Truly useful beginner herbalist books can be hard to come by if you aren’t sure what you’re looking for. I’ve done the hard job of reading through many great (and some less great) books for beginners! Here are my favourites and where you can find them today!
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Where to Find These Books
I always recommend checking local stores and libraries for beginner herbalist books for ease of access and reduction in shipping cost/emissions. However, if you can’t find what you need locally, here are some good options.
- Biblio is a used book marketplace full of out-of-print, rare, and used books! You can find most of the titles below on Biblio at any given time. I highly recommend using this site opposed to buying new if you can avoid it.
- Thriftbooks is another amazing site where you can find extremely well-priced used books! I love to shop here and grab up a few herbal titles at a time whenever I can.
- Mercari occasionally has a title or two that I am looking for, so it’s worth checking anytime you have a book you want and can’t find it elsewhere.
- Amazon almost always has the books I need when I can’t find them used anywhere else. They also have a function that allows you to see slightly damaged, used, or otherwise discounted options of the title you’re purchasing!
Beginner Herbalist Books
- The Modern Herbal Dispensatory by Thomas Easley and Steven Horne is a cornerstone of many herbalists’ practices. It contains information about creating herbal medicines, the best options for each plant, and getting the most from your medicine. With guides on safety, dosage, and common use, it’s an incredible resource to have on hand.
- The Herbal Apothecary: 100 Medicinal Herbs and How to Use Them by Dr. JJ Pursell offers guidance from a naturopathic doctor. Pairing scientific evidence with traditional herbalism, this book makes beginning your journey a little less intimidating.
- Medicinal Herbs for Immune Defense: 104 Trusted Recipes for Fighting Colds, Flus, Fevers, and More by Dr. JJ Pursell makes treating common colds, viruses, and other maladies a simple and easy task. It also contains valuable information about safely using herbs with children.
- Rosemary Gladstar’s Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health: 175 Teas, Tonics, Oils, Salves, Tinctures, and Other Natural Remedies for the Entire Family is an everyday guide for at-home herbalism. Equipped with nearly 200 recipes, it offers solutions to many common ailments.
- The Complete Herbs Sourcebook by David Hoffman offers common usage, preparation tutorials, and guides on how to use many herbs. It can be used similarly to The Modern Herbal Dispensatory.
- Botanical Skincare Recipe Book by The Herbal Academy is an excellent place to start when jumping into topical herbal medicine. It details recipes for lotions, infusions, soaks, and more, in an easy-to read and adapt format.
- Alchemy of Herbs: Transform Everyday Ingredients into Foods and Remedies That Heal by Rosalee De La Foret takes herbal medicine and applies it to the food we eat. If you’re more interested in incorporating herbs into your daily diet than just using them during illness, this book is a wonderful place to start learning.
Foraging and Identification Guides
- For general identification of plant families in North America, I recommend getting a copy of Botany in a Day: The Patterns Method of Plant Identification by Thomas J. Elpel. It provides an excellent overview of botany and the characteristics of plants for identification. It’s a wonderful primer for anyone new to botany and plant identification living in North America. There is also a youtube video that goes with this book in which the author explains how to use this guide to learn plant families.
- Peterson has a bunch of great field guides for plant identification, including one I use often: Peterson Field Guide To Medicinal Plants & Herbs Of Eastern & Central N. America by Steven Foster and James A. Duke. I recommend finding a region-specific guide for your area. Typically, you can find a guide by typing in your continent, country, or state followed by “field guide”.
- Audubon also makes field guides, which are best paired with more detailed and beginner friendly visual guides, including one for mushroom foraging: National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Mushrooms.
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- Mountain Rose Herbs
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