Herbalism Books

cat_2100(z6)July 14, 2005

Ok I am totally new to Herbalism and would like to get my

feet wet a bit.

I am looking for names and authors of some good herbalism books.

The uses and what not of herbs.

I have been for a few years taking herbs for certain things

but would like to be able to grow them and prepare them for use myself.

Any help you all here could give would be greatly apreciated.

Thanks in advance for your help.


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I suggest do a browse through your local library before forking out your money. Or try some second-hand bookshops and browse, writing down names of likely contenders for later purchase.

There are many, many WWW sites with the information you want. Do a search for herb name, or something like 'herbal medicine', 'herbal remedies', 'folk medicine' etc. You can copy and paste the information you select, and thereby have everything you need on record, creating your own 'book'.

You'll also have fun sorting the wheat from the chaff!

    Bookmark   July 14, 2005 at 7:11PM
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i happen to have 2 large herbals, both realy quite good, one from my grandmother (how cliche) and another i don't know where from, it was just in my house.

i have noticed that there are lots of herbals for sale in any charity shop with plantiful bookswhere i live.

oh and don't forget botanical.com v.useful online herbal.

as mentioned by someone else in another thread, get 2 books if you can, and when doign anything, try and compare the advice from eachbook. that way you can establish what is almost difinite (appeares in both books) and what is unlikely (books contradict each other).

n.b. i mean 2 herbals by different authors.

have fun, i love reading my herbals, always interedting.

oh and aside from anything no herbal has every plant so having 2 mean usualy nore variety of plant to lok up

Here is a link that might be useful: a modern herbal (botanical.com)

    Bookmark   July 15, 2005 at 10:30PM
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Herbalynn(Oregon, 7-8)

My favorite is Making PLant Medicine, on page 2 of the link down below. I also just got The Herbal Medicine Maker's Handbook: A Home Manual and it seems to be jam packed full of useful information on making medicines from herbs.
Enjoy! Lynn

Here is a link that might be useful: Horizon Herbs book link

    Bookmark   July 16, 2005 at 5:42PM
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Although some of the more popular herb books currently in circulation can be very interesting and entertaining, I quickly found that it is useful, and avoids much frustration, to have a few more nearly complete references on hand.

I like A Modern Herbal by Mrs. M. Grieve, with the list of scientific names added by Mrs. Leyle. It was published in the USA by Dover in paperback at a very affordable price in two volumes, for about $12 each. It is very extensive and detailed; she didn't miss much. It is from the 1930's but still in high regard--but of course much research has been done since then. The drawings included are excellent, but not every herb is illustrated.

The entries are in alphabetical order by popular, not scientific, name, which makes it a bit more immediately interesting to gardeners and nature enthusiasts. The scientific name/s are then listed in the text. An entry can also be found by scientific name using Leyle's listing in the back.

I use it in combination with a more recently published herb book with excellent photographs of herbs, as well as another popular handbook with good illustrations.

I think Potter's is a good medical-scientific one which is more current; I have the revised 1988 version: Potter's New Cyclopedia of Botanical Drugs and Preparations. Its entries are also by common name. CW Daniel Co. of Essex, England published it. It has no illustrations, however.

Millspaugh wrote an extensive book on American Medicinal Herbs, also published by Dover in paperback, which would be worth hunting up. Dover also published an extensive book on American Indian herbalism which is very detailed and interesting.

In general, the older herbals, by Gerard, Culpepper, and others, are safest used for historical or magical purposes only, or as a reference to compare with more modern herbals.

Scott Cunningham wrote an interesting, concise book on magical herbalism prior to his death (of meningitis, I heard); a more lengthy one by, I think, Michael Tierra, is also quite interesting. There are several fairly famous American herbalists in current practice, whose books frequently hit the shelves in health food stores and New Age bookshops.

There are easily accessible books on Ayurveda which get into herbs used in India, and there are numerous accessible books out regarding Chinese herbalism. Quite a bit of progress has been made in translating herb books from other languages into English in the past 40 years, so that it is now often actually possible for even nonspecialists to see plant relationships between what is used in China, the USA, and India, for example; I'm not certain of exactly what is now available along that line, but if you are interested in what other cultures like to use, and how, it would be worth checking into.

It doesn't hurt to start with a simple, popularized herbal; usually those list the author's favorite herbs, with which they have had some actual experience. It's fun to try to grow herbs, and there are a number of publications which give advice on that.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2005 at 12:34AM
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herbman(norflk england)

I too like Mrs. Grieve@s modern herbal, also Potters.If vou wish to explore deeper I offer sugestions: Out of the Earth by Simon Y Mills isbn o-670-83565-x; the energetics of western herbs by Peter Holmes 2 vols. isbn 0-9623477-6-0 and0-9623477-7-9; and one of my faviorites for simples if you can get it:The illustrated herbal handbook by Juliette de Bairacli Levy

    Bookmark   July 18, 2005 at 5:54AM
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For Chinese herbal information Dan Bensky's Herbal Formulas and Strategies explains some of the principles of Chinese
medicine without so much of the theory that you get bogged.
I check it out from DPL when I need it. Michael Moore's
Remedios de la Gente and Medicinal Plants of the (name your
region here)are also good and can be witty, something you
rarely see in an herbal. For the strictly clinical view I
get on Medscape's Medline(but I went to college for a degree
in microbiology and medical terminology doesn't slow me down
otherwise you might get bored there);Understand there are
HUGE limitations in how medicine currently tests anything.
They rarely test a formula, rarely test anyone with any
complications whatsoever, rarely test women,children,elderly
or addicts;if you are pregnant--forget it; do not combine
herbs and antibiotics, usually test to prove herbs do bad
rather than good because the money they get is from drug
companies; do short term studies--so no one knows what long
term use of much of anything does; Do not often realize
that even single herbs change action with doseage or with
the diet they are eaten with. Good luck, its a wade through.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2005 at 5:50PM
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silybum(Sunset 16/z8b)

The 2 best books are, "The way of herbs", by Michael Tierra, and "Rosemary Gladstar's Family Herbal". Check them out, I think you will agree.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2005 at 5:19PM
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The Illustrated Holistic Herbal by David Hoffman - doesnt cover in too much detail per herb but it does in everything else, beautiful layout and informative

Green Pharmacy by James A Duke - Duke is one of the best and this book is truly informative, written in an easy to understand manner with mucho info on specific maladies.

14 Day Herbal Cleansing by Laurel Vukovic - Excellent book to be learned from even if you don't do the cleaning regimens. Great formulations, motivating, and clear.

I also like Grieves, have both of her modern herbals - or the set to make 1, whichever lol. Informative and lengthy, love it!

Prescription for Nutritional Healing by Phyllis and James Balch - Although I may get supplements through another manner than they suggest, this book is huge and VERY WELL DONE. An amazing index for conditions, treatments - vitamins, herbs, other, with considerations, self tests to do, scientific research, symptoms, etc. Also tells plenty of vitamins, water, minerals, amino acids - great book overall - helpful for a flash

Herbal Defense by Robyn Landis - The only issue I Have here is disagreeing with her on pills, but otherwise she is amazingly accurate and a rare book because they don't try and be 'politically correct' Theyre not like some that stand in the middle of the fence, saying they're for herbs but warning against them and praising medical opinons at the same time - you know the type. This one is centered toward Ayurvedic medicine and is simply fascinating

Herbal Remedies by Asa Hershoff -- and another book, Homeopathic Remedies by Asa Hershoff --- an index only and not the most indepth but greatly referenced and attributed herbs in an easy layout if you need it fast

Herbs for Health and Healing by Kathi Keville - Great remedies and even better information on disorders in here - LOVE IT and best of all it's a small paperback that's cheap and better than more of the expensive ones out there!

Back to Eden by Jethro Kloss - An older book by far that has been reprinted and some of the info is no longer valid, but amazing and has always been an herbalists bible

Food your miracle medicine by Jean Carper - amazign book, another cheapier paperback that tells moer than the more expensive books do.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2005 at 11:11AM
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One of the best online resources for herbal medicine is Michael Tierra's webpage, linked below. His Link's page also has the web versions of the major herbal dispensatories prevooiusly mentioned, as well as a link to David Winston's amazing compilation of info. Impeccable learned sources as well.

Here is a link that might be useful: www.planetherbs.com

    Bookmark   September 24, 2005 at 10:16PM
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oakleif(z6 AR)

Found this thread and thought it'd be good on page one. Has lots of good info. I started with 3 books to compare herbs. Now have about 10 and use several online sites, all listed in other posts above.

I completely agree with cacye about the drug companys. Germany does a lot of research on herbal remedies as does Canada,France and England and Australia.

You also have to bare in mind that the US HAS THE WORST HEALTH CARE SYSTEM in the industrial world and a couple of 3rd world countrys. There are 30 countrys that have better health care and thats after factoring in the improved results the other day. We use to be #1 and we made the list of factors in the 60,s that determined the ratings. Maybe its a good idea to grow and use your own herbal remedies. But make sure you learn what you are doing or you'll be no different than our hospitals that kill 100,000 people a year by accidents, neglect and mistakes.

Also don't take my word for it----use google.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2008 at 2:55AM
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"You also have to bare in mind that the US HAS THE WORST HEALTH CARE SYSTEM in the industrial world and a couple of 3rd world countrys."

The alleged "worst health care system in the industrial world" hasn't stopped us from attaining record life expectancy. From today's news:

"Americans' life expectancy reached a record high of 78.1 years in 2006, with disparities among ethnic groups and between the sexes generally narrowing, according to government data released yesterday.

The death rates from most diseases went down, with influenza mortality falling steeply and AIDS mortality marking its 10th straight year of decline. Infant mortality in 2006 also fell from the previous year, continuing a trend stretching back nearly 50 years."

"Understand there are
HUGE limitations in how medicine currently tests anything.
They rarely test a formula, rarely test anyone with any
complications whatsoever, rarely test women,children,elderly
or addicts"

False (as to "rarely test a formula") and a huge and inaccurate exaggeration regarding testing in various groups of people. Just do some searches on the PubMed database of scientific articles and you can find plenty of work done in particular subpopulations.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2008 at 11:06AM
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I would recommend anything by Susun Weed.

Susun is a bit ecclectic, and to me that makes her books that much more fun to read.

You can also get a lot of the important herbal information that is in her books from her website www.susunweed.com

Herbs are wonderful. Have a blast learning about them!

    Bookmark   June 12, 2008 at 4:12PM
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oakleif(z6 AR)

Thanks harvesthunt, Some of my herbalbooks are
1- Garden Herbs, A Photagraphic guide, By several contributers from England It is good for U S too.

2- Medicinal Plants, Peterson Field Guides,drawings and photos with descriptions and uses.

3- The Complete Medicinal Herbal, another great book from England.

4- Taylors Guide to Herbs, From USA

5- American Medicinal Plants by Charles E Milespaugh

6- The Herb Book by John B Lust, N.D., D.B.M. my favorite and the first one i check. written in plain english gives preparation and dosage

7.Herbs by Lesley Bremness. A Rodale Home Handbook

    Bookmark   June 12, 2008 at 7:34PM
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oakleif(z6 AR)

Bump Up

    Bookmark   June 25, 2008 at 4:29AM
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oakleif(z6 AR)

bump up for Becki and other newbees.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2008 at 11:33PM
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Thanks for bumping all these, oakleif!

    Bookmark   August 6, 2008 at 8:14AM
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oakleif(z6 AR)

For all new herb users. Read and injoy.BE SURE AND READ THE CAUTIONS ALSO.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2009 at 3:10AM
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brendan_of_bonsai(4b AK)

So outside of bumping are you going to respond to Eric's post?

    Bookmark   January 16, 2009 at 4:18AM
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I don't often post but I am very fond of a text book from the school of natural healing that goes by the same name... by Dr. John R Christopher...

And a book I'd like to buy is from here...


if anyone has this book and can comment, I'd like to hear from you...


    Bookmark   January 16, 2009 at 10:56AM
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I'd like to take a crack at it...

Eric... newspapers and magazines can publish anything... even things that are not true... that said...

Folks.. here's my reason for taking medicinal herbs in a nutshell...

We are metabolizers, not synthesizers. Petro chemicals that makes up the major portion of prescription drugs are not natural in the body.

Pharma laboratories isolates a single chemical to make a synthetic for patent. Herbs have tens and tens of natural chemicals that work together in harmony within the body.

Herbs heal...

    Bookmark   January 16, 2009 at 2:14PM
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brendan_of_bonsai(4b AK)

Why assume that they are working in harmony? It certainly happens, but sometimes it doesn't, what also happens is that compounds exist which hurt the human body along side those that help it. And dosages of a compound that heals and can hurt fluctuate wildly from one plant to another and even from one leaf or berry to another.

Also some of the chemicals we use don't exist in nature, but we can make them from scratch, do you think that some magical property unknown to science touches the molecules so that ones that have been in the ground for 15 million years is different from one made up from the air a few months ago (well C14 levels vary yes but its a claim you will need to back up if you think that effects the pharmacology)?

    Bookmark   January 16, 2009 at 3:06PM
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"Herbs have tens and tens of natural chemicals that work together in harmony within the body."

This is the magical/religious view of herbs - that they were intended for the benefit of mankind. In this view everything in an herb (inert, beneficial or toxic) is essential in its use and its ingredients cannot be purified or standardized.
It's much more believable that all those "natural chemicals" work together for the benefit of the plant, not those of us who consume the plant.

I've recommended books and websites on herbalism elsewhere, but this book and others by these authors are among the most reliable and evidence-based herbalism sources (another benefit is that the authors have not to my knowledge been in the business of marketing products praised in their books).

    Bookmark   January 16, 2009 at 3:58PM
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brendan_of_bonsai(4b AK)

An exception to what Eric said (yes Eric and I can disagree) fruits evolved to benefit both the plant that makes them and the animals that eat them in their natural habitat, the Avocado that made the toucans that ate it are relatively healthy had more toucans around in the years in the future to propagate it. However if this simple relationship were enough to ensure that the fruits could cure all ails not having this relationship would have the same effect, animals would evolve to have no ails to begin with.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2009 at 5:05PM
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Thank you esoterica and other herbalist who suggested books. This was a neat thread. I'll keep an eye out it would be great to have an herbalism book. Is there a place in the USA to buy herbalism books?

    Bookmark   January 17, 2009 at 1:50AM
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Well, this is getting to be a highly evolved discussion. If it weren't straying off the subject even further I'd ask how toucans eating avocados help the avocado tree (I have this uncomfortable image now of the poor birds trying to poop avocado pits, therefore spreading the seed).

My original point though was that it's far more likely that any complex, medicinally active compounds produced by plants evolved originally to discourage predation or benefit the plant's growth in some way that we may not entirely understand - and not that the complex chemical stew in a plant all magically works together in the human body to benefit humans.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2009 at 12:37PM
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brendan_of_bonsai(4b AK)

Your mistake was to assume that I was talking about Haas avocados. There are about 150 species in the genus, some with drupes as small as 1 cm across. The digestive systems of birds are not thorough and the scarification that happens in the crop is vital to many species for germination.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2009 at 4:43PM
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oakleif(z6 AR)

Has anyone noticed that the medical jerks have stolen this thread about herbal books. Does anyone welcome their twisted advise? Does anyone want them butting in. Remember you get rid of them you get rid of me. They really belong on Hot Topics forum but they know theyd be laughed off.

My favorite herbal book is an old paperback by John Lust called The Herb Book.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2009 at 6:05PM
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brendan_of_bonsai(4b AK)

"This forum is for the discussion of herbalism, the use of herbs for medicinal purposes."

    Bookmark   January 17, 2009 at 7:03PM
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This "thread" is supposed to be about Herb BOOKS

My 1st great herb book was "Rodale's Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs" - very informative and has been one of my favorites I have gotten a lot of use out of.

Tammi Hartung's "Growing 101 Herbs That Heal" -- explains about making herbal preparations in easy to understand format.
One I found at a Garage sale I really like too is: Dian Dincin Buchman's "Herbal Medicine"

I also have: Jethro Kloss - Back To Eden; James A Duke, Green Pharmacy; Dr. John R. Christopher's "School of Natural Healing"; "Every Woman's Herbal" with Cathy Gileadi; Petersen Guide: Medicinal Plants & Herbs;

Barbara Griggs "Green Pharmacy - the History and Evolution of Western Herbal Medicine" is a great one for historical understanding of how herbs and medicine have evolved thru'out history. A must for a good foundational understanding.
Betty Jacob's Growing and Using Herbs Successfully - covers 64 herbs.
I also have Mrs. Grieves Modern Herbal vol. 1 & 2 keep in mind this was "modern" when she wrote it but that was a long time ago. Still it remains very informative and considered a classic for the herbal library.
Rosemary Gladstar's Family Herbal has sections for men, women, children & elders + beauty and taming stress -contains recipes and instructions for making herbal preparations.
Check to see what interests you at your library or online before purchasing. I took a course and obtained several of these books thru'that.

But again - for a 1st book on othe introductory level - I really like Rodale's illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs

good luck on building your library and your knowledge!

    Bookmark   January 26, 2009 at 12:58PM
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I found this thread and was disappointed at the downward spiral it took from a very interesting topic.

I love the Herb Book by John Lust and Prescription for Nutritional Healing by Phyllis and James Balch. I was just reading it last night!

    Bookmark   January 26, 2009 at 12:58PM
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The thread started getting away from herbalism books when a couple of posters out of the blue started making comments such as "Understand there are HUGE limitations in how medicine currently tests anything." and "US HAS THE WORST HEALTH CARE SYSTEM".

Avoiding these digressions would be helpful in keeping to the subject at hand.

There are a few more herbalism book suggestions in this thread.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2009 at 1:12PM
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John Lust's book. The Balch's book, also, an odd duck for US herbalists is the Yellow Emperor's book because it gives a comprehensive perspective on "reading" the body in terms of imbalances. Also remember that herbs taken internally are FOOD, so I love Yule Brenner's take on wild/natural foods. You could probably do an on line search for that one as it's probably been out of print for 40 years or more... Germany's Commission E report on the Web gives a lot of herb monographs, modern research info plus prescrip drug counterindications-- always helpful in our pill-popping world. Look also for books that focus on YOUR area of the country's/world's herbs. I have learned more from field work with Appalachian herbalists than I have from any book, so if you can find someone willing to teach you hands-on, you'll pick it all up that much faster.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2009 at 2:20AM
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