free herb lessons for everyone
Where can you find reliable information about herbs?
Stick with me.
This lesson gives you a solid foundation of both books and online resources that you can come back to again and again.
There is so much unsourced and questionable information out there regarding herbal therapies. It concerns me to think that people are following all the bunk advice out there about herbs.
That's why I created this lesson.
There is a storehouse of free, useful herbal information out there, if you just know where to look.
A big part of being a responsible herbalist is doing your research to determine which herbs are right for you and your family. It can seem like an overwhelming task to weed through the astounding amount of misinformation out there on the web about healing plants.
But don't worry. Like I said, I've got you on this.
This is by no means a complete list of online herbal resources, but this will give you a solid jumping off place as you begin your own herbal research.
Between them, the links on this list cover over 350 years of herbal knowledge.
Did she just say 350 years of herbal knowledge at my fingertips?
Yep. That's what I said.
These resources can help you feel comfortable to start doing your own research and building your own solid foundation of herbal knowledge.
It’s so important to feel confident and empowered about your budding relationship with herbs. These resources should help.
We know that it's so important to be well informed, so we can make responsible choices regarding our health.
I'm handing you some pretty powerful herbal information, today.
Have fun with it.
You get to decide which resources seem most meaningful for you. You get to decide which plants are worth trying. You get to decide the path of your own healing.
When I'm researching a plant that's new to me, I consult every source I can think of. I err on the side of caution, and I always consider any possible contraindications. I suggest you do the same.
The idea, here, is that you become comfortable doing the research yourself, and making your own decisions about each of the plants you want to work with.
Some of the information linked below is very, very old.
Some has been compiled by modern-day doctors and scientists.
The more resources the better, I think.
Are you a lover of the old knowledge? Are you looking for some modern science?
Start with what seems most exciting and relevant to you, and go from there.
I’m focusing on the free online resources, here, because I want everyone to have somewhere to start, but I do hope that, eventually, all of you will get at least 3 reliable herb books (called herbals) to keep on your bookshelf at home.
It’s so important to keep at least a small herbal library at home that you can easily refer to when you have a question.
There’s some really good stuff in these links. Give them some time and attention, and see what you think. Some of these resources could continue to nourish your relationship with plants for a long time to come.
Some of my favorite free online herbal resources:
Culpepper's Complete Herbal, originally written in 1652
Herbal Simples by W.T. Fernie, MD, published in 1895
A Modern Herbal, by Mrs. M. Grieve, originally published in 1931
Michael Moore's guide to Herbal/Medical Contraindications, written in 1995
Michael Moore's Herbal Materia Medica, which gives suggested dosages
The German Commission E Monographs, published in 1998
The Herb Reference Guide, by Gaia Herbs, currently available
The United Plant Saver's list of At Risk and To Watch Plants
Some other useful online herbal resources:
There's so much information online about herbs. Unfortunately, a lot of that information is not sourced or backed up, in any way.
Looking for solid herbal information with a search engine can be ineffective, at best, and potentially dangerous, at worst.
Now, don't get me wrong, there certainly are reliable sources of herbal information on the internet. Unfortunately, these reliable sources often get lost in the popularity contest of search engine algorithms.
And, actually, a lot of the information that we're looking for about herbs has been around a lot longer than the internet, anyway.
The reality is, a shelf of herbals that you can rely on will win over a random google search almost every time. With a shelf of trusted reference books, cross referencing is quick and easy.
Books are there for you, even if the power goes out, and they don't need to be charged. Or you can just slip the book in your backpack and take yourself off the grid. It's so lovely to study the plants when we're are surrounded by nature.
Now, I'm not talking about filling up a bookshelf with random herb books that you find at yard sales (although, believe me, I've got my share of those, too). I want you to have a reference library filled with books written by authors you have researched and whom you respect.
New Holistic Herbal, by David Hoffman
This is the very first herbal that I ever got. I bought it with my birthday money from my Nana, way back when, in my early 20s.
For a while, this was my only herbal. I slipped it in my backpack and took it everywhere. It's now tattered and stained with dirt and spilled tinctures, and the cover is held on with masking tape.
It remains one of my go-to herbals to answer my questions and inspire my projects.
David Hoffman is a fantastic resource. He's just rock solid. He comes from the European tradition of herbal medicine. The European tradition didn't experience the break between medicine and herbs that we have experienced in the US due to the influence in the US of the American Medical Association.
This means that, from the beginning, David Hoffman has been talking about the meeting place of science and tradition.
He has a deep and profound respect for our relationship with the natural world, and our place in that interconnected web, which adds another facet to his wisdom.
I recommend all of his books and teaching materials. Top notch. 5 stars.
The Illustrated Herbal Handbook, by Juliette de Bairacli Levy
Juliette de Bairacli Levy is one of my all-time favorites. She is considered by many to be the grandmother of the modern herbal renaissance. She's traveled, lived with, and learned from people in many different cultures from many parts of the world. Her gentle and powerful wisdom is an example of how herbs can be a link to our interconnection with both the natural world and the world family. This lovely little book is packed full of traditional herbal knowledge.
Any time you see a book by her, grab it. You'll thank me, later.
The Herbal Medicine Maker's Handbook, by James Greene
This book gives you everything you need to get started making your own herbal extracts.
I mean, seriously. If you are interested in making tinctures, infusions, salves, lotions, syrups, honeys, and more, this is the book for you.
In case you're still hungry for more, here are some more of my favorite herbals and reference books from my own library, and a few other books that I look forward to adding to my collection, some day.
Some More Herbals That I Love:
Any book by Rosemary Gladstar
Medicinal Plants of the Desert and Canyon West, by Michael Moore
Medicinal Plants of the Mountain West, by Michael Moore
Healing Wise, by Susun Weed
The New Menopausal Years, by Susun Weed
The Modern Herbal, 2 volumes, by Mrs. M. Grieve
An Herbal Guide to Stress Relief, by David Hoffman
An Elder's Herbal, by David Hoffman
Herbs for Animals:
The Complete Herbal Handbook for Farm and Stable, by Juliette de Bairacli Levy
The Complete Herbal Handbook for the Dog and Cat, by Juliette de Bairacli Levy
Dr. Pitcairn's Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats, by Pitcairn and Pitcairn
How To Identify Plants, by H.D. Jarrington and L.W. Durrell
Botany In A Day, by Thomas J. Elpel
Peterson Field Guides (for your region)
National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Wildflowers (for your region)
Old Timey Books:
Somebody, back in the day, told me that if I see an herbal that's telling me something that I have never seen before, go ahead and grab it, because, chances are there is going to be some information in there that is, at least, worth looking into.
And so began my love of random, very old books about herbs. These are full of recipes and woodcut drawings and old-time life hacks. These books blur the line between medicinal plants, dye plants, spices, and herbs for cleaning.
These books remind us that, in the "olden days", being an herbalist was simply part of being alive and managing a household and a family.
It's so fun to cross reference the information in these old books with some of the cutting-edge science of the day, and look for any connections.
Personally, I love these old books. They are some of my most cherished herbals.
For the more serious student:
1898 edition of King's American Dispensatory, 2 volumes (https://archive.org/details/kingsamericandis01kinguoft/page/n5)
Therapeutic Herbalism, by David Hoffman
The German Commission E Monographs
This is, by no means, an exhaustive list.
In fact, this barely scratches the surface of the herbals out there, these days. There are tons of other herbals out there.
Like I said, this is just a little slice of my herbal world, to show you how important these books are to my personal herbal experience.
Don't get me wrong.
I'm not saying that you need to become an herbal-hoarding bookworm like me. However, I do strongly suggest that you get at least two or three herbals, that you know you can rely on, and put them on a shelf in your apothecary.
Have you checked out our free course? it incorporates all of our free herb lessons into one cohesive package, and delivers so much more.
Are you ready to bring herbs into your everyday life?
Learn how to make delicious herbal extracts, stay safe, and build your confidence as a home herbalist all at the same time.
this herb lesson created by Jenna Beatrice
Important note: The information contained here is not intended to diagnose or treat any disease or imbalance. This lesson has not been evaluated by the FDA. Nothing here attempts to replace the advice of a trained medical professional. Your healthcare choices are your own.