Herbalism books, both classic and modern, are essential items to any well-stocked library. Whether you are interested in reading about natural remedies in books or prefer researching specifics about branches of herbal medicine, these books will inspire, encourage, and instruct every gardener.
I have been studying herbalism for years now in a variety of forms out of both interest and necessity. It all started when I first began growing herbs in my garden therapy garden, as part of a self-directed rehabilitation program for a sudden and severe disability. Like many folks, I found healing through plants and wanted to dive deeper into their mystical powers. Experiencing the benefits and power of herbs first hand encouraged me to seek out more wisdom. I signed up for every herb walks and local class taught by herbalists, gardeners, medicine makers, and elders that I could find!
When local classes weren’t available, I studied online and signed up for a number of courses and workshops I could do from my home. Along the way, I have amassed quite the library of herbalism books.
These herbal medicine books are the ones I find myself reaching for again and again. When asked about herb books, the ones below are the options that I highly recommend. They range from classic to modern reads, each offering differing perspectives and a wealth of knowledge.
Herbalism Books to Add to Your Library
First of all, what is herbalism? Simply put, it is the study or practice of the medicinal and therapeutic use of plants. Healing herbs and their many medicinal wonders have always fascinated me. The idea of being able to heal or strengthen your body from plants that you can grow in your own home and garden is beyond exhilarating. Many modern medicines are rooted in plants as well, like these Life-Saving Plants that grew into Plant-Derived Modern Medicine.
Nature has the power to heal and all it takes is time and effort on your part, coupled with the know-how to do it correctly. If you are looking for a great place to start accumulating that knowledge these 12 healing herbs and herbalism books are the perfect place to start. Plus, each of these volumes can be utilized by both the beginner and the more advanced herbalist.
I think the best place to start reading about herbs is Braiding Sweetgrass. This herbal medicine book reads like a novel and answers not only the question of how, but also why herbs and plants should be included in our lives.
Braiding Sweetgrass by Dr. Robin Wall Kimmerer is a mesmerizing read that takes us on a journey of history, science, and a tale of passion for all living things. Dr. Kimmerer is a mother, scientist, decorated professor, and an enrolled member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation.
In Braiding Sweetgrass, Dr. Kimmerer touches on topics such as the creation of Turtle Island and the challenges of today that keep it from flourishing. You can feel Dr. Kimmerer’s passion in every word.
If you are looking for a book that is full of facts that are weaved together by a great storyteller then this is the book for you. Braiding Sweetgrass serves as a reminder that living things can offer us gifts and lessons, if only we listen.
Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner’s Guide
Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner’s Guide by Rosemary Gladstar has been my textbook since I started. I have such a deep admiration for all that Rosemary has done for modern herbalism—she is truly a visionary. I’m also enrolled in her classic Science and Art of Herbalism course!
If you know anything about herbalism books, you’ve likely heard her name before. She is a star figure in this field and is internationally known for her technical knowledge.
She has been learning, teaching and writing about herbs for over 40 years and is the author of eleven books. Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner’s Guide profiles 33 common healing plants and includes advice on growing, harvesting, preparing, and using herbs in healing tinctures, oils, and creams.
The Backyard Herbal Apothecary
The Backyard Herbal Apothecary is a new natural remedies book written by my friend Devon Young who I had the pleasure of meeting in person at the Northwest Flower and Garden Show. Devon is a mother, writer, herbalist, farmer, and cook. She also holds a degree in Complementary and Alternative Medicine from the American College of Health Care Sciences.
We had a bonding moment at NWFGS as we roomed together at the hotel there. I had a headache while I was at the show and she gave me some of her feverfew tincture. You guys, it was the real deal! Devon’s tincture worked wonders on my headache. Likewise, every recipe I have tried from her book has worked like a charm.
The Backyard Herbal Apothecary is one of those herbalism books that’s filled to the brim with information. In particular, the pages contain a depth of information on 50 different plants. Additionally, you’ll learn 56 recipes that can aid you in everything from the treatment of respiratory issues to nerve pain to colic and so much more!
The Backyard Herbal Apothecary can teach you to use cottonwood to make a salve for achy joints or heal minor bumps and bruises with the common yard daisy just to give a few examples. Easy to follow and full of gorgeous photography, you can’t go wrong with The Backyard Herbal Apothecary.
Boreal Herbal Wild Food and Medicine Plants of the North
Boreal Herbal Wild Food and Medicine Plants of the North by Beverley Gray is a go-to guide for identifying and using Northern plants for food and medicine. Beverly is a boreal herbalist, aromatherapist, natural-health practitioner, journalist, and award-winning natural health-product formulator.
Boreal Herbal Wild Food and Medicine Plants of the North is one of the easiest herbalism books to use. It will help you identify and use 55 common wild plants for medicinal use. In fact, this information is what I use and recommended most often for plant walks where you can forage medicinal plants.
Learn to soothe pain with willow or treat a urinary tract infection with bearberry in this incredible herb book. You will also find dozens of healthy recipes like Wild-Weed Spanakopita, Dandelion Wine, and Cranberry-Mint Muffins.
Healing Wise by Susun S. Weed is definitely one of the classic herbalism books I find myself reaching for. This classic read focuses on just 7 herbs (burdock, chickweed, dandelion, nettle, oat straw, seaweed, and violet). This allows you to really understand the properties of each one of these incredible herbs.
In Healing Wise, Susan shares detailed instructions for harvesting, how to prepare and use every part of the herb, fun folklore and more for each of the 7 herbs. You will also find recipes for gourmet foods, wines, beers, cosmetics, and so much more!
Susan is the founder of The Wise Woman Center in Woodstock, New York. She is the author of many women’s health books and her goal is to help women rediscover the ancient Wise Woman ways. Her books are truly fascinating!
Alchemy of Herbs
This is a brand new colourful, fun herbalism book that I purchased, along with its accompanying course. Alchemy of Herbs by Rosalee De La Foret will teach you to transform common ingredients into foods and remedies that heal. A few examples include cinnamon tea to soothe your throat or garlic hummus to support your immune system.
Sometimes the thought of using herbs can seem costly or difficult. However, within Alchemy of Herbs, Rosalee shows you easy and inexpensive ways to use herbs for your health. Rosalee digs into 29 popular herbs. Within the pages, she gives you their history and in-depth information on how to use each one.
If you are looking for herbal medicine books with a grounding in personal experience, this is a great option. Rosalee is a registered herbalist and author. Her journey started out of her own need to heal and ease her pain from a terminal autoimmune disease, which she successfully did. Despite the gloomy predictions from her doctors, she has been symptom-free (and very much alive!) for 15 years and counting.
Backyard Medicine by Julie Bruton-Seal is a fascinating herbalism book that covers the history and world-wide application of 50 common plants. Julie is a practicing naturopathic herbalist, iridologist and natural healer. She is also a Fellow of the Association of Master Herbalists. Additionally, she is currently chair of the Herbal History Research Network. In short—she knows her stuff!
Backyard Medicine is a book is perfect for anyone that is interested in learning about and improving their own health in the same way it has been done for centuries all over the world. You will find nearly 300 gorgeous photos and over 120 herbal remedies within the pages of this beautiful book.
Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health
Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health by Rosemary Gladstar is my go-to herbal remedy book. I always check this one first for recipes. Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health includes 175 proven therapies and herbal remedies that are both easy to prepare and safe enough for children.
Rosemary has been teaching and writing about herbs for over 40 years and is the author of eleven books, including Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner’s Guide (see above). This herbal medicine book offers you an effective, simple alternative to pharmaceuticals. Within the pages of this herbalism book, you will find natural cures for ailments like dry skin and infant colic to cold symptoms and insomnia.
The Herbal Apothecary
The Herbal Apothecary by JJ Pursell is another great book that offers 100 medicinal herbs and an array of ways to use them. This herbalism book is a more modern take on herbs and an excellent read.
The Herbal Apothecary is a great book to start your journey to natural wellness. Naturopathic physician, JJ Pursell, offers you guidance to safely provide home remedies for you and your family using plants you are familiar with that can grow in your own home and garden. The Herbal Apothecary includes step-by-step instructions for making herbal teas, tinctures, compresses, salves, and more, including plant-based medicine for ailments such as muscle strain, the flu, the common cold, and insomnia.
Master Recipes from the Herbal Apothecary
Master Recipes from the Herbal Apothecary by JJ Pursell is a one-stop resource for herbal remedies that heal and nurture the whole family. JJ is a board-certified naturopathic physician and licensed acupuncturist that has worked with medicinal herbs for more than 20 years. She has also taught and trained with herbalists all over the world.
Master Recipes from the Herbal Apothecary starts with the basics of tinctures, salves, teas, capsules, oils, washes, and more. However, once you master these basics you can move onto the 375 recipes within the book. These recipes address a huge range of different health needs. These recipes pair perfectly with JJ’s other book The Herbal Apothecary (directly above).
Healing Herbal Infusions
Healing Herbal Infusions is THE best book on infusions, hands down! I love the recipes and the focus solely on infusions. Colleen has a great blog as well, called Grow Forage Cook Ferment. She even made my Peppermint Coconut Sugar Scrub recipe on her blog before. If her name sounds familiar to you, perhaps it’s because she has been a guest poster here on Garden Therapy before with an excellent post on Echinacea Root and Flower Tincture for Cold and Flu Season.
Healing Herbal Infusions is an amazing resource for treating ailments the natural way. These remedies are incredibly easy to make. Follow the steps she outlines and you’ll be able to whip up an all-natural remedy in no time! You will find recipes for Fever-Reducing Tea, Pine Needle Cough Syrup, and Sage, Marshmallow & Ginger Sore Throat Tea and more.
Another thing I really appreciate about this book is all the safety information and additional resources. Each recipe includes as safety tips and dosage recommendations for adults and children.
Colleen is definitely a knowledgeable teacher. She has completed several herbalism courses through the Herbal Academy and the Chestnut School of Herbal Medicine. She lives in Rogue Valley of Southern Oregon with her husband and kiddo.
The Herbal Handbook for Homesteaders
The Herbal Handbook for Homesteaders by Abby Artemisia is the perfect herbalism book for homesteaders whether novice or experienced. Homesteaders are faced with many unique challenges like a goat with worms. Additionally, they will face the ailments common to all men such as colds and cases of flu. The Herbal Handbook for Homesteaders is a perfect guide to help you find solutions to all those problems with natural remedies that you can create yourself.
Abby is the Founder of the WANDER (Wild Artemisia Nature Discovery, Empowerment, and Reconnection) School, Botanist, Herbalist, & a professional forager. Abby, with the help of her many years of experience, created this user-friendly resource specifically for homesteaders. If you are looking to take control of your family’s, pet’s, and livestock’s health, this is the book for you.
If you’d like to try out one of her remedies, she shared her recipe for witch hazel from the book here: Homemade Witch Hazel Toner + Skin Soother from Scratch
Herbalists Healing Kitchen
Herbalists Healing Kitchen by Devon Young is another incredible herbal medicine book that deserves space on your shelf. I already wrote about how Devon is the real deal, but she can also COOK some delicious food! By following her recipes, you’ll be able to transform everyday common foods and herbs into wholesome, nourishing meals that will boost your health.
With recipes such as Soothing Ginger Thins to soothe an upset stomach, or Daikon Radish Kimchi to help get rid of headaches and congestion, Herbalists Healing Kitchen is a tribute to the old adage that food really should be your medicine. These recipes are healing and delicious enough for the entire family to enjoy.
Of course, her writing is steeped in wisdom and a solid knowledge of herbalism. As a reminder, Devon also is the author of The Backyard Herbal Apothecary, which I discussed above within this post.
Which one of these herbalism books will you read first? Each of these is an invaluable resource, filled with wisdom and knowledge.
More Great Gardening Books
If you want to stock your bookshelf with even more excellent reads, take a look at these:
- Practical Gardening Books for Every Garden
- What’s New in Vegetable Gardening Books
- My Own Books – last, but certainly not least, I have written a number of books, all rooted in a love for nature and plants.
Hi and thanks very much for sharing this, I stumbled on your beautiful blog searching for ways to incorporate herbs/health/garden. I think we all start to think about our health at this time of year and the garden is a great place to tune mind and body. Here I am again at the start of another year trying to keep to a resolution :) like so many of us . In fact, it wasn’t far off this time last year I wrote a little article to motivate myself into getting going. This year I was thinking more along the lines of Herbal remedies based on what’s available or we can grow ourselves and the title ‘Backyard Remedies’ or ‘The Backyard Herbal Apothecary’ looks to be just the solution I was looking for so thanks very much putting this article together.