Natural Remedies are as old as Humanity
As long as there have been people, health and freedom from sickness and pain have been almost as important as food, water, clothing and shelter. And from prehistoric times until just recently, people relied on herbal medicines and natural remedies to find the cures they needed. Fact is, until the development of modern chemistry, that’s all they had! There wasn’t a choice of ‘eating organic’ or ‘natural cures’, because that’s all there was!
Here is just a short list of medicines from plants and natural sources:
- Aspirin–A pain killer derived from the willow tree
- Morphine–comes from opium poppies, is widely used to stop excruciating pain.
- Penicillin–discovered as a chemical in cheese mold, and used as an antibiotic
- Caffeine–Most of us use it as a stimulant, it of course comes from coffee beans and tea
- Cocaine–Grown high in the Andes Mountains of South America, it comes from coca leaves, and has been used to offset altitude sickness and increase energy levels. It was an original ingredient in Coca Cola.
Here is a list of the most popular books on Amazon:
|The Lost Book of Remedies||81 Reviews||$37.00||Go to Amazon|
|Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine: 550 Herbs and Remedies for Common Ailments||124 Reviews||$22.19||Go to Amazon|
|The Modern Herbal Dispensatory: A Medicine-Making Guide||215 Reviews||$18.32||Go to Amazon|
|Alchemy of Herbs: Transform Everyday Ingredients into Foods and Remedies That Heal||1,373 Reviews||$16.99||Go to Amazon|
|Alkaline Herbal Medicine: Reverse Disease and Heal the Electric Body||472 Reviews||$13.25||Go to Amazon|
Modern Medicine Versus Traditional Medicine
Probably the biggest misconception in modern society, is that we humans exist outside the laws of nature. Think about it:
In addition to the use of medicines in indigenous cultures such as Native Americans before the use of modern medicines, many cultures developed their own forms of medicine using plants.
We breathe air, like all animals do. We eat food that comes from Nature. We are living organisms and share lots of DNA with both other mammals as well as vertebrates….
So if you kiss that frog, he or she may turn out to be a prince or princess in disguise….but seriously, all this means is that we are intertwined with Nature, which traditional peoples have known for literally thousands of years. Understanding how to use natural medicines is one of the most basic skills people have had for centuries. We’d all be better off knowing something about it. Examples of systems of medicine from other cultures are:
- Ayurvedic Medicine from India
- Traditional Chinese Medicine
- Naturopathic Medicine
Naturopathic medicine is a system that uses natural remedies to help the body heal itself. It embraces many therapies, including herbs, massage, acupuncture, exercise, and nutritional counseling … via Naturopathic Medicine: What It Is, Benefits, Risks – WebMD
Here is more information about Naturopathic Medicine specifically as it relates to knees.
Possible Disadvantages of “Big Pharma” Drugs
Needless to say, modern medicines have been a great step forward in treating both maladies as well as their symptoms. In the “old days”, if you had to have surgery, they’d give you massive amounts of alcohol….not a good thing.
However, modern forms of anesthesia have been a huge improvement in pain management during surgery. Likewise, antibiotics have cut the rates of infection and death due to disease or injury. However, we’re seeing some serious disadvantages to pharmaceuticals, such as:
- Inadequate testing, which resulted in serious side effects, an example being Thalidomide, which caused serious birth defects. Or Vioxx, which resulted in a number of deaths.
- Overprescription, especially of antibiotics. Over time, disease and infection related germs and pathogens develop resistance to such medicines. We are seeing a resurgence of diseases like tuberculosis, or flesh eating bacteria, as these noxious organisms become immune to the medicine.
- Improper or even unethical use. Nowadays, we are bombarded with advertising, to scare us into begging our doctor to give us some medicine, which not only costs money, but may have side effects, which then need yet more medicine. It becomes a downward spiral of overdependence on manufactured drugs.
The best current example is the opioid crisis, where doctors end up making addicts of their patients.
Purdue Pharma lawsuit: Family behind OxyContin-maker engineered opioid crisis, Massachusetts AG says via Purdue Pharma lawsuit: Family behind OxyContin-maker engineered opioid crisis, Massachusetts AG says
Possible Advantage of Natural vs. Manufactured Drugs
There may be several advantages to using natural medicines instead of pharmaceutical medicines, one being that you get additional ingredients or trace minerals that medicines made in a lab just don’t have. As the well known site, Natural News, points out
“While the pharmaceutical industry thinks it can just copy the primary medicinal compounds found in plant medicines, the truth is that these isolates will never compare to the real deal. By missing out on the synergistic effects of trace minerals, pharmaceutical copycats pale in comparison.”
Herbs vs. pharmaceuticals: Understanding the effectiveness of natural medicine via Herbs vs. pharmaceuticals: Understanding the effectiveness of natural medicine
From a nutritional point of view, suppose you had a disease called scurvy, which is actually a severe Vitamin C deficiency. You could take pure Vitamin C. But if you take it in the form of an orange or a lemon or lime, you get complimentary chemicals calle bioflavenoids, which aid in the absoption and use of Vitamin C by your body.
Turmeric, a relative of ginger root, is well known as an anti inflammatory. So it is best taken with Black Pepper, which makes the turmeric absorb into the body more effectively.
At least partly because of the problems coming from modern pharmaceuticals, people are returning to traditional medicines.
Disadvantages of Natural Herbal Medicines
There are a some disadvantages to Herbal Medicines.
- It may be difficult to get consistency in strength
- If you buy a prepared or prepackaged herb, it may also be expensive, especially if it is in capsule form.
- In rare cases, herbal remedies may interact negatively with other drugs, especially pharmaceuticals.
Are You Someone Who Studies Plants–Or Would Like to?
Would you like to become an herbalist? You could go to a special school that teaches these specialized skills, which would take several years and probably several thousand dollars. Or to start with, get a good guide for herbalism for beginners.
But your best bet, is to simply have a handbook or guide, where you can read about natural herbal medicine, see photos, and learn their properties, to see what make the most sense in your situation. These books are available at relatively low cost.
Here are the 5 best herbal medicine books you’ll find.
- The Lost Book of Remedies
- Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine–550 Herbs and Remedies for for Common Ailments
- The Modern Herbal Dispensary: A Medicine-Making Guide
- Alchemy of Herbs: Transform Everyday Ingredients into Foods and Remedies That Heal
- Alkaline Herbal Medicine: Reverse Disease and Heal the Electric Body
The Lost Book of Remedies
- Claude Davis
- Publisher: Capital Printing Co
- Edition no. 1 (01/01/1970)
- Paperback: 304 pages
The Lost Book of Remedies is an excellent book. It covers over 200 different plant remedies, and classifies them by where they are found:
- Backyard Weeds
- Forests and Woodlands
- Wild Plants in Great Plains
- Trees and Shrubs
- Coastal, Tropical and Water-Loving Plants
- Nationwide Plants
- Household Remedies (not plants but easily available items)
The Index is quite helpful, because it lists various maladies, and then points you to the page where you can find the right plant or treatment. It places them in alphabetical order, so you can search the issue you have, and then find the plants to use, plus what page it is listed on, so you can find them easily. For example, under “Bones”, it lists Osteoporosis, then cites 4 treatments: Red Clover, Black Cohosh, Evening Primrose, and the non plant item, Diatomaceous Earth. It gives the pages where they’re located and the index is pleasant to read, easily accessible, unlike typical indices with small print.
On Amazon, the book is available in paperback. At the time of this writing, it has a 4.5 star rating, however, it has just 80 reviews. That is less than the usual number I usually use in a review. However, it at this writing, 88% are 4 and 5 star reviews. 6% gave it a 1 star rating. The main issue those reviews have is that the book is overpriced and the print quality is not the best.
On the other hand, 70 out of the 80 reviews cite it as a valuable reference, with lots of information and excellent color illustrations.
Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine–550 Herbs and Remedies for Common Ailments
- Dk Pub
- Andrew Chevallier
- Publisher: DK
- Edition no. 3 (07/05/2016)
- Hardcover: 336 pages
As the name suggests, Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine is an excellent reference book. The Table of Contents divides the material into the following sections:
- The Development of Herbal Medicine, which gives the theory and background of using herbs as medicine
- Key Medicinal Plants. This is the main section covering 100 of the most commonly used plants for medicine.
- Other Medicinal Plants. This section cover 450 plants that are also used.
- Herbal Remedies for Home Use. You can learn how to grow and prepare your own medicines at home.
- A final section with Glossary, Bibliography, General Index, and a particularly useful Index of Herbs by Ailment
The book sells on Amazon in hard cover. As for statistics, it has a stunning 97% positive rating, with not a single negative review at the time of this writing. The number of reviews is less than the 200 I look for, however, with such a positive rating, this book is an obvious choice, indeed selling close to 500 copies per month.
The Modern Herbal Dispensary: A Medicine Making Guide
- North Atlantic Books
- Thomas Easley, Steven Horne
- Publisher: North Atlantic Books
- Edition no. 1 (11/29/2016)
- Paperback: 376 pages
As the title suggests, this book is more about how to make medicines from herbs. It divides herbs according to their different types, for example, Pungent herbs, acrid herbs and salty herbs. A total of 13 different types of herbs. It also recommends different types of solvents. A solvent is the medium which delivers the herb to the body. It recommends using water, alcohol, glycerin, vinegar or oil.
However, each type of herb fits different solvents. So the book is really what to do with an herb, once you know what you need for a particular condition. As of this writing, it has a 4.8 star rating, with 214 reviews, 96% 4 or 5 stars. There is not much wrong with this book from an herbal preparation point of view.
The book also has a materia medica, which lists many well known as well as some newer herbs. This book would be a good complement to books that emphasize the identification and use of various herbs. This book is available either in Kindle or as Paperback.
Alchemy of Herbs: Transform Everyday Ingredients into Foods and Remedies that Heal
- Rosalee De La Foret
- Publisher: Hay House Inc.
- Edition no. 1 (04/04/2017)
- Paperback: 384 pages
As the title suggests, this book of herbs is a very practical way to ‘teach by doing’. While it does give some theory of how herbs work, unlike other books reviewed here, it limits the number of herbs to those you would commonly find right at home. It then gives you specific recipes for how to use them.
Apparently, a lot of people like this approach, because it sells over 500 copies a month, according to the latest statistics (which change daily). It also has well over 1300 reviews. What is really stunning is the fact that the average rating, as of this writing is 4.9 stars, with not a single 1 star review, a highly unusual thing for any item.
The main purpose of this book and why in my opinion it is so popular, is because–truth be told–most people don’t want to spend hours, days and years studying herbs a discipline. People just want to know, for example, if their child has a sore throat, is there a way to treat it without going to the drug store. And there is! Cinnamon tea. Or for colds and flu, Ginger Lemon tea. The book gives numerous examples and recipes that are highly practical without being technical.
So Alchemy of Herbs is great for the average person who just wants some basic knowledge of how to treat common ailments easily and cheaply. The book is well illustrated, and very pleasant to read. Another benefit of this book is that it comes in three different formats:
- Kindle–for those of you who prefer to go digital and not have lots of heavy books
- Paperback–convenient to keep on the kitchen shelf
- Spiral bound–best if you want to use it while working. The pages stay open
For your basic ‘home use’ herb book, this is the one you’ll want.
Alkaline Herbal Medicine: Reverse Disease and Heal the Electric Body
- Alkaline Herbal Medicine Reverse Disease and Heal the Electric Body
- Aqiyl Aniys
- Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
- Paperback: 128 pages
As of this writing, this book is the #1 Best Seller in the Herbal Remedies category, and has a 4.7 star rating, with over 400 reviews. The main difference between this book and the others, is that it gives historical context to the question of diet itself. As the title suggests, it recommends a real change in dietary habit, based on the idea that humans originated from Africa, and the original diet which is plant based is superior to the diets that humans adopted as they migrated to more Northerly climates, and started to eat meat.
There is an emerging movement towards veganism, or a 100% plant based diet. So, if you’re attached to that T bone Steak, or KFC Chicken, this book may not be for you. However, if you find that your health is in such a state that you really need to rethink what you eat, then this may well be the book for your. Indeed the lead review even cites the reviewers mother, who had cancer, and benefited from changing her diet to an alkaline food and herb diet.
Alkaline Herbal Medicine also points out that the Pharmaceutical industry derives 50% of its drugs from plants–a point they really don’t want you to know. Indeed, buying an herb, or worse (from a corporation’s point of view) growing your own medicine for a fraction of what they charge, is way cheaper than going to a doctor, waiting for hours, paying for a prescription, and so on. Plus, it’s a lot more fun!
In sum, if you have doubts about your health, and want to make a real change, instead of just treating this or that ailment, this may be just what you are looking for.
Honorable Mention: Rosemary Gladstar’s Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner’s Guide
- MEDICINAL HERBS BEGINNER'S
- Rosemary Gladstar
- Publisher: Storey Publishing, LLC
- Edition no. 0 (04/10/2012)
- Paperback: 224 pages
I include this book as an honorable mention. Rosemary Gladstar’s Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner’s Guide: 33 Healing Herbs to Know, Grow and Use is also a best seller on Amazon in the category of herbal gardening. So it is not exactly on topic here. Also, it does not have a very large list of medicinal plants. But if you are looking for a beginners guide, to get you started in herbal medicine, then this book is also worth checking out.
If you type into the search area, “Herbal Remedy Books” in Amazon, it shows over 10,000 results. That is Ten Thousand choices of books in the category of Herbal Remedies! How are we supposed to decide what to buy? On one hand, I looked at what books have strong sales, which tells what the market thinks. But I also looked at books that have very high ratings. Every book reviewed here has at least a 4.5 rating, which is excellent. Second, I realized that people may be looking for quite different things when searching for a book about herbal medicines.
Some of you may want a much larger list and overview of all the possibilities. On that basis, the Lost Book of Remedies, or the Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine would be the books I recommend. If you are looking for the more technical aspects of preparation of herbal cures, then The Modern Herbal Dispensary would be a good choice.
If you are doing a serious rethink of your overall health and want a road map for that, then Alkaline Herbal Medicine is the book for you. And if you just want a basic book of household remedies with simple to prepare recipes, then Alchemy of Herbs or Rosemary Gladstar’s Medicinal Herbs would be good choices. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this article and it helps you clarify, both your own objectives in looking for books about herbal remedies, as well as specific suggestions based on your needs.
Be sure to click on any of the images or links for more information about these books.