Rosemary Gladstar's Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner's Guide: 33 Healing Herbs to Know, Grow, and Use

Rosemary Gladstar's Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner's Guide: 33 Healing Herbs to Know, Grow, and Use

by Rosemary Gladstar


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Craft a soothing aloe lotion after an encounter with poison ivy, make a dandelion-burdock tincture to fix sluggish digestion, and brew up some lavender-lemon balm tea to ease a stressful day. In this introductory guide, Rosemary Gladstar shows you how easy it can be to make your own herbal remedies for life’s common ailments. Gladstar profiles 33 common healing plants and includes advice on growing, harvesting, preparing, and using herbs in healing tinctures, oils, and creams. Stock your medicine cabinet full of all-natural, low-cost herbal preparations.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781612120058
Publisher: Storey Books
Publication date: 04/10/2012
Pages: 224
Sales rank: 38,890
Product dimensions: 7.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

Rosemary Gladstar is the best-selling author of Rosemary Gladstar’s Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner’s Guide and Rosemary Gladstar’s Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health, which draw on her 40-plus years of experiences studying and teaching about the healing properties of herbs. She is a world-renowned educator, activist, and entrepreneur, and the founding director of Sage Mountain Herbal Retreat Center, the International Herb Symposium, and the New England Women’s Herbal Conference. Gladstar is founding president of United Plant Savers, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the conservation and preservation of native American herbs. She was the original formulator for Traditional Medicinal herbal teas and has led herbal educational adventures around the world. She is the recipient of an honorary doctorate from the National University of Natural Medicine in Portland, Oregon, and serves on the board of the Association for the Advancement of Restorative Medicine and The National Health Freedom Coalition. She lives in Vermont.

Read an Excerpt

Infusions and Decoctions

When making tea, leaves and flowers are prepared differently from roots and bark, in much the same way that spinach is cooked differently from potatoes. Leaves and flowers are generally steeped in hot water so as not to overcook and destroy the enzymes, vitamins, and precious essential oils. Roots and bark are generally simmered to draw forth the more tenacious plant constituents. There are a few exceptions to these rules, which you’ll generally find noted in herb books, including this one. But honestly, if you make a mistake and simmer a root that should have been steamed, don’t panic. Your remedy will still work.
The process of steeping a plant in boiling water is called infusion, while the process of simmering a plant in lightly boiling water is called decoction. When in doubt, steep. Steeping is much less destructive to many of the important medicinal components of plants. The longer you steep the herbs, the stronger the tea. That’s not always preferable, as long steeping times can bring out some of the less desirable parts of the plant. Steep black tea too long and what happens? It goes from being a fragrant, aromatic beverage to an astringent-tasting, tannin-rich medicinal tea.
A medicinal tea blend, whether an infusion or a decoction, is defined by its strength and potency. For medicinal purposes, teas need to be fairly strong, and so you’ll use a relatively large amount of herbs in making them.

How to Make a Medicinal INFUSION

Infusions are made from the more delicate parts of the plant, such as the leaves, flowers, buds, some berries and seeds, and other aromatic plant parts. Highly aromatic roots such as valerian, ginger, and goldenseal are often steeped rather than decocted, though I find they are effective either way. After, add the spent herbs to your compost. Here are the basic steps.


  1. Put 4 to 6 tablespoons of dried herb (or 6 to 8 tablespoons of fresh herb) into a glass quart jar.
  2. Pour boiling water over the herbs, filling the jar. Let steep for 30 to 45 minutes. (The length of steeping time and the amount of herb you use will affect the strength of the tea.)
  3. Strain and drink.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Welcome to the Wonderful World of Medicinal Herbs
What Is a Medicinal Herb?
How Is Herbal Medicine Used?
The Benefits of Herbal Medicine
Starting a Home Medicine Garden

Chapter 2: How to Make Your Own Herbal Remedies
Setting Up Your Kitchen Pharmacy
Herbal Teas
Herbal Pills
Baths, Poultices, and Compresses
The Skinny on Dosage and Duration of Herbal Treatments

Chapter 3: 9 Familiar Herbs & Spices to Grow and Use

Chapter 4: 24 Safe & Effective Herbs to Know, Grow, and Use
Aloe Vera
Lemon Balm
Marsh Mallow
Red Clover
St. John's Wort

What People are Saying About This

Ann Armbrecht

"Now more then ever we need to learn to care for ourselves while also caring for the Earth and this book is packed with simple, practical advice for using the plants growing right outside your back door! Who better to guide us into this world, whether for the first time or the hundredth, than Rosemary Gladstar. Her deep love and knowledge of the plants and her joyful spirit infuses her words and her remedies."

Naturopathic Physician Dr. Mary Bove

"This delightful book is full of wonderful information, recipes, and pictures to inspire new and old herbal students alike."

Mary Bove

"This delightful book is full of wonderful information, recipes, and pictures to inspire new and old herbal students alike.

Internal Medicine Nobuko Sera-Kingsley M.D.

"Atrue reflection of its author in its wisdom, knowledge and practicality. It is filled with information, illustrations, anecdotes and simple, clear instructions for creating herbal remedies. This is not only a solid basic primer for the beginning herbalist but also a comprehensive resource book for all."

Nobuko Sera-Kingsley

"Atrue reflection of its author in its wisdom, knowledge and practicality. It is filled with information, illustrations, anecdotes and simple, clear instructions for creating herbal remedies. This is not only a solid basic primer for the beginning herbalist but also a comprehensive resource book for all.

Customer Reviews

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Rosemary Gladstar's Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner's Guide: 33 Healing Herbs to Know, Grow, and Use 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 14 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Im enjoying it on my nook but once i get to pg 83 it skips to pg103!!! Theres some good info i missing out in. If i knew pages were missing i would have bought the defeats the purpose of the nook! :/
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good information. I'm not happy that there are pages missing. It jumps from page 82 to 89 and even if you manually type in the pages in between it sends you to page 82. Thanks......for nothing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have this book in hardcopy and love it. I use the pictures and the layout is great-it would be lost on the nook. This is a book that you will want to go "old school" with.
Erickson_and_Co More than 1 year ago
I love that Rosemary inspires people to take charge of their own health. This book isn’t about curing complicated diseases nor is it a fix everything with one product type of book. It’s about the “medicine of the home” to help non emergency health problems that arise in everyday life. This is something that years ago was common knowledge; something that mothers and grandmothers taught their daughters and granddaughters as a way to care for their families. I feel strongly that this art is just as important today as it was for our ancestors and I trust Rosemary Gladstar to teach it to me. Rosemary has been called the “Godmother of American Herbalism” and has been studying, teaching, and using herbalism for over 35 years. She has founded multiple herb schools, authored numerous books, founded a medicinal tea company, started and acts as president of a non-profit organization that conserves and cultivates North American medicinal plants, and she now lives and works on a 500 acre botanical preserve in Vermont called Sage Mountain Herbal Retreat Center. Rosemary is definitely someone who knows what they are doing! This book is full of information, is beautifully written, contains vibrant color pictures, and it really makes you feel like you have a good friend in your kitchen helping and teaching you. It is written in the same chronological order as if you were attending a class taught by Rosemary and is broken up into four sections. In first section Rosemary’s enthusiasm and knowledge for herbs quickly becomes apparent as she gives an overview of what medicinal herbs are, how they are used, starting a home herb garden, and harvesting. The second section Rosemary uses her 35+ years of experience to teach readers how to successfully make their own herbal remedies. Rosemary covers everything from making herbal teas and syrups, to salves, tinctures, and pills. The third section is about nine herbs and spices that most people are familiar with when cooking (cinnamon, garlic, sage, basil, etc), however I most people probably don’t realize all the medicinal qualities in these cooking herbs. The last section teaches about twenty four herbs that are relatively common and used but beginners may not be as familiar with (St. Johns Wart, lavender, yarrow, calendula, etc). All thirty three herbs included are safe and effective, non toxic, and have few if any negative side effects and are great herbs for a beginner to start working with. For each herb, Rosemary includes a picture of either all or a portion of the plant, lists the botanical name (very important as there may be more than one species of plant with different medicinal qualities that goes by the same common name), a short introduction to the herb, a bit of information on how to grow it, a section on its medicinal uses, and then between two and five recipes that use that particular herb. Each recipe states what it is for, the ingredients, how to prepare it, and how to use it. The recipes are relatively simple, are easy to understand and follow. Because of this book we planted two elderberry bushes in our yard and I have sage, basil, and rosemary on our windowsill! I got some yarrow, calendula, and chamomile seeds that I’m going to plant in our garden in a few weeks. And I’m looking for some St. John’s Wart, peppermint, spearmint, Echinacea, lavender, lemon balm, and cayenne to plant! I received this book from to publisher to facilitate my review. However this did not affect my opinions
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
An amazing amount of info and a good place to start when studying herbal remedies. I have found it to be very useful and I keep it handy. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this book. It gives many information in medicinal plants and the methods of preparing them. Recommended.
at-the-beach More than 1 year ago
Full of color and photos, this is a great book for anyone wanting to learn about medicinal herbs like myself. I have now caught the medicinal herb bug and would want to see and learn more (this is just a beginners guide introducing 33 herbs), but for starters this is a great starting point. I'll look forward into seeing more of Rosemary's books in the future.
OliviaAL More than 1 year ago
I have a hard copy of this book and really like it. It is very informative and has lots of herbal recipes. This is a great book for beginners in herbal medicine.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'm an herbalist and this book was very helpful to me. The four thives vinager and the good gargle for a bad throught were my favorite.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good starter book, very informative!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Thyme tea for a cold? Tea made from freshly grated ginger for cramps? You bet! Starting with familiar herbs and introducing new ones, this book for beginners starts with the safest herbs and clearly spells out any contraindications. Whether you order a ton of herb plants from Territorial Seed to grow your own or you just want to feel more confident ordering preblended teas from places like Jean's Greens or Mountain Rose Herbs, you will enjoy this book. It also tells you how to make every type of preparation from tinctures to skin products. Highly recommended.
melissa5328 More than 1 year ago
I LOVE this little book! Tons of important info with great pictures. I'm not a beginner and this book put all of my other books to shame! Im buying it again for a friend who is trying to learn about herbal use but has been bombarded with Internet info. Book us designed in a simple easy to understand format with warm language. Rosemary  definitely puts love into sharing her life knowledge and passions with herbs & how to use! 
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