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Herbal Books for Advanced Study

Guide of Medicinal Plants - by Paul Schaunenberg and Ferdinand Paris
Chinese Herbal Medicine Materia Medica -
by Bensky/Gamble

Guide of Medicinal Plants, by Paul Schaunenberg and Ferdinand Paris - Advanced Level

This is a reference book which lists plants by their active constituents.  Chapters 1-3 are devoted to plants containing alkaloids, vitamins and antibiotics. Chapters 4-14 list plants which contain heterosides (sugars and mucilages).  Chapters 15-17 list plants which contain essential oils and  glucides.  Chapter 18 lists plants with trace minerals.  The are hardly any illustrations in this book.  To use this reference easily, you should know the latin name of the plant you are interested in looking up.  The listings detail the following information:  latin name, a few common names, habitat, a brief physical description, flowering season, active constituents, brief medicinal properties, brief medicinal applications.  This book is useful to those who need to know the chemistry of the medicinal plants.

This book is out of print, but used copies are usually available from

Chinese Herbal Medicine Materia Medica, by Bensky/Gamble

A scholarly work on Chinese herbs.  Although I studied Chinese medicine, I do not normally use Chinese herbs if I can use a western equivalent.  However, there are times when a particular chinese herb fits a formula perfectly.  Herbalism is now quite popular, and many students of acupuncture now also study chinese herbalism in depth.  This is the text I used when I studied Chinese herbs.  The book is well organized, well written (a rarity for chinese herbs) and very informative.  Chinese medicine employs a different understand about how the body functions.  A major concept in Chinese medicine involves the concept of chi (qi), the universal energy force which flows through the body.  Understanding this concept is crucial to understanding Chinese herbalism.  There is no equivalent concept in western medicine.  If you have never come across this concept,  or are not aware of terms like external pernicious influences and triple burners, then I suggest you start with a different book - The Web that Has No Weaver, by Ted Kaptchuk

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