My favorite herbalist books…aren’t herbalist books!

One of my absolutely #1 most frequently received questions is “What are the best herb books?” And for awhile I have tried to have a mental list of my top few to share, cause, you know, I do love books. BUT. I have noticed, as time goes on, that more important to my learning has been resources other than herb books. Varied resources make well-rounded people. It is all too easy to get into a place where we are just reinforcing our previously held beliefs rather than challenging them! S
eeking out critical thinking resources, movement and alignment resources, food books, magazines, blogs and classes and online or IRL conversations are examples.
By no means do I want to toss out every herb book, as I do believe in references. What I am saying is, they are a beginning, not an end. They are old news–and old can be beautiful…or inflexible.
My very favorite “herb book” is a giant binder stuffed full of my favorite printouts from websites, blogs, class notes and online articles. This includes writing from some of my favorite herbalists like Jim McDonald, Kiva Rose, Renee Davis, 7Song, Paul Bergner, Rebecca Altman, Sean Donahue and David Winston-and more-curated by myself and organized in absolutely no reasonable order at all.
I also print out my favorite Plant Healer articles and keep those in a binder.
I printed out the VCIH journal and suggest it.
I print out AHG Journal articles.
I print out my own classes, blog posts and pieces of writing to refer to at times.
I rip articles out of magazines and stash those in a binder too, so I don’t end up with stacks upon stacks of magazines. (hoarder alert!)
I keep books and resources about critical thinking handy, as I believe that knowing how to research critically is more important than having every plant and illness memorized. I look at printed words as a “maybe” rather than as “if it was printed, it must be true”.
I also suggest books about movement and mobility, as I do not believe in fixing problems with herbs that could be fixed without. I am a rabid promoter of movement-as-medicine and I find anatomy and physiology to be a fun afternoon read.
Anatomy Trains by Thomas Myers is one I refer to often. I also appreciate alternative anatomist Gil Hedley. (look him up!)
My very favorite resource for movement information is Katy Bowman and I strongly recommend her website and her books-I refer to Alignment Matters often. She has recently started a podcast too, which is fun for you busy types.
I am a big fan of and the book Becoming a Supple Leopard by Kelly Starrett. I have a big stack of fitness and movement books, magazines and blogs that I refer to often such as Tabata Times, Breaking Muscle, the CrossFit Journal and I like the New York Times wellblog.
I am a fan of MovNat and the primal movement movement–from the book Original Strength to to Mud and Obstacle magazine and Trail Runner I looooove the many resources out there for human movement outside of freakin Planet Fitness!
I’ve recently enjoyed the Liberated Body blog and podcast too.
I also like food resources, and I have a stack of delightful cookbooks and food books. There are some up-to-the-moment magazines such as Paleo that I seek out regularly and I love the book Death by Food Pyramid by Denise Minger.
Food is a big part of our overall health and there is an amazing amount of bullshit involved in the marketing, availability and discussion around food. So again, I say “critical thinking!!!!”
I also like to read about Science, Psychology, Biology.
I admire the author and psychiatrist Gabor Mate and I suggest his books In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts and When the Body Says No. I take an interest in trauma and how it effects us, as well as religion and spirituality.
I enjoy learning about the history of health and health care, attitudes towards health and wellness in other places, cultures and times and the history of our use of plants and plant medicines.
And finally, I find books about life and philosophy to be important. I believe herbalists are called upon to be leaders– in whatever style works of course, and I believe self-reflection and dealing with our own crap helps us to be better listeners and helpers. In NO way does this mean herbalists are not just as wack as other people–but that ideally we are working on it in order to lead, teach and serve. So I read and think about leadership, teaching skills and philosophy.
Since you made it through, I will indeed share my very favorite herb books:
The Earthwise Herbal 1 & 2 by Matthew Wood
21st Century Herbalists by Jesse Wolf Hardin
Medical Herbalism by David Hoffman
Mycelium Running by Paul Stamets
Medicinal Plants of the Mountain West by Michael Moore
Invasive Plant medicine by Timothy Scott
Herbal Therapeutic by David Winston
Herbal Medicine Maker’s Handbook by James Green

Blue vervain
Blue vervain

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