When I first began exploring herbal medicine over 40 years ago, there was little to nothing to be found on it. No internet, no books in my local libraries, and no schools or internship near me. The first book I purchased in 1984 was written by a medical herbalist from England – where herbalism had survived somewhat intact as modern medicine took over healthcare during the 20th century.
Forty years later there is considerable access content in books, magazines, journals, and online and it can be overwhelming to figure out what resources to invest in.
This compilation of herbal learning resources consists of magazines, books, websites, online courses, and non-profit organizations that offer quality information. This is an incomplete list and I will continue to update it.
Magazines & Journals
The Herb Quarterly
The oldest herb magazine has been in continuous production for over 40 years. This quarterly print magazine is printed on non-glossy paper and hires artists to do colorful illustrations. It covers an array of information on the varied uses of herbs. Medicinal applications, culinary uses including recipes, cosmetic recipes, and gardening with herbs are regular features. I subscribed back in 2007 and now write an occasional article for them. Ideal for the person who wants to utilize herbs in a variety of ways. (Update: This print journal is currently on sabbatical due to the high costs of printing.)
An online quarterly e-zine that explores the many aspects of the revival of folk herbalism. Created in PDF format, each edition features an abundance of articles written by practicing herbalists, teachers, and plant lovers. The colorful original artwork complements each lengthy issue (current one 189 pages). This journal offers in-depth writing and reflections on the medicinal, philosophical, and botanical aspects of herbalism. They offer a free monthly e-newsletter, Herbaria, that offers selected articles and interviews.
The Essential Herbal
A print magazine that caters to the home herbalist and offers a variety of information on wildcrafting and cultivating herbs. Recipes for cooking and personal care products, medicinal uses, and herb crafting make this an ideal magazine for anyone who wants to incorporate herbs into all aspects of their lives.
Herbal Roots Zine is a monthly PDF e-zine that is issued on the last Monday of the month. Each edition focuses on one herb and contains many activities to make learning about that herb a lot of fun. There are stories, crossword puzzles, mazes, crafts, recipes, and much more. For children of all ages!
Alchemy of Herbs: Transform Everyday Ingredients into Foods & Remedies That Heal
by Rosalee de Foret
If you are interested in exploring the basic concepts and benefits of herbalism, turn off the computer and buy this book. Rosalee does an amazing job of explaining basic principles of herbalism including the energetic actions of herbs and gives us delicious recipes to experience the herbs in action.
From the introduction: “Herbs and spices can transform a bland meal into a decadent and delicious experience…and can dramatically revolutionize your health! They can improve your mood, reduce oxidative stress, ensure that you are digesting and absorbing the nutrients from your healthy foods, and prevent many chronic diseases.”
I gave up trying to find a place on my bookshelves for this book: it moves around from my kitchen, to my herb room, and my office. So I leave it on my dining room table so that I can easily find it. This is a hands-on book that you will use for cooking and making.
You can learn more about the book here.
Her second book, Wild Remedies: How to Forage Healing Foods and Craft Your Own Herbal Remedies, co-written with herbalist, Emily Han, helps to “strengthen your connection to nature while foraging and growing abundant herbal medicines.” This book focuses on the power of wild plants and offers a thorough introduction to ethical wildcrafting. You can learn more about the book here.
Rosalee also has a website loaded with plant monographs, articles, recipes, and courses. She sends out a weekly newsletter, often with free e-books, and recently started a podcast where she interviews a diverse array of herbalists, discussing plants and herbalism. (Full disclosure: I have written several articles for her website.)
Family Herbal: A Guide to Living Life with Energy, Health, and Vitality
by Rosemary Gladstar
Rosemary is identified as the “Godmother of American herbalism” and has been inspiring generations of home herbalists since the 1970s. This is a great starter book with easy-to-make recipes for common complaints for all members of the family. This was the second herbal book I bought decades ago, and I continue to use it regularly.
Medicinal Herbs: A Beginners Guide
by Rosemary Gladstar
If you want to ease gently into the basics of herbal remedies (and perhaps simply stay there) then this is the book to buy. Rosemary’s style is accessible to novices by offering a basic review of herbal remedies, treatment, and dosage and an introduction to starting a medicinal herb garden and kitchen pharmacy. Thirty-three herbs are featured with tips on growing, harvesting, and medicinal applications. Each featured herb has easy-to-make recipes.
Rosemary also offers introductory courses on her website.
Body Into Balance: An Herbal Guide to Holistic Self-Care
By Maria Noel Groves
This book is truly a guide; Maria provides a succinct overview of herbalism and its foundational principles. The book is organized by body systems and their patterns of health and disease. She offers not just useful herbs for each system but includes lifestyle and diet recommendations based on the latest scientific research. She has a delightful sense of humor that shows throughout the book. She offers many recipes and an entire chapter on harvesting, buying, storing, and using herbs. Like any good guide, this is an excellent book to pick up for a recommendation on how to soothe or heal a specific health complaint.
Maria also maintains a website where she offers a monthly newsletter, online and in-person classes, and clinical consultations.
Healing with the Herbs of Life
by Lesley Tierra
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is one of the oldest plant-based medicine systems and this book offers an easy-to-understand blending of the concepts of TCM and Western Herbalism with an emphasis on energetic herbalism. The author wrote another popular book, A Kid’s Herb Book for children of all ages, that explores herbs and herbal remedies using a variety of hands-on activities.
Herbal Medic: The Green Beret’s Guide to Emergency Medical Preparedness and Natural First Aid (Revised edition)
by Sam Coffman
A wise book to have in your herbal library, especially if you live or travel in remote places. The author has over 25 years of both field and clinical experience and uses his experience to help prepare people to survive post-disaster environments.
Homegrown Herbs: A Complete Guide to Growing, Using, and Enjoying More than 100 Herbs
By Tammi Hartung
If you are eager to design, plant, and use a medicinal herb garden then this book is a great resource. Tammi covers all aspects of growing, planting, and tending an herb garden. She includes harvesting, storing, and medicine-making information. And just enough recipes to keep you out in the garden snipping away! This book gets a lot of use in my home.
Botany in a Day: The Patterns Method of Plant Identification (An Herbal Field Guide to Plant Families of North America)
By Thomas J. Elpel
This is one of the best botany books for non-botanists to learn how to identify plants by their parts and patterns. Do you need to know a lot of botany to use herbs? Not necessarily but you do need to understand how to correctly identify plants when wildcrafting and foraging. The author includes some basic medicinal properties of plants.
Planting the Future: Saving Our Medicinal Herbs
Edited by Rosemary Gladstar and Pamela Hirsch
One of Rosemary Gladstar’s legacies is her dedication to bringing awareness of North American native medicinal plants’ decline due to habitat destruction and overharvesting. She started a non-profit called United Plant Savers and published this book in 2000. The book consists of essays written by herbalists on the historical uses and current status of 34 native medicinals as well as information on creating botanical sanctuaries, planting guides, and resources.
The Business of Botanicals: Exploring the Healing Promise of Plant Medicines in a Global Industry
by Ann Armbrecht
This book should be required reading for herbalists and herb consumers. Beloved herbal icon, Rosemary Gladstar summed up our responsibility: “If we choose to use plants as our medicine, we then become accountable for the wild gardens, their health, and their upkeep.”
The book is a journey that Armbrecht undertook to “follow medicinal plants through the supply chain, from the woods and fields where they grew to the facilities and warehouses where they were processed and stored to the factories where they heated, treated, and packaged.” Many herbal consumers are not aware that the majority of herbs sold in North America are grown and harvested in other countries and exported.
The global industry of herbs is not necessarily what we think it is and the author describes in detail the problems as well as some of the solutions. I wrote a review of this book that you can read here.
Online Herbal Education
A wealth of information is available on this subscription-based website. For an inexpensive monthly fee, members have 24/7 access to succinct but thorough online courses, many articles and recipes, several specialized forums, and a warm and helpful community of people who love herbs. If you are looking for a flexible way to increase your knowledge of herbs, this site is ideal for both the novice and the experienced. (Full disclosure: I have been a longtime member and have written numerous articles and created a herb gardening course for HerbMentor.)
Learningherbs.com is their sister site that offers free access to articles and a remedy blog.
The Herbal Academy
A small annual fee includes access to plant monographs, articles, and DIY projects & recipes. There are multiple workshops and intensives and several longer structured courses available for additional fees.
Chestnut School of Herbal Medicine
This website offers three intensive online courses, a long list of resources, and one of the best herbal blogs on the planet.
American Herbalists Guild
Since herbalists are not licensed in the US, meaning there is no specific curriculum or mandatory training experiences regulated by a governing agency, the AHG serves as a professional education organization. They offer a wide range of information, mostly supporting the work of professional herbalists.
From their website: The American Herbalists Guild was founded in 1989 as a non-profit, educational organization to represent the goals and voices of herbalists specializing in the medicinal use of plants. Our primary goal is to promote a high level of professionalism and education in the study and practice of therapeutic herbalism.
Herb Society of America
A membership organization that “focuses on educating its members and the public on the cultivation of herbs and the study of their history and uses, both past and present.” Offers webinars, publications, and discounts with an array of herbal businesses and public gardens.
Herbal Medicine Courses Directories
American Herbalist Guild School Directory – A vast list of both in-person and online schools that offer herbal education programs.
Mountain Rose Herbs School Directory – Another long list of schools to research.