A herbal is "a collection of descriptions of plants put together for medicinal purposes." Expressed more elaborately, it is a book containing the names and descriptions of plants, usually with information on their virtues – and in particular their medicinal, tonic, culinary, toxic, hallucinatory, aromatic, or magical powers, and the legends associated with them. A herbal may also classify the plants it describes, may give recipes for herbal extracts, tinctures, or potions, and sometimes include mineral and animal medicaments in addition to those obtained from plants. Herbals were often illustrated to assist plant identification. Herbals were among the first literature produced in Ancient Egypt, China, India, and Europe as the medical wisdom of the day accumulated by herbalists, apothecaries and physicians. Herbals were also among the first books to be printed in both China and Europe. In Western Europe herbals flourished for two centuries following the introduction of moveable type. In the late 17th century, the rise of modern chemistry, toxicology and pharmacology reduced the medicinal value of the classical herbal.
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