25 March 2015

Green Reads: Medicinal Herbs A Beginner's Guide & Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health by Rosemary Gladstar

When ever I talk with fellow plastic free or zero waste living peeps they are all super keen fans of the DIY – Do It Yourself. And I guess part of us need to be as many packaged items that end up being replaced are done so via the DIY route because it is the easiest way to avoid unnecessary packaging and plastic. Plus it is fun! There really is a personal satisfaction in making something yourself.

One branch of DIY I have became immersed is medicinal herbs. Particularity preventive medicine against colds and other ailments that can be made without plastic or packaging. A quick search through the inter webs on the subject results in pages upon pages with recipes but I thought it wise to look for a book by a writer and practitioner with years of experience. Ultimately someone who knows what they are talking about and I can trust.

This led me to Rosemary Gladstar, a herbal teacher and practitioner with over 35 years experience. After reading countless reviews it became obvious that having Rosemary's knowledgeable books would be an investment.

Medicinal Herbs A Beginner's Guide & Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health by Rosemary Gladstar

Medicinal Herbs A Beginner's Guide has been joy to read through with easy to follow recipes offering the perfect book to start the journey. The book feels more like a conversation than a 'how to' as Rosemary guides and shares age old knowledge. The book starts off with a history of medicinal herbs and uses, followed by Rosemary's own personal story to becoming a herbalist. She does make it clear that the recipes and methods are not to replace the guidance of a trained health care professional (a view I share) rather it focuses on elevating health and well being, and treating common illnesses. Think of it as a book full of your great grandmothers remedies.

Rosemary guides the reader through setting up a kitchen pharmacy detailing what makes herbal teas, syrups, oils, salves, tinctures, herbal pills, baths, poultices and compresses, detailing dosage and duration.

Following on she takes the reader through 9 familiar herbs and spices to grow and use. The book does encourage growing your own herbs but it is not necessary. I have used herbs and spices collected from my local bulk food store to create recipes so far. The book has beautiful photos of each plant which not only makes the book a joy to look through but also a beneficial visual resource to knowing what a certain herb or spice looks like.

This book also covers the uses of basil, cayenne, cinnamon, garlic, ginger, rosemary, sage, thyme, turmeric, aloe vera, burdock, calendula, chamomile, chickweed, dandelion, echinacea, elder, goldenseal, hawthorn, lavender, lemon balm, licorice, marsh mallow, mullein, nettle, oats, peppermint, plantain, red clover, st. john's wort, spearmint, valerian and yarrow.

Each of the herbs and spices is broken up into growing, its medicinal uses, parts used, what it offers in terms of vitamins and safety factors. This is then followed up with 3-4 recipes.

So far I have made a sizzling foot warmer with cayenne pepper. I have rubbish circulation and my feet and hands get very cold, in winter I suffer chilblains (not fun!). This has been so nice to put on my feet when it is cold and will no doubt be a permanent feature come winter.

I am also in the midst of making pickled garlic. Both myself and the Builder turn to garlic when we feel a cold coming on and this will allow us to eat raw garlic without it upsetting our stomachs as raw garlic can do. I will share the finished product with you once the pickling is complete.

Medicinal Herbs A Beginner's Guide & Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health by Rosemary Gladstar

Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health originally published as Rosemary's Gladstar's Family Herbal is lack of a better word comprehensive. At 391 pages (almost 200 more than the other book) it is full of recipes for teas, tonics, oils, salves, tinctures and other natural remedies.

Inside the pages are remedies for athletes foot, colds and flus, headaches, heartburn, sore throats through to cradle cap, rashes, cramps during menstruation, reducing stress and ulcers to name a few. The remedies are sorted into chapters for children, women, men and elders. There is also a chapter dedicated to radiant beauty, full of easy to use recipes for herbal shampoo, hair rinses, conditioning treatments, bath salts, bath blends, clay facials, make your own rosewater, face cream and aftershave.

While this book does not contain as many photos, it does cover a broader range of ailments and is more in depth about natural remedies.

What I love about these books is that all the information is there and I don't need to go onto the internet looking for answers to questions I have. Both are rich and valuable sources of information that go hand in hand for those wanting to try using herbs and spices as medicine.

A gentle reminder taken from the book - these publications are intended to provide educational information for the reader on the covered subject. It is not intended to take the place of personalised medical counselling diagnosis, and treatment from a trained health professional.

Tell me, do you make your own remedies? Who taught it to you?
  1. Hi Erin,

    yes, I make a lot of my own remedies. At first I learned from books on macrobiotics and herbs, and later I read books on natural parenting (written by herbalists, midwives etc...) I have infinite faith in natural medicine, but it is especially important to use preventative health care - there's no point living on McDonalds and hoping a herbal tincture will solve all of your health problems!

    I read a few years ago that 18,000 deaths a year are caused by medications and medical accidents in Australia - this is a very sobering statistic, and one that makes me look after my health naturally as much as I can.

    Madeleine

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    1. I agree, it's about whole health. When you think about the earths health, you think about everyone's health and when healthy lifestyle choices are made then herbal medicine is going to go in hand with that too. That is a sobering statistic indeed - a valuable reason to stop and look after ourselves. Our health is the most valuable thing we have - without it we can't do much.

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  2. Digestive complaints have become a common issue for many Americans these days. Our fast paced world and need for instant gratification is wreaking havoc on millions of people every day. Over-the-counter and prescription drugs are not the answer.

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    1. Thank you for the comment Bu.

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