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109 of 109 people found the following review helpful
on July 24, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I have browsed several books on herbal medicine and treatments. While all suggested herbs for various maladies - none told me how use the herb (root or flower?) or how to make the various ointments, or tinctures or what the common dosage should be. This book was the first I found that does! For anyone curious about the history of herbal medicine and what practical treatments can be used, this is the book to start with!
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69 of 72 people found the following review helpful
on April 7, 2000
Format: Hardcover
As a practicing herbalist and herbal teacher I cannot recommend this book highly enough. I have given out several copies as gifts over the years and have urged my students to get a copy for their personal libraries. The photographs of the herbs and the easy reference sidebars makes this the perfect book for beginners and aging experts. Thought not as comprehensive as some herbals in print, it is far more practical and useful then 90 percent of the material being touted as herbals. I hope Ms. Ody updates this wonderful book in the near future.
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71 of 76 people found the following review helpful
on January 21, 2004
Format: Hardcover
The book is lovely as far as pictures goes, but she leaves out some basic stuff that a beginner wants to know. I managed to figure it out, but it wasn't easy. For instance, she tells you to use a simple, but then doesn't explain the term.
I bought the book specifically to make eucalypus oil and a cough syrup, but she really doesn't tell you which method, hot or cold. With the herb Comfrey, she tells you it's a hot infusion and with Marigold she tells you it's a cold infusion. Being a beginner, I didn't know the difference between an infused oil and an essential oil, which caused alot of frustration. If she had devoted a couple of sentences under the infused oil section explaining that essential oils are very different and need specialized equipment, it would have saved me some frustration and less disappointment of the book. I had to find this out by searching on the internet.
She is from the United Kingdom and all her recipes are in european measures, so they all have to be converted, and I really had a hard time with that, maybe you won't. Although she does give you a conversion table for dosages. I did manage to make a cough syrup but I had doubts about my calculations. My husband is still alive, by the way.
She mentions Cherry bark as one of the remedies for coughs but doesn't have Cherry bark in the visual directory, which means there is no information on it at all.
After having said all of that, the descriptions and pictures of each plant is wonderful. Also, she lists combinations that are good together, like for coughs. There are 85 herbs listed in the book. It makes a good reference, but I will definately need another book to supplement it.
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88 of 100 people found the following review helpful
HALL OF FAMEon October 14, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This is a nice book, and a pretty book and a good place to start if you want to know more about "herbal" remedies for various maladies and ailments. Penelope Ody, the author, is an herbalist who lives and practices her craft in England.
Ms Ody provides a brief overview of the history of herbal medicine -- citing males like Pliny who had the advantage of education (ability to write) and the presence of mind to write about the herbal medical practices he witnessed in his age. Herbal remedies have come from around the world and Ms Ody includes some information about Chinese, European, Greek & Roman, American Indian, and other traditional practices. It would seem the availability of plant material determined what was used in herbal healing. For example, North Ameican Indians used Joe Pye Weed while Europeans did not, simply because the plant is native to North America and did not exist in Europe until the 17th Century. However, Plantain was native to Europe, and was imported to America by the European settlers, as were a variety of other plants now considered pests.
"Old Wives" and other hands-on practicioners such as Shamans, medicine men, etc. actually discovered the efficacy of various plant parts -- many of them at the dawn of prehistory. This knowledge was eventually recorded, and the record keeper acquired the notarity of the discovery. My favorite example is William Withering who discovered the medicinal properties of Foxglove when family members of one of his heart patients prepared a brew from the plant and administered it to the patient behind the doctor's back. Withering had been unable to help the fellow (can't you hear the family calling Withering a quack? ). Withering subsequently began using a Foxglove extract -- digitalis -- to alleviate the symtoms of other heart patients.
Well, you may think you don't use medicinal herbal approaches, but if you've ever kept an Aloe plant in the kitchen so you could whack off a piece and extract the gel-like center to sooth a burn, drank orange juice or Rose hip tea for the Vitamin C, sucked a Licorice or Eucalyptus drop to ease your sore throat, consumed Chamomile Tea for it's calming properties or Black Tea for it's antioxidant properties, you're an herbal practicioner.
Ody's book is informative, and more colorful than Mrs. Grieve's books "A Modern Herbal" Vols. I and II -- but not nearly as comprehensive. For example, I use Black Cohash and Ody does not refer to it at all, though it's a fairly well known herb derived from Cimicifuga Racemosa (Snakeroot) and has been noted by North American naturalists for years (may not be used in England).
Ody's book covers different material than that found in the "Complete Book of Herbs" by Lesley Bremnes, which is also not as comprehesive as Mrs Grieves books. Bremnes book is very colorful and provides many uses for herbs other than healing (potpourri, sachets, wreaths, etc), plus gardening tips--not covered in either Grieves or Ody.
Probably the most useful part of Ms Ody's book is a section where she demonstrates via colorful photos how to create tinctures, oils, extracts, poltices, and other healing applications derived from flowers, stems, leaves, roots, and bark of various plants. She also lists side effects such as the tendency of some herbal extracts to cause the uterus to contract and others to cause dizzyness or vomiting if the wrong part of the plant is consumed. This is a nice addition to your collection of books on herbs and their uses.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on March 18, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I happened on to this book in a used bookstore, my life hasn't been the same since! This book is a beautifully illustrated book that is very user friendly. I am making things now that I never thought possible! I make all my own tinctures, cough syrups, you name it! Even when I am not looking for anything in particular I love to read this book. A definate must have.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on January 30, 1997
Format: Hardcover
This is an outstanding book for anyone interested in
medicinal herbs and their uses. It has line drawings
and also large, quality color photographs of herbs and
parts of the herbs to be used. A "How To Use Section"
to know the application of a specific herb for a specific
ailment. How to make ointments, oils, salves etc. It is
an A-Z book for anyone who wants the history and current
use of medicinal herbs. Excellent!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Format: Hardcover
This book is laid out in a way which makes it perfect for the beginner. It has pictures of the plants, any usable parts of the plants, as well as common forms that the plant is used in. The pictures were very helpfull to me in learning to identify different plants, and usable parts. Listed with all the pictures are explinations of the purpose of the herb, and usually a historical note about how it was used centuries ago. Also listed are cautions, about when someone should not take a particular herb.
Secondly, this book has a wonderfull step-by-step instruction guide for making infussions, tinctures, salves, essential oils, decoctions, and capsules out of the plant. Detailed instructions and pictures show each step of the process so well it would be hard to mess it up! There are also instructions and pictures about drying herbs, how to store them, and when to harvest them.
Thirdly, there is a guide of common ailments and a listing of herbs which are usefull with the particular ailment, along with contraindications that would mean the herb should not be used(along with the page number for more information). I have used this many times for a quick check before heading to my local apocathary to know what I should get.
This book is well organised, and the information is easy to find and logically put together.
This would probably not be an incridibly usefull book to an experienced practitioner because I thought there could have been more in depth information about many of the herbs. It mostly gives a general overview. Most of the valuable information does seem geared towards a novice, simply because most experienced practitioners would already know most of the basics contained in this book. Still, this is one book I would think any herbalist of any experience level would like to own.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on July 3, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I've enjoyed every aspect of this book. The visuals and photo's are so rich you can nearly smell the herbs. A great coffee table book if for nothing else, but thats not to underestimate the content. In a precise and well organized way, the author gives the most important information on the use of herbs. I particularly like to see the "action" of an herb ingrediant on the body system. I find that more useful than a recommendation. This book is full of good scientific info, as well as the history and lore of herbs. Well organized, thought out and informative. I just love it. Thanks :-)
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on March 13, 1999
Format: Hardcover
An excellant resource for anyone seriously looking at the potential benefits of medicinal herbs. Written in an easy to understand layout; the color pictures of healthy specimans provide a key visual aid for those who are attempting to find fresh sources. The home medicine chest is a great basic needs kit, and the entire back of the book has become a weekly resource for my family and my needs. A must have for the medicinal herbal investigator. Thank you, Ms Ody.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on December 5, 2014
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
Gorgeous pictures, interesting history in front of book. I found the tables in the back of the book, which go over specific complaints, didn't mention a lot of common herbs I typically think of being presented here. While there is some good information in this book, and the pictures and procedures for making various preparations are excellent, I feel the author's approach lacks grounding in, well, reality. She blends traditional Chinese medicine with Ayurveda, folk wisdom and a dash of scientific basis. Even if I wasn't looking for more the science side of it, I find her blended approach confusing. Trying to recommend herbs based on both a concept of meridians and chakras as the same time is rather silly. The systems were developed independently, and while both my have arrived at similar conclusions about some plants, their theories of disease are different. So, in my mind, they are incompatible.

Bottom line:
Great feature pages for specific herbs
Great instruction on preparations
Not sure how good the actual herb information is. There are more consistent books out there.
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