best herbalism books

kitteh(6 ohio)November 10, 2013

I'm looking for herbalist books that go into greater details and / or science. It appears most of the stuff you get in the big book stores all cover only the basics.

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kaliaman

herbalist books is a huge topic and there are lots of books on herbs.....i have a large herbal library and can make recommendations if i know more...specifically what information are you seeking about herbs? materia medica or something else?

and you're right, the big book stores don't carry the books herbalists use : )

    Bookmark   November 10, 2013 at 1:55PM
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fatamorgana2121(Zone 5/6)

This has been asked here and on the Herbs forum as well many times. Search through the old posts for many suggestions.

And more detailed books are available from the "big book stores" if you include the online retailers. But agreed, don't look for them on the shelves at your local brick-and-mortar book shops.

FataMorgana

    Bookmark   November 10, 2013 at 3:14PM
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HerbDoctor

Kit:

What level of interest do you have? Over the past 45 years, I've found that things written today will merely give you bits and pieces of the overall picture. Also, much of what's available in print is for a western approach to herbology. Unfortunately, western herbology lacks a complete system whereby the herbalist can integrate anatomy & physiology with a workable herb program AS COMPARED TO THE CHINESE SYSTEM.

On the other hand, if you're interested in a concise and more effective program, you could learn the Chinese system of herbology and physical analysis. Their system is so incredibly precise when you grasps the concepts. For example, a friend called me yesterday since she had broken out in hives and swelling all over. Her ear was twice its size. Understanding how to view the complication through the eyes of Chinese herbology, I made her a tonic with about 20 herbs. It was very specific. She cooked them, drank the first dose and this morning she reported that she was already feeling 20% better and her anxiety and nervousness had subsided to a great degree.

I tell you all this in case you're serious about this science. A great site to learn more is sacredlotus.com. I have no affiliation with them other than to use that site for cross-referencing certain things.

Hope this helps.

HerbDoctor

    Bookmark   November 10, 2013 at 4:01PM
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kitteh(6 ohio)

Materia medica would be good. Any recent books that have chemical properties mentioned in new light, books that go over in detail more than just the basic common herbs, or any books written before the era of dumbed-down readers. I can often find the antique books online. It's difficult to say exactly what I would like, as I don't know the books out there.

By the 'big book stores' I did mean the major online sellers. Most of the newer nonfiction is just too basic. I now am needing books that I can go to often, not read in a few hours and then sell.

    Bookmark   November 10, 2013 at 4:49PM
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rusty_blackhaw(6a)

Here's a recent thread on recommended books about herbalism.

And another.

This post was edited by eric_oh on Sun, Nov 10, 13 at 17:01

    Bookmark   November 10, 2013 at 4:59PM
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kaliaman

for western materia medica consider these:

-the energetics of western herbs (two volumes) by peter holmes. western herbalism is less sophisticated than eastern styles, these books interpret western herbs thru an eastern filter which is fantastic. the set is kinda pricey but can be all you really need. (tho it may not be all you want, ha!) peter also has some of the highest quality eo's available at his site snowlotus.com

-the way of herbs and/or planetary herbology by michael tierra. PH is a must have in my opinion.

-healing with the herbs of life by lesley tierra. has materia medica and lots of other stuff too.

both are great references, the way of herbs is wonderful for beginners and more advanced folks. the tierras are teachers of planetary herbalism (chinese, western and ayurveda combined into one system, beautiful)

-herbal vade mecum by gaz skenderi

-a modern herbal by mrs. m. grieves. mrs. grieves was an english housewife writing back when whose book is still relevant and widely used today. it comes in a 1 or 2 volume set

hope this gets you started, have fun!

    Bookmark   November 11, 2013 at 11:31AM
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kitteh(6 ohio)

The two that come in volumes look like they would help, though the first I can't afford.

The Physiomedical Dispensatory (from other threads) looks good even though it's on the computer - I find it easier to look through books than the lcd screens.

I'm not sure if I'd go into non-western as thoroughly, not from lack of interest, but since it is likely easier to grow and find the herbs for western ..... but if there is an inexpensive good book on that, I'd like to add it too.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2013 at 3:40PM
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Sumatra(6)

The Herb Book by John Lust is a very comprehensive guide for identification and assorted properties.
While The Herb Book does have a few helpful formulas for certain ailments(comprised of western herbs) The Way Of Herbs by Micheal Tierra(almost exclusively dealing in Chinese herbs and medicine) and Natural Healing With Herbs by Humbart Santillo are much better books for those interested in detailed uses, formulas, and effects, but not so much identification and wild harvesting.
They all have their purposes especially since Natural Healing With Herbs mixes the usage of Chinese Medicine with Western Herbs.

This post was edited by Sumatra on Thu, Nov 14, 13 at 0:01

    Bookmark   November 13, 2013 at 10:38PM
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fatamorgana2121(Zone 5/6)

Re: online book retailers.....

Most, if not all, of the books suggested in this post are available via the biggest of the online book retailers. I'm not sure what you are meaning that more detailed, herbal references are not available from them because that just isn't true. Or did I misunderstand the point you were trying to make?

Some of my favorite herbal books I listed in the older posts eric shared links for. My favorite herbs are from Western and Native American traditions so most of my favorite books are ethnobotanical resources and sources that reference native medicinals. Not only can native plants be good medicine, they are great items for stewardship (growing, protecting, and fostering our indigenous flora). There are many easy to grow indigenous as well as naturalized medicinal plants - including many well suited for the conditions of your region which is much the same as mine, Western NY State.

FataMorgana

    Bookmark   November 15, 2013 at 9:31PM
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kitteh(6 ohio)

I meant if you search for herbal books, the most popular or most reviewed tended towards beginners. The new books are the only books that you can look at the contents too. You can find the books there if you know the one you are trying to find.

I checked The Way of Herbs and it looked rather basic? And the other doesn't allow looking at the chapters.

I do have one good book, the National Geographic Desk Reference to Nature's Medicine - maybe then something more detailed or extensive than that. Or something that goes into detail about different presenting illness and treatment. I'd be interested in one about Native medicine.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2013 at 10:10PM
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HerbDoctor

What do you intend doing with your new-found knowledge? Personal or professional use?

Thanks.

HerbDoctor

This post was edited by HerbDoctor on Sat, Nov 16, 13 at 13:03

    Bookmark   November 16, 2013 at 1:02PM
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kaliaman

the way of herbs is basic.

the two volume set by peter holmes is the best of the lot for western materia medica (viewed thru chinese lens which is the direction western herbalism has been/is moving the past years). while its pricey its worth saving for imo. you can find something for less, but not of this scope or quality. it covers a lot of herbs exhaustively and is geared to the person who already knows something about herbs. my two cents. have fun.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2013 at 2:58PM
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kitteh(6 ohio)

@ HerbDoctor - whichever gives me better book recommendations .....

but surely even an herbalist only wanting to heal their own ailments would like to know in detail those things, to avoid screwing it up?

Also, modern pills are overpriced, dangerous, and don't work that great. I find it fascinating that a tiny bit of essential oil can instantly make certain pains cease, or that I can merely offer my cat a raspberry leaf when it is nauseous (I know to not feed cats herbs unless proven safe for felids) ..... and that it is rather like this information is hidden or degraded as ineffective in the USA.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2013 at 9:37PM
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HerbDoctor

Kitt:

Your goals will sometimes dictate which path you take. You don't seem certain as to what you want or need. It will become clearer as you progress.

Kali recommended some good information concerning Energetics of Western Herbs. I know the author personally. But Peter's books aren't for the beginner. It's really helpful to have the basics of eastern herbology so you'll understand better what he's saying.

A good site to get grounded in basics is found at sacredlotus.com You'll study, then digest. Study some more, then digest. But it's worth it.

Wish you well.

HerbDoctor

HerbDoctor

    Bookmark   November 16, 2013 at 10:03PM
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kitteh(6 ohio)

I just wanted to learn more, though books I sent for kept covering only the basics. I like to grow the herbs and study plants (among other things), and make preparations, perhaps give help to anyone who asks if I can get them to believe a plant or food is healing, treat myself and my pets where 'regular' medicine fails, but not pay to be in a rigid social environment to get a piece of paper that tells me I can go to a 'job'. Is it not also very difficult to do anything natural and profitable in the USA ? It might be that part of this was fueled by the fact that I can't even get natural medicine or fresh food easily.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2013 at 4:11PM
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HerbDoctor

Kitte:

I'll just add this: Decide if you're more interested in growing plants, in which case that's called botany. Or if you want to learn to use herbs for better health which is called herbology. Of course, whichever one you choose, you can't help but to pick up knowledge of the other one along the way.

For my first several years in herbology I kept trying to re-invent the wheel. Then I discovered my path and the journey became much easier. After having weeded through that jungle of herbal information (no pun intended), I came full circle to realizing that there is one school that is a must: Institute of Chinese Herbology. It will help you refine a system that is quite workable for herbs. Good thing is that it's an online school out of Oakland, California.

Hope this helps.

HerbDoctor

    Bookmark   November 17, 2013 at 7:18PM
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kitteh(6 ohio)

I like both. I don't really seek jobs or a large profit from learning. Never liked the idea of school too as you pay to read when you can do that anyway then your job isn't really about reading and filling in papers.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2013 at 9:47PM
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kaliaman

rodale's older books on organic gardening are wonderful if you want to grow herbs and copies can be picked up at used bookstores very inexpensively.

consider sprouting and container growing to provide yourself with fresh food and herbs. also consider forming a buying club with friends so you can get good food at good prices. i've lived in food deserts and can sympathize.

here's a link to my friend rosie's site...she has a list of recommended books and herbal blogs that's pretty good. cheers!

http://www.methowvalleyherbs.com/

This post was edited by kaliaman on Mon, Nov 18, 13 at 15:53

    Bookmark   November 18, 2013 at 8:30AM
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fatamorgana2121(Zone 5/6)

Re: Growing Herbs - And certainly visit us in the Herbs forum. Most of the content there is about culinary herbs but all herbs including medicinal ones are appropriate for discussion. The Herbs forum is mostly about growing herbs with some light harvesting and usage info too. LOTS of books and resources have been suggested there for growing herbs over the years so please do check it out.

I do also urge you to grow your own herbs if possible. Not only is the fresh air and exercise of gardening good for you, but the plants will be tended carefully and with a "good mind" making them all the better for "good medicine." I know, a bit "fuzzy" and unscientific. But many of the herbalists I've studied with, worked with, or just know - including a few Native ones, talk about the energy/mind/spirit you bring when picking and making medicine from herbs. A positive, respectful mind making the medicine better and a negative one the reverse. Even if you don't agree with the more spiritual side of this, it takes you down a path of respect for the plants around us and the power they have -- and how can that be wrong! Plus growing and living with a plant can give you insight about the medicines that come from it - the plants are so much more than the capsule of powder or tincture made from them.

Re: Book Retailers - If I was a book retailer, I'd suggest the basic stuff too for people doing general searches. It will probably satisfy the 80-20 rule (and at least 80% of the people looking in that manner.) The folks that want more detailed sources will look for those specifically - and will have titles, authors, or other keywords as you now have! :)

Re: Native Medicinals - Resources on medicinal plants of the Eastern and central US would get you started on learning about the medicinal plants of your region. Looking for ethnobotanical resources of the Native peoples of your region will also be useful. Saving my fingers some typing, there are a number noted in the link below. Be sure to check out the United Plant Savers http://www.unitedplantsavers.org while you are at it for info about stewardship of wild medicinal plants.

FataMorgana

Here is a link that might be useful: See my native medicinal book list in this post

    Bookmark   November 18, 2013 at 5:20PM
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HerbDoctor

Fat:

I can relate to what you're saying about our relationship with herbs. When I first see wild herbs of the season growing, it's like seeing an old friend.

HerbDoctor

    Bookmark   November 18, 2013 at 7:51PM
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kitteh(6 ohio)

Fortunately gardening and plant books are easier to find around here for a dollar or two. I spent the last year studying and growing anything I could get my hands on. Several herbs I need to grow anyway, certain ones are expensive or for example I need the 'sting' of nettles.

I also accidentally found that A Modern Herbal is online for free : http://botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/comindx.html

A few of the native plant books and medicines look good too. I try to include natives and make a little patch for the wildlife (I was always fond of insects and animals, so it was fascinating that I could attract them to a regular neighborhood), and go searching for native herbs and finally get to know the names of all the plants.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2013 at 9:02AM
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Natures_Nature(5 OH)

"I can relate to what you're saying about our relationship with herbs. When I first see wild herbs of the season growing, it's like seeing an old friend."

Speak of the devil; it really is like seeing an old friend!

    Bookmark   December 4, 2013 at 10:26PM
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Natures_Nature(5 OH)

I love everything there is to love about herbs, or anyplant for that matter. I grow, wild-craft, and use herbs for food and medicine. I recommend reaching out to your locals (herbalist,foragers,and the growers). I live in Northeast Ohio, if your close I can even help you out, there is people in the area i can recommend.

Nature

    Bookmark   December 4, 2013 at 10:32PM
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kitteh(6 ohio)

I'm not sure there are foragers or herbalists that make themselves known in this town. I don't even know any gardeners (other than by their yards)

    Bookmark   December 5, 2013 at 4:57PM
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Natures_Nature(5 OH)

Well, i live in Ohio and there are plenty foragers and gardeners. Not to many herbalist.. Im right on top of Lake Erie. I take it your not familiar with this area?? Or you just don't want to disclose your location? Anyways, if you really need help and your around northeast ohio, like i said, i will be mpre than happy to help you.. But winter isn't a prime foraging season in Ohio! ðÂÂÂ

    Bookmark   December 5, 2013 at 5:14PM
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fatamorgana2121(Zone 5/6)

If you are in NE Ohio, you may look to Western NY as well. Buffalo or Niagara Falls may have some resources that may not be that far for you. Check horticultural places -- especially those teaching classes or workshops for they will know people and have connections. Cooperative Extensions may have some connections too. Ask for people who teach herbalism classes or people that teach plant identification or lead guided horticulture hikes.

I live in Western NY - in the Rochester/Finger Lakes Region. If you lived closer, I could certainly direct you to some classes or other in-person resources.

FataMorgana

    Bookmark   December 5, 2013 at 7:50PM
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kitteh(6 ohio)

No I am not in the North .

    Bookmark   December 6, 2013 at 9:46AM
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Natures_Nature(5 OH)

"I live in Western NY - in the Rochester/Finger Lakes Region. If you lived closer, I could certainly direct you to some classes or other in-person resources."

Nearly my entire family lives in Buffalo NY!

Kitteh,

If you are trully interested in herbs, herbalism, foraging, whatever, you could almost always find someone in your area. When I became interested, I used to walk through park and just find people who looked like they knew stuff... It might sound strange and awkward, but over here the parks almost have there own little welcoming community.. A lot of my parks around here actually take you foraging,etc.. All you have to do is put some effort and look, ask around.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2013 at 11:05AM
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rusty_blackhaw(6a)

This field guide to medicinal plants (Roger Tory Peterson, with help from James Duke and Steven Foster) looks like something I'd be able to use exploring the wilder parts of my area and on hikes (the specific medicinal applications might be getting a bit dated since it's a 1999 edition).

    Bookmark   December 8, 2013 at 12:52AM
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fatamorgana2121(Zone 5/6)

It is a wonderful book. One of my favorites. I use multiple books for identification and herbal details - they complement and support one another. I would suggest much the same for anyone interested in learning about the wild plants around them.

FataMorgana

    Bookmark   December 8, 2013 at 9:57AM
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kaliaman

agree with the two previous posters, this is awesome book. imo, a must have if you like to get out in the woods and fields to identify useful plants.

    Bookmark   December 8, 2013 at 1:14PM
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HerbDoctor

Kali agreeing with Eric??? Well, slap my face and call me Sally!!!!

HerbDoctor

    Bookmark   December 8, 2013 at 4:22PM
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lavender_lass(4b)

I live in eastern Washington and the people here are the same way! If you see someone in the park looking at roses or other plants, then most of them are happy to discuss plants and even offer suggestions of where to learn more. It's also common for neighbors to share plants, when they do garden.

Not many people grow herbs, but those who do are also happy to share information and make recommendations. However, some have gone to school for this, others have life experience and some have both. If you want to get the most help available, I wouldn't discount any of these paths....since they all lead to knowledge and the ability to share that knowledge with others.

FataMorgana- Nice to 'see' you...and I hope your gardens are all doing well. I agree with everything you said about growing your own plants and the reasons it is important to do so. Thank you for your insight :)

    Bookmark   December 13, 2013 at 1:22PM
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fatamorgana2121(Zone 5/6)

Good to "see" you too, Lavender_Lass. And thanks for the comments too! It's fun to have a few free minutes to visit the forums here again. Life got pretty crazy for a while and I had to abandon pretty much all my online diversions like gardenweb and my blogs.

FataMorgana

    Bookmark   December 18, 2013 at 5:33PM
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lavender_lass(4b)

You have a blog? Is it about herbs? Do you have a link? :)

    Bookmark   December 20, 2013 at 2:25PM
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