Would you be quipped to handle a poison ivy breakout, or cure a migraine using household ingredients? Brush up on your herbal know-how with the classics and some of the less common herbals, all available at Better World Books:
Grandmother’s Secrets: her green guide to health from plants, by Jean Palaiseul (*classic!)
I am just reading this one now and using it as a reference in my herbal research. I love it because it is translated from the French and the rich folkloric spirit remains vibrant. Reading it makes me feel like I am cuddled up next to a rustic hearth listening to a wise French grandmother tell the olden tales of herbs we still use today.
Common Herbs for Natural Health, by Juliette de Bairacli Levy (*classic!)
Anyone who knows anything about herbalism has come across this legendary herbalist’s works. She was a pioneer woman who travelled with the gypsies, farmers, and mountain people, and lived in countless countries across the world, collecting herbal wisdom from wherever she stepped foot. This volume is the first you should own, as a general guide to common herbs. Her other works include special herbals for children, pets, and the endless stories of her travels infused with herbal lore.
20,000 Secrets of Tea, by Victoria Zak
I really love this book. I use it often for inspiration for tea blends and for its index which lists ailments and the various herbs that heal them. For such a small book, Zak has managed to fit in an impressive materia medica section, recipes for delicious teas, all sprinkled with lots of clever ideas and tips for making the most of your herbal endeavors.
How to make your own Herbal Cosmetics, by Liz Sanderson (*vintage!)
This book was written in 1977 and it totally looks like it. The illustrations are so retro that you’d imagine this was the herbal that Rhoda from the Mary Tyler Moore Show had on her nightstand. It’s filled with hundreds of recipes for every type of lotion, potion, cream, rinse, perfume, and tonic for light hair, dark hair, thinning hair, thick hair, zits, freckles, and of course, wrinkles. The tone of the book is delightfully informal (like the decade it was born of), sort of like an old girlfriend giving you a makeover.
Herbal Remedies in Pots, by Effie Romain + Sue Hawkey
One of the first herb books I ordered on BWB, what I like is how the authors laid out the book according to various maladies and which herbs to grow together in pots for all-in-one cures. For example, you might plant a pot of English Lavender, Milk Thistle, and Mugwort to banish hangovers. The book gives directions for planting, cultivating, and formulating remedy recipes for all the tummy aches, tooth aches, ear aches, and well, whole body aches you can think of.
Native American Wisdom, compiled by Alan Jacobs
Though this is not an herbal book per se (it just so happened to be atop my current stack of herbals), it is relevant as the Native Americans derived much knowledge and wisdom from the green world. This book is a compilation of various writings and sayings from different tribes’ chiefs, medicine men, and women. It is a very small book, but like a simple poem, entire universes and lifelong lessons are held within its words.