Herbal Medicine Books


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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! 


Also, 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. 

We 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. 

What 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 my bookshelf.

I've 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. 

Do 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

Foundational Herb Books
Books by Herb: Materia Medica
Herbal Reference Books
Clinical Herbalism (western focus)
Chinese Herb Books for Western Herbalists
Ayurveda for Western Herbalists

Herb Garden Books
Herbal Medicine Making
Formulating and Chemistry
Women’s Health 
Children
Wise Woman Resources

Herb Drug Books
Plant Identification and Wildcrafting
Plant ID and Ethnobotany specific to the Northwest Ethnobotany
Ethnobotany
Culinary Herbalism and Nutrition
Wild Foods and Cookbooks

Specific Topics
Plant Healer Magazine
Herbs for Body and Hair
Spiritual
Historical Books
Fictional Books that Feature Herbalists


Good Foundational or Introduction to Herbalism Books

These books are a great introduction to herbs.




The Way of Herbs: Fully Updated with the Latest Developments in Herbal Science

by Michael Tierra

Written in 1980 this book has been many people's first herb book. This book covers herbalism basics, and has short monographs of herbs that include herbal energetics and dosing.  


The Plant Healer's Path: A Grassroots Guide For the Folk Herbal Tribe

By Jesse Wolf Hardin with contributions from Kiva Rose  

A thought-provoking book asking important questions about the path of our modern day herbalist.  


The Herbalist's Way: The Art and Practice of Healing with Plant Medicines

by Nancy Phillips

It's been a few years since I've read this one, but I remember it being a great introduction to many aspects of herbalism. 


Practical Herbs

By Henriette Kress

A fantastic book by herbalist Henriette Kress that lives up to the title: Practical! This is a great introduction to herbalism with lots of information a more seasoned herbalist will also enjoy. Also check out her latest release, Practical Herbs 2


Books by Herb: Materia Medica

These books have in-depth monographs of individual herbs. 


All books by Robert Dale Rogers.

I often reference these books as they are an amazing resource of information!  



Medicinal Plants 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 mountain west. 



Medicinal Plants of the Pacific 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. 



The Earthwise Herbal: A Complete Guide to Old World Medicinal Plants

by Matthew Wood

The Earthwise Herbals are what I reach for when I want a quick but thorough energetic understanding of a plant. Get both volumes and you'll seldom find a plant not listed. Volume one covers plants from the Old World. 


The Earthwise Herbal: A Complete Guide to New World Medicinal Plants

by Matthew Wood

The Earthwise Herbals are what I reach for when I want a quick but thorough energetic understanding of a plant. Get both volumes and you'll seldom find a plant not listed. Volume two covers plants from the New World. 


The Book of Herbal Wisdom: Using Plants as Medicines

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! 



The Healing Power of Garlic: The Enlightened Person's Guide to Nature's Most Versatile Medicinal Plant

by Paul Bergner

I think Paul Bergner is the cat's meow of herbalism. All of his books are a must read by herbalists. Think you know all there is to know about garlic? Paul takes this to the next level, fully introducing energetics and blasting the theory that all herbs are good for all people. 



Healing Power of Echinacea and Goldenseal and Other Immune System Herbs (The Healing Power)

by Paul Bergner

In this brilliant book, Paul Bergner takes two plants that have been used, abused and overly simplified by the herbal industry, and gives them back their complexity. Like all of Paul's books the simple titles hide the real magic of the book - in this one you'll learn a lot about the immune system as well. 



The Healing Power of Ginseng & the Tonic Herbs: The Enlightened Person's Guide

by Paul Bergner

In this book Paul shares a wealth of knowledge about ginseng. Who it works great for and who it doesn't, and how to think about tonic (adaptogen) herbs in general. 



The Boreal Herbal: Wild Food and Medicine Plants of the North

by Beverly Grey

Don't live in the Boreal area? Neither do I, but this book is incredibly inspiring and beautiful and covers many plants found in North America. Complete with gorgeous photos and wonderful recipes. 



Healing Plants of the Rocky Mountains

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. 


Herbal Vade Mecum: 800 Herbs, Spices, Essential Oils, Lipids, Etc.-Constituents, Properties, Uses, and Caution

by Gazmend Skenderi

This book gives basic info on hundreds of herbs. I use it when I need the basics fast. 



The Desktop Guide to Herbal Medicine: The Ultimate Multidisciplinary Reference to the Amazing Realm of Healing Plants in a Quick-Study, One-Stop Guide

by Brigitte Mars

A great reference that includes energetics and covers popular herbs from around the world. The only thing missing is dosages. 



Winston & Kuhn's Herbal Therapy and Supplements: A Scientific and Traditional Approach

by Winston and Kuhn

Another great book for getting the basics quick. Each herb listing also contains a lot of scientific studies. It's a small book, nice to have on the go. 


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. 


The Practicing Herbalist: Meeting With Clients, Reading the Body

by Margi Flint

In this epic book, Margi covers everything from getting your practice started, to reading the body and understanding poop as a diagnosis. You'll want to read those silky pages again and again. 



Medical Herbalism: The Science Principles and Practices Of Herbal Medicine

by David Hoffman

Often required reading for herbal schools, Medical Herbalism is a large manual on western herbalism. Herbs, herbal theory, body systems and herbal perspectives on common diseases are covered. 



The Practice of Traditional Western Herbalism: Basic Doctrine, Energetics, and Classification

by Matthew Wood

This is a book of western herbal theory. Matthew Wood covers the six tissue states and other energetic understandings of herbs and the body. 



The One Earth Herbal Sourcebook: Everything You Need to Know About Chinese, Western, and Ayurvedic Herbal Treatments by Tillotson Ph.D., Alan Keith [Kensington, 2001] (Paperback) [Paperback]

by Alan Tillotson

This is one of my most reached-for herbal resources. Tillotson is a clinical herbalist who has a thorough understanding of the major systems of herbalism. This book covers commonly used herbs from around the world (from dandelion to ginger) and offers energetic diagnostic patterns as well. 


Herbal Defense: Positioning Yourself to Triumph Over Illness and Aging

by Landis and Khalsa

A solid book that clearly addresses how to use herbs with people and diseases. From quick bandaid solutions (like carob powder for diarrhea) to long term care for the root of the problem. A fabulous book from experienced herbal clinicians. 


Traditional Chinese Medicine for Western Herbalists

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Healing with the Herbs of Life

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. 



The Way of Chinese Herbs

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! 



A Clinical Materia Medica: 120 Herbs in Western Use (Combining Western Herbs and Chinese Medicine)

By Jeremy Ross

This book and the next are the latest additions to my Chinese Medicine for the Western Herbalist library and they are fast becoming my favorite. Yes, I know they are expensive. However, if you are truly interested in this topic they are well worth it. 




The Energetics of Western Herbs: A Materia Medica Integrating Western and Chinese Herbal Therapeutics (Volume 1)

by Peter Holmes

I find the theory of TCM to be brilliant and effective, but I love using herbs closer to home. Peter Holmes' two volume set is a masterpiece of compiled information placing western herbs into a TCM framework. Pricey, but if you love TCM and western herbs it is a great investment!



The Energetics of Western Herbs: A Materia Medica Integrating Western and Chinese Herbal Therapeutics (Volume Two) by Holmes, Peter (June 1, 2006) Paperback 4 Rev Enl

by Peter Holmes

I find the theory of TCM to be brilliant and effective, but I love using herbs closer to home. Peter Holmes' two volume set is a masterpiece of compiled information placing western herbs into a TCM framework. Pricey, but if you love TCM and western herbs it is a great investment!



Western Herbs according to Traditional Chinese Medicine: A Practitioner's Guide

by Thomas Avery Garran

This is a fabulous book and I highly recommend it for those who want to use western herbs within a TCM framework. 



Western Herbs in Chinese Medicine: Methodology and Materia Medica

by Thomas Avery Garran


Here is the long awaited follow-up to his first book. I loved this book on numerous levels. Not only is the individual herb information interesting, but his introduction to the book is worth reading over and over. 


Ayurveda for Western Herbalists

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The Yoga of Herbs: An Ayurvedic Guide to Herbal Medicine

by Frawley and Lad

Great introduction to Ayurveda and a review of western materia medica within an Ayurveda standpoint. The introduction to this book is worth the price alone! 



Ayurveda: The Divine Science of Life, 1e

by Todd Caldecott

A very meaty textbook for Ayurveda. For the serious student there is no other like it! 



The Way of Ayurvedic Herbs: A Contemporary Introduction and Useful Manual for the World's Oldest Healing System

by Khalsa and Tierra

Another great introduction to the basic concepts of Ayurveda which also includes a review of commonly used Ayurvedic herbs. 


Medical Herb Garden Books

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The Medicinal Herb Grower, Volume 1

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!



The Chinese Medicinal Herb Farm: A Cultivator's Guide to Small-Scale Organic Herb Production

by Peg Schafer

This book is about growing Chinese Herbs here in north America. Complete with beautiful photos and indepth information about each plant from seed starts to harvesting methods. Fantastic book! And many of the "Chinese" plants listed are ones we consider western herbs as well. 


Herbal Medicine Making

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The Herbal Medicine-Maker's Handbook: A Home Manual

by James Green

Probably the most thorough and most hilarious book out there. He covers everything from the most basic teas to the most complex medicine making techniques. 



Making Plant Medicine

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

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Herbal Medicine From the Heart of the Earth

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. 



Herbal Constituents: Foundations of Phytochemistry

by Lisa Ganora

Lisa Ganora makes this topic come to life. Herbal geeks everywhere will love this book! 


Women's Health

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Botanical Medicine for Women's Health, 1e

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. 



The Natural Pregnancy Book: Herbs, Nutrition, and Other Holistic Choices

by Aviva Romm

I think this is the best book out there for using herbs to address common complaints in pregnancy. 



Natural Health after Birth: The Complete Guide to Postpartum Wellness

by Aviva Romm

A fabulous book for postpartum care, from sitz baths to increasing milk supply. 



Herbal Healing for Women

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.



New Menopausal Years : The Wise Woman Way, Alternative Approaches for Women 30-90 (Wise Woman Ways)

by Susun Weed

Susun covers herbs for common menopausal complaints but also many ways to age gracefully with vibrant health. 


Herbs and Children

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An Encyclopedia of Natural Healing for Children and Infants

by Mary Bove

Great resource from one of the most experienced herbalists of our time.



Herbal Healing for 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.  



Naturally Healthy Babies and Children: A Commonsense Guide to Herbal Remedies, Nutrition, and Health

by Aviva Romm

One of my go-to books for herbs for kids. Specific herbs, easy recipes and many childhood health complaints are covered. 



Kid's Herb Book, A: For Children of All Ages

by Lesley Tierra 

A fun book to inspire the children in your life (and yourself!). Lots of fun activities, songs, stories and other fun things to do with herbs. 



Herbal Roots Zine

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!


Wise Women Resources

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Healing Wise (Wise Woman Herbal Series)

by Susan Weed

This book is an introduction to wise woman philosophy. The introduction is a broad overview on the differences between heroic and nurturing healing methods and then the rest of the book looks at several nourishing herbs very closely.



Opening Our Wild Hearts to the Healing Herbs

by Gail Faith Edwards

A great book for the beginner, this book is filled with the love and wisdom of a beloved herbal elder. She covers many commonly used plants and even though each plant only gets about two pages of information she covers a lot of practical uses. 


Herb Drug Books

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American Herbal Products Association's Botanical Safety Handbook, Second Edition

by AHPA

This is the first book I reach for when wondering about herbal safety and herb/drug interactions. Be sure to get the second edition. 



Herb, Nutrient, and Drug Interactions: Clinical Implications and Therapeutic Strategies, 1e

by Stargrove, McKee, Treasure

This is a dense book that doesn't cover a lot of herbs, but really covers the herbs well.



Herbal Contraindications and Drug Interactions Plus Herbal Adjuncts With Medicines

by Francis Brinker

This book covers more herbs than the above book, just less in-depth. Both are great references for the practicing herbalist. 


Plant Identification and Wildcrafting

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Botany in a Day: The Patterns Method of Plant Identification

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.



Foraging the Mountain West: Gourmet Edible Plants, Mushrooms, and Meat

By Thomas J. Elpel and Kris Reed

Just published in 2014, this is a must have for those of you in the mountain west. I should note I am partially biased since I am honored to have some of my own photos published in this book. 



Foraging & Feasting: A Field Guide and Wild Food Cookbook

By Dina Falconi 

A beautiful book with lots of wonderful information. 



The Forager's Harvest: A Guide to Identifying, Harvesting, and Preparing Edible Wild Plants

by Sam Thayer

These two books by Sam Thayer are easily the best books on foraging out there. As Sam repeatedly says in the books, these are based entirely on his very extensive experience. Even though he is based on the east coast, many of the plants are found all over north America.  



Nature's Garden: A Guide to Identifying, Harvesting, and Preparing Edible Wild Plants

by Sam Thayer

These two books by Sam Thayer are easily the best books on foraging out there. As Sam repeatedly says in the books, these are based entirely on his very extensive experience. Even though he is based on the east coast, many of the plants are found all over north America. 


Plant ID and Ethnobotany of the Pacific Northwest

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Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast

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. 



Plants of Southern Interior British Columbia and the Inland Northwest

by Parish, Coupe, & Lloyd

The must have book for plant ID in the inland northwest. Besides an easy referenced field guide it also lists ways natives used the plants. 



Plant Technology of First Peoples in British Columbia (Royal BC Museum Handbooks)

by Nancy Turner

For ethnobotany geeks out there, Nancy Turner is a goddess. Fascinating book on how plants were used to make tools, clothing, shelter and on and on. 



Keeping It Living: Traditions of Plant Use and Cultivation on the Northwest Coast of North America

by Nancy Turner

A fantastic book that dispels the notion that first peoples didn't use agricultural practices. You'll discover that our idea of wilderness is completely false and see the brilliant ways people interacted with the land.


Ethnobotany

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Native American Ethnobotany

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

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Healing Spices: How to Use 50 Everyday and Exotic Spices to Boost Health and Beat Disease

by Bharat B. Aggarwal, Debora Yost

This is a very fun and super inspiring book on why herbs and spices are so powerfully healing and how to use them ad lib in your own kitchen. I loved every page of this book! 



Food as Medicine: The Theory and Practice of Food

by Todd Caldecott

One of my most recommended books to clients. Todd breaks through a lot of myths about food and shares simply but powerfully on the best foods for your health. 



The Healing Power of Minerals, Special Nutrients and Trace Elements

by Paul Bergner

A little hard to find now, but this is a great book! 


Wild Foods and Cookbooks

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Discovering Wild Plants: Alaska, Western Canada, The Northwest

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.


The Essential Wild Food Survival Guide

by Linda Runyon

For many years Linda Runyon ate most of her food from the land. A great resource for wild edible plants.



The Three Sisters Indian Cookbook: Delicious, Authentic and Easy Recipes to Make at Home

by Sereena Kaul, Priya Kaul, Alexa Kaul

My most reached-for cookbook. Every recipe is delicious and fairly easy to prepare. I love that Indian cooking using TONS of spices. 



The New Persian Kitchen

by Louisa Shafia

A beautiful cookbook with an interesting blend of herbs and spices. Persian food does sour so well!



Specific Topics

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The Wild Medicine Solution: Healing with Aromatic, Bitter, and Tonic Plants

By Guido Mase

I couldn't put this book down. A must read for any herbalist. 



Adaptogens: Herbs for Strength, Stamina, and Stress Relief

by Winston and Maimes

A great read on a category of herbs. Besides offering in-depth information and energetics of plants, dosages and contraindications are often given for each plant.




Herbal Medicine, Healing & Cancer: A Comprehensive Program for Prevention and Treatment

by Donald Yance

This is a wonderful resource for herbalists as well as those living with cancer.



Herbal Antibiotics, 2nd Edition: Natural Alternatives for Treating Drug-resistant Bacteria

by Steven Buhner

Although it's not my favorite to refer to herbs as antibiotics, this book is filled with good info. Get the second edition.



Herbal Antivirals: Natural Remedies for Emerging & Resistant Viral Infections

By Steven Buhner

If you loved Herbal Antibiotics then definitely get this book as well. Important books in our world.



Invasive Plant Medicine: The Ecological Benefits and Healing Abilities of Invasives

by Timothy Scott

Interesting look at cultural beliefs around "invasive" plants. Also has a section on monographs of "invasive plants". 



Plant Healer Magazine

Okay, not a book per say, but each year the magazine is printed and bound in 1-2 volumes. These are a treasure trove of contemporary herbalism. 


Herbs for Body and Hair

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Earthly Bodies & Heavenly Hair: Natural and Healthy Bodycare for Every Body

by Dina Falconi

Heavenly recipes for all sorts of health and beauty applications. From creams to shampoos to solutions to acne.



The Herbal Body Book: A Natural Approach to Healthier Hair, Skin, and Nails

by Stephanie Tourles

Nice simple book with great recipes for herbal body products.



Rosemary Gladstar's Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health: 175 Teas, Tonics, Oils, Salves, Tinctures, and Other Natural Remedies for the Entire Family

by Rosemary Gladstar

This book goes beyond herbs for the body, but somehow I placed it here. Rosemary's recipes are ones that you'll use again and again. 


Spiritual

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Historical References

King’s American Dispensary

Ellingwood

Cook's Physiomedical Dispensary


Fictional Books that Feature Herbalists

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Wise Child

by Monica Furlong



Juniper

by Monica Furlong




Pomegranate Soup: A Novel

By Marsha Mehran

An aromatic tale of three sisters that will undoubtedly inspire you to cook more with cardamom. 



The Mistress of Spices: A Novel

by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

Yes, the book is better than the movie. Very beautifully written.  


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