When I hold workshops or talks, people often ask me what are the best herbal medicine books. So I always take along a diverse selection from my bookshelf, they range from therapeutic and practical, ethnobotany to myth and magic.
So here begins a mirco series of reviews on the herbal and plant healing books that I love and consult most often. I'm encouraging fellow herbalists to submit a guest review of theirs too, so in the end there will be a comprehensive reference list to browse.
Beginning with The Complete Woman's Herbal by Anne McIntyre, an experienced herbalist and ayurvedic practitioner.
This is a wonderful book - comprehensive and thorough, presented in three parts:
Herbal Wellbeing : The first chapter 'About Herbs' offers an easy to read summary of the chemistry of herbal constituents and their therapeutic value. Then a glossary of herbal preparations for internal and external applications and how to make them. Plus an list of Essential Oils and their actions.
The second chapter 'The Well Woman' emphasises the mind and body connection with advice on general health and how to lead a balanced life. In addition here can be found clear and non technical descriptions of the various systems of the body
The Seasons of Womanhood includes the all the cycles of growth from puberty to menopause and later life. Each chapter is covered with a senstive understanding of the challenges faced at each milestone of being a woman. The fundamentals of the menstural cycle covering both the healthy and disturbed cycle is very well written and each imbalance has a symptom picture, then herbal treatments and self help suggestions to try. When necessary Anne refers the reader to diagnosis by a qualified practitioner - very sensible and always reassuring.
Practical Problem Solving : the third part which contains a chapter on 'First Aid', with excellent examples of what to keep in your medicine chest and how to use them plus what can be found in the herb garden and the kitchen cupboard; 'Healing Yourself' deals with some chronic and pretty serious serious health challenges and gynaecological ailments - again written sensibly and sensitively. 'Beauty Treatments' contains recipes and advice on skin and hair care. 'Housekeeping Herbs' has some wonderful concotions that are easy to source and make.
Throughout, the book is peppered with brilliant herb monographs clearly documenting the actions, applications, contra indications of 71 healing plants. They are arranged in order of most relevance to the chapter topic, and because of the multi purpose nature of medicinal herbs and the fact they are well referenced in other parts of the book, they are easy to find via the index too.
Anne has written many other books, check her website to find the latest.