Building Your Very Own Herbal Library

Herbs are plants beloved by gardeners the world over. Valued for their beauty, scent, flavor, and medicinal value, herbs are being discovered by a whole new generation of enthusiasts. Many people are interested in the potential of herbs to be used to promote health in a natural way.

Thanks to the wealth of information published on herbs for healing, it is now easier than even to study herbalism at home. These are a few books that should accompany every home herbal medicine chest. They are some of my personal favorites and I think they will be some of yours, too.

Herbs for Health and Healing by Kathi Keville

This book is often the first one purchased by people interested in using herbs for healing – and for good reason. This volume is exhaustively researched and draws on the author’s experience of more than thirty years studying and practicing herbalism. This is a practical, down-to-earth guide that will acquaint you with how the human body can benefit from herbal remedies and equip you with the practical skills required to begin using these remedies in your own home.

The book is organized according to body system. Each section lists health concerns related to that system and then provides a number of potential treatments. The health concerns documented range from common ailments to chronic illness; concerns specific to children, adults, and the elderly are also discussed. Though other books on the market focus specifically on the health concerns of women, children, or the elderly, this volume encompasses the health of the whole family.

Herbs for Health and Healing is a manual that is easy to use and highly informative. You can begin using the information inside it right away. Readers interested in the science of herbal medicine may be dissatisfied with the lack of specific data though general users will find a lot to love about this book.

The Way of Herbs by Michael Tierra

This is another book that many new herbalists quickly seek out. Tierra has written extensively on herbalism and published companion volumes that focus on Chinese herbalism and Ayurvedic medicine. This book looks at global herbalism traditions though focuses on the European and American traditions in particular.

People wishing to know more about the many ways of preparing herbs for use in healing will find this book especially helpful. Several chapters are given over to discussing how herbs can be used at home, how to correctly identify a health concern, and creating effective herbal formulas. This volume cleverly combines the art and science of modern herbalism.

Unfortunately, the most recent edition of this book was published in 1998. The research cited by the author is now considered dated and so may not satisfy every reader. Some readers dislike the author’s mystic stance while others find it a refreshing approach to the subject of health. This book is a good introduction to Tierra’s other herbalism titles, which delve into the plants that are used in other global healing traditions.

The Complete Medicinal Herbal by Penelope Ody

This book is destined to become a household favorite. The volume primarily consists of full color photographs illustrating dozens of medicinal plants, roots, and bark. You can see at a glance which parts of a plant can be used and how those parts should be prepared for greatest effect.

Another helpful feature is the chapter that focuses on the different methods of remedy preparation. Step by step guidelines are illustrated with color photographs so they are easy to follow. You will also find information on how to build your own herbal first aid kit.

As attractive as this volume is, many herbalists feel that there are more informative books available. Because the book’s pages are dominated by detailed images, the number of herbs covered is less than would be found in a volume of a similar size. That said, the exceptional photographs that are featured on nearly every page make this an exceptional reference guide for people learning to identify different herbs. People interested in growing their own medicinal herb garden will find this book helpful.

Rosemary Gladstar’s Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner’s Guide by Rosemary Gladstar

This excellent volume focuses on growing, harvesting, and storing herbs and then using those herbs in the preparation of home remedies. Though this book is less medically focused then some of the other books on this list, it is a must-have for people primarily interested in the practical information required to effectively use herbs for healing.

Readers will appreciate the many photographs and illustrations throughout the book. The author provides valuable step by step instructions for creating tonics, salves, tinctures, and other fundamental preparations. These preparations can go to work right away.

This book focuses on thirty-three healing herbs. Compared to other books on herbalism this number is quite low; however, there is more than enough information in this volume to satisfy novice herbalists. This is definitely a book you will come back to again and again.

Medical Herbalism: The Science Principles and Practices of Herbal Medicine by David Hoffmann

Readers who really want to know the science behind herbal medicine will love this book. This is an excellent volume for researchers as well as for people who just want to know more about the technical side of herbal medicine.

Medical Herbalism gets into the chemical compounds that make up the natural medicine found within plants and presents the information in a format that is easy to understand. Each body system is looked at in detail without losing a fundamentally holistic approach to medicine.

People who are primarily interested in growing herbs at home and developing simple natural remedies for common ailments may be frustrated with the technical nature of this volume. It does not feature recipes for tinctures or tisanes and so is not likely to be a go-to guide when practicing herbal first aid. On the other hand, serious students of herbal medicine and people pursuing formal training as herbalists will find this book invaluable. This is also an excellent guide for people studying herbalism as part of interdisciplinary medicine.

Elizabeth Allen writes on topics ranging from health and fitness to pop culture and music. Find more of her writing at

Elizabeth Allen writes on topics ranging from health and fitness to pop culture and music. Find more of her writing at

Author Bio: Elizabeth Allen writes on topics ranging from health and fitness to pop culture and music. Find more of her writing at

Category: Wellness, Fitness and Diet
Keywords: herbs, health, books, healing, medicine

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