Herbals are books that offer information about the uses, properties, and botanical descriptions of herbs — and it’s no wonder they were amongst the first books produced in Ancient Egypt, China, India, and Europe. Ancient herbals and their modern-day counterparts are always fascinating to me, filled with legend, folklore, and other tell-tale information that reveals the quirks and idiosyncrasies of the times they were born of. Many herbals were illustrated to assist readers in plant identification, and some used the doctrine of signatures, which purported that an herb’s physical appearance revealed its healing virtues. (For example, lungwort’s leaves look similar to diseased lungs, the area of the body they are used to treat.)
The beauty of herbals is how interconnected they all are, like branches of one tree, all referencing others and tapping into the wealth of herbal information passed down through the ages. It’s fascinating to see how modern-day science and research combine with the empirical data and theories of the ages in later herbals. Here are some of my beloved herbals, dating from the 17th Century to the amazing herbals still being produced in our days:
1. Bruton-Seal, Julie, and Seal, Matthew, 2009. Backyard Medicine: Harvest and Make Your Own Herbal Remedies. Skyhorse Publishing. (*rare)
2. Christopher, John R., 1996. School of Natural Healing. Nutribooks Corporation.
3. Culpeper, Nicholas, (1653). Culpeper’s Complete Herbal: A Book of Natural Remedies of Ancient Ills. Applewood Books, 2006.
4. De Bairacle Levy, Juliette, 1997. Nature’s Children. Ash Tree Publishing. (*rare)
5. Gladstar, Rosemary, 2008. Rosemary Gladstar’s Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health: 175 Teas, Tonics, Oils, Salves, Tinctures, and Other Natural Remedies for the Entire Family. Story Publishing.
6. Green, Chelsea, 2005. The Herbalist’s Way: The Art and Practice of Healing with Plant Medicines. Chelsea Green Publishing.
7. Grieve, Maud, 1971. A Modern Herbal: the Medicinal, Culinary, Cosmetic and Economic Properties, Cultivation and Folk-Lore of Herbs, Grasses, Fungi, Shrubs & Trees with their modern scientific uses. Dover Publications.
8. Kloss, Jethro, (1939). Back to Eden: the Classic Guide to Herbal Medicine, Natural Foods, and Home Remedies Since 1939. Lotus Press, 2004.
9. Rose, Jeanne, 1972. Herbs & Things. Penguin Books.
10. Shaouli, Rabbi Moshe Cohen, and Fisher, Rabbi Yaakov, 1999. Nature’s Wealth: Health and Healing Plants based on the teachings of the Rambam. Publisher unknown. (*very rare)
11. Tis Mal Crow, 2001. Native Plants, Native Healing: Traditional Muskagee Way. Native Voices Publishing.