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by John Lust
I have an old copy of this book that I've had for years and would never let go of, not matter how many times I moved and thinned out my books. This is a re-release and I'm really happy to see it back in print.
The book has some interesting information about herbs and history, especially medicinal uses of herbs. There is a little basic botanical information that anyone can follow and instructions on how to gather and dry herbs as well as information on growing your own herb garden and how to store them properly.
Commercial sources for buying herbs are given for various states in the U.S. Presumably these have been updated for the new version.
How to make infusions and decoctions is covered as well as extracts, juices, powders, syrups, tinctures, poultices and other forms of preparing medicinal forms in which herbs might be used.
The bulk of the book is encyclopaedic. There is a large section for looking up herbs that might be used for various medicinal purposes, for example if you want an analgesic or antibiotic property, you will be guided to pages which have herbs listed which contain these properties. From there, the user must read properly about all the qualities of the herb and use some common sense.
This is followed by a section on common complaints and which herbs might be useful for treating them.
Part two of the book is the real treasure. It is an alphabetical list of herbs that gives detailed information about their properties, including any cautions required. This section rivals the classic Culpepper Herbal in complete information about pretty much any herb known to humankind.
There are line drawings to help to identify the herbs as well as detailed descriptions, Latin and common names, designation of parts of the plant to use, properties, preparations and dosages. This section is extensively indexed to make any herb you want to find information on easy to find, regardless of what name you know it by.
Part three goes into herbal mixtures for health and some information on vitamin nutrition and minerals, then talks about seasoning with herbs and herbal teas for enjoyment. It also suggests some natural herbal cosmetics for skin care and perfumes and even natural dyes. Some legend and lore is included.
The description of the book doesn't tell me if any of the information has been updated, but I suspect that it is very much the same as the first edition. Some information just doesn't get outdated. I have to give it 5 stars because this is still and will always be the one herb book which I feel is essential to always keep on my shelf and I particularly like the ease of use that it has always given me.