My Favorite Books on Herbal Medicine

I spent a fun morning talking about herbs with some local moms today. 🌿

Below you can find my favorite herb books with the reasons why I like the them. Maybe you’ll find something to add to your bookshelf. (Note: Links are affiliate links.)

(Books are not listed in any particular order.)

Basic Book Resources:

1. Nutritional Herbology by Mark Pedersen, https://amzn.to/3EnyQfV

Has nutritional profiles for each herb.

2. Prescription for Herbal Healing, by Phyllis Balch, https://amzn.to/3g1gBVf

Complete. Very good at listing possible cautions and contraindications.

3. Northeast Medicinal Plants, https://amzn.to/3TCcPiO

Very good on listing plants that grow in this area, as well and when and how to ID, harvest, and the remedies best suited for each plant.

4. Botany in a Day, https://amzn.to/3hFKc6X

Best book for learning plant ID and plant families.

5. Homegrown Herbs, by Hartung, https://amzn.to/3TAMD8a

Best book for growing and using medicinal herbs yourself. Excellent charts for growing and harvesting.

6. The Herbal Apothecary, https://amzn.to/3E3SFbV

This is excellent at giving you the personality of each herb and helping you get to know the plants.

7. Wild Remedies by Rosalee de la Floret, https://amzn.to/3TxQFyh

Good for wildcrafting basics.

8. Alchemy of Herbs, https://amzn.to/3UxMN1z

Anything by Rosalee is well done. I find the herb profiles on her website useful and have found some of her podcasts to be interesting.

9. Rosemary Gladstar’s Medicinal Herbs,https://amzn.to/3UBgfni

Very basic. Good for beginners who don’t know where to start. Has some good basic recipes.

10. The Herbal Kitchen, https://amzn.to/3WYgOJp

Good for using herbs medicinally in your kitchen as food. Also good basics for making infused oils.

11. The Healing Garden, https://amzn.to/3E3jxZw

This book is newer to me. It includes some herbs that my other books do not have listed that I wanted to study. I haven’t delved too deeply into it but it is a lovely book.

Technical Resources:

These are more technical and get into the more medical side is using herbs.

1. Practical Herbalism by Fritchey, https://amzn.to/3Adn46l

2. Modern Herbal Dispensatory by Easley, https://amzn.to/3WVAmhv

3. Materia Medica of Western Herbs by Carole Fisher, https://amzn.to/3g5eZtt

Other Resources:

1. The Big Book of Homemade Products by Jan Berry, https://amzn.to/3hAxPJu

This is her newer book. I had the older one with me. It is excellent as are herb books on soapmaking.

2. Fermented Vegetables by Shockey, https://amzn.to/3G8fzl3

Anything by the Shockeys is good. I also have their books on Vinegars and Firey Ferments.

Botany Basics:

Exploring Creation with Botany by Apologia, https://amzn.to/3Gc9UdK

Good intro to basic Botany.

Elementary Botany Class:

This is a link to my online Botany class which includes learning to ID plants by plant family.

Last but not least, write your own book…

Keep your own notes on each herb and ailment you study by creating your own book. I use an old address book that has alphabetical sections. I write the name of the herb or ailment alphabetically and make notes of what I learn about it.

Medicinal Plant books by Region – add these to your library!

I just got it in the mail today and after just one flip through I think it is going to become one of my most used books.

It’s basic but thorough and covers basic botany, wildcrafting, making plant medicine, as well as individual plant profiles which include ID, harvesting, medicinal uses, cautions, how to harvest safely to ensure future harvests and/or how to propagate, and the best herbal preparations for each plant.

There is also a super helpful chart showing each plant and what time of year it actively growing for harvesting.

AND these are plants that actually grow where I live! So many of my books have plants that don’t grow here or don’t have plants that do grow here.

There are books for each region of the U.S. Affiliate links are below. I can’t wait to devour this one. I almost want to get one of each to compare how the plants overlap by region.

Northeast: https://amzn.to/3pDzEGd

Midwest: https://amzn.to/3AS26uv

Mountain States: https://amzn.to/3AFvt37

Southwest: https://amzn.to/3T6YeNj

Pacific Northwest: https://amzn.to/3R5d7h8

Southeast: https://amzn.to/3pAfn4z

Check them out. I think they are going to be super useful!

This post has been edited to add this useful PDF that shows exactly which herbs are covered by each book.

Free Traditional Skills Summit!

Many of you know that I’m a big fan of Carolyn Thomas and her Homemaking masterclasses over at Homesteading Family. I love her classes on breadmaking, fermenting, herbal medicine, homemade dairy, and I’ve just recently gotten into her canning class. Well, she is participating in a collaboration that I thought you might be interested in.

The School of Traditional Skills brings together experts in homemaking, homesteading, gardening, and real food topics. September 12-15 you have the chance to attend an amazing and FREE Summit featuring the following speakers:

Joel Salatin on Reclaiming Pasture

Justin Rhodes on Raising Pastured Chickens

Melissa K Norris on Garden Season Extension

Paul Gautschi on his Back to Eden Garden method

Carolyn Thomas on Pressure Canning (Yay!!!)

Sally Fallon on Traditional Bone Broths (Who doesn’t have Nourishing Traditions on their shelf yet?)

Lisa Bass on Vegetable Fermentation

Anne of All Trades on Milk Goats

Brandon Sheard on Traditional Salt Curing of Pork

Brian Lowell on Raised Bed Gardens

Maureen Diaz on Sour Dough Bread (I love my sourdough you know!)

Harvey Ussery on Homestead Egg Laying Chickens

If any of these topics peaks your interest check it out! Live sessions will be available for replay so you won’t have to worry about missing out on your favorite topic.

Note: This post contains affiliate links from School of Traditional Skills, Homesteading Family, and Amazon.

Varicose Vein Remedies

If you’re a woman and you’ve had a baby, you may find that you have trouble with varicose veins. The tendency toward varicose veins is hereditary. My grandmother had them, my mom had them, and I’ve always struggled with them. Typically they’ve not bothered me outside of pregnancy but every once in a while they flare up. Standing or sitting for long periods of time can aggravate them and make them painful. What to do?

Well, I’ve found some different strategies and techniques over the years that have helped. One of the most basic is to elevate your legs above hip level. But if they are really bad, that might not be enough. Maybe one of the following strategies will help you. Pay attention to the contraindications to the herbs listed below if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Note: Nothing suggested below is intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions regarding the best treatment options if you suffer from varicose veins.

Always do a skin test on a small area before applying any of these remedies to the skin to test for any allergic reactions or irritation.

1. Diluted Cypress Essential Oil. I’ve used this with good success for years. Cypress increases circulation to a particular area of the body. I dilute about 15-20 drops of cypress essential oil into 2 ounces of carrier oil. Do your research as to the dilution ratio you should use. I like the Education page at Hopewell Essential Oils for this information. Create an account and log in to access this information. When applying oils, always apply and massage from the affected area up towards the heart. Do not apply below the vein you are trying to treat as you want the blood in the vein to be able to move back up towards the heart and not pool backwards in the vein which could cause a clot. Avoid Cypress if you have any allergies to any of the plants in the Cedar or Juniper plant families.

2. Diluted Helichrysum Essential Oil. Always dilute any essential oil in a carrier oil (I like olive oil). Apply to the varicose veins in the same way described for Cypress above. Helichrysum is expensive, so Cypress is a very effective and affordable alternative.

3. Avoid hot, apply cool. Heat can worsen varicose veins. Avoid hot baths. Instead take cool baths or use cool compresses. Use ice packs for 20 minutes a day on the affected areas.

4. Witch Hazel. This extract is an astringent and helps tone tissues. It can help strengthen and tone the walls of the vein so that they are more likely to hold their shape and not weaken causing the blood to pool in painful pockets.

5. Infused Witch Hazel Liniment or Herbal Poultice or paste. Make your own liniment by infusing witch hazel with herbs that improve circulation to make it even more effective. Or make a poultice or paste of dried herbs to apply directly to the skin. Liniments and poultices are for external use only.

Choose from some of the herbs below to make an herbal paste or use them to infuse into your witch hazel. You can choose a single herb or a medley of them based on what you have on hand. Instructions for using herbs in paste form are given below. Be sure that you do your research for contraindications for any medical conditions that you may have.

Powdered cayenne, black pepper, and sage, with dried hawthorn and yarrow, infused into witch Hazel using the quick stovetop method described below.

Cayenne Pepper – Cayenne increases circulation. You can make a paste with it by adding a little water, apply it to small area of the affected vein (do a skin test first to check for irritation and cayenne can cause redness due to the heat it brings to the skin), and cover the area with a band aid or gauze bandage.

Turmeric – This herb is an anti-inflammatory. Just like cayenne, a paste can be made from turmeric and applied to the skin. Be careful though. Turmeric stains EVERYTHING yellow and it won’t come out. It will stain your skin, clothes, and bedding. Be sure to cover the area well to avoid ruining your clothes or other cloth covered surfaces.

Black Pepper – Increases circulation like cayenne pepper. Infused into witch hazel or blend and apply as a paste directly to the skin.

Sage – This plant is part of the mint family and acts as an astringent toning the veins. Infuse into which hazel or use powdered sage as a paste. Caution: Do not use or use minimally if you are breastfeeding as it can dry up your milk supply.

Hawthorn – Use hawthorn berries and flower as an infusion. Hawthorn is considered a cardiovascular tonic. It opens blood vessels and improved circulation. Can also be used as a tea.

Yarrow – This herb in the Aster/Sunflower family supports circulation and heals and tones tissues. Infuse into witch hazel or drink as a tea. Caution: Do not use yarrow in large amounts during pregnancy. Avoid if you have any seasonal allergies to ragweed or any other plants in the sunflower family.

Two ways to make an Infused Witch Hazel Liniment:

A. Slow Countertop Method: If you are making this remedy for future use and you have the time, place your powdered or dried herbs into a jar. Fill the jar 1/3 full with plant material and 2/3 with witch hazel. Leave about 1 inch of headspace at the top. The herbs will expand as they absorb the liquid. Shake daily for 2-3 weeks. Strain into a clean jar using a coffee filter or cheesecloth. Should be shelf stable for a long time if all the plant material is strained well.

B. Quick Stove-Top Method: When you need relief right away, fill the jar with plant material as described above and place the jar on top of a small washcloth in a small sauce pan filled with water. Turn on the heat and let the water come to a simmer. Once you see bubbles, turn off the heat and let the jar sit until cool. Strain off the herbs into a clean jar using a coffee filter or cheesecloth. Apply as described below.

Applying the Liniment:

To apply the liniment, brush onto the skin using a wide, clean, dry paint brush, makeup brush, or even pastry brush. Let it dry and apply several more layers. This is called a soft cast. Cover with a gauze bandage or cotton cloth to avoid it rubbing off on your clothing or furniture. Leave on overnight or longer to allow it to soak into the skin, reapplying as needed. Be aware that cayenne or turmeric can stain the skin and clothes.

Infused Witch Hazel Liniment, strained and ready to apply to the skin. For external use.

After a long summer road trip, the herb infused witch hazel gave me overnight relief from a painful varicose vein in my leg that was aggravated from long hours sitting in the car.

Cinnamon Spice Tooth Powder

This couldn’t be easier to mix and is a great option for people that can’t use regular toothpastes due to ingredients like vegetable glycerin which can be a problem for people with coconut allergies. Ready for the recipe? Here you go….

Cinnamon Spice Tooth Powder:

In a small jar mix the following…

2 tbls Bentonite clay

2 tbls cinnamon oowder

1/4 tsp sea salt

1/8 tsp cloves

I put them all my little jar and shake, shake, shake to mix.

I have tried many versions of this recipe over the years, from powders to pastes, but this has been our go tooth powder for the last several years. As long as it is kept dry, it’s shelf life is indefinite. And I find it very effective. The Bentonite clay pulls toxins, cinnamon and clove add flavor and disinfect, and the salt adds to the disinfecting properties as well.

Apply to your toothbrush using a popsicle stick or tiny measuring spoon for best results.

Spicy Herbal Chai – Cleansing Tea, Safe for Pregnancy and Nursing

So, I’m picky about my teas. I’ve experimented for months to get a combination that I like. Too many herbs – too weak. Too much black tea – too much caffeine. Too many cloves – too strong. Too much black pepper – too spicy. Too much dandelion – too bitter.

This is just right. It’s sweet and spicy, hearty and robust. And it is a gentle cleanser for your liver and digestive system. The addition of dandelion, red clover, and milk thistle are gentle cleaners and liver protectors of for your liver. Dandelion, red clover, and nettle add excellent vitamins, nutrients, and minerals to your body.

These herbs are not only cleansing, but safe for pregnancy and nursing. Most are suggested herbs for using to add nutrients to your diet when pregnant and to your milk when nursing. As always, you should consult with your doctor or midwife before using any herbs especially if you take any medication.

Wanna try it…. here’s the recipe.

Spicy Cleansing Herbal Chai:

This recipe makes approximately 2 cups of loose leaf tea.

8 tsp loose leaf black tea

6 tsp dandelion leaf

5 tsp red clover

4 tsp nettle leaf

2 tsp mullien

2 tsp cinnamon sticks, crushed

2 tsp dried ginger

1 tsp stevia leaf

1 tsp dried orange peel

1 tsp cardamom pods, crushed

1/2 tsp black peppercorns, crushed

1/2 tsp whole cloves, crushed

1/2 tsp milk thistle, crushed

Mix all the ingredients. Add 2 tsp of tea mix to a tea strainer and steep for 5 minutes in boiling water.

Drink and enjoy!

DIY Bug Spray – Insect Repellent

We are in the middle of another stretch of hot weather. I went out two evenings ago to water the flowers in the backyard and was immediately besieged by a swarm of mosquitoes. I could literally watch five of them land on my leg at once. I suffered through watering as quickly as I could while waving them away and swatting at the ones that actually landed on me. When I came in I counted 20+ mosquito bites on my arms and legs. The next day, I thought to put on my homemade bug spray first. I was out for longer this time and I watched to see how many would land on me. Only ONE mosquito even attempted to land on my bare legs and arms. I came in after watering for over half an hour with zero bites! Amazing isn’t it. Click the link above and then scroll down for the recipe. It’s easy. Grab a 2 oz. spray bottle from the travel sized toiletry department at Walmart, add a carrier oil, add in the essential oils of your choice, spray directly in your skin (avoiding clothing and eyes), rub in, and watch the mosquitoes stay away from you.

Note: The oils pictured above are the five that I find work the best at repelling mosquitoes. However, you should use Rosemary and Citronella with caution on children and young babies. Use a high dilution ratio for these oils as well as lemon as it is photosensitive and can cause sunburn when exposed to sunlight. Other safe oils to include if you would like to substitute something else for one of these oils would be geranium, catnip, cedarwood or vanilla. Visit http://www.hopewelloils.com to research safety information.

DIY Simple Salve

This is my favorite salve for, well, any skin condition, but we are using it up here on the dry skin that has reared its ugly head in our house this winter.

It’s simple, effective and easy to make. 3 ingredients:

Here you go….

4 tbl. Cocoa butter

4 tbl. Tallow

2 tbl. Lanolin

Melt in a double boiler and pour into your container of choice. Makes 4 oz.

During the melting, you can add essential oils for scent and therapeutic properties if desired, but I like it just the way it is.

Ingredients

Measured out

In double boiler

Melting

Poured up

Cooled. Creamy goodness.

Bone and Veggie Broth

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Break out your crock pots everyone! Whoever invented the crock pot has my eternal thanks. It makes what I’m about to tell you so EASY. I had a great time at the grocery store today. In part because I only had two of my four children with me which made shopping much easier. 🙂 But, otherwise, I was gathering all the fixins for some DELICIOUS broth. Ahhhh. Mmmmm.

I’m making two kinds – beef and vegetable. Let me tell you how to make your own.

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Beef stock with beef bones, beef marrow, garlic, onions and leeks.

Beef Stock:
Buy about 5 pounds of various beef bones from your butcher. Many stores will have packages set out labeled as soup bones. I bought one package of “soup bones,” two packages of neck bones, and two packages of marrow bones. If they don’t have any out, ring the bell at the meat department and tell them what you want. They can cut it up for you in minutes. When you get home dump all the bones all in the crock pot and add one head of garlic unpeeled and chopped in half, one leek, 1 cup onion quartered, 1.5 tsp sea salt, 1/4 tsp. pepper. Pour cold water over it all and cook on low for 12-18 hours. When cool either strain and freeze or follow my instructions for my favorite way to preserve broth – make your own bullion cubes.

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Veggie stock – beet greens, potato peels, onions with peels, garlic with peels, carrot and potato peelings, and leeks.

Vegetable Stock:
I don’t know why I’ve never thought to do this before but I recently saw an idea online to save all your vegetable scraps in the freezer and when you have a full bag use them to make veggie broth. That’s what I did and it is currently simmering away. Couldn’t be easier. Dump in all your scraps, cover with water, add 1 tsp. sea salt, 1/4 tsp. pepper. In this batch I added potato peelings, carrot peelings and ends, celery tops and bottoms, beet greens, leeks, onion tops and peelings, and one head of garlic with peels. You could really add anything. If you add peelings just be sure that you wash the vegetables before you peel them. I used the bag of veggie scraps from my freezer and just from putting these batches of broth together this afternoon I almost have another full bag in the freezer waiting for next time. I would say that the essentials to veggie broth that make it great are celery, leeks and garlic. Don’t skip the leeks. I buy them just for broth. They make it that much better.

I’m going to be spooning this into my meals and the mouth of my kids when they are sick. My allergy kid is struggling right now from some recent food reactions so I’m hoping the extra vitamins and minerals will give him the boost he needs and help his gut heal and get back to normal. The healing properties of this broth can’t be equaled. Plus they are sooooo delicious. Enjoy.

Magnesium Oil: uses for pregnancy

 

magnesium oil

Have any of you tried the Magnesium Oil recipe from Wellness Mama? I’ve been using it for several years now and recently loaned my friend a bottle to use on her husband’s sore back.

She started using it and found that really helps the muscle cramps that she gets during pregnancy. She says that it’s magic. As soon as she sprays it on she says that the muscle releases. I’ve also used it during pregnancy and though I don’t typically get muscle cramps, I struggle with restless legs and sore ligaments. I’ve found to be especially helpful with my sore muscles with my last pregnancy and in terms of mobility – the aches and pains disappeared and I didn’t even feel like I was pregnant. So, make up your own magic potion for sore muscles. Why suffer? Give your muscles what they need – extra magnesium! (Note: magnesium oil can sting when first applied. Do not use on broken or cut skin or apply after shaving.)

Essential Oil Remedy for Bumps and Bruises

IMG_0977Last summer my two-year old got a nasty bump on her cheek right along her cheekbone from running full force into the corner of a table. Even after forcing her to hold ice on it I could tell it was going to develop into a horrible bruise. We were out of town at the time, so I pulled out my travelling essential oil kit and essential oil quick reference chart to see what I had that might help. I immediately applied a bit of diluted lavender and cypress oil. Lavender is healing to the skin and cypress is good for circulatory issues so I thought it might help. I tell you, I was shocked! The bruise barely developed and after about 3-4 applications in the morning and at bedtime over the next two days it had healed so that it was hardly noticeable. This is my go-to remedy for bruises now. It’s the most effective remedy that I’ve found for healing a bruise. If you get a bad bump mix 2 drops of lavender and 1 drop of cypress in 1 tsp. of olive oil and apply directly to the affected area. Use wisely (read my full Disclaimer here).

Essential Oil and Herb Quick Reference Chart

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Front side of chart.

Last spring I created this chart for a class I was teaching on herbal first aid. The chart covers commonly used herbs and essential oils and their properties and gives suggested remedies for common first aid situations and illnesses. This laminated chart is two-sided. The front side is color coded based on the safety of the herb or oil and covers 17 herbs/oils. The back side of the chart is covers 66 ailments and conditions listing the herbs/oils that are good for them. Cautions are listed on the front of the chart.

The chart measures approximately 7 x 4 inches. It is printed on heavy cover stock and laminated so that you can take it with you so that you’ll know what to do when you are out and about or travelling away from home. If you find it helpful be sure to comment here and let me know.

Back side of the chart.

Back side of the chart.

Color-coded by safety level.

Color-coded by safety level.

Disclaimer: By purchasing this chart, you take full responsibility for any outcomes based on it’s use and release the author from any liability either real or perceived. The author makes no claims as to expected results and takes no responsibility for either positive or negative results. This chart should be considered to be personal opinion and is based on personal research and should be taken as such. It should be used with common sense, your own personal research and should not be considered medical advice. See full Disclosures/Disclaimers here. By requesting to purchases this chart you release the author from any liability and agree to all the terms and conditions in the Disclaimer linked above.

Herb and Oil Quick Reference Chart

Laminated quick reference chart. Great for your first aid kit.

$5.00