Useful properties of herbs were discovered very early by observing sick animals which helped themselves with use of selected plants. Archaeological research has shown that man has used herbs 60.000 years ago in what is today Iraq. Herbs were mainly used to repel insects, hide human scent when hunting and in attracting partners. Later they started using selected herbs such as thyme and rosemary, to mask odor and taste of rotten meat.
Around the year 3400 BC in China, people started using herbs in medical treatments. From this time there are the first records of the use of herbs for medicinal purposes. In ancient Egypt were written first recipes for medical product based on herbs in 2400 BC. Papyrus from 1500 BC contains information on thousands of years of medical practice in Egypt with 876 recipes for herbal preparations from more than 500 herbs. In the year 750 BC there were 64 different herbs grown in the royal gardens of the king of Babylon Mardukapaliddina II. Ancient Greeks used to treat various diseases with herbs, and knowledge was passed on to the Romans. Romans spread this knowledge to other nations in Europe.
In era of christianisation, the knowledge of herbs usefulness was slightly diminished as the Church did not believe in the healing effects of herbs. Nevertheless, some monks of Benedictine order accumulated and spread knowledge about medicinal herbs, which was drawn from ancient scripts and the Arab world. In the Middle Ages, they created many monastic herb gardens and discovered new plants with the healing ingredients. In the 13th century began separation of medicine from the pharmacy. Herbal gardens were developed around pharmacy shops. During this period, many woman herbalists were charged of witchcraft and burned as witches.
In the 16th century and later, the cultivation of herbs spread among the people. Many different forms of herbal gardens were developed. Herbs have become part of home garden. Many church and monastery gardens were planted. In these gardens is a powerful account of Christian symbolism, which is reflected in their shape. With the industrial revolution and the progress of pharmacy, modern mass cultivation of herbs emerged.