A Guide for Building your Herbal (and Alchemical) Library

We get asked all of the time “what are your favorite herb books?” – so we thought it’s about time we just compiled a list and posted it here for everyone to enjoy.

It can be incredibly helpful while on the plant path to know where to go to get valuable and reliable information about medicinal plants. While it’s highly recommended to enroll in courses to study with specific teachers, it’s also super important to build up a solid library of resources to have available while you are learning about specific plants, as well as the core principles and practices behind a holistic herbal practice.

This is meant to be a guide for how to build up your herbal library. I’ve divided it into specific categories, as different texts have their relative strengths and focuses, and in that way also particular weaknesses. This is certainly not meant to be exhaustive, as I’m sure there are many other great books out there, these are just the ones that I have personally used, read, and studied throughout the years and have found to be particularly helpful. Since some of these books cover a wide range of topics, some of them will be found in different categories.

The Intelligence of Nature and Plant Consciousness:

The Secret Teachings of Plants by Stephen Harrod Buhner

Sacred Plant Medicine by Stephen Harrod Buhner

The Lost Language of Plants by Stephen Harrod Buhner

Plant Intelligence and the Imaginal Realm by Stephen Harrod Buhner

Plant Spirit Healing by Pam Montgomery

The Language of Plants by Julia Graves

The Philosopher’s Plant by Michael Marder

Plant-Thinking: A Philosophy of Vegetal Life by Michael Marder

Plants as Persons: A Philosophical Botany by Matthew Hall

Brilliant Green by Stefano Mancuso and Alessandra Viola

The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben


Holistic Herbal Theory and Practice:

The Book of Herbal Wisdom by Matthew Wood

The Practice of Traditional Western Herbalism by Matthew Wood

The Earthwise Herbal Repertory by Matthew Wood

Vitalism by Matthew Wood

Planetary Herbology by Michael Tierra

The Yoga of Herbs by Vasant Lad and David Frawley

The Practicing Herbalist by Margi Flint

Medical Herbalism by David Hoffman

The Holistic Herbal by David Hoffman

Culpeper’s Medicine by Graeme Tobyn

The Herbal Medic by Sam Coffman


Herbal Medicine Making:

The Herbal Medicine Makers Handbook by James Green

Herbal Medicine from the Heart of the Earth by Sharol Tilgner

Phytochemistry and Pharmacy for the Practitioner of Botanical Medicine by Eric Yarnell

Real Alchemy by Robert Bartlett

The Way of the Crucible by Robert Bartlett

Spagyrics by Manfred Junius

The Family Herbal by Rosemary Gladstar

Making Plant Medicine by Richo Cech

 

Plant Constituents and Pharmacognosy:

Herbal Vade Mecum by Gazmund Skenderi

Medical Herbalism by David Hoffman

Herbal Constituents by Lisa Ganora

Phytochemistry and Pharmacy for the Practitioner of Botanical Medicine by Eric Yarnell

 

Materia Medica:

The Book of Herbal Wisdom by Matthew Wood

The Earthwise Herbal Volumes 1 and 2 by Matthew Wood

Medical Herbalism by David Hoffman

The Holistic Herbal by David Hoffman

Planetary Herbology by Michael Tierra

The Way of Herbs by Michael Tierra

The Yoga of Herbs by Vasant Lad and David Frawley

American Materia Medica, Therapeutics and Pharmacology by Finley Ellingwood

Kings Dispensatory by John King & Harvey Wickes Felter

The Eclectic Materia Medica, Pharmacology and Therapeutics by Harvey Wickes Felter

Medicinal Plants of the Mountains West by Michael Moore

Medicinal Plants of the Pacific West by Michael Moore

Medicinal Plants of the Deserts West by Michael Moore

A Modern Herbal Volume 1 and 2 by Mod Grieve

Healing with the Herbs of Life by Leslie Tierra

Western Herbs According to Traditional Chinese Medicine by Thomas Avery Garran

Dispensing with Tradition by Anne McIntyre and Michelle Boudin

 

Herbal Formulation:

Herbal Medicine From the Heart of the Earth by Sharol Tilgner

Medical Herbalism by David Hoffman

Family Herbal by Rosemary Gladstar

The Authentic Herbal Healer by Holly Bellebuono

(*Note: there really aren’t too many books out there that dig into specific strategies for herbal formulation, most will just straight up give you formulas- this is an area serious lacking in herbal literature. A gap I hope to fill some day by writing a specific book on formulation!)

 

Wildcrafting and Growing Medicinal Herbs:

The Medicinal Herb Grower by Richo Cech

Growing At-Risk Medicinal Herbs by Richo Cech

The Organic Medicinal Herb Farmer by Jeff & Melanie Carpenter

Culture and Horticulture by Wolf-Dieter Storl

Pacific Northwest Medicinal Plants by Scott Kloos

The Boreal Herbal by Beverley Gray

Medicinal Plants of the Mountains West by Michael Moore

Medicinal Plants of the Pacific West by Michael Moore

Medicinal Plants of the Deserts West by Michael Moore

Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast by Jim Pojar and Andy MacKinnon

A Field Guide to Western Medicinal Plants by Christopher Hobbs and Steven Foster

Botany in a Day by Thomas J. Elpel

(*Note: There are way more field guides and wildcrafting books than we've listed here. These are the ones we've used the most for our bioregion in the Northwestern area of North America, but we encourage you to research more field guides and plant ID books that correspond to the bioregion you live in.)

Other Interesting Books About Plants:

Green Pharmacy by Barbara Griggs

Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmer

The Pharmakopoeia Trilogy by Dale Pendell

Plants of the Gods by Richard Evan Schultes, Albert Hoffman and Christian Rätsch

Invasive Plant Medicine by Timothy Scott

The Wild Medicine Solution by Guido Masé

Food of the Gods by Terrence McKenna

Adaptogens by David Winston and Steven Maimes

Witchcraft Medicine by Claudia Muller-Ebeling, Christian Ratsch and Wolf-Dieter Storl

Alchemy, Spagyrics, Hermetics:

Real Alchemy by Robert Bartlett

The Way of the Crucible by Robert Bartlett

Spagyrics by Manfred Junius

The Path of Alchemy by Robert Stavish

Hermetic Mystery by M.A. Atwood

A Philosophical Path to Paracelsian Medicine by Jole Shackelford

The Golden Chain of Homer

The Philosophers Stone by Israel Regardie

The Emerald Tablet by Dennis William Hauck

The Hermetic and Alchemical Writings of Paracelsus Volume 1 and 2 by Paracelsus

Alchemy Astrology by K.C. Wilkerson

The Alchemists Handbook by Frater Albertus

The Mystical Qabalah by Dion Fortune

A Garden of Pomegranates by Israel Regardie

Astrology/Medical Astrology:

Medical Astrology by Judith Hill

The Astrological Body Types by Judith Hill

Casenotes of a Medical Astrology by Margaret Millard

A Handbook of Medical Astrology by Jane Ridder Patrick

Astrology and Your Health by Jeanne Avery

The Inner Sky by Steven Forrest

The Changing Sky by Steven Forrest

Yesterday’s Sky by Steven Forrest

Encyclopedia of Medical Astrology by H.L. Cornell

Simplified Scientific Astrology by Max Heindel

Mythic Astrology by Arriel Guttman and Kenneth Johnson

This is just a little glimpse into some of our favorite books in our library (I'm sure we forgot some too), but there are SO many more wonderful herbal books and resources out there. What are some of your favorite herb books? See any here on this list that you also love? And if you have any favorites which weren't on this list, be sure to post them below here in the comments as well so we can add to this list!

*Photos of Sajah with some of our favorite herbal authors:
Margi Flint, Stephen Harrod Buhner, Rosemary Gladstar & Matthew Wood

Post a Question or Comment Below!