My Favorite Herbal Books
By: Denise Brusveen, MS
I get asked often for herbal advice, and sometimes people ask me about my favorite books too. You just can’t beat having the information in your own hands for when you need it! So let me share my favorite books to help you learn about the vast number of uses for herbs, and I’ll share a little bit about why I like each one.
I also want to point out that even though I’ve been using herbs for close to 10 years now, I still often refer back to these books. If you’re newer to herbs, I’d recommend getting at least a couple books so that you can cross reference them to come up with the very best strategy for your needs.
Rosemary Gladstar’s book Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner’s Guide is fantastic. She has such a clear, concise way of writing. This book will help you to become familiar with some of the most used herbs by herbalists and also teaches you the basics of how to make and use various herbal preparations like infusions, decoctions, salves, and more. Don’t know what those words mean? Then this book is definitely for you!
Rosalee De La Foret is another fantastic herbalist who has a way of writing and teaching that is easily understandable. She takes a bit of a different angle on teaching about herbs and breaks them down into taste: sweet, bitter, sour, salty, and pungent in her book Alchemy of Herbs. I’ve made several of the recipes and have really enjoyed them; and the background information she gives on the various herbs is really solid too.
Aviva Romm was the first person I began learning from about herbs. I can still remember listening to a free training she did 10 years ago via teleconference! Oh how far we’ve come with technology since then, right? The training was about kids health, and I was frantically writing down everything she had to say. I came across those pages several years later and laughed to myself as I saw how I had butchered so many of the herb names she rattled off during the training because I was literally clueless about herbs but was looking for something more than what the doctor’s office or medicine aisle at Wal-Mart could offer. She has a great book that I still refer to today when it comes to my kids. The book is called Naturally Healthy Babies and Children. If you have kids, you need this book!
Aviva Romm is my go-to for herbs related to women’s health too. In fact, I took her 400-hour Herbal Medicine for Women course, which I completed earlier this year. Her textbook, Botanical Medicine for Women’s Health, has been invaluable as I have guided countless women through challenges ranging from PCOS to endometriosis to PMS to painful periods to infertility and more. She recently came out with a new book also, called Hormone Intelligence that I have but haven’t read yet. (Am I the only one who buys books faster than I can read them?) This one appears to be more surface level vs taking a really deep dive like in her textbook, and I’m hearing really good things about it in my herbal circles.
If you’re like most women and are under stress on a regular basis, adaptogen herbs are an amazing class of herbs to help balance your body’s stress response. The book Adaptogens by David Winston is the best I have found on explaining how adaptogens work and how to choose the best one(s) for your body and needs. He is also the owner of one of my favorite herbal companies – Herbalist & Alchemist. It is so important to buy good quality herbs, and his company is one I know I can trust.
Stephen Buhner is my absolute favorite when it comes to help with treating various illnesses. I bought Healing Lyme when I was first diagnosed in 2017. I recommend getting yourself a copy of this book to have “just in case” so that you can familiarize yourself with what to do if you or a family member gets a tick bite (and possibly even stock up on a few things to have on hand since they last for years). When it comes to lyme, time is of the essence in treatment. And if you suspect you might already have chronic lyme, this is the book for you (because hint: a round of antibiotics won’t do a thing for you at this stage in the game).
Buhner also has books targeted at several of the lyme co-infections. I only have the one that addresses bartonella and mycoplasma because mycoplasma is the only coinfection that I know I became infected with that needed treating. I wouldn’t be surprised if others are still lurking beneath the surface, but they aren’t priorities for me to target at this point in time.
His books entitled Herbal Antibiotics and Herbal Antivirals have also saved the day on many occasions for my family, especially the time my husband stabbed his hand on a rusty barbed wire fence that went around an old horse pasture, and it swelled up to the size of a golf ball almost instantly. I’m happy to report that he’s still alive! Another time I relied heavily on Buhner’s antivirals book was when I got a severe case of shingles a few years back. And then I’ve used it to cross reference some of my other books based on symptoms for various illnesses. I love that he really dives into all available research, so I know it’s trustworthy information.
Nutrients in Herbs
Given that I help women with mineral balancing through the use of hair tissue mineral analysis in order to help them heal, it’s no surprise that I would own a book that gives the nutrient breakdown for various herbs. It’s shocking how few books there are on the market for this! But Nutritional Herbology has been a fantastic reference guide. If you think or know you are deficient in one or more minerals, this is a great book that will help you discover herbs that you could begin consuming more of in order to increase your levels naturally vs synthetic supplements, which don’t always work (and sometimes make things worse).
Getting yourself a good herbal safety handbook is essential if you are on any prescription medications or if you don’t have a children’s herbal book (because not all herbs are safe for children). I own the Essential Guide to Herbal Safety by Mills and Bone. I also have an online subscription to the American Herbal Products Association’s Botanical Safety Handbook, but you can purchase a hard copy here. Please do not just trust what other people say online. It is terrifying how many people assume all herbs are safe “because they’re just plants” yet those same people expect them to act medicinally (which they absolutely do!). Or others assume that children are just smaller adults. This is NOT the case! There are lots of herbs that are not safe for children, and the last thing you want to do is give herbs to a sick child and injure them!
Well, there you have it! These are my favorite books. I have more for making remedies and also for plant ID, but I will save those for another post. These books will give you a great foundation in learning about the amazingly helpful plants that God has given us to help with health and healing.
Denise Brusveen is a Certified Women's Herbal Educator and Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis Practitioner and holds a Master of Science degree with a research emphasis in reproductive physiology. She is passionate about helping girls and women to become informed about holistic options to overcome health challenges related to their hormones.