One question I get asked frequently is what books I would recommend to help you get started on using herbal remedies in your own home and on your homestead. I built my herbal reference library over several years beginning with some standard herbal references, some herbal recipe books, and moving up to more scholarly, reference books as my budget allowed. You`ll want some basic how-to books, as well as more in depth medical books to help you make wise decisions in treating your own family with herbs.
Here`s one area that I`d recommend getting the paper bound or hard cover books rather than relying on your homestead Kindle library. While the Kindle books offer a focus — sometimes herbal remedies for a single ailment or focused on a single herbal remedy — the pictures don`t render well in Kindle. And some Kindle books completely lack the pictures that you`d find in the paper copy of the book. With herbs, the pictures do a valuable service in rendering the text more understandable. This is important as you gain confidence and experience in using herbs to treat common maladies.
As you are perusing these books on Amazon, and making decisions of which ones you`d like to add to your wish list, don`t forget to check the used copies. Sometimes the used copies are a very good buy, even on out of print books. If you don`t find what you are looking for in the used books on Amazon, add it to your wish-list and keep checking back. The used stock turns over frequently.
Basic herbals are like a dictionary of herbs. A good herbal will give you the latin name of the herb or plant and the common name. It`s a good idea to learn both, so that you can easily find what you are looking for in the reference books. A good basic herbal should also have a picture or drawing of the plant, to help you identify it in the garden or field. It should have a listing of the various ailments the herb is commonly used to treat, in folk medicine. It should also tell you which part of the plant is harvested for herbal remedies and when the best time to harvest is.
Along with these items there should also be some instructions on how to prepare herbal remedies from each particular herb. It should tell you, for instance, that horehound should be dried and used as a tea, or it can be further processed into cough syrup or cough candy.
I have several of these in my home library. Some of the ones that I have are now out of print — as I began my journey using herbal remedies in the 1970s. But I will recommend them here in case you can find a used copy in your search. Some of these older manuals are more comprehensive than many of the newer books.
The first two are the same book but two different editions. It’s the herbal book I grab first before I look for a more detailed books to get specifics. Either of these or any of the various editions of the same book by David Hoffman, will be of benefit to your herbal library.
Herbal Field Guides/ Plant lore
Field guides help you identify wild plants in your area, so that you can make a positive identification before you harvest them. They will tell you what the indigenous people in your area used the plant for, as well as offer practical advise for when to harvest and what the plant looks like in various stages of its life cycle. If you plan to wild craft your herbs make sure, beyond any doubt, that you have made a positive identification of your herb before harvesting.
Practical Herbalism Books
Practical Herbalism books come at herbal medicine from the perspective of treatment. These are the books that you use to find the particular herbs that are good for certain ailments. They will have a physiology section at the beginning of the book that describe how the various systems of the human body work and there will be recommended herbs to treat each physiological system.
There will be a brief section in the back, sort of a glossary of herbs, that will give you brief information about individual herbs, but it won`t be as thorough as a basic herbal.
The practical herbalism books will give you the kinds of preparations to use with various ailments and how to prepare them. They will also equip you with dosages and the timing of dosage.
Herbal Text Books
Herbal text books look at the plants with a break down of the different chemicals that make up the plant. They will explain to you the technical aspects of how the herbs work on the human body. They will offer you, like a medical encyclopedia, the contraindications that the herbs carry, as well as offer substitutions for various herbs, and suggestions where the synergy of other herbs will benefit treatment.
You don`t need these kind of books as you are just starting out, but as you gain experience in using herbal remedies with confidence in your own home, and you are called on to give advice to neighbours and friends, a few books like this in your library would be invaluable.
Herbal Gardening Books
Herbal gardening books give guidance on when to plant various herbal plants, companion planting suggestions, and when to harvest for peak medicinal effectiveness. Some books are broad in scope, others are specific to certain growing areas, or even specific to certain plant species.
Herbal Craft Books
Herbal crafts offer ways to use herbs in teas, soaps, balms, and baths to enhance your use of herbs and inspire your creativity. Everyone should have a few of these in their library to ignite their passion for incorporating herbs in to their every day wellness regime. Herbs should be gathered for times of illness but should be part of everyone`s wellness plan, as well. Peruse these titles and focus on the one or two that interest you. As you increase your skill in using herbs, you can add more books to round out your education and reference library.