Herbalism

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This is a guide for those interested in learning about the medical use of plants.

Herbalism is defined as the use of plants (herbs) as medicine. Humans have used plants as medicines for many thousands of years, and only in the past couple hundred years - especially the last hundred - has the practice of herbalism been lost as a common technique for treating human disease. While the medicine that emerged from doctors of Western Culture has brought many wonderful treatments and cures, it has not been able to treat all the illnesses of humanity, certainly not at reasonable costs.

There is now a growing interest in medicines that provide an alternative to the "scientific" medicine, as we have come to know it in the last hundred years. We are broadening our ideas of how we humans can heal, and learning how to use the old herbal traditions to their highest potential.

There is a lot of material on herbal medicine, both on the Internet and in print, and with the growing popularity of alternative medicine in general, material on the use of herbs will only increase. As a result of this great flood of information it is important to make sure one is using good judgement and confirming the validity and safety of any medical technique before partaking in it. Keep your feet on the ground and do not expect any miracle cures.

That said, I hope you enjoy exploring the information about herbalism in this guide. The websites are often created by practicing herbalists and herbalist groups, and they vary in content and depth of coverage, but they were all chosen for this guide because of their good quality. Discovering how plants can help maintain health can be very rewarding, so I hope you have a good time in your browsing.


Internet Resources

Henriette's Herbal Homepage (http://www.henriettesherbal.com)
This is one of the best herbalism sites on the Internet. The data here include FAQs about the medical and culinary use of herbs, mailing lists and alt.folklore, herbs archives, and a huge collection of her favorite herbalism links.

Michael Moore - South West School of Botanical Medicine Home Page (http://chili.rt66.com/hrbmoore/HOMEPAGE/HomePage.html)
This is a wonderful site. It has much to offer the beginner as well as the expert. There is a wide variety of plant images, as well as a great collection of manuals, folios, classic texts, and links to other resources. A great place to gather information.

Michael Tierra's Planetary Herbology (http://www.planetherbs.com/)
One can find great articles by Tierra on this site, as well as extensive links to excellent resources on herbalism, including history links.

Christopher Hobbs - Herbal Website (http://www.christopherhobbs.com/)
This is a classy herbalism site, with a nice bundle of articles on individual herbs and actions, a short history of herbalism, and short descriptions of herbs and remedies for common symptoms.

Howie Brounstein's Home Page (http://www.teleport.com/~howieb/howie.html)
Amongst other interesting herbal treats, this site has much information on Wildcrafting herbs (This is a respectful and ecologically aware practice and approach to harvesting herbs).

Medical Herbalism: A Journal for the Clinical Practitioner (http://medherb.com/MHHOME.SHTML)
A fine link to the latest articles in Herbalism. The some articles from the current issue as well as recent back issues are online.

Medherb.com from Medical Herbalism (http://www.medherb.com/)
This large and valuable site includes a great span of material, from discussion boards to journals to school listings and anatomy sites. Also in the medical herbalism site is a fine page giving links to brief histories of herbalism (http://www.medherb.com/HX.HTM) Sections include, North America, Classic Herbals, Western Medicine, Chinese, Ayurvedic.

MCPHS Library Subject Guides: Herbal Drugs (http://www.mcp.edu/si/sl/subject_guides/herbdrug.htm)
This site has a great variety of information on where to find additional information about herbs.

A Modern Herbal Home Page (http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/mgmh.html)
This classic text, first published in 1931, by Mrs. M. Grieve, is now available online.

Wild Ones Home Page (http://www.for-wild.org/)
"We are a diverse membership interested in landscaping using native species in developing plant communities." This national group has many regional chapters.

Herbal Hall (http://www.herb.com/)
This website has been around in different forms for many years. It has historically been associated with well respected herbalists. There are occasional feature articles, and many good sites are linked from here.

Richters Herbs - Medicinal, Culinary, Aromatic - Plants &Seeds (http://www.richters.com/)
- This place has a nice "Education and Events" section, including an online seminar on planting seeds and a lecture series that is posted on the site. Also, in the "News and Info" section, the Richters HerbLetter is a great up-to-date news letter on the herbalism scene.

Native American Herbal, Plant Knowledge (http://www.kstrom.net/isk/food/plants.html)
This extensive site provides links to various ethnobotanic and general plant resource sites, while focusing on, and hosting information about, the Native American body of plant knowledge.

Medicinal and Poisonous Plant Databases (http://www.biologie.uni-hamburg.de/b-online/ibc99/poison/)
This is a fine database of plant medicine and chemistry resources.

U.S. National Library of Medicine (http://www.nlm.nih.gov/)
This is more of a general medical resource, and less of a herbalism resource, but it is very useful as it gives a nice starting point if one wants to further research into medicinal practices.

The Herbal Bookworm (http://www.herbological.com/herbalbookworm.html)
A great herb book review site.

Herbalism Associations:

The Herb Research Foundation (HRF) (http://www.herbs.org/)
1007 Pearl Street, Suite 200
Boulder, CO 80302
303/449-7849
Co-producer of the magazine, HerbalGram (along with the American Botanical Council), this well-respected organization keeps on the forefront of the herbalism world, working to keep the control of herbal medicine in the hands of herbalists by promoting accurate studies of the properties of herbs and supporting professional herbalists.

Herb Society (UK) Online (http://herbsociety.co.uk/)
They have many quality articles.

European Herbal Practitioners Association (http://www.users.globalnet.co.uk/~ehpa/)
Includes many news articles on the state of herbalism in Europe, as well as a useful page of links.

American Herbalists Guild Home Page (http://www.americanherbalistsguild.com/)
303/423-8800

American Botanical Council (http://www.herbalgram.org/)
P.O. Box 201660
Austin, TX 78720
512/331-1924
Co-producer of the magazine, HerbalGram (along with The Herb Research Foundation), this organization supports the development of professional herbalists.

Rocky Mountain Herbal Institute (RMHI) (http://www.rmhiherbal.org/)
This site has a fine page of resources for the herbalist (http://www.rmhiherbal.org/a/g.favoritwebs.html)

National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) (http://nccam.nih.gov/)
Organized under the Director of the National Institutes of Health, NCCAM conducts and supports basic and applied research and training and disseminates information on complementary and alternative medicine to practitioners and the public.

The Richard and Hinda Rosenthal Center (http://www.rosenthal.hs.columbia.edu/)
This center is part of the Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center, "created in 1993 was one of the first centers at a major medical school devoted specifically to research, education and training in complementary and alternative medicine."

The National Center for the Preservation of Medicinal Herbs (http://www.ncpmh.org/)
As a result of habitat loss and over-harvesting, many plants that are prized as medicinal are in danger of becoming extinct. This organization is dedicated to preventing this from happening.

United Plant Savers (http://www.plantsavers.org/)
P.O. Box 420
East Barre, VT 05649
"United Plant Savers' mission is to protect native medicinal plants of the United States and Canada and their native habitat while ensuring an abundant renewable supply of medicinal plants for generations to come."

Usenet

The best usenet group for herbalism is, alt.folklore.herbs (http://groups.google.com/groups?oi=djq&as_ugroup=alt.folklore.herbs) - Google Groups (http://groups.google.com/) is an easy way to follow and participate in usenet discussions.

Indexes

If you want to get a taste of the current literature in herbalism, you can search MEDLINE, by going to PubMed (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/PubMed/) and do a search for "herbal medicine". To limit this search to the current literature, be sure to enter a date limit.

Web indexes and search engines:
These are great places to go to find stores selling herbal supplies or to find more information after you have explored this guide.

Yahoo category (http://dir.yahoo.com/Health/Alternative_Medicine/Herbs/)
HotBot Directory (http://dir.hotbot.lycos.com/Health/Alternative/Herbs/)
AltaVista category (http://looksmart.altavista.com/cgi-bin/query?pg=dir&tp=Personal/Health/Natural_Therapies/Herbs)
Excite category (http://www.excite.com/health/alternative_medicine/herbs/)
Lycos Directory (http://dir.lycos.com/Health/Alternative/Herbs/)
WebCraweler (http://www.webcrawler.com/health/alternative_medicine/herbs/)


Print Resources

At your local library, you can find books on herbalism under the Dewey Decimal Numbers: 581.63 and 615.321

The Way of Herbs
by Michael Tierra (Pocket Books 1998 ISBN 0-671-02327-6)
- This well know herbalist combines his broad knowledge of Chinese medicine, Ayurvedic, and Native American herbal systems into his own holistic practice he calls, "Planetary Herbology." Tierra is well respected in the herbalist community, and this book is in wide use (recently revised).

Gather Ye Wild Things: A Forager's Year
by Susan Tyler Hitchcock (University Press of Virginia 1995 ISBN 0-8139-1643-7)
- This is a great book for the beginner, as the reader gets a nice perspective of the changing seasons through the eyes of someone who seems close to the plants she writes about. This books is more an opportunity to learn about becoming familiar with plans, and less a rigorous description of the medicine of plants.

Tyler's Honest Herbal : A Sensible Guide to the Use of Herbs and Related Remedies
by V.E. Tyler (Haworth Press 1999 ISBN 0789008750)
- This book description I found on Amazon.com's site (http://www.amazon.com/) describes this book very well:
"Here is the fourth edition of Tyler's Honest Herbal: A Sensible Guide to the Use of Herbs and Related Remedies, providing essential botanical information as well as folkloric background of herbal remedies in a clear, accessible style. Unlike other herb books, this book gives you a serious evaluation of both the positive and negative features of the use of the most important herbs for therapeutic purposes. This new edition features additional scientific data on herbs that will enable you to make wise, informed choices about the benefits and risks of herbs currently on the market."

Herbal Healing for Women: Simple Remedies for Women of All Ages
by Rosemary Gladstar (Fireside 1993 ISBN 0-671-76767-4)
- This book "explains how to create remedies - including teas, tinctures, salves, and ointments - for the common disorders that arise in the different cycles of a woman's life."

The New Holistic Herbal
by David Hoffmann (Element 1992 ISBN 1-85230-193-7)
- While blending scientific rigor with spirituality, this book teaches the beginner how to look beyond the simple "this herb for that symptom" approach, and start to understand the actions that different herbs have on the human system. A very fine book.

An Elder's Herbal
by David Hoffmann (Healing Arts Press 1993 ISBN 0-89281-396-2)
- In this book, Hoffmann focuses on how to use herbs for the sorts of conditions that tend to arise late in life.

The New Age Herbalist: How to Use Herbs for Healing, Nutrition, Body Care, and Relaxation
by Richard Mabey and Michael McIntyre (Collier Books 1988 ISBN 068481577X)
- Has great photos of a good variety of herbs. This book focuses on various uses of herbs, not exclusively medicinal ones. Because of the great photos, this book could really help a beginner get an understanding of what the materials look like in their different stages of being fresh, dried, as well as processed.

The Complete Medicinal Herbal
by Penelope Ody (DK Publishing 1993 ISBN 156458187X)
- This is a beautiful photo book of the basic herbs used in western herbalism, along with general descriptions of their properties. Often the herbs are shown in different stages of growth, as well as different stages of drying and processing.

And for those who desire the endorsement of a brand name:

Herbal Remedies for Dummies
by Christopher Hobbs
(IDG Books Worldwide 1998 ISBN 0764551272)

and

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Alternative Medicine

by Sheila Buff, Alan H. Pressman and Richard A. Passwater
(MacMillan Distribution 1999 ISBN 0028627423)


CD ROMs

The Herbalist(version 2)
by David L. Hoffmann, B.Sc.;M.N.I.M.H. (Hopkins Technology 1994 ISBN 1-886649-00-6)
- This CD is divided into four sections: Basic Principles, Human Systems, Actions and Herbal Materia Medica. This is a rich collection of information in a useful, searchable format.

The Herbal Pharmacy
by Brigitte Mars (Hale Software, Inc. 1998)
- This is a fine volume. it provides descriptions of about 300 herbs and their medicinal uses, as well as a text search and graphic "body system" search.



This page was created by Daniel Cooney

You may also wish to see: Alternative Medicine Resources (http://www.ipl.org/ref/RR/static/hea04.00.00.html).