Last Updated on September 14, 2021
Looking for the best herbalism books to reference when you need an herbal remedy? While an internet search can yield many useful tidbits, having a few trusted medicinal plants books on your shelf makes finding reliable information easier. Plus you’ll have access to trusted herbal information even if your internet connection goes down for some reason. Here are some of the best herbal medicine books to consider adding to your home library.
CHOOSING THE BEST HERBALISM BOOKS
One of the things I love about having herbal medicine books on my shelf is the joy of browsing and discovering new herbs to add to my arsenal. I also consult them often for suggestions for addressing specific conditions or ways to use a new medicinal plant I’ve found.
I’ve learned from these books about uses for lemon balm, borage, hibiscus, and other herbs to grow in a medicinal herb garden as well as many to gather wild or let flourish in your garden like elderberry, elderflower, cleavers, dandelion, goldenrod, and so many more.
The herbal medicine books below take different approaches that you may find helpful for different purposes. If you’re new to using medicinal plants, books that offer an introductory overview are extremely useful. When you’re ready for more in-depth plant profiles and uses, some herbalism books offer more detail and cover a greater variety of herbs. Still others focus on a particular area, like reproductive health or stress management.
The herbal medicine books below have taught me so much about understanding and using herbs to support health. I hope they help you, too!
BUILD YOUR HERBALISM LIBRARY WITH THE BEST HERBAL MEDICINE BOOKS
I’m going to lead off with my top recommendations for the best herbalism books to add to your herbal medicine book collection. I’ll include an additional list of books to consider once you’ve laid the groundwork with essential medicinal plants books.
If you like to forage some of your own medicinal plants, be sure to check out recommendations for the best foraging books. Three that focus on medicinal plants rather than wild edibles are described below as well.
–> Herbal medicine books make great gifts! Give them to people you know interested in herbal remedies, or ask for them yourself for your next birthday or holiday 🙂
I put several plant medicine books on my wishlist each year, and my herbal medicine book collection has grown nicely, indeed. Here are some other eco-friendly gift ideas to consider.
WHERE TO GET HERBAL MEDICINE BOOKS
The links below give you three options to buy herbalism books: Bookshop.org, which gives 10% to independent booksellers, IndieBound, where you can purchase through your local bookstore, and Amazon. If you love the idea of supporting independent booksellers with your book purchases, do check out Bookshop and IndieBound when selecting medicinal plants books.
BEST HERBALISM BOOKS FOR THE HOME LIBRARY
Alchemy of Herbs by Rosalee de la Forêt
For a super-helpful introduction to using herbs together with much detailed information, my top recommendation is Rosalee de la Forêt’s Alchemy of Herbs. I love her explanation of herbal energetics and the book’s focus on common kitchen ingredients with medicinal properties like ginger, cinnamon, peppermint, and thyme, as well as beloved herbs like chamomile, lemon balm, elder, and tulsi. Alchemy of Herbs includes recipes for soothing teas, nourishing foods, and salves for external use. A must-have for the herbalism book collection!
The Modern Herbal Dispensatory by Thomas Easley and Steven Horne
The Modern Herbal Dispensatory is a comprehensive guide to making herbal medicine, covering the many different herbal preparations one can make along with 250 recipes for and information on hundreds of herbs. This is an essential guide for anyone planning on getting serious about using herbal medicines.
The Green Pharmacy by James Duke
Ethnobotanist James Duke’s tiny but info-packed Green Pharmacy is a comprehensive yet compact reference guide, using Duke’s extensive knowledge of medicinal plants gained from decades of study around the globe. I use it primarily as a reference book, but it’s written in an engaging way and can be good for browsing as well.
I like that it allows you to look up dozens of conditions and issues you’d like to address, from allergies to insomnia to tinnitus, as well as by plant to find out the uses for hundreds of different medicinal plants.
Medicinal Herbs, an Introduction and Recipes for Vibrant Health by Rosemary Gladstar
Rosemary Gladstar is a leading name in herbal circles, and you definitely want at least one of her books on your herbal bookshelf. For a basic introduction, Medicinal Herbs, an Introduction covers 33 herbs and their uses, with recipes for using each one.
Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health includes 175 recipes with herbal remedies for stress, insomnia, cold symptoms, and much more. It’s an excellent home reference as well as an inspiring read for anyone who wants to nourish their families with herbs.
Gladstar also has numerous herbalism books focusing on different areas, including women’s health and using plant medicine with children. You can find more of her herbal medicine books here.
Earthwise Herbal, Volumes I & II by Matthew Wood
Herbalist Matthew Wood’s books record decades of experience in his herbal practice. His two Earthwise Herbal volumes cover “old world” and “new world” plants, detailing how they work and in what parts of the body and how they were used historically. An incredibly informative set of books!
Body Into Balance By Maria Noel Groves
I love the approach Body Into Balance takes to holistic self-care. Rather than simply explaining how certain herbs may help different issues, Groves explains how all the different systems of the body function, and how to understand symptoms as hints about what might not be working optimally. The book has sections on supporting the immune system, managing pain, improving brain function, and much more.
The Homesteader’s Herbal Companion by Amy Fewell
In addition to information on using herbs, The Homesteader’s Herbal Companion covers choosing and planting, how to preserve herbs, as well as recipes for teas, tinctures, other herbal medicines, and homemade beauty products.
Wild Remedies by Rosalee de la Forêt and Emily Han
Wild Remedies is an info-packed guide to using easily foraged medicinal herbs like dandelion, elderflower, yarrow, and chickweed. In addition to in-depth descriptions of how to use each herb, Wild Remedies includes inspiring recipes and practical suggestions for incorporating herbs into your life. Organized by season, Wild Remedies covers 25 herbs to forage or grow, plus recipes for everything from cocktails to main dishes and salads, as well as instructions for making herbal remedies like salves and tinctures.
Backyard Herbal Apothecary by Devon Young
Herbalist Devon Young helps explains how to use plants many of us already have in our yards — from “weeds” like chickweed and plantain to herbs like rosemary and thyme — to make useful herbal medicines. The Backyard Herbal Apothecary covers 50 plants and includes recipes for 56 remedies to make with them, from tinctures and teas to salves.
Peterson Guide to Medicinal Plants and Herbs by Stephen Foster and James Duke
The updated Peterson Guide to Medicinal Plants and Herbs includes more than 500 medicinal plants found in east and central North America. (Another guide covers the western half of the continent.) These compact guides cover more plants than the books above, but in less detail.
OTHER HERBAL MEDICINE BOOKS TO CONSIDER
As herbal medicine has caught on, more books have come out taking different approaches or focusing on different areas. Once your herbal library is stocked with the essentials, there’s no shortage of herbal medicine books to choose from if you want to expand your repertoire of remedies and medicinal plants.
Below are a few more highly-regarded herbal medicine books to consider adding to your bookshelf.
Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine by Andrew Chevalier
The best-selling Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine is a reference guide covering 550 medicinal plants, as well as overviews of how plant medicine is used around the world, growing and using medicinal plants, and recipes for remedies.
Healing Herbal Infusions by Colleen Codekas
Healing Herbal Infusions includes numerous types of infusions — using water, alcohol, vinegar, honey, oil, and glycerin — to address common complaints. Sections cover infusions for immunity, pain, infection, digestion, skin care, and more.
Codekas is known for her inventive recipes at the website Grow Forage Cook Ferment, and Healing Herbal Infusions offers 75 helpful recipes for teas, tinctures, and syrups made from common medicinal plants to support health.
The Herbal Kitchen by Kami McBride
Kami McBride’s The Herbal Kitchen focuses on making use of the herbs most of us have in our kitchens to support health and address common ailments. Covering 50 herbs and offering 250 recipes for everything from drinks to pestos to bath soaks, The Herbal Kitchen will inspire you to use health-supporting herbs in new and creative ways.
The Herbal Apothecary by JJ Pursell
Naturopath JJ Pursell’s The Herbal Apothecary focuses on 100 common and less common herbs and gives instructions for making numerous herbal preparations from them.
Making Plant Medicine by Rico Cech
Rico Cech’s Making Plant Medicine is a go-to resource cited often by herbalists. Owner of the highly regarded Strictly Medicinal Seeds company, Cech explains how to make numerous different herbal preparations and profiles more than 140 medicinal plants.
Find Making Plant Medicine on Amazon.
A Modern Herbal by Maude Grieve
Maud Grieve’s A Modern Herbal first came out in 1931, a compendium of research she did in her work to promote the use of herbal medicines during and after WWI. I like to consult it primarily for its historical references, but Grieve’s list of uses often lines up with those of modern herbalists.
You can absolutely buy it, but it’s also worth knowing that you can also access it for free online. In book form, A Modern Herbal runs over 1000 pages! You can get it as a single volume or in two volumes.
Do you have favorite herbal medicine books? Leave your recommendations in the comments!
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Susannah is a proud garden geek and energy nerd who loves healthy food and natural remedies. Her work has appeared in Mother Earth Living, Ensia, Northern Gardener, Sierra, and on numerous websites. Her first book, Everything Elderberry, released in September 2020 and has been a #1 new release in holistic medicine, naturopathy, herb gardening, and other categories. Find out more and grab your copy here.