Updated: Apr 5
When Mrs. Aurora titles her 6 month class as the “HERBAL INTENSIVE”, she wasn’t kidding. There is so much to learn and so many new terms. Words I was unfamiliar with until listening to her speak made me nervous. Applications of plants I never fathomed came to light. Rating my level of knowledge with survivalism in the wild, and just knowing the plants I could use… was a good start. I felt under-educated when it came to things I might cultivate myself though. So, I searched for help in a book and found it with THE HERBAL HANDBOOK by David Hoffmann.
This great little guide was what helped lend me the hand I needed, with understanding quickly, the words and meanings of how plants operate in our bodies once we use them. It is fairly medically-minded with its writing, layout, and vocabulary. It is also information dense, but that is in a good way. The author explains in detail everything to the new herbalist. Definitions, meanings, uses, terms that are interchangeable, anything you might feel you NEED to know. It is remarkable that it is only 240 pages. I almost wonder if Mr. David is a magician of sorts with words. This book holds more information that I can process in one sitting. Whenever my brain does finish comprehending what I’ve read, I continue to pick it up to read more.
Grasping the concepts of “actions” that herbs “perform” on our body was the biggest help. The clearly defined segments discuss the what, how, and most importantly for me, the why. The author goes into articulate detail of the most common herbs known to help with these actions. Seeing the link and logic in the written word has always been my learning style. Mr. David caters to this with full flourish in his explanations and examples. This is my favorite part of the book, as it guides you into the different body systems and addresses specific uses for certain ailments.
The body systems portion then gives you a template of how to deal with your individual concerns. He covers the major 11 that humans have. The book itself claims it can be used as “a self-training guide for those who would like to gain a foundation in medical herbalism” and I cannot disagree. The bonus sections (for me) included here cover areas such as: ears, nose, and throat. Skin, fevers and infections, and allergies and auto-immune are also given acknowledgement. This is something I have rarely found in older herbal books with this level of attentiveness to details.
Mr. David also includes a conversion chart, portion on aromatherapy, cultivation, cooking, dyes, and potpourri. Although smaller, they none the less give a more rounded feel, and only bolster the ways to use your herbs effectively and how you prefer. The cross reference of the appendix is itself 3 columns of each of the 6 pages, and the sources used to compile and create this masterpiece include: eclectic medicine and pharmacognosy, herbals, journals, and newsletters. Being accurate in helping people that come visit us at the Apothecary is paramount. The more we know, the better we can help. I feel this book alone had given me 3 more levels of understanding. I’m more enriched after finishing it and can discuss things more confidently.