Recommended Reading List

Some of my favourite herbal reference books:

Chanchal Cabrera Medical HerbalistI have dozens of herbal and health and gardening books, many hundreds actually – I swear they must breed in the night because it seems they are always increasing in number and  spilling off the shelves.

I dream of built-ins to the ceiling that would give another 3 or 4 metres of shelving, but then of course I would no doubt fill them in no time as well   I cannot list them all here but I have picked out the ones that I go back to again and again, or that have particular or special information not found elsewhere. 

I hope you enjoy them as much as I have.


Foundation books to get started with

David Hoffmann – Medical Herbalism – The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine, 2003, Healing Arts Press, Vermont,

Far and away the best foundation text – comprehensive but comprehensible, theoretical and practical. His earlier book called The Holistic Herbal is also great but much simpler.

Andrew Chevalier – The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants: A Practical Reference Guide to over 550 Key Herbs and Their Medicinal Uses, 1996, Dorling Kingsley Publishing

Anthony Godfrey, Paul Saunders, Kerry Barlow, Matt Gowan, Principles and Practices of Naturopathic Botanical Medicine: Volume 1:  2012

These are both useful general reference books, collections of monographs and good photos, practical and user friendly.

Matthew Wood,  The Earthwise Herbal: A Complete Guide to Old World Medicinal Plants,  and The Earthwise Herbal: A Complete Guide to New World Medicinal Plants,  2008, North Atlantic Books

All of Matthew Wood’s books are excellent but these are the ones I reference constantly. They don’t really talk about constituents and pharmacology, but rather about the personality and psychological properties. Essential to understanding herbs not just knowing a bunch of facts about them.

Thomas Bartram – The Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine, 1995, Grace Publishing

A classic, written by an old time practitioner based on clinical experience over 50 years. The only book I have ever found with an entry for “Gone All to Pieces Syndrome” and “Exploding Head Syndrome”

Maud Grieve, A Modern Herbal, vols. 1 and 2. Dover Publications, New York, New York (1971

Best book on stories, mythology, growing, harvesting recipes and more. Written by a horticulturist shortly before the 2nd world war when the British government realized they were dependent on drugs from Germany and they commissioned Mrs. Grieve to research and write this book to support people being more self-sufficient in medicine. Too bad they can’t acknowledge herbal medicine like that today!

More advanced books for deeper studies

Lisa Ganora – Herbal Constituents – Foundations of Phytochemistry, HerbalChem Press

Indisputably the best introduction to herbal chemistry – technical but really readable – I love this book and read it cover to cover!

Weiss RF. Herbal Medicine, English edn. Beaconsfield Publishers, Beaconsfield, United Kingdom (1988)

A real classic written in 1960 by a medical doctor who used plant medicines in an active clinical practice. Lots on herbs as primary care medicines and good stuff on interactions and common sense practical use. Make sure to get the first or third edition, not the second which was brutally edited.

Mills S, Bone K. Principles and Practice of Phytotherapy: Modern Herbal Medicine. Churchill Livingstone, Edinburgh, 2014

The next book to go on to after the Hoffmann Medical Herbalism textbook – huge professional text

A.W Priest and L.R. Priest, Herbal Medication – A Clinical and Dispensary Handbook, 1982, L.N. Fowler & Co. Essex

One of the very few contemporary books on the physio-medical model in clinical practice

Kerry Bone – A Clinical Guide to Blending Liquid Herbs, 2003, Churchill Livingstone

A series of monographs including pharmacology and clinical applications, written by a practicing herbalist. Very useful for specific and consistent guidelines on dosing and safety.

Bruneton J. Pharmacognosy, Phytochemistry, Medicinal Plants. Paris: Lavoisier, 1995.

Very technical descriptions of constituents and actions – for advanced students or real keeners.

Evans WC. Trease and Evans’ Pharmacognosy, 13th ed. Philadelphia: Bailliere Tindall (Curtis Center), 1989

Very technical descriptions of constituents and actions – for advanced students or real keeners.

Aviva Romm, Botanical Medicine for Women’s Health, Churchill Livingstone, 2010

The definitive text by a midwife / herbalist / medical doctor – a big, broad look at women’s health challenges and natural ways to manage them. Filled with useful information drawn from her many years of clinical practice, this is a serious text for te serious student.

James Green, The Male Herbal: The Definitive Health Care Book for Men and Boys, Random House, 2011

One of the only books out there explicitly for men, this is written by a long time herbalist and teacher. Filled with practical wisdom and useful recipes and formulas.

And below are an assortment of other titles on my shelves that I have read and enjoyed and learned from.

History and philosophy

Ralph Metzner – Green Psychology, 1999, Inner Traditions – Bear & Company, Vermont

Stephen Buhner – The Lost Language of Plants, The Secret Teachings of Plants, Plant Intelligence and the Imaginal Realm, Chelsea Green Publishing, Vermont

Barbara Griggs, Green Pharmacy: The History and Evolution of Western Herbal Medicine, 1997 2nd edn. Healing Arts. Rochester, Vermont

Graeme Tobyn, The Western Herbal Tradition: 2000 Years of Medicinal Plant Knowledge, 2011, Elsevier Health Sciences

Simon Y. Mills, Out of the Earth: The Essential Book of Herbal Medicine, 1992, Viking Books

Lewis, C. 1996. Green nature human nature. Champaign, IL: University of Illinois Press.

Lipton,B. 2005. The biology of belief. California: Elite Books.

Louv, R. 2005. Last child in the woods. North Carolina: Algonquin Books

Louv, R. 2011. The nature principle. North Carolina: Algonquin Books.

Pollan, M. 1991. Second nature. New York: Grove Press.

Metzner, R. 1999. Green psychology. Vermont: Park Street Press.

Roszak, T. 1992. The voice of the earth. Michigan: Phanes Press.

Roszak, T. 1995. Ecopsycology. Berkeley, CA: University California Press.

Selhub, E.and Logan, A. 2012. Your brain on nature. Toronto: Collins.

Wilson, E.O. 1984. Biophilia. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Eclectic books by the old masters – may be found on the internet now

Cook WH. The Physio-Medical Dispensatory, Cincinnati (1869). Reprinted by Eclectic Press, Portland, Oregon (1985)

Ellingwood F. American Materia Medica, Therapeutics and Pharmacognosy, 11th edn. (1919). Reprinted by Eclectic Medical Publications, Sandy, Oregon (1994)

Felter HW and Lloyd JU. King’s American Dispensatory, vols 1 and 2, 18th edn. (1898). Reprinted by Eclectic Medical Publications, Sandy, Oregon (1983)

King’s is probably the book I reference most frequently in my office. It is over 100 years old but vitally relevant and incredibly relevant still today.

Medicine making – recipes and methods

Rosemary Gladstar, Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health: 175 Teas, Tonics, Oils, Salves, Tinctures, and Other Natural Remedies for the Entire Family, 2008, Storey Publishing

Debra St Claire, The Herbal Medicine Chest, MorningStar Publications, Boulder, CO

James Green, The Herbal Medicine Maker’s Handbook, Crossing Press, Berkely, CA , 2000

These 3 books are all written by very experienced herbalists that have all owned medicine making companies so they are  full of practical advice  and trouble shooting tips.

Books on safety and dosing

Brinker FJ. Herb contraindications and drug interactions : with appendices addressing specific conditions and medicines. Sandy, Or.: Eclectic Institute, 1997:146.

McGuffin M, Hobbs C, Upton R, et al., eds. American Herbal Products Association Botanical Safety Handbook. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 1997. (new edition released 2014)

Tisserand R, Balacs T. Essential Oil Safety: A guide for Health Care Professionals. Churchill Livingstone, Edinburgh, United Kingdom (1995)

Simon Mills and Kerry Bone, The Essential Guide to Herbal Safety, Elsevier, Churchill Livingstone (2005)

Herbs for kids

Bove M. Encyclopedia of Natural Healing for Infants and Children. Los Angeles: Keat’s Publishing, 1996.

Gladstar R. Herbs for Children’s Health: How to Make and Use Gentle Herbal Remedies for Soothing Common Ailments.  Pownal, VT: Storey Books, 1999.

White LB, Mavor S. Kids, Herbs, Health: Practical Solutions for Your Child’s Health, from Birth to Puberty. Loveland, CO: Interweave Press, 1998.

Zand J, Walton R, Rountree B. Smart Medicine for a Healthier Child: A Practical A-to-Z Reference to Natural and Conventional Treatments for Infants and Children. Garden City Park, NY: Avery Publishing Group, 1994.


Carol and David Schiller, 500 Formulas for Aromatherapy, Sterling Publishing Company

Constance Classen, David Howes and Anthony Synott, Aroma the Cultural History of Smell, Routledge, 1994

Diane Ackerman, A Natural History of Senses, Vintage Books, 1991

Jean Valnet, The Practice of Aromatherapy, Healing Arts Press, 1982

Kathy Keville and Mindy Green, Aromatherapy – A Complete Guide to the Healing Art, The Crossing Press, 1995

Kurt Schnaubelt, Advanced Aromatherapy, Healing Arts Press, 1998

Kurt Schnaubelt, Medical Aromatherapy Healing With Essential Oils, Frog Ltd., 1998

Marcel Lavabre, Aromatherapy Workbook, Healing Arts Press, 1990

Patricia Davis, Aromatherapy an A-Z, C.W. Daniel Company Limited, 1988

Peter and Kate Damian, Aromatherapy – Scent and Pysche, Healing Arts Press, 1995

Robert Tisserand, The Art of Aromatherapy, C.W. Daniel Company Limited, 1979

Shirley and Len Price, Aromatherapy for Health Professionals, Churchill Livingstone Elsevier, 1995

Suzanne Catty, Hydrosols the Next Aromatherapy, Healing Arts Press, 2001

Ulla-Maija Grace, Aromatherapy for Practitioners, C.W. Daniel Company Limited, 1996

Valerie Ann Worwood, Complete Book of Essential Oils & Aromatherapy, New World Library, 1991

Valerie Ann Worwood, The Fragrant Heavens, New World Library

Horticulture Therapy

Cooper Marcus, C. and Barnes, M. 1999. Healing gardens: therapeutic benefits and design recommendations. New York: Wiley Press.

Gerlach-Spriggs, N., Kaufman, R.E. and Warner, S.B. 1998. Restorative gardens: the healing landscape. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

Kaplan, R. and Kaplan, S. 1989. The experience of nature: a psychological perspective. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Kaplan, R., Kaplan, S. and Ryan, R.E. 1998. With people in mind: design and management of everyday nature.  Washington, DC: Island Press.

Simson, S., ed., 1998. Horticulture as therapy: principles and practices. Binghamton, NY: Food Products Press.

Shoemaker, C., ed., 2002. Interaction by design: bringing people and plants together for health and well-being.  Iowa: Iowa State Press.

Taylor, E.R., 1994. The enabling garden: creating barrier-free gardens. Dallas: Taylor Publishing.

Wells, S., ed., 1997. Horticultural therapy and the older adult population. New York: Haworth Press.

Further resources

The Herb Research Foundation
4140 15th St.
Boulder, CO 80304
(303) 449-2265

HRF is a specialty library with more than 120,000 articles on file about the clinical research pharmacology, toxicology, chemistry, horticulture, analysis, and history of herbs used in food and for health care. The HRF research department provides custom botanical research, abstracts of scientific articles on herbs, full-text documents, and online research services.

The Lloyd Library
917 Plum Street
Cincinnati, Ohio 45202
(513) 721-3707

Possibly the world’s most extensive collection of botanical reference material, the Lloyd Library is a private library containing approximately 200,000 volumes, 600 domestic and foreign journal titles, and many other publications. It has many rare and antique holdings as well as one of the largest collections of pharmacopoeias in the world. Open to the public, no charge, 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.

National Agricultural Library, USDA
10301 Baltimore Blvd., Room 111
Beltsville, MD 20705
Reference: (301) 504-5479
Circulation Desk/Journals: (301) 504-5755

The National Agricultural Library provides extensive literature searches and bibliographies on various herb-related topics, offering current information to growers, medicinal herbalists, marketers, and others.