about 600 herbs and their properties, but also recorded their botanical characteristics in detail. There followed other very important people in the development of medicine and pharmacology (for many centuries there was no clear distinction between the two sciences), such as Galen.