“Let food be thy medicine.” Attributed to Hippocrates, it’s a powerful sentiment that’s captured our imagination in the search for wellness.
Millions are turning to natural alternatives for ailments modern medicine seems powerless to cure. Made from ingredients foraged or grown, herbal remedies have been used worldwide for millennia with impressive results.
Whether this is your first foray into medicinal plants or you’re an experienced herbalist who wants to learn more, these herbal medicine books will show you to get started and perfect your craft.
Advantages of Herbal and Plant Medicine
While modern Western medicine is very effective in treating acute trauma and some diseases it’s best paired with natural remedies. I very rarely take any pharmacy bough pills or capsules but I drink herbal teas every day.
Here are few good reasons to learn more about herbal medicine and natural remedies:
Wellness: Including medicinal plants into your daily life can help with staying fit and preventing diseases from common cold to cancer and Alzheimer’s.
Science and Tradition: Many herbal remedies have been used for thousands of years and their effectiveness has been later confirmed by scientific studies.
Budget: Drugs are often expensive but you can forage wild herbs for free. Growing your plants or buying them is also a great option.
Experience: Learning to use plants and herbs introduces you to new and intriguing experiences full of flavor, aromas, and taste.
All–Natural: Plant-based natural remedies are a more sustainable option that is good for you and our planet.
No Side Effects: When you know what you are doing, you can use herbs to your benefit without any harmful side effects that are common to many drugs.
9 Best Herbal Medicine Books Reviewed
Scientific and Accurate – Medical Herbalism
Medical Herbalism is the definitive tome in its genre, a masterpiece for the healthcare provider and the scientifically curious layperson with a background in medicine or chemistry.
Readers will gain a profound understanding of the physiological effects of herbs and how they promote healing.
- Pages: 672
- Format: Hardcover (Kindle version also available)
- Author: David Hoffman
- Provides a scientific approach to herbal medicine
- Great for professionals and researchers
- Teaches how to identify and use medicinal plants
- Explains the chemical structure and physiological effects of plant compounds
Topics of this book include the identification and use of medicinal plants, contraindications, dosages, and formulas. You’ll explore in detail how complementary and conventional medicine can work together to optimize health.
Author David Hoffman is well-known in scientific circles. A Fellow at Britain’s National Institute of Medical Herbalists, he’s a member of the American Herbalists Guild and an experienced physiotherapist.
The author of seventeen books, he brings the science of herbs to the masses, but this effort is for physicians and advanced herbalists. Heavy on charts and short on photographs, its 672 pages read like a pharmacology textbook.
Medical Herbalism is unlikely to appeal to those with a casual or culinary interest in herbs. It’s too technical for the novice, but professionals will appreciate the clear, concise data. The resource directory alone makes it a must-have for the aspiring herbal practitioner. It belongs on every doctor’s shelf.
Great For Novices – Herbal Medicine for Beginners
If you’re ready to try herbal medicine, this guide is a jackpot. Written for beginners, this book is well-organized and simple to follow.
- Pages: 248
- Format: Paperback (Kindle, Audiobook, Spiral-bound, and Audio CD versions also available)
- Author: Katja Swift and Ryn Midura
- A great starting point for learning herbal medicine
- Easy to read and follow the instructions
- Teaches how to make natural remedies for common ailments
Divided into three parts, the first covers how to source plants and make herbal remedies. The second contains detailed information on the 35 most valuable species for your medicine chest. Part three delves into more than 50 common ailments, from menstrual cramps to wounds, and how to treat them using only the profiled herbs.
The limited scope of the book is ideal for first-timers.
Husband and wife team, Katja Swift and Ryn Midura, use their teaching backgrounds to urge novices along, step-by-step. Focused on holistic healing, they encourage readers to experiment with herbs, incorporating them into a healthy lifestyle. Neither pushy nor authoritative, the book’s casual tone is like having a heart-to-heart talk with an expert and friend.
Color illustrations enhance the content but are more inspirational than instructional. And while the book touches on foraging and growing herbs, the emphasis is on purchasing them from reputable sellers — safety first.
Far from all-inclusive, the strength of this book is its simplicity. If you’re interested in herbal healing but need practical advice to get started, Herbal Medicine for Beginners is for you.
Hundreds of Recipes – The Modern Herbal Dispensatory
Enjoy recipes galore in this creative work from Steven Horne and Thomas Easely. You’ll learn to make hundreds of affordable herbal medicines developed and tested by the authors.
- Pages: 376
- Format: Paperback (Kindle version also available)
- Author: Thomas Easley and Steven Horne
- A complete guide for both beginners and experts
- Instructs how to harvest, dry, and usie fresh herbs
- Explains how to make topical applications, concentrates, essential oils and more
- Dozens of useful illustrations
Subjects include harvesting, preparing, and administering herbs in their many different forms from extracts and salves to ointments, drops, and lotions. From choosing the right equipment to selecting the best solvents for extracting medicinal compounds, the concepts are broken down in a clear, comprehensible way.
Horne and Easely share their favorite preparations using herbs you’ve heard of from ginger to aloe. Tips include which preparation methods are best for which plants and where to buy bulk herbs and supplies. There’s an emphasis on economy and accessibility.
If you’re frustrated with high-brow herbal recipes that use expensive or hard-to-find ingredients, this down-to-earth book is a treat. Comprehensive but straightforward and packed with helpful illustrations, The Modern Herbal Dispensatory is among the few book that will satisfy both beginners and experts.
An Herbal Journey – Wild Remedies
Wild Remedies offers a practical and philosophical view of herbal medicine. The author invites readers to join her on a journey of discovery and healing.
- Pages: 424
- Format: Paperback (Kindle and Audiobook versions also available)
- Author: Rosalee de la Forêt and Emily Han
- Embark on a journey leading to a healthier life
- Learn how to harvest and use wild plants
- 75 powerful recipes
- Beautiful photographs of each plant
Drawing from her experiences, she pulls you into her inner circle with thought-provoking writing and personal anecdotes that explain the primal attraction of plant medicine. You’ll complete journal exercises as the pages unfold, examining your relationship with nature and the environment.
The second of herbalist and teacher Rosalee de la Foret’s books, Wild Remedies extols the virtues of wildcrafting — foraging for food for medicinal purposes — as a holistic practice. You’ll explore the science of botany brought to life with stunning photographs. The tone is conversational but the concepts are professionally presented.
With over 70 recipes, the advanced herbalist may yearn more for in-depth information. Yet each illustrates the value of plants in a tangible way and contributes to the purpose of the book. Less of a wild ride than a slow walk on a sunny afternoon, Wild Remedies gives beginners a soulful look at the healing benefits of medicinal herbs.
Most Comprehensive – Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine
The Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine is an A-Z compendium of all things herbal. Beautifully illustrated with bold color photos, it touches on virtually every topic from the history of plant medicine to remedies for everyday ailments.
- Pages: 336
- Format: Spiral-bound (Kindle and Hardcover versions also available)
- Author: Andrew Chevallier
- Includes over 550 herbs and remedies
- Illustrated with gorgeous color pictures
- Has a general index and an index of herbs by ailment
You’ll learn about plants’ chemical components and how they’re used to treat illness. It’s a wealth of information, intelligently presented, but it’s not for everyone.
A jack-of-all-trades but a master of none, the Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine doesn’t cover any single topic in-depth enough to appeal to advanced herbalists. Instead, author Andrew Chevallier focuses on the foundational information beginners need to understand the depth and complexity of herbal medicine.
Like most resource books, its goal is to tantalize readers with ideas to research — and it does so masterfully. Far from just a coffee table book, it’s a serious effort to entice people into learning more about the healing power of plants.
Grow Your Own Medicine – Herb Gardening for Beginners
Herb Gardening for Beginners provides all the information necessary to plant, grow and harvest an herb garden for a wide range of purposes.
- Pages: 160
- Format: Hardcover (Kindle and Paperback versions also available)
- Author: Marc Thoma
- Great for beginner gardeners and herbalists
- Simple instructions for starting an herbal garden
- 80 recipes for preparing remedies with your homegrown herbs
Whether you’re envisioning a pot of basil on a windowsill or a backyard plot filled with rosemary, nettle, and thyme, Author Marc Thoma offers practical, step-by-step instructions with helpful illustrations for every stage of the process.
Designed for the novice, this unassuming book is divided into three parts.
The introduction covers the uses and benefits of select herbs, indoor and outdoor planting options, gardening tools, and more.
Part two profiles 40-plus common medicinal plants with tips for cultivating success — no green thumb required.
The finale takes readers from growing herbs to using them with 80 simple recipes from Tummy Tamer Tea to an invigorating Ginger Foot Balm. You’ll learn to make fragrant herbal vinegar and soothing skin toner, plus irresistible dinner favorites from Turkey Nettle Pot Pie to Sweet Potato Gnocchi.
Herb Gardening for Beginners is a delicious read.
Native American Remedies – Native American Herbalist’s Bible
Five books in one, the Native American Herbalist’s Bible contains everything you need to know about ancient Native American remedies from their history to their uses.
- Pages: 268
- Format: Paperback (Kindle and Audiobook versions also available)
- Author: Lyotanka Sioux
- Unlock the secrets of ancient Native American remedies
- Learn how to make plant-based teas, tinctures, deodorants and more
- Complete profiles of over 80 herbs and wild plants
Author Lyotaka Sioux gives readers an authentic look at how the same plant medicines used by native tribes can heal an epidemic of modern ailments from headaches to hay fever.
She covers their growth, harvesting, and storage plus their preparation, dosages, and side effects. You’ll learn in detail how to make Native American healing teas, infusions, powders, liniments, syrups, and more for adults and children.
Focused on practical medicine, the herbs and equipment described in this book are familiar, budget-friendly, and easily sourced. Beyond the physical, there’s a section devoted to herbs used for protection, luck, and fertility.
Sioux’s writing is relaxed. In an almost spiritual way, she draws connections between the past and present, encouraging readers to explore their own healing heritage. Illustrations are minimal and used only where they provide tangible value — there are no distractions.
The Native American Herbalists Bible is ideal for beginners who want both actionable advice and something deeper to think about.
Use Herbs to Kill Viruses – Herbal Antivirals: Natural Remedies for Emerging & Resistant Viral Infections
Herbal Antiviral isn’t your grandmother’s book of home remedies. It’s an insightful, scholarly work reviewing the latest in virology and herbal science.
- Pages: 424
- Format: Paperback (Kindle version also available)
- Author: Stephen Harrod Buhner
- Combines modern science with herbal wisdom
- Learn how to improve everyday well-being and prevent dangerous diseases
- Includes antiviral properties of dozens of herbs, backed up by research
Well-organized and research-based, this book gives readers a background in how viruses grow and mutate. You’ll learn about natural remedies as alternatives or complements to conventional medicine.
Over a hundred pages are devoted to details about specific herbs. Organized alphabetically, they cover taxonomic identification, medicinal plant parts, and dosages. A list of common viruses and herbs to treat them is included. The only thing missing is photographs, so pair it with an illustrated field guide for foraging.
Despite heavy reliance on research data, author Stephen Harrod Buhner makes sense of complex topics for the non-scientist without boring the expert. By the end, you’ll know more about viruses and how to treat them than anyone on the block — it’s a fascinating topic he explains in an engrossing way.
A book for everyone, it will appeal to beginners and advanced herbalists and even the casual reader with an interest in science and medicine. It’s a page-turner.
You might also be interested in another book by Stephen Harrod Buhner called Herbal Antibiotics that gives you natural alternatives to use instead of standard antibiotics.
How to Cook With Herbs – Alchemy of Herbs
Transform popular pantry ingredients into meals that heal with Alchemy of Herbs.
- Pages: 384
- Format: Spiral-bound (Kindle and Paperback versions also available)
- Author: Rosalee de la Forêt
- Discover how to use herbs in your everyday life
- Learn how to cook delicious foods with healing power
- Practical and easy to follow
The first of author Rosalee de la Foret’s efforts, this book introduces beginners to the concept of food as medicine. Together, you’ll take a closer look at how the herbs and spices in your cupboard can be harnessed to treat everyday maladies from sleeplessness to cold symptoms in delicious ways.
The book begins with the author’s reflections on health and the pitfalls of one-size-fits-all solutions to illness. She shares her journey of self-healing and invites readers to begin their own through the energetics of herbalism — a framework of personal characteristics that helps match ailments to the best remedies.
An illustrated discussion of medicinal herbs explores both their culinary and healing potential in an easily digestible format. The recipes are inspiring and simple to prepare.
While herbal medicine can seem complicated or costly to the beginner, Alchemy of Herbs makes it as simple and inexpensive as cooking dinner. It’s a baby step anyone can take toward natural wellness.
Books on Herbal and Plant Medicine – Final Thoughts
Enthusiasm for any topic fades without the right resources. Grow yours with these books about herbal and plant medicine.
I have also put together several bite-sized articles about herbal remedies. I recommend that you also take a look at them.
Let the herbs heal you and enjoy a healthy life!
PS. If you want more interesting reads, check out my guide with the best tea books.