Tell the average modern person that some well known herbs and spices can be more potent medicines than the some OTC drugs and they would probably look at you like you were on drugs. Tell an ancient person, living hundreds of years ago, that those same herbs and spices are only good for flavoring meats and veggies and they'd probably give you the same look.
But medical researchers have been finding out in recent years what the ancients knew for millennia; that herbs are powerful healing agents when adequate amounts are correctly processed.
Due to the development of antibiotic resistance in certain microbes, the medical community has been determinedly searching for new and improved methods of disease treatment and therapeutics. For this reason they have turned to the flora of the earth, exploring those "old wives tales" and remedies the ancients knew oh so long ago.
And what have they found? By now there have been hundreds of secondary metabolites identified in plants that contribute to not only the look, smell, and protection of the plant but also produce compounds that lend themselves to the healing nature of the plants. The extraction and use of these compounds, known as phytochemicals, along with their molecular make-up is being extensively researched as well as their therapeutic affects on various ailments.
In short, the ancients were on to something. They may not have used the names like organosulphur compounds or beta-carotene but there's no denying, some of those "home remedies", like using peppermint for stubborn gas, have some credence to them and at times just plain work. So the next time you look at your spices keep in mind you very well may have a whole pharmacy in your cabinet.