David Hoffman is a name familiar to many in the herbalism community. He’s been practicing since 1979 and has written many books on the subject. I reviewed his Medical Herbalism book earlier this year and loved the manual, so when I had a chance to check out The Herbal Handbook: A User’s Guide to Medical Herbalism, I was happy to do so. I do believe I’ve discovered the book I’d like to recommend to people who want a solid idea of just what herbalism is.
The Herbal Handbook, published by Healing Arts Press, is a paperback with about 230 pages. I’ve looked through many books that are about this size, but none have been this informative and concise. Hoffmann provides a mini course here – Herbs 101, if you will – and he’ll spark your herb interests. The first section walks you through the different actions of herbs. For instance, he’ll explain terms such as “alterative” and “demulcent”, then give examples of herbs that fall into these categories. Next is a section on body systems. You’ll get brief descriptions on the lymphatic system, the musculo-skeletal system etc., with examples of herbs appropriate for each. Briefer sections include Herb Gardens and Cultivation, Herbal Pharmacy, Herbs and Cooking, Using Dye Plants, Pot-Pourris, and Becoming a Medical Herbalist. David Hoffmann’s goal in this book is to give the reader a solid overview of herbalism. By book’s end, you’ll have a much better understanding of what the study of herbs entails, and you’ll be able to decide whether or not you’d like to take your own studies further. I guarantee after having this book’s knowledge under your belt, turning away opportunities to learn more will be near impossible! Herbs are fascinating, and Hoffmann has a way of viewing them with a scientific eye without losing site of the herb’s occasional disregard for “proper” explanations. (Yes, many herbs work without us understanding why! Marvelous little green gems, they are.)
If you feel it’s time to learn a little more about herbs and what they do, I highly recommend The Herbal Handbook by David Hoffmann. You may just discover a new passion, one that will benefit you, your family, and your community!