For years, I’ve been interested in wild edibles and healing plants. I wish I knew someone locally with whom I could apprentice, but alas, I do not. The next best thing I can do then is travel to the experts when possible and read everything I can get my hands on.
One of the great books I added to our home library is Rosemary Gladstar’s Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner’s Guide. I have read this book cover to cover and thoroughly enjoyed it for its beautiful photos and recipes, but most of all for the excellent information she provides.
If you have done much study on herbal remedies, you have probably encountered terms like decoction, tincture, poultice, and infusion. The idea of taking a plant and producing a salve still seemed a little mysterious and beyond my ability. This book changed that. Not only are the processes explained step by step in layman’s terms, but she adds many hints and suggestions for best outcomes too.
Another wonderful thing about this book is all the space given to the healing properties of many easy-to-come-by plants. She has a section on Nine Familiar Herbs and Spices and another on Twenty-Four Safe & Effective Herbs. She clearly tells which parts of the plants are to be used, how to determine dosage, and even gives recipes for incorporating the herbs into delicious medicinal foods like pesto. In the back, there is a listing of sources for herbs if you have no local shops that sell them or are unable to grow them.
Something I was a bit surprised about is that Ms. Gladstar is not completely opposed to all “modern/allopathic” medicine like some authors I’ve read. Rather, she (like us) sees that it has a place, but not first place. We should be striving to live healthy lifestyles and taking care about what we put in our bodies by way of food or chemicals. We should intentionally use what we know is helpful and avoid what we know is harmful. That will greatly reduce the need for medical intervention.
Next, when issues arrive, we should search for the most natural ways to remedy them. For example, some ginger or peppermint tea would be a good first choice for an upset stomach rather than a pill or bottle of pink stuff.
After that, if we deem our problem to be something too serious or acute to be handled in the gradual and gentle manner of plant medicine. That’s when we should seek out a doctor. I know if I need a broken leg set, I’d like a professional to do it and I’d probably appreciate some good pain medicine too.
All this makes good sense, but is particularly pertinent to those of us who are preparedness-minded. We know we should be keeping physically fit and trying to improve our overall health. We should be striving to get away from pharmaceuticals that may not always be available to us and find alternatives that we can grow or forage. And knowledge of how to use these plants would make us very valuable indeed in a post-collapse world.
Overall, this volume is one of my favorites. If I could only have one book for herbal medicine, this would be it.
Do you have other favorite titles I should look into? Please share them in the comments section.