I have to say something right up front. I am not a beginning herbalist. I have been studying and using herbs for years. And I am a teacher, helping others to learn how to incorporate herbs into their lives for health and well-being. Rosemary Gladstar's Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner's Guide satisfies both the herbalist and the teacher in me. It is an excellent guide for learning about herbs, a treasure trove of practical recipes and ideas as well as a priceless gift of wisdom and insight from one of the leaders of the herbal movement in America.
There are a lot of herbals available, many of them written by Gladstar herself. Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner's Guide outshines any number of them on a number of levels. The book is beautifully done, a true feather in Storey Publishing's cap. The pictures are rich and vibrant and the material is presented in a clear and helpful way. There are four main sections. The first is a simple introduction to herbs and herbal medicine in which Gladstar's enthusiasm is immediately apparent. The second section, an introduction to making your own herbal remedies, provides step-by-step instructions for making the most basic and practical of herbal preparations, including teas, tinctures, and salves, among other things. In the third section Gladstar discusses nine herbs that most of us are familiar with, revealing uses for them that may not be so familiar at all. The fourth section presents twenty-four herbs that are safe and beneficial for most people to use regularly, but which readers may not find familiar.
As I read through the book, I was pleased to see many new recipes and ideas mixed in with some of Gladstar's tried and true recipes, such as her Fire Cider and Gypsy Cold Care Remedy. I had been afraid that perhaps the book would rest on the laurels of its predecessors. It does not. Gladstar's text is fresh and warm, making you feel as though you have a wise friend in the kitchen with you, urging you to try something new and take charge of your health in any way you are able. This warmth and wisdom is indeed a trademark of Gladstar's. She shows us the way back to the Wise Woman inside of all of us and encourages us to rediscover our ancestor's connection to the plants, honoring our own inner wisdom and ability to be healthy.
Years ago, I met Rosemary Gladstar at the Women's Herbal Conference that she founded, and which takes place every summer. After delivering her opening address, she stepped off the platform and waded through the people straight to where I stood, feeling like an alien in my Islamic hijab, in the midst of gauze skirts and tube tops. She embraced me, and welcomed me like an old friend. This book does the same thing. It envelops the reader in warmth and welcome, teaching her the way of herbs with wisdom, experience, and confidence.
Rosemary Gladstar has taught herbalism extensively throughout the United States and has led herbal travel adventures worldwide. Her experience includes over 20 years in the herbal community as a healer, teacher, visionary, and organizer of herbal events. Currently, she runs Sage Mountain in East Barre, Vermont, where she teaches and sponsors workshops and sells herbal preparations. Rosemary lives in East Barre, VT. Read more on the Sage Mountain website.
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