Body Into Balance: An Herbal Guide to Holistic Self-Care

Written by Maria Noël Groves; Book Review by Val Paul

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We learn within the first few pages of Body Into Balance that author Maria Noël Groves’ purpose  in writing her book is for you “to understand your body, what it needs to be healthy, and common themes of disease. You’ll learn how to listen to your body and what it’s telling you. You’ll grasp how herbs work so that you can put together the best blends of herbs and natural therapies to nudge your body back into balance no matter the starting point.” Reading this I was excited—this kind of self-knowledge is empowering. I was thrilled as I made my way through this book to find that Groves successfully fulfilled her purpose for this book. Body Into Balance is not only content-rich but also visually stunning. The watercolors and photography are extraordinary and complement the text perfectly.

The reader is quickly introduced to the basic principles of herbal medicine and safety rules, including herb-drug safety. An overview of different kinds of healthcare practitioners is also included and the essential role they can have on a personal healthcare team is also explained. I was glad to see this integrative approach and the acknowledgement that, as safe as herbs are, there are limits to self-care.

The herbal monographs are included throughout the book as they pertain to various body systems. Each herb is covered thoroughly and includes information such as Latin name, availability, key properties, additional benefits, preparation, and cautions and considerations. Appendix I also lists all the 200+ herbs mentioned, with common and Latin names, which is excellent for reference. Herbal terminology is also defined should any of the concepts be unfamiliar to the reader. 

Many of the chapters include charts that cover the subjects taught in the chapter that can be easily referenced later, which is great because I suspect I won’t be the only one doing just that. Also included are “Protocol Points,” which help differentiate between health issues that are commonly seen. I thought these points were much like a mentorship from an experienced clinician.  An overview of each point is given along with diet, lifestyle, and herb tips. These are unique additions to an herbal and are excellent teaching tools for people of all different experience levels.

There are also many recipes in each chapter. I can’t wait to try them—they sound so delicious and many will be helpful for the needs of those close to me. At the top of my list are: Blueberry Vanilla Tea, Braniac Bon Bons, Choco-Vanilla Rooibos, Mushroom Broth, All Natural Bug Spray, Lady T, Sparkling Skin Super Infusion, and Gin Raisins.

Body Into Balance is divided into three parts:

Part one covers the body’s basic needs: diet and nutrition, hydration, daily movement, sleep, and the mind-body balance. The importance and benefits of meeting these basic needs are discussed and are encouraging. As Groves says,  “Use the recommendations as a guide, not a guilt trip.”

One of my favorite parts of this section is the introduction to the basic concepts for building a personalized protocol.  Are you interested in seeking more information on general well-being, chronic disease, or acute conditions? These concepts are also built upon as you make your way through the book.

There are also chapters on herbal nutrition, stress and energy, relaxation, mood, and sleep, digestion and elimination, and detoxification—all vital aspects of well-being.

Part two delves into the major body systems: immune, respiratory, blood sugar, cardiovascular, memory and cognition, pain management, thyroid, skin and connective tissue, reproductive, with a chapter for elders and for children.

Not only is each system explained thoroughly but herbs, nutrients, and lifestyle options are given should you be experiencing a health issue in one of the systems.

My favorite aspect of part two is the way the systems within the body—and therefore herb use—are shown as they are, beautifully inter-connected. 

Part three is all about buying and making herbal remedies. Everything you need to know about making herbal remedies is included in this chapter. Wildcrafting tips, how to harvest various plant parts and the optimal time to do so, and drying and freezing for those who are able to grow or wildcraft their own plant material. If you are unable to harvest your own plant material? No problem. Maria explains what to look for when shopping for dried plant material and even prepared remedies. Storage is covered too.

There are clear and concise instructions for making so many different kinds of herbal remedies—including tinctures, vinegars, capsules, cordials, hydrosols, and more—all using kitchen tools that most people have. My favorite parts of part three are choosing the best remedy for you and dosing. Maria Noël Groves has made making and using herbal remedies very accessible.

I highly recommend Body Into Balance. It is a comprehensive, uncomplicated, and engaging herbal book that would be a wonderful addition to the bookshelf of plant people of any experience level. The dedication at the beginning of the book is in memory of herbalist Michael Moore. I found that fitting, as Body Into Balance will be alongside Moore’s books on my bookshelf.

Body Into Balance: An Herbal Guide To Holistic Self-Care
ⓒ2016 Maria Noël Groves
Storey Publishing
ISBN 978-1-61212-535-0

Rosalee is an herbalist and author of the bestselling book Alchemy of Herbs: Transform Everyday Ingredients Into Foods & Remedies That Healand co-author of the bestselling book Wild Remedies: How to Forage Healing Foods and Craft Your Own Herbal Medicine. She's a registered herbalist with the American Herbalist Guild and has taught thousands of students through her online courses. Read about how Rosalee went from having a terminal illness to being a bestselling author in her full story here.  

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