Anyone who has found my blog has probably experienced the black hole of information overload that can be the internet. For reasons of efficiency, convenience, and just in case the power were to go out, I like to have a real physical library of information at my fingertips to quickly consult. I recommend gathering at least one book on each of the following topics; medical reference, herbal reference (materia medica) plant identification, growing herbs, and the basics of using herbs. I would also suggest starting with a book about a specific topic or ailment that concerns you. Being a woman of childbearing age (who is currently pregnant) I chose a book about women’s health by Rosemary Gladstar.
So far my library includes . . .
The Herb Book by John Lust. This has been called the most complete catalog of herbs ever published. Each entry includes a line drawing, the scientific name, common names, what part to use, a description of what it looks like, what it is used for, and how to prepare it. I can understand & appreciate why they use line drawings to generalize what the plant would look like, but the hypochondriac side of me did not feel confident enough using this book for plant identification exclusively. However it also has useful sections on gathering & storing herbs, how to make different herbal preparations, recipes for different teas, and an entire section on different things the body needs for health such as minerals and vitamins, and where to acquire them naturally. It is not the most eye-catching book, but I am growing to appreciate it more and more as I make time to sit down and actually reference it.
Herbs for Children’s Health by Rosemary Gladstar is an excellent reference book and encouragement in how to use herbs to treat common ailments found in children. It includes an introduction on using herbs for kids, which herbs are most recommended, how to treat common problems, and how to make the remedies. The only problem with this book is that my herb collection is so pathetic, I do not have any of the herbs they call for. It makes me want to hop online and put in a giant herb order! Another thing I have noticed about Rosemary Gladstar is that her recipes tend to include a LOT of different herbs; at least five different ingredients seems to be the norm. I do appreciate knowing how to herbs work together etc. but with a limited stash, I also like to know which single herb is good for which issue, and how to apply it. As a young mama, I do believe this is going to be a great reference. One thing that I am planning on doing as I work through my upcoming series on learning to use herbs for children is decide what common problems I will likely need to treat and make the remedies ahead of time so I am not trying to do it with a screaming toddler on my hip trying to “help” me.
Herbal Antibiotics: Natural Alternatives for Treating Drug-resistant Bacteria by Stephen Harrod Buhner is incredible. All I can say about this book is WOW. Mainly because I have not gotten through most of it! It is over 450 pages of excellent information on natural alternatives for treating drug resistant bacteria (as the cover says) I was particularly excited to get this book because I have Stephen Buhner’s book on treating Lyme disease naturally; his recommendations and explanations were excellent. Every time I crack Herbal Antibiotics open, I take tons of notes, run my highlighter dry, and get through maybe a chapter before my brain is on overload. His explanation of bacteria, the shortcomings of the pharmaceutical industry, and how hospitals contribute to the rise in “superbugs” has been intriguing. Look for a more thorough summary of Herbal Antibiotics soon. In the meantime, I strongly recommend adding this to your collection!
The ABC Herbalby Steven H. Horne is a little book described as a “simplified guide to natural health care for children”. My mother-in-law gave it to me when I had my daughter, and it has been a super interesting read. The book includes 6 parts including an introduction, the “A” which is activating your child’s body to defend itself, “B” which is building up the body naturally, the “C” which is cleansing the body through the skin or digestion, a section on treating infection, and a section on pain relief. Additionally they briefly mention flower essences and describe how to make remedies using a glycerin base instead of an alcohol base, which can be helpful when treating kids. They break down all herbal actions into 6 different effects, give a summary of common herbs that fit each action, and tell you in brief what each action is best for treating. For example, antispasmodics are often acrid-tasting, and can be used to relax tense tissue such as a nagging cough or cramps. They list herbs such as lobelia, black cohosh, chamomile, and valerian. I really appreciate the “big picture” approach of this book in particular and am eager to begin looking at my family’s health as a united whole rather than individual symptoms or even illnesses.
Herbal First Aid and Health Care by Kyle D. Christensen is an overview of first aid for just about any common ailment you can think of as well as a summary of herbal preparations, programs and protocols for maintaining health, and a chapter on growing your own medicine. For each ailment it includes a definition/diagnosis, treatment suggestions, and a note on what page to find the suggested herbal preparations. I have read this book the least so far, mainly because it is very much an emergency reference book in the event that you don’t have access to other information and emergency care, but also because my copy has a very peculiar smell to it, and it made me nauseous during the first trimester. Pathetic but true; this book definitely deserves a spot in anyone’s herbal library.