The first book that I was recommended to read was Holistic Herbal by David Hoffmann. This explains the holistic approach very well. It also has chapters on the preparation of herbs and gathering herbs.
I know you were thinking of doing the Discovering Herbal Medicine course. I think it would be wise to start on that. You won’t be a qualified medical herbalist on completion, but it will help you in the pharmacy. You could complete it in a year, but there is no time constraint, if you are busy in work and other projects.
The Principles and Practice of Phytotherapy by Mils and Bone is excellent.
You also need A Modern Herbal by Mrs Maud Grieve. You can pick up a hardback copy for less than £6 in one of the remainder bookshops. It was first published in 1931 so it aint that modern, but then herbal medicine isn’t that modern either. You can get the herbal folklore and mythology in there as well. Some herbs will be missing like Echinacea, ginkgo and Siberian ginseng, which have become popular in later years.
The Herb Society has a little booklet on Growing Herbs, which is very useful and has been brought up to date by Jessica Houdret and published this year.
Herb cookery books…. our new president Sophie Grigson has written a cookery book called Herbs published in conjunction with the BBC in 1999.
Another favourite is Sue Lawrence’s Feasting on Herbs. It helps me when I have lovage growing higher than the house.
Regarding legislation there is a link on the Links section of the website. Changes are taking place very slowly.
The definitive guide to the uses and cultivation of herbs is The RHS New Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their uses by Deni Bowen. It is quite expensive so you may have to ask Father Christmas. If you get a second-hand one the one with “new” in the title is better.
I counted my herb books and I had 99, I think. I have got rid of some.
Re: Books on Herbs
December 2 2006, 5:02 PM
Oh Simon, - where do I start?
1) Herbal folklore and mythology
By Herbal folklore I am presuming you are thinking about ancient uses of herbs. You could try
Mary Beith, Healing Threads: Traditional Medicine of the Highlands and Islands
David Hoffman, A Welsh Herbal
Susan Lavender & Anna Franklin Herbcraft: A Guide to the Shamanic & Ritual Use of Herbs
The book on Egyptian Herb use reviewed in the latest Herbs magazine which I must put on my Christmas list as I'm currently writing stories about an Egyptian Priestess!
Hildegard of Bingen, Holistic Healing
Joan Lane, John Hall and his Patients
Stephen Pollington, Leechcraft
2) Medicinal uses of herbs
Anything by David Hoffman, Penelopy Ody, Christopher Hedley, Non Shaw, Matthew Wood, Susan Weed, Rosemary Gladstar, Michael Moore, Michael Tierra, Lesley Tierra, Paul Bergner
All these writers are practicing herbalists who have many years of experience and most run their own herbal schools or teach.
2) Preparing herbal medicines
David Hoffman, Non Shaw and Christopher Hedley. Check out Henriette's website as she has discussion on most preparation techniques and Michael Moore's site has the definitive guide to making herbal tinctures and the lists of which herbs extract best in which medium
3) Cultivating and growing herbs
4) Culinary uses of herbs
I'll let other talk about books for this, but you can't go wrong with Jekka McVicar
5) Legislation affecting use of herbs
Best to keep an eye on the various Parliamentary websites and keep up to date with Hansard and whoever does the European legislation. Don't get caught up with all the American hysteria on regulating herbal medicines as it doesn't apply over here.
The other thing to remember is that, even if a herb is regulated, you can always obtain it or grow it for your own use - they can never criminalise all of that! It is much better to grow your own medicines than buy off the shelf if possible because they are subject to the same stresses you are and are therefore more effective.
6) Preserving and storing herbs (see 2)
7) Herbal trivia
I actually don't like the use of the word trivia, because no herbal information or knowledge is trivial, it is all useful in some way or other. The ancient uses of herbs may be thought "folklore" and therefore not useful in today's modern society, but that's actually not true and we're now returning more and more to ancient methods and uses.
The area of herbs which you have omitted is the energetic use of herbs. It's probably wise not to be looking at this in your first few years of herbal study. I usually recommend to people that they grow, learn and use herbs for basic medicinal understanding in the first instance. When you are ready , the herbs will bring their energetic properties to your notice for helping to heal emotions and energy difficulties. When you can think and understand about combining the two so you are offering a holistic approach to an individual which encompasses body, mind and soul, then you can start to think of yourself as a true healer following in the traditions of our forefathers.
Good luck in your studies
Books on Herbs
December 7 2006, 12:24 AM
Thanks Audrey and Sarah for those detailed and excellent replies - it certainly gives plenty to go at.
A generous mentor gave me a copy of Mills and Bone a coupel of years ago as a birthday present and I do use that fairly frequently, but not in any systematic way. I think I will need to do a herbal medicine course to get a better overview of how things link together.
There has been a copy of Green Medicine on the family bookshelves as long as I can remember, and it seems to have transferred from my dad's bookcase to mine by some mysterious process - I must get round to reading it again. Incidentally the price when new was 50 shillings (£2.50). I have just looked on Amazon and it is now selling for £50.
I think the best way for me to approach things is to understand in tandem the broad approach taken by herbal medicine and the specific uses of treatments. I appreciate that before I would want to prescribe or recommend anything I need MUCH more understanding.
Growing and culinary herbs seems to me to be a much safer (if not easier area) and we will continue to enjoy that.
Re: Books on Herbs
December 7 2006, 11:12 AM
Do you mean Green Pharmacy by Barbara Griggs? I bought mine as an offer from The Pharmaceutical Society. They must have been feeling in a benign mood as it attacks the conventional practices throughout the ages.
It first came out in 1981 so would be after decimilisation. My copy is a first edition and marked £8.95. I met Barbara Griggs a few years ago and she has autographed my copy.
I looked on Amazon and there is a paperback copy available now.
Take one chapter at a time and you will get hooked.
Books on Herbs
December 7 2006, 10:10 PM
The book we have is called Green Medicine written by Margaret Kreig and was published in 1964.
Books on Herbs
December 8 2006, 2:54 AM
I must agree Green Pharmacy is a really good read and contains a lot of background information.
I have found Thomas Bartram's "Encyclopaedia of Herbal Medicine" an absolutely invaluable book,very ease to obtain through Amazon.
Simon Mills' books are also extremely good and if you are not into TCM you can skip those parts.
Good luck Simon there are masses of books out there.
More books on herbs
January 3 2007, 6:54 PM
Encylcopedia of Medicinal Plants by Andrew Chevallier (Dorling Kindersley 2001) is an excellent and comprehensive book on recognising and using medicinal plants.
The RHS New Encyclopedia of Herbs and their uses by Deni Bown has over 1,000 herbs and 1,500 photographs and is well researched and comprhensive.
I have found the Herbal Drugstore by Linda B White and Steven Foster (Rodale2000)helpful. It covers ailments, explains conventional treatments and compares them with herbal treatments with information on what not to take with what.
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