Looking for the best herbal medicine books?
If you ask me, there are few things better in this life than curling up with a good herbal book.
I am often asked to list my favorite books on herbs. Up until now I thought that was an impossible request.
When people ask that question I think they are expecting a list of three, perhaps five herb books. Impossible!
I often hear beginning herbalists ask, which herbal medicine books should I buy?
Again, that’s a difficult question since there are so many herbal books
on a variety of topics.
are truly fortunate to have a huge array of herbal books on many
different topics. Forty years ago there was just a smattering of herb
books available. Undeniably, our grassroots herbal movement would not
have been possible without our herbal elders taking the time to put
their wisdom in print.
follows are the best herb books according to me. This is not an
exhaustive list of herb books available today. Instead, I have hand-
chosen my absolute favorite herbal books, the ones I most reach for on
linked many of the books below to my affiliate account on Amazon.com.
This means that if you purchase books through the links below you’ll be
supporting all the free information I post on this website. Thank you!
However, I also highly encourage you to look for these books at your
library and local independent books stores.
you feel like I’ve left out an important herbal book? Please add your
best herb books in the comments below! I’m always on the lookout for
quality herbal medicine books!
I’ve divided up the Herbal Bookshelf into categories.
Click on the links below to go directly to that listing.
Or simply scroll down to browse all the books.
Herbal Books Categories
Good Foundational or Introduction to Herbalism Books
These books are a great introduction to herbs.
Books by Herb: Materia Medica
These books have in-depth monographs of individual herbs.
by Michael Moore
Michael Moore’s legacy to us all was re-enlivening the use of plants found outside our door (as opposed to simply buying them). His infamous humor is blended with a lifetime of study and practice. Don’t let the title fool you, many of these plants are found outside of the mountain west.
by Michael Moore
Michael Moore’s legacy to us all was re-enlivening the use of plants found outside our door (as opposed to simply buying them). His infamous humor is blended with a lifetime of study and practice. Don’t let the title fool you, many of these plants are found outside of the Pacific west.
by Matthew Wood
This book doesn’t cover as many plants as the Earthwise Herbals but the plants it does cover are discussed very in-depth. You’ll reach a different level of intimacy with these particular plants!
by Darcey Williamson
Darcey Williamson is an herbal treasure and if you live anywhere near the Rocky Mountains this is a must have. Most of the plants listed are applicable to me in the Northeastern Cascades. She’ll wow you with native plant uses that you’ve never considered before and it’s all backed up with her decades of practice and experience.
Herbal Reference Books
These books are great when you need to know the basics on a wide range of plants. Somewhat of an overlap with the above category.
Clinical Books (Western Herbalism)
These books go beyond simply looking at plants to better understand how to work with people, herbal diagnosis and how to use herbs in a clinical setting.
Traditional Chinese Medicine for Western Herbalists
by Lesley Tierra
Perhaps one of my most referenced herbals of all time. I love how Lesley breaks down common western diseases into different underlying patterns, thus giving us the tools to move away from treating disease (e.g., insomnia) and move towards working with the person. This book also serves as a fabulous introduction to basic TCM concepts.
by Michael Tierra
Like all of Michael’s books this one thoroughly covers all there is to know from the energetics, to pattern discrimination to how to actually use the plants!
Ayurveda for Western Herbalists
Medical Herb Garden Books
by Richo Cech
I used this book to start my first real medicinal plant garden and it was a luscious herbalist’s paradise within the first year. From compost to starting seeds to maintaining the health of the plants, this is not to be missed by anyone wanting to grow medicinal herbs. There are few herbalists as experienced as Richo in the garden!
Herbal Medicine Making
by Richo Cech
Richo covers many of the basics in this book and then gives a plant by plant guide on how to prepare certain plants. I think both this book and James Green’s book (above) are great resources for Medicine Making.
Formulating and Chemistry
by Dr. Sharol Tilgner
This book has a brief, but useful, materia medica followed by a treasure trove of herbal tincture formulas. This is one of our only herbal formula books in western herbalism.
by Aviva Romm
This is one of the best herbal textbooks on the market and includes information from some of the most experienced herbalists of today. If you work with women in a clinical setting this book is a must.
by Rosemary Gladstar
Filled with Rosemary’s magic, sage wisdom and many do it yourself herbal remedies. A must have for all women interested in herbs.
Herbs and Children
by Demetria Clark
This book is full of simple but effective remedies for using herbs with children. Great option for beginning and experienced herbalists alike.
by Kristine Brown
A fantastic resource for parents, this monthly zine is filled with creative curriculum to inspiring your kids to play with plants and learn at the same time. Songs, stories, crafts and more!
Herb Drug Books
Plant Identification and Wildcrafting
by Tom Elpel
A must have for those wanting to break into the world of botany for plant identification purposes. Tom demystifies the world of plant identification and shares interesting herbal tidbits about the plants as well. Shameless self promotion: buy this book and use it along with mine and John Gallagher’s course, Learning Your Plants: Botany for Herbalists, on HerbMentor.com.
Plant ID and Ethnobotany of the Pacific Northwest
by Pojar and MacKinnon
The must-have book for plant ID in the northwest coast. Besides an easy referenced field guide it also lists ways natives used the plants.
by Daniel Moerman
THE reference guide for Native American Ethnobotany. Many other books on the subject simply repeat this thoroughly researched treasure.
Culinary Herbalism and Nutrition
Wild Foods and Cookbooks
by Janice Schofield
This was one of my first plant books and I still treasure it. It’s specific to the pacific coast, but many of the plants are found across the US. Although she does list medicinal uses of plants, this book is not necessarily about herbalism, but more about edibles and general ethnobotany of plants.
by Louisa Shafia
A beautiful cookbook with an interesting blend of herbs and spices. Persian food does sour so well!
Herbs for Body and Hair
Fictional Books that Feature Herbalists
By Marsha Mehran
An aromatic tale of three sisters that will undoubtedly inspire you to cook more with cardamom.
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