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Herbal Books for Beginners and Intermediates

Herbal Healing for Women, by Rosemary Gladstar
Complete Guide to Medicinal Herbs, by Penelope Ody
The Web That Has No Weaver, by Ted Kaptchuck
The Male Herbal - Health Care for Men and Boys
The Herbal Handbook - A User's Guide to Medical Herbalism, by David Hoffman
Herbal Remedies for Women, by Amanda McQuade Crawford, MNIMH
St. John's Wort - the Mood Enhancing Drug, by Christopher Hobbs

 The Herbal Bear recommends this bookHerbal Healing for Women, by Rosemary Gladstar  - Beginner Level

One of the best books for beginning herbal medicine.  Rosemary is one of the nicest herbalists you will ever meet.  Her warmth and willingness to share her knowledge are apparent in this book.  All the basics of herbal medicine are covered here. Not only will you learn specifics about the medicinal action of the plants, but also how to prepare herbal medicines.  The book details how to prepare teas, tinctures, oils, and salves.  Rosemary also includes her "Famous Face Cream Recipe".  I don't know any herbalist worth their weight who doesn't know about her Cream Recipe - it is simply fantastic!  I have had the good fortune to meet Rosemary and would recommend her as a wonderful herbalist and herbal educator.  For more information on United Plant Savers, of which Rosemary is president, click here.

Healing Wise, by Susun Weed - Beginner Level

Another classic herbal book which most herbalist have.  Actually all of Susun Weed's books are excellent but if you must have only one of her books, then this is one to have.  This book is about herbs but it is much more than that.  Susun Weed is a herbalist in the Wise Woman Tradition, a tradition which has passed down folk medicine for generations.  In her book the plants speak for themselves.  Even the chapters are entitled "Burdock Speaks", "Chickweed Speaks", "Dandelion Speaks". When the plants speak about themselves some are eloquent,  some funny, and all are helpful healers of the earth, the animals and people.

The Herbal Bear recommends this bookComplete Guide to Medicinal Herbs, by Penelope Ody - Beginner & Intermediate Levels

I have to recommend this book as the best herbal book around for color photographs.  Why would I recommend this over a field guide?  This book provides pictures of the full  live plant, the dried herb, the color of the herbal tea, the color of the tincture (which can often look quite different from what you might expect) and has excellent descriptions about the plant's medicinal activities.  Are you beginning to study about Chinese herbalism and the energetics of plants?  This is the book for you.  All the plants descriptions include the energetics of the plant.  This is a clear, well detailed book which will serve you for as long as you study herbs.

The Web That Has No Weaver, by Ted Kaptchuck - Intermediate Level

This is the best book I can recommend for herbalists who are interested in Chinese medicine and/or the concepts of herbal energetics.  Chinese medicine is a fascinating system which has existed for thousands of years.  I believe it has many concepts which enable use to be better herbalists.  This is a well written book which assumes no prior knowledge of Chinese medicine.  It clearly explains Chinese concepts which have no western equivalent, such as: chi (qi), shen (spirit),  yin and yang organs, energy meridians and more.  The book does not cover chinese herbs but it is a prerequisite for understanding concepts used in chinese herbalism.

The Male Herbal - Health Care for Men and Boys, by James Green - Intermediate Level

There are plenty of books about herbal healing for women.  Many of the books that I recommend for general or beginner use are targeted for women.  This is probably since women make up the lion's share of herbalists in the United States.  This most valuable book deals with men's health issues.  Of you take herbalism seriously then this book is a must.  There is very little about male related health issues in herbal publications.  James Green has taken on the most needed task of addressing men's issues.  This book talks in details about heart disease, hypertension, stress, ulcers, prostate problems, venereal diseases, fertility, impotence and more.

The Herbal Handbook - A User's Guide to Medical Herbalism, by David Hoffman - Intermediate Level

An excellent introduction to medical herbalism.  David Hoffman is a practicing medical herbalist and a member of Britain's National Institute of Medical Herbalists since 1979.  His book is well organized and thorough.  The book is roughly divided into two sections: Actions and Body Systems.  Under actions David explains everything from Adaptogens to Vulneraries.  He explains what the term means and gives herbal example of the action. The second half of the book details the various body systems (i.e., digestive, cardio-vascular, respiratory, lymphatic, urinary etc.) and the herbs which affect them. The descriptions are clear, and concise.

Herbal Remedies for Women, by Amanda McQuade Crawford, MNIMH - Intermediate Level

This book focuses on women's reproductive health issues.  The book has five main sections:

  • Problems of menses: lack of menses, pmS, painful menses, heavy menstrual bleeding, iron deficiency, menstrual migraines.
  • Abnormal Cell Growth: fibroids, ovarian cysts, cervical erosion, endometriosis, benign breast cysts.
  • Healthy Reproduction: infertility, pregnancy, healthy baby care.
  • Infections: urinary tract infections, vaginitis, candida, herpes, trichomonas, chlamydia.
  • Change of life: menopause

A very comprehensive and useful book for women.

St. John's Wort the Mood Enhancing Drug,
By Christopher Hobbs

Christopher Hobbs is an excellent herbalist who has written many books on herbal medicine. This book offers a thorough look at St. John's Wort, an herb which has recently gained widespread use an anti-depressant. Christopher Hobbs writes in detail about the use of St. John's Wort for depression, anxiety, sleep disorders and other herbal uses. Because of his strong science background (he trained as a botanist) his book is well referenced material with scientific studies which explore the efficacy of St. John's Wort. This is a wonderful book which clearly presents the uses and benefits of St. John's Wort.

Note: This book is out of print, but still may be ordered through