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Building an Herbal Library: Our Favorite Botanical Books

If you ask herbalists, botanists, and body care enthusiasts, most say that building a library of reference and recipe books is one of the most important steps in becoming an expert. Gathering books from professionals who offer their experiences, philosophies, and expertise gives you a strong foundation on which to build your practice. Here are some of our favorite books on herbal education, aromatherapy, healthy eating, skincare, and growing and foraging plants.

Originally published on Mountain Rose Herbs:

Best Books for Herbal Education BODY INTO BALANCE By: Maria Noel Groves Softcover, 322 pages An important part of learning about herbalism is understanding the body's systems and how botanicals can supplement its natural functioning. Body Into Balance explores each of the major body systems: respiratory, digestive, immune, nervous, memory, reproductive, and circulatory, each of which responds to natural remedies differently. This lovely book includes in-depth instructions and step-by-step photographs for making your own herbal remedies, as well as expert guidance on buying and effectively using commercial preparations. HERBAL RECIPES FOR VIBRANT HEALTH By: Rosemary Gladstar Softcover, 400 pages This book is one of Rosemary Gladstar's staples. Known as the "grandmother of western herbalism," she shares a wide variety of her herbal wisdom in this library must-have. Complete with 175 recipes, she breaks the book down into recipes for different age groups and the needs associated with them. The format is laid out in a way that makes it easy to find what you are looking for. Rosemary also speaks on the importance of ecological herbalism and ways that we can work "hand-in-hand" with the plants, creating a sustainable and symbiotic relationship. THE MODERN HERBAL DISPENSATORY By: Thomas Easley and Steven Horne Softcover, 376 pages This book is a soup-to-nuts instruction guide on how to grow and harvest botanicals through the processing and making of herbal remedies. The authors explain why some preparations of the same herb will obtain better results than others and how capsules, teas, tinctures, or glycerites of the same plant will not have exactly the same effect. In addition to providing instructions on how to prepare single herbs, they lay out the principles of herbal formulation, a topic that has been largely ignored in other references. More comprehensive than most guides we've seen, the materials are presented with ease of use in mind and the book is an excellent reference for those who want to learn the foundational skills needed to create their own remedies.

Best Books on Culinary Herbalism ALCHEMY OF HERBS Author: Rosalee de la Forêt Softcover, 384 pages Rosalee de la Forêt crafted this book to create a truly personalized approach to health by reintroducing us to everyday kitchen herbs and spices. She highlights our five tastes as well as energetics, and organizes the herb profiles and recipes by each taste … pungent, salty, sour, bitter, and sweet. From scientific plant studies to herbal recipes and quizzes, it’s hard not to fall in love with this book. VIBRANT BOTANICALS Author: Jennifer McGruther Hardcover, 240 pages This new book by Jennifer McGruther is a wonderful addition to the herbalist's kitchen. With tasty recipes that were created to support our body's natural function, it's a perfect marriage of a cookbook and an educational book about herbalism. There are recipes for immunity support, digestion, moon enhancement, and rest: so a recipe for any occasion. THE KOSMIC KITCHEN Authors: Sarah Kate Benjamin & Summer Singletary Softcover, 288 pages With roots in western herbalism and Ayurveda, this herbalist's cookbook is another one that highlights the creative ways you can use herbal supplements in everyday cooking. The authors' approach to harnessing and working with the energies of the five elements makes this book a unique choice for those wanting to work towards balance within the natural flow of life.

Best Books on Growing and Foraging Plants FORAGING AND FEASTING Author: Dina Falconi Hardcover, 240 pages Generally, plant identification books and cookbooks are two different types of books. We love how this book blends the two into a beautiful reference book. This publication offers ways you can positively identify common plants (with helpful illustrations), while also providing tasty and unique ways to enjoy and work with them. From beverages and condiments to soups and desserts, Foraging and Feasting is a wonderful celebration of the wild ways of foraging. MEDICINAL MUSHROOMS, THE ESSENTIAL GUIDE Author: Christopher Hobbs Softcover, 272 pages As one of the most well-known mycologists in the industry, Christopher Hobbs shares his knowledge and wisdom in this visually stunning publication. Hobbs shares 20 of the most common and useful medicinal mushrooms, both grown and foraged. Readers will learn how to determine safe and effective ways to identify and work with them. This book is key to any mushroom enthusiast's library. THE COMPLETE GUIDE TO EDIBLE WILD PLANTS, MUSHROOMS, FRUITS, AND NUTS Author: Katie Letcher Lyle Softcover, 240 pages This handy guide provides much of what you need to know about the most common wild foods. It goes beyond the basic description found in most field guides—it provides folklore and mouth-watering recipes for each entry. This illustrated guide is the ideal companion for hikers, campers, and anyone who enjoys wild foods or who is looking to deepen their relationships with these plants.

Best Books on Aromatherapy ESSENTIAL OILS: A BEGINNER'S GUIDE Author: Stephanie Tourles Softcover, 228 pages This beginner's guide contains everything a newbie may want to explore when just starting out with essential oils. From safety tips, recipes, and uses for essential oils, this easy-to-read book is an ideal choice to have on the bookshelf. The pages feature useful imagery and the book is not overly text-heavy, making it helpful for beginners to navigate. THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO AROMATHERAPY Author: Jade Shutes & Amy Galper Softcover, 198 pages The Ultimate Guide to Aromatherpy is a wonderful book for those who are interested in ways to use essential oils to aid in different bodily functions. The authors break down the different types of plants that work within the body's systems, including both the desirable compounds found in them as well as contraindications. The authors also cover how to use essential oils safely and effectively. There are some recipes in this book that help to get you started. Beautifully illustrated botanicals throughout the book, along with summary charts, help the reader access the information quickly and easily. THE FAMILY GUIDE TO AROMATHERAPY Author: Erika Galentin Softcover, 258 pages Essential oils are very potent and one of the biggest concerns for those just getting started is how to safely use them, especially for children or elders. Ericka Galentin does a wonderful job at breaking down safety guidelines for people in different life stages and provides DIY recipes that are safe and effective around the home. The Family Guide to Aromatherapy is less image-heavy but has many helpful infographics and charts that break down the in-depth information provided in the text.

Best DIY Skin and Body Care Books PLANT-POWERED BEAUTY Author: Amy Galper & Christina Daigneault Softcover, 320 pages Rich with photos and charts, this publication does a wonderful job of showing readers how to choose ingredients, determine skin types, and how to interpret beauty labels, empowering people to make more informed choices in their self-care regimen. The authors provide more than 50 approachable recipes that make it easy for you to incorporate plant-power into your unique skincare routine. WILD AND BEAUTIFUL, NATURALLY Author: Suzanne M. Tabert Softcover, 340 pages Suzanne packs a lot of knowledge into this book. The recipes found here are straightforward and to the point and can be enjoyed by people of all experience levels. From skin cleansers and toners to apothecary remedies, this book provides the information to create a well-rounded skincare routine. While there are no images in this book, the recipes are easy to follow and broken up in a way that is still pleasing to the eyes. 200 TIPS, TECHNIQUES & RECIPES FOR NATURAL BEAUTY Author: Shannon Buck Softcover, 144 pages This book features images and graphs on every page, making it an ideal beginner's book that is visually engaging. Topics cover everything from choosing ingredients and tools to making expertly formulated hair, face, and skincare recipes. There is also a helpful aromatherapy chapter to take your recipes to a new level. These are some of the many reference books that we have found to be the most helpful and user-friendly. While not a full list of our favorites, we hope they help you as you continue your education. LOOKING FOR MORE GREAT HERBAL READS AND RECIPES? Browse Our Entire Botanical Bookstore! You may also like:

  • Helpful Tools for Herbalists

  • Creating Your Own Herbal Apothecary

  • How to Find a Qualified Naturopathic Doctor or Practioner

Topics: Culinary, Aromatherapy, Natural Body Care, Herbal Gift Ideas, Herbalism,Green Living

WRITTEN BY JESSICKA ON AUGUST 5, 2021 Jessicka Nebesni works as a Marketing Strategist and is always working towards sharing the most educational, empowering, and useful resources with our herbal community. Having practiced Macrobiotic food preparations in California, beekeeping in Oregon and making herbal crafts for local farmers markets in New Jersey, she has a wide variety of experiences and knowledge to share. She is currently enrolled in Rosemary Gladstar’s "The Science and Art of Herbalism" and is eagerly awaiting open enrollment for the Master Food Preservers course this coming spring. Her passions include preserving food, gardening, practicing herbal wellness, making DIY skin and body care recipes, and living a lifestyle of minimal impact on the Earth.

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