Our ancestors cultivated a deep, rooted relationship with plants; they harvested plants in a ceremony, made herbal medicines with intention, and passed along traditional plant knowledge to help future generations maintain wellness. In many cultures, this information was shared orally, through stories or an apprenticeship with a local healer. The books we do have on traditional herbal medicines are a treasure to modern day herbalists; they’re a window into our survival as a species and often hold surprising tidbits on how we once used common plants. Below, please find some of our favorite inspirational books from western herbalists that focus on traditional plant remedies, as well as the rich history of herbalism.
Women Healers of the World: The Traditions, History, and Geography of Herbal Medicine by herbalist Holly Bellebuono shares the stories of 30 women, from past and present, who’ve passionately practiced herbal medicine. Holly traveled the globe for seven years to compile these unique and important stories of women herbalists. Each story features their unique practice of herbal medicine and the plants they most commonly use.
Green Pharmacy: The History and Evolution of Western Herbal Medicine by Barbara Griggs recounts herbal history from prehistoric times to modern day. Griggs explains that herbalism wasn’t always an “alternative” form of medicine—before the 20th century, it was one of our primary ways to maintaining wellness. Read why she calls it “the medicine of mankind.”
Culpeper’s Complete Herbal by astrologist and physician Nicholas Culpeper is a classic herbal text from the 17th century, featuring almost 400 medicinal plants, their uses, information on where they grow, and their astrological significance. In addition to writing this iconic book, he also translated many medical texts from Latin to English, so that his English speaking community could interpret the information.