20 Astounding Facts About Your Favorites Herbs & Spices

1Catnip

Catnip is 10 times more effective at repelling mosquitoes than DEET, the compound used in most insect repellents.


2Star anise

Anise, star anise, and licorice are completely botanically unrelated, despite smelling and tasting very similar.


3Mint

Mint was strewn across floors in Ancient Greece to cover the smell of the hard-packed soil, thus being known as the "herb for hospitality."


4Chamomile

Pregnant women should not drink chamomile, as it may lead to miscarriage.


5Saffron

During the Middle Ages, saffron was so expensive some traders would try to increase their profits by bulking up the herb with yellow marigold petals. When authorities in Nuremberg, where the herb was mainly traded, found out about these tainted parcels of saffron, the traders were burned alive.


6Chili peppers

Chili peppers evolved to be spicy because heat repels most animals except for birds, which are responsible for spreading their seeds.


7Lemon balm

Lemon balm not only acts as a mild sedative and sleep aid but also boosts memory performance.


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8Fenugreek

Fenugreek contains an extremely potent aromatic compound called solo tone and when consumed in heavy amounts, can prompt a sweet maple odor in sweat and urine. 


9Licorice

Licorice is mildly poisonous and should not be eaten during pregnancy or in quantities exceeding 70-150 grams per day.


10Spearmint

The flavors of spearmint and caraway are chiral molecules. They have the exact same molecular composition, but their orientation (left or right) makes them taste and smell different from one another.

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