• Kim Elovirta

Herb Books for Beginners

I was recently asked about books for beginners. I first warned that herb books are addictive. Then I asked, What part of herbalism are you interested in I asked? You see, this is not a simple question to answer. Do you want to identify plants, learn just a list of herbs and what they may be good for, are you interested in native plants, Ayurveda, Chinese Medicine.... are you interested in herbs for men, women or children.... growing, making, or as food..... You get the idea. And our beautiful plant allies fit in so many categories and many that our minds just can't comprehend. With that, here are a few of my favorite books from my vast collection, a description and a link. These are great for beginners and ones I still refer to time and again. I do NOT get any money from these links. I have used the authors website link whenever possible.


Rosemary Gladstar has many wonderful books. They are great for beginners and advanced practitioners all at the same time. Her information is sound and her approach very easy to follow. For those just venturing into herbs I would suggest Rosemary Gladstar's Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner's Guide.




I would also suggest her book Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health. I have the first edition entitled Rosemary Gladstar’s Family Herbal: A Guide to Living Life with Energy, Health, and Vitality. I use this all the time. See the table of contents below.


Andrew Chevalier has Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine: The Definitive Reference to 550 Herbs and Remedies for Common Ailments I loved his early edition so much I purchased the third edition as well. He devotes a full page to each herb. This is a great over view of each plant, its habitat, research and current uses. Below is a sample of what you will find featuring clove.


Rosalee De La Forêt's first book Alchemy of Herbs: Transform Everyday Ingredients into Foods & Remedies That Heal is great because she talks about herbs you cook with every day - pepper, garlic , parsley, etc. and how they are used a remedies. She also gives recipes throughout the book and you know how much I love recipes. She has a podcast as well.


Maria Noel Groves's Body into Balance: An Herbal Guide to Holistic Self-care is a general overview of each body system and the herbs used to support it. She includes recipes as well. You can even see all of my bookmarks in the picture.


My newest book, and one that I know I will be referring to again and again is Kat Maier's Energetic Herbalism: A Guide to Sacred Plant Traditions Integrating Elements of Vitalism, Ayurveda, and Chinese Medicine. I have had the pleasure of studying with her at conferences and she was one of my teachers at Advanced Herbal Studies. She explains energetics in such a way that is both simplistic and in-depth at the same time. She gives a clear overview of Vitalism, Ayurveda and Chinese Medicine so that one can understand the overlap and the differences. In the back of the book she gives an overview of her top 25 herbs.



Last, but not least I have to mention Deb Soule's book How to Move Like a Gardener. The beginning of the is all about biodynamic gardening. She has used this technique in her gardens at Avena Botanical in Rockport, Maine. The amazing pictures throughout are from her garden. Her writing style is as gentle and soothing as she is. The last part of the book is her materia medica ( a monograph of individual herbs) that I find outstanding. I have since updated my own materia medica to follow her format.


There are so many books, authors and teachers I have not mentioned that I adore. But, I do have to stop somewhere. I will mention a few online resources. Learning Herbs offers a wealth of information for a monthly or annual fee. It is filled with articles, recipes and videos of multiple herbalists. BotanicWise hosted by Charis Lindrooth offers free (and paid) classes as well as an informative blog.

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