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this internet age, when all information in the world seems only a mouse
click away, many believe we have outgrown the need for books, and that the death of print is imminent. But the information
you find on the surfing the web is only the glittery surface of a deep sea of
knowledge. If you really want to learn about herbs you need at least three good
reference books; preferable the old-fashioned, physical, hold it in your hands
and read in your favorite chair by lamplight even if the lights go out kind.
These herbals, especially the older ones, can be challenging to read, not only
for the archaic English, but also because they were written at a time when people
had common knowledge of plants, how to identify them, grow them, preserve them,
and make them into medicine and food to sustain themselves and their families, and assume this level of knowledge on the part of the reader.
of books here, and the authors quoted from them throughout this website,
are the ones in my personal bookcase. While you can find most of them
by searching online bookstores, many hidden treasures populate the dusty shelves
of second-hand bookstores in your town. If you are lucky enough to find one still
in business consider giving them your support.
- 48 Mabey, Richard . "New Age Herbalist, The ", Fireside (1988)
The herbs in this glossary are listed under their botanical families, emphasizing the similarities between related plants. Many of the mint family (Labiatae), for example, are rich in essential oils, and important as culinary herbs, while a number of herbs in the daisy family (Compositae) are good for healing wounds and stopping bleeding. Within each family the herbs are listed alphabetically under their Latin names, with their common names also given in bold type. As well as the plants that have traditionally been used by herbalists, the glossary also contains a few plants that have been extensively used in orthodox medicine, such as the foxglove, and other more recently researched plants whose dramatic healing properties have lately been publicized.
- 602 Authors of Prevention . "Doctors Book of Home Remedies, The", Bantam Books/Rodale Press (1991)
Good source of easy home remedies for common illness. Use everyday household items to replace expensive OTC preparations
- 52 Balch, Phyllis A. CNC . "Prescription for Herbal Healing", Avery (2002)
This is a good book to have, and is very well researched. The drawback is an over reliance on the Western view of herbs as simply another type of drug - and not enough of the whole herb tradition that I favor.
This book is divided into three parts for easy reference. Part I discusses the basic principles of herbal medicine and outlines the properties and characteristics of some one hundred sixty single herbs and sixty herbal combination formulas.
- 50 Blanchan, Netje . "Wild Flowers worth Knowing", Doubleday (1917)
This is a gem of a book - for all of us who value the beauty of wildflowers and herbs. The author's love of the subject shines through to the reader, and her plant and flower descriptions are flowing and beautiful. This popular book was recently released again by BiblioBazaar (May 23, 2007). You can also find used copies of the 2nd edition released in 1931 for a very reasonable price. It has passed into the public domain, and I have chosen to use many of her lovely and complete plant descriptions throughout this website.
Netje Blanchan describes a younger more innocent country, focusing on North American, for the most part the United States. She shows a disdain for many of the sacred cows of herbalism,
dismissive of Pliny and "superstitious peasants" who ascribed fantastical healing powers to what she saw as common wildflowers. She also consigns many of the old herbal remedies of her grandmothers time to a " more credulous" generation, although she does show a grudging respect for certain plants such as Joe-pye weed, and Spikenard She is writing from perspective of her times, 1917 when the birth and miraculous promises of science dazzled us into forgetting plants healing lore.
What makes her book so valuable is her obvious love and admiration of these wildflowers of pastures, roadsides, bogs and high pine forests. Her passion shines through in flowing descriptions that go beyond the usual plant description to add the story of the beneficial insects, bees and butterflies - their relationships and co-dependencies that are an integral part of each others stories. Beautiful and ingenious, with persistence and avarice they woo the insects attention with bright colored flowers and nectars, made not for human enjoyment as we may think, but as their very means of survival.
- 55 Brown, Alice Cook . "Early American Herb Recipes", Dover (2001)
A wealth of information on the uses of herbs by homemakers of the past through more than 500 authentic recipes as they appeared in their original sources. The recipes cover the use of herbs for medicinal, culinary, cosmetic, and other purposes, from making vegetable and meat dishes to dyes and insecticides. 113 black-and-white illustrations
- 67 Brown, Deni . "Encyclopedia of Herbs & Their Uses", Dorling Kindersley (1995)
The beautiful book is well worth its place on your bookshelf. I find myself referring to it often, especially to sort out conflicting information about botanical names and exotic plants. Deni Brown is one of those singular authors whose passion for her work shines through. Browse through this book on a quiet evening, enjoy the stunning botanical photographs and imagine that you accompany Ms Brown on her journeys into the wild and remote areas of the world in search of unusual plants.
- 43 Cech, Richo . "Making Plant Medicine", Horizon Herbs (2000)
This is an excellent resource for those who want clear and concise information on making herbal medicines at home. Very easy to read and understand, there is information here for beginners, and for advanced home herbalists.
- 62 Charlotte Erichsen-Brown . "Medicinal and Other Uses of North American Plants", Dover (1979)
Chronological historical citations document 500 years of usage of plants, trees, and shrubs native to eastern Canada, northeastern U.S. Also complete identifying information. Well documented and detailed descriptions of herbs and plants used by the Native tribes and settlers of early North America
- 59 Chase, Dr. . "Dr. Chase's Recipes", (0000)
Dr. Chase, a traveling physician in the mid 1800s, published a book of 800 recipes for health remedies, drinks, livestock cures, etc that was a mainstay in households across early America. Some of these early Eclectic remedies are still good today, some not, but the reader will get a fascinating glimpse into how our forefathers lived. The book has been reprinted, Kessinger Publishing, LLC (June 29, 2008), and original copies are battered and timeworn, but still available.
- 608 Colonial Dames of America . "Herbs and Herb Lore of Colonial America", Dover (1970)
public domain first compiled in 1970
- 613 Crellin, John K., Jane Philpott . "Herbal Medicine Past and Present", Duke University Press (1990)
- 14 Culpeper, Nicholas . "Culpeper's Complete Herbal", Foulsham (1653)
Culpeper's Complete Herbal gives the reader a peek into the world view of 17th century thought and medicine. Culpeper was quite the rebel in his time, and diatribes against the establishment medical practitioners is infused with a dry wit and intelligence. The book however falls short as a complete botanical reference due omission and mistakes - and can put off those with a dim view of herbal astrology - still Culpepers mission to empower the ordinary person with the knowledge to heal themselves with common plants of garden and field seems even more admirable a goal today than it was 350 years ago. One thinks Dr. Culpepper would be pleased at the world wide dissemination of his words and wisdom and the continuing popularity of his book with todays readers.
- 60 David F. Vennells . "Bach's Flower Remedies for Beginners", Llewellyn Publications (2001)
This book gives a simple explanation of what the Bach Flower Essences are and how they can be used in everyday. Good information on how to apply Bach's remedies to improve everyday life.
- 15 Dawson, Adele . "Herbs: Partners in Life", Healing Arts Press (2000)
Adele Dawson's classic guide to the seasonal use of herbs for food, drink, and medicine x Clear directions for growing and using many wild and cultivated herbs. Detailed pen-and-ink drawings help readers identify 70 herbs. I find myself drawn in whenever I pick up this book to referance a herb. Her style of writing is so intimate and warm, you feel as if you have found a wise friend. Invaluable referance for herbal remedies, quick and healthy meals, and practical garden advice.
- 51 De Bairacli Levy, Juliette . "Common Herbs for Natural Health", Faber & Faber (1974)
Lore and uses for 200 herbs, 97 illustrated. Down-to-earth wisdom and practical hands-on knowledge. Foreword by Rosemary Gladstar
- 61 E.A. Wallace Budge . "The Divine Order of the Craft of the Herbalist", Society of Herbalists (1927)
Wonderful reference to the history of herbal medicine, with particular detail on Egyptian herbology. first published by Culpepper House by the Society of Herbalists, London (1928)
- 39 Editors of Prevention Health Books . "Doctors Book of Home Remedies for Dogs and Cats", Rodale ()
An owner's manual and a godsend--no four-legged home should be without it
- 615 Elpel, Thomas J. . "Botany in a Day, 5th Edition", HOPS Press (Jan 2004)
Fun and easy way to identify plants.
Teaches you how to recognise common patterns in the wonderful world of plants all around you. Highly recommended for anyone who ever wondered what is that plant?
- 33 Ericksen, Marlene . "Healing with Aromatherapy", McGraw-Hill (2000)
This comprehensive overview of the principles of aromatherapy is an invaluable guide through the wonderful and odorous world of essential oils — their history, their origins, and the many ways they can be used to treat a host of common conditions, including pain, menstrual disorders, digestive complaints, and children's ailments.
- 37 Falconi, Dina . "Earthly Bodies & Heavenly Hair", Ceres (1997)
A great book - formulas range from simple to complex - with easy to follow directions.
A master herbalist's guide to natural personal care. Unlike conventional makeup-coverups, Dina's unique approach nurtures natural beauty and health.
- 601 Fernie, W.T. M.D. . "Herbal Simples Approved for Modern Uses of Cure", Boericke & Tafel. (1897)
This medicinal herbal text from the late 1890s of England is a good example of the trend of medicine towards scientific methods of testing and using medicinal plants and herbs. M.Ds were moving away from the magical thinking of the older herbalists and the older methodologies such as the Doctrine of Signatures, but had not as yet began to discard herbs and botanicals for chemical drugs. Texts of this period are full of useful knowledge and remedies for the modern herbalist and botanist both, from a time when the two disciplines had not yet parted ways.
This book is part of our heritage and is in the public domain.
- 38 Foster, Steven and Yue . "Herbal Emissaries", Healing Arts Press (1992)
Anyone wishing a deeper understanding of Chinese herbs, their uses and histories will appreciate this beautifully written and easily read book. Professionals will augment their knowledge and anyone opening its cover will enjoy the lively history of culture and civilization as seen through the eyes of an herbalist.
- 607 Gibbons, Euell . "Stalking the Healthful Herbs", Alan Hood (1966)
Great book for those wishing to learn more about using wild plants and herbs for food. Full of recipes and written in a very accessible homey style.
- 17 Gladstar, Rosemary . "Herbal Healing for Women", Fireside (1993)
I really like this book, the author has a very powerful and personal way of writing that makes you feel like you could be talking to an old friend over a cup of herbal tea in a cozy kitchen. Very detailed and well organized information on all aspects of using herbs, including storage, cultivation, making teas and extracts...
Targeted to any woman who wishes to use a more natural approach to health care, understandable for beginners, a good reference to more advanced users.
- 10 Grieve, Maud . "A Modern Herbal", Harcourt (1931)
Here is the first comprehensive record of plants and their uses to have been written for hundreds of years -- in fact the only complete modern herbal. A truly encyclopedic work, the two-volume set describes well over 800 different species of herbs, grasses, mushrooms, shrubs and trees. Included is historical background for each plant, cultivation tips, up-to-date information on useful substances derived from each plant, and the different ailments the herb is used to treat. Also included are folk beliefs as well as economic and cosmetic properties of hundreds of plants -- from aconite to zedoary. Also, common and Latin names, drawings, photographs, a good index and much more.
- 11 Grieve, Maud . "Modern Herbal Volume 2", Harcourt (1931)
Volume 2 of the fullest, most exact, most useful compilation of herbal material. Gigantic alphabetical encyclopedia, from aconite to zedoary, gives botanical information, medical properties, folklore, economic uses, much else. Indispensable to serious reader. Total in set: 161 illustrations.
- 24 Hermann, Matthias . "Herbs & Medicinal Flowers", ()
Out of print classic, wonderful color engravings by Redoute', Daffinger and several other artists. Good, succinct information, good indexing.
- 610 Hoffmann, David . "Medical Herbalism: The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine", Healing Arts Press (2010-12-15)
- 609 Hutchens, Alma R. . "Handbook of Native American Herbs", Shambahala Boston & London (1992)
- 27 James, Ph.D. . "The Green Pharmacy Herbal Handbook", Rodale Books (2000)
Well written and handy guide to some of the most common herbs, this book was on of my first introductions to herbal medcine. I still find myself referring to it.
THE GREEN PHARMACY HERBAL HANDBOOK was compiled from Dr. Duke's database of the world's medicinal plants. The database, which he began during his career as a top botanist with the USDA, is a major resource for herbalists around the world. Written in Dr. Duke's own folksy, jargon-free language, this important reference work explains each herb with care.
- 58 John Gerard . "Gerard's Herbal", (0000)
Gerard's Herbal is the bestselling herbal of all, exceeding the number of copies printed of any other, because it has been reproduced in modern times.
There are controversies and caveats to the work, such that Gerard based much on the work on prior art of the Flemish botanist Rembert Dodoens who was published in Latin in 1583. That said you would have to go back to the The Ebers Papyrus, to find any herbal NOT based on prior writings, or in fact tainted by outright plagiarism. One wonders what he would make of the fact his work is available at the click of a mouse on Amazon, and the scattered bits and pieces of his words that are quoted in every modern herb book I have read. This important work is well worth having a bound copy on the bookshelf, and is also newly available in a digitized Kindle version making searching the book easier.
- 68 Kavasch, E. Barrie, Barr, Karren . "American Indian Healing Arts", Bantam (1999)
American Indian Healing Arts is a magical blend of plant lore, history, and living tradition that draws on a lifetime of study with native healers by herbalist and ethnobotanist E. Barrie Kavasch.
Here are the time-honored tribal rituals performed to promote good health, heal illness, and bring mind and spirit into harmony with nature. Here also are dozens of safe, effective earth remedies--many of which are now being confirmed by modern research.
- 31 Kilham, Chris . "Hot Plants", St. Martin (2004)
In the wake of Viagra's enormous popularity, the international market has been inundated by a blizzard of purported natural sex enhancers. Some of these products are nothing but hype, yet others contain proven agents that enhance libido, improve sexual function, and increase pleasure. These bona fide sex-boosters can be found in Hot Plants.
From the anc
- 29 Lavender, Mrs . "Mrs. Lavender's Herbal Book", Mellifont Press (1930)
A dictionary of homely plants & everyday vegetables with their medicinal values. Herbs for health & beauty and cures for rheumatism, bronchitis, asthma, lumbago, coughs and colds, etc.
- 49 Lehner , Ernst and Johanna . "Folklore and Symbolism of Flowers, Plants and Trees", DOVER (2003)
If you are as facinated as I am by the myths and symbolism of plants, pick up this book from Dover. It is in their clip art collection, but the text as well as the illustrations make great reading
- 57 Li Shih-Chen . "Chinese Medicinal herbs", Dover (1578)
As a basis for modern-day holistic medicine, Chinese Medicinal Herbs provides an invaluable compendium for practitioners of alternative healing methods. Students, professionals, and health-care specialists will want to own this landmark treatise, a treasury of tried-and-true wisdom from centuries of practical experience.
- 28 Llewellyns Herbal Almanac . "Llewellyns Herbal Almanac", ()
Whether you want to cure insomnia holistically or treat yourself to an herbal facial, Llewellyns Herbal Almanac helps you get the most from natures most versatile plants.
- 46 Millspaugh, Charles F. . "American Medicinal Plants", Dover Publications (0000)
The Dover edition, first published in 1974 is a one-volume, unabridged, republication of the work as published in 1882. This book will be of interest to anyone interested in North American medicinal plants, however one major drawback in the plates, while still gorgeous are poor quality black and white. If you have read A Modern Herbal, by M. Grieve, you will notice she drew heavily on Milspaugh's work for the North American native plants, which she was not as familiar as those in England and Europe. Milspaugh was one of the first to catalogue these plants and to present exacting descriptions of them as well as their properties to the layman.
- 65 Muller-Ebeling, Claudia ,Wolf-Deieter Storl . "Witchcraft Medicine", Inner Traditions (1998)
Through study of ancient and medieval texts and artwork, the authors explore the demonization of natures healing powers and plants associated with witches. They also look at the history of forbidden medicine with an eye toward how sacred plants of witchcraft can be used again. Fascinating, informative and well documented.
- 30 Newmark, Thomas M. . "Beyond Aspirin", SCB (2000)
If you or a loved one are suffering from arthritis, cancer or Alzheimers this book is a must read. The one thing all these conditions have in common is unchecked inflammation - A deeper understanding of the disease process will lead you toward making better decisions concerning your health. The scientific basis for many herbs used in traditional herbal medicine is explained, along with some of the drawbacks of the mainstream pharmaceutical approach.
- 41 Nickell, Nancy L . "Nature's Aphrodisiacs", Crossing Press (1999)
NATURE'S APHRODISIACS examines those questions, separating fact from fiction, superstition from science in a well-researched, comprehensive guide to Nature's aphrodisiacs and what they can do for you.
- 26 Ody, Penelope . "Home Herbal", Dorling Kindersley (1995)
Especially valuable here are the lists of ingredients and proportions for making herbal mixes at home: something lacking in many herbal coverages
- 612 Orly, Cal . "The Healing Powers of Vinegar", Kinsington Books (January 1,)
- 606 Pengelly, Andrew, BA ND . "Constituents of Medicinal Plants, The", CABI (204)
The book explains how plant chemicals are classified and what their properties are. Important knowledge for those wishing to truly understand how plant chemistry works to heal us. Expensive book, so keep a lookout for used copies.
- 25 Pleasant, Barbara . "Whole Herb, The", Square One ()
Whether we use them for healing, in cooking, in crafts, or in a thousand and one other ways, our unique relationship with these valuable plants remains strong. The Whole Herb was designed for everyone who wishes to learn more about herbs and to incorporate them in daily life. Here is a complete, practical, and easy-to-follow guide to the many uses of herbs
- 54 Plymouth Antiquarian Society . "The Plimoth Colony Cook Book", Dover (2005)
Authentic collection of 17th- and 18th-century cooking lore and wisdom includes recipes passed down from generation to generation
- 16 Readers Digest . "Magic and Medicine of Plants", ()
I was surprised how much I liked this book, not being a Readers Digest fan. Filled with beautiful color photographs of Herbs and plants with good details on history of uses, habitat, origins and how to identify plants in the wild.
- 604 Robbers, James E. ,PhD, Tyler, Varro E. PhD,ScD . "Tylers Herbs of Choice", Hawthorn Herbal Press (1999)
Very well regarded, practical information
- 611 Sievers, A.F . "The Herb Hunters Guide.", Trinity Press (1930, repr)
Misc. Publ. No. 77. USDA, Washington DC)
- 56 Smith, A.W. . "A Gardener's Handbook of Plant Names:", Dover (1997)
compact dictionary to combine definitions of botanical names in general usage with information on their derivation and guides to pronunciation. A monumental index provides a cross-reference from some 1,800 common plant names to corresponding botanical ones. Combines thoroughness, botanical rigor, and interesting facts and lore — all leavened with touches of humor
- 603 Tierra, Michael, Karta Purkh Singh Khalsa & . "Ayurvedic Herbs, The Way Of", Lotus Press (2008)
Good source of easy home remedies for common illness. Use everyday household items to replace expensive OTC preparations.
This book is a good contemporary introduction for both students and practitioners of Ayurvedic herbology.
- 40 Tilford,Gregory L. . "Herbs for Pets", BowTie Press (2001)
The Tilfords' book introduces readers to hundreds of plant medicines that can be used in the daily care of animals. The authors, both herbalists, begin with a chapter on the principles and practices of herbalism, explaining the basics of herbal preparations and what they call the "ethical use of herbs." They discuss the connection between herbs and diet and give guidelines for feeding dogs and cats. The bulk of the book is a 191-page guide to herbs for animals.
- 23 Tisserand, Robert B . "Art of Aromatherapy,The ", Healing Arts (1977)
Robert Tisserand is often called the father of modern aromatherapy, and his book is fact filled and easy to read. Gives more detail behind the scientific reasons why aromatics work than many aromatherapy books, but only profiles a limited number of the many aromatics available for use today.
- 53 Usha Lad & Dr. Vasant Lad . "Ayurvedic Cooking for Self Healing", The Ayurvedic Press (2006)
Ayurveda, the ancient healing art of India, teaches that food plays an essential part in one’s health and sense of well-being. Here is an authentic guide of the Ayurvedic approach to food and tasty vegetarian cooking. The recipes are formulated using herbs and spices to help balance the constitution of each person. The effects of the foods on individual constitution are included with every recipe together with the medicinal properties of many of the foods. This is a cookbook and much more.
- 47 Walji, Hasnain Ph.D. . "Healing Power of Aromatherapy,The ", Prima Lifestyles (1996)
The book explains how the various essential oils work and how the average person can use them (baths, massages, skin care, and room fragrances). Walji also talks about various ailments/illnesses and the use of these oils for treating them naturally.
- 42 Weed, Susun . "New Menopausal Years", Ashtree (2002)
Alternative Approaches for Women 30-90. I like Susun's warm and folksy way of writing. Very wise and informative. Great selection of home herbal formulations and information for women to be able to take charge of their own health. Susun Weed, green witch and wise woman, is an extraordinary teacher with a joyous spirit, a powerful presence, and an encyclopedic knowledge of herbs and health.
- 63 Weiss, Gaea and Shandor . "Healing Herbs, The", Rodale (1985)
Practical and full of how-to information on herbs. Good growing and harvesting advice.
- 614 Weiss, Rudolf Fritz M.D . "Herbal Medicine", AB Arcanum (1988)
Translated from the original German Lehrbuch der Phytotherapie (1960) Herbal Medicine is an indispensable modern text in the field of medical herbalism. This book provides much needed focus on the primary uses of plants and their relationship to particular body systems - digestive, cardiovascular, etc.
- 36 White, Linda B. M.D. . "The Herbal Drugstore", Rodale (2003)
For each health problem (almost 100 are listed), you can weigh the functions and side effects of the most common pharmaceutical treatments against the benefits and cautions of the best-known herbal remedies. Good for those who are looking to complement drugs with herbs, very heavy reliance on lab studies and not much on traditional herbal wisdom. I first found this book at the local library, and found it instructional enough to buy a copy.
- 1 Worwood, Valerie Ann . "Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy,The ", New World Library (1993)
This is the perfect starter book for anyone interested in aromatherapy there is tons of information about essential oils and some really good recipes for use. The only beef I have is the author makes many statements about the medicinal value of the oils that should only be applied to the whole herb. The indexing could be vastly improved as well. That said this is an important reference and earns its shelf space in the bookcase.
- 64 Yronwode, Catherine . "HooDoo Herb and Root Magic", Lucky Mojo Curio Company (2002)
Accurate botanical information on roots and herbs used in African-American conjure and hoodoo
Online Reference Sources
The American Botanical Council, German Commission E:
The German Commission E is rather like an FDA of herbs, and is one of the most respected world organizations in the field of for herbal drugs and preparations from medicinal plants. It was established in by the Minister of Health in Germany in 1978.
Commission E Monographs
- American Botanical Council -HerbalGram
- Mountain Rose Herbs is quality source of bulk herbs but offered much more than just an online store. Their website has many pages of herbal information included in herb profiles, blog posts and articles as well as a directory of training programs for herbalists. Mountain Rose Herbs
- Dr. Duke's
Phytochemical and Ethnobotanical Databases is a great online tool for researching the actions and properties of herbs. Ethnobotany
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