Book review “Medicinal Herbs- a beginner's guide by Rosemary Gladstar”

In this book the herbalist Rosemary Gladstar catalogs 33 medicinal plants and goes through them giving the reader information about how to know, grow and use the plants.


Book overview and content

The book has four chapters.

  1. The first is background and introduction. Gladstar discusses the benefits of medicinal plants, explains what medicinal plants are and how herbal medicine is used and explains how to start a home medicine garden.

  2. In the second chapter Gladstar explains how to make herbal concoctions and gives information and instruction on how to make teas, syrups, oils, salves, tinctures, herbal pills, herbal baths, poultices and compresses. In addition to setting  clear and detailed guidelines on dosage and duration of the herbal medicines.

  3. In the third chapter named: 9 familiar herbs and spices to grow and use, Rosemary Gladstar does just that. She goes through a list of common familiar plants, that are often used as culinary herbs. For each plant she gives: 1) An overview 2) Explanation how to grow the plant 3) Medicinal uses 4) 3-5 recipes for remedies using the plants

  4. The fourth chapter is much like the third only here Gladstar catalogues 24 herbs, she calls safe and effective. These are not culinary but common medicinal plants and weeds including aloe, plantain, dandelion, lavender, elderberry and more.

The benefits

  • This book is a great beginners book. It can bring a reader from totally clueless to making their own basic remedies in the time it takes to read the book and gathering the supplies.

  • There is a lot of useful information about the plants listed in the book. How to identify the plants, basic information on how to grow the plants, what it can be used to help and recipes to follow.

  • There are many recipes in the book. Any reader could find a number of them that they feel comfortable making and using.

  • Bringing plants into one's life is always beneficial in my view. In this book Gladstar really makes it easy to incorporate medicinal plants into one's life and garden.

  • The second chapter in which Gladstar explains in depth how to make all the basic herbal remedies is like a course in and of itself. Giving a lot of information and allowing the novice to feel confident in her abilities to make remedies for her family.

  • Gladstar has a table detailing dosage of the remedies so not only do you know how much to take of the recipes in the book but you’ll get guidelines on how much to take of your own original fabrications.


The shortcomings:

  • As expected from a beginners book the information is somewhat superficial. Both the medicinal properties of the plants and the information on how to grow them.

  • The information about the medicinal properties of the different plants do not have references. References are great for further reading and researching and sadly Gladstar left them out of this book.

To summarize

  • This is a great beginner's guide and a great way to get started. As well as a rich resource for a plant and natural remedy enthusiast (such as myself…)

  • It is also a great reference for me. I use it often whether to find an overview of a plant I’m using or to find safety factors.

  • I use the index to search for remedies for specific ailments. My family and I have used many remedies and recipes in this book and they have been great.

  • In addition I use the techniques in the book and formalize my own recipes and remedies.

  • Well worth your time and money.


Rosemary Gladstar is a herbology teacher with 20 years of hands on experience as a practitioner and teacher.


Do you have any favorite medicinal plant books? plans share your recommendations.

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