While the title says this is My Most Recommended Herbal Book for Beginner Herbalists and Advanced I’d like for you to also read that as the #1 Book For Herbalists! This book is the book I recommend EVERY TIME someone asks me for herbal resources, how to start practicing herbalism, or expresses any interest in herbal remedies at all. The Herbal Medicine-Maker’s Handbook: A Home Manual by James Green, Herbalist is THE BEST HERBAL!
I first picked up this book in 2012 when hunting for more resources to help me hone my skills as a folk herbalist. I knew how to make basic infusions, oils, and tinctures, practiced with salves and electuaries, but wanted more knowledge in regards to formulary. Thankfully this home manual came my way almost immediately (don’t you love synchronicity?).
Just to give you an idea of how in-depth this manual goes, here’s it’s table of contents with * next to my favorite sections
- A Field Trip
- A Few Herbs Are All You Need*
- Gardening and Harvesting, Drying, Garbling,* and Storing
- Kitchen Pharmacy Equipment
- The Extraction Process
- Forms of Herbal Medicine
- Distillation of Hydrosols
- Flower Essences
- Tincturing by Maceration
- Tincturing by Percolation
- Wine Infusion
- Vinegar Infusion
- Glycerin Infusion
- Oil Infusion
- Ointment, Salves, & Balms*
- Lotions & Creams
- Suppositories and Boluses
- Herb Jellos*
- Syrups, Honeys, Oxymels, and Electuaries
- Baths for Water Therapy
- Poultices and Fomentations
- Complementary Techniques, Terms, and Other Considerations*
- A Perspective on Medicine*
- Appendices, References, Resources, and Index…
There’s just so much information in this book I honestly believe it, a field guide to your local plants, a class or resource on energetics, and a good materia medica are all that you need for a complete herbal library or course.
James Green, Herbalist
The author of this recommended herbal is a professional herbalist currently working and teaching in the San Diego area. James was the owner and director of the California School of Herbal Studies in Sonoma County for the last 15 years. He is a founding member of the United Plant Savers and the American Herbalists Guild.
A Perfect Disclosure
Damon’s favorite part of the manual is in Green’s disclosure. He wishes all books had similar disclosures to remind the reader that the author is human and that everything we read or lean from should be approached with discrimination and open communication.
“Currently, in this Western culture of ours, the fact that what I
have written has been published tends to display me as an authority. In
light of this strange cultural phenomenon, I wish to supply the
discriminating reader and herbal learner with appropriately insightful
information to help him or her question this authority. Nothing that I
say is presented by me as the Truth! I am merely disclosing my current
truth. The printed voice of this book will share my knowledge,
observations, and opinions based on my experiences, punctuated by what
wisdom I have gathered…
…If the fervor of my expression of these opinions ascends a street orator’s platform for a paragraph or two, allow me the social blunder; its just an idiosyncrasy of my particular humanness. Do not fault me for my passion. Rather, take note of any disagreements you may have, get back to me, and point out the possible errors of my current beliefs. This way we can interact and communicate as co-seekers and creators, and as co-members of a species that obviously has much to discover about itself and about the transcendent universe in which it thrives.”
Gorgeous Art by Ajana Green
James Green’s daughter, Ajana, created the amazing illustrations for the home manual. The added touch of his daughter’s hand in the book makes this formulary all the more like a cozy conversation and apprenticeship with an herbalist rather than some distant text. It is as if you’re curled up, sipping herbal infusion, looking at his daughter’s drawings on the wall while listening to Green wax poetic about the philosophy of herbal healing. Sure the majority of the book is recipes and tutorials but its in a friendly way that I believe is missing from a lot of books on herbal medicine making.
An Almost Complete Formulary
The Herbal Medicine-Maker’s Handbook is an almost complete formulary. The only 3 things I can think of that aren’t covered in its how-tos and recipes are enemas, douches, and homeopaths. While enemas are not generally recommended by us except in certain situations seen to by health professionals, douches can be used to treat a few common issues like yeast infections.
Homeopaths are very popular in the herbal community and a conversation about their preparations is one I have frequently with herbal students and friends. Meanwhile, Flower Essences are included along with a basic concept of such energetic medicines. I would love an addition of homeopaths to the manual if future editions are created.
Despite these omissions, this home manual is the most complete formulary we have found and why it is our most recommended herbal book.
A Look At Multiple Methods
When I came upon The Herbal Medicine-Maker’s Handbook, I’d already been practicing folk herbalism for a few years. I was excited to learn there were other methods of extracting the medicinal properties from herbs than the ones I already knew. While I might still use the folk method for the most part, having the knowledge that there are other ways of making home remedies is super handy when faced with unexpected situations.
For example, I usually make infused oils the cold or folk method of stuffing herb material in a jar and adding oil on top, letting sit and shaking it for a few weeks then strain for use. The same with tincturing, what James Green calls Tincturing by Maceration. This book not only told me there were faster, hot methods of tincturing but details of how to do it in a way to ensure I collect the most of the medicinal constituents of the herb.
I’d also never heard of an Herb Jello before! What a fantastic way to deliver herbal remedies to children and other people with sensitive or picky palates! His recipe for herb jello using Feverfew earned his statement “it is the best-tasting, most palatable dose of Feverfew I’ve taken so far.”
A Beautiful Wrap Up
While Damon loves Green’s disclosure, I think my favorite statement from the book has to be in the section called “A Perspective on Medicine.”
In this chapter, Green shares a story of Chiron, the Centaur, on Mount Pelion. Chiron is a great teacher and healer of heroes. Green says it is a story “Transcribed from the herbal Akashic records.” Here Chiron summons his students to share his wisdom and part of this story touched me deeply.
“It is important to not that the use of medicine is appropriate not only to help alleviate or prevent disease, but also when one feels it necessary to use an ally to assist in creation whatever is desired. Therefore, plants, prayer, foods, chants, minerals, the company or touch of another being, potions, ritual, music, incantations, charms amulets, icons, fetishes, and all other manifestations a person strongly believes in can be utilized as good and powerful medicine.” Chiron paused for a moment, then added, “I define the term ‘good’ as ‘that which one wants.’”
It is beautiful to see herbalists and manuals on recipes and formulas remember the whole person both learning, reading, practicing as well as the whole person that is being treated with herbs. We are whole-holy as are our plants and methods. I am grateful to this grimoire of herbal learning for that reminder.
A Highly Recommended Manual
I’m not sure how else to express that this is only of my favorite books. When people ask me what herbal book they should get, start with, look for – this is the first one that comes to mind and hits my very short recommendation for all list.
You can get The Herbal Medicine-Maker’s Handbook by James Green at most book sellers including Amazon. The links used in this blog post are affiliate links which means that if you purchase this book, we receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you.
James Green’s book, The Male Herbal, is also an excellent read if you are assigned-male-at-birth or have have AMAB family members or clients that need herbal care.