Building Your Medicinal Herb Library
August 10, 2021

Building a home apothecary is an important step in self-reliance, ensuring availability of certain medicines isn’t an issue. Not only that, but natural remedies are less expensive, customized, and if done right, side effects can be avoided. Using medicinal herbs isn’t without risk, and research is an important part of your natural healing path.

When using medicinal herbs, you need to do research and the Internet alone isn’t enough. I recommend purchasing several medicinal herb books so you can cross reference, and also cross check with reputable sites on the Internet. You need to ensure medications you are taking don’t preclude you from taking certain herbs, and that consumption is safe with any medical conditions you have. Consult with your doctor if you are unsure.

Despite the warnings, building a home apothecary is educational, and fun. I started building mine because traditional medication was not helping my inflammation. I’ll correct that – steroids in particular made me feel like Wonder Woman (the other drugs made me sick). I could swear within 24 hours, lifting a car over my head was possible for me. However, there are terrible side effects with prednisone, so I took myself off and opted for natural. I now feel great.

I started with “The Modern Herbal Dispensatory – A Medicine Making Guide.” This book, authored by Thomas Easley and Steven Horne, was a highly researched book, but it does have many unusual herbs you will have to order on-line. I trust the information and formulas they give for healing. The detailed book isn’t just informative, but instructive on purchasing herbs, harvesting ingredients, and various ways to make extractions, capsules and even lozenges. There are references for where herbs can be sourced, such as Mountain Rose Herbs. If you are looking for a thorough book, this one is for you.

Rosemary Gladstar is a star of the herbal medicine community. Her book, “Medicinal Herbs, a Beginner’s Guide,” is considered a must-have by home herbalists. This colorful book gives instructions for medicinal syrups, oils, salves, tinctures, pills and more. A large portion of the book highlights certain herbs and roots, giving background about the items and medicinal formulas. I find Gladstar’s book to be less intimidating because the herbs she employs aren’t difficult to find.

One of the leading experts in herbal healing is Dr. James Duke who has been lauded as “America’s herbal laureate” and a pioneer in his field. I have two of his books – “The Green Pharmacy” and “Dr. Duke’s Essential Herbs.” Dr. Duke writes with whit and whimsey as he takes readers through ailments and herbal aids from everything to baldness to arthritis. Because he is a physician, Dr. Duke not only gives herbal remedy suggestions, but he is able to discuss conditions medically such as high cholesterol with authority, and natural remedies for treatment. Dr. Duke is trusted, and his books will be a treasure in your medicinal herb library.

While “Heal Local” by Dawn Combs is no-frill, the book is chock full of important information about herbs and ailments, and how to make poultices and tinctures. She advocates for “homegrown first aid” and has a section called “Emergency and First Aid Situations.” This is definitely a great resource to have on your shelf.

Peterson’s Field Guides published “Medicinal Plants and Herbs,” which is really different than all my other books. This tells you how to identify plants safely in nature, where they grow, and gives botanical names. I was in an Asian grocery and was looking for Solomon’s Seal, and the package was written in Chinese, but the botanical name was on the package so I knew it was the right thing… Having botanical names of herbs and plants is important in natural healing safety. The book also chronicles traditional uses for herbs as medicine.

I have other natural remedy books which I use less often and are out of print, but the ones listed above are my favorites. I like to scour used book stores for natural healing books. There are many great herbal medicine books, and I would love to hear your favorites. I’m always adding to my collection to broaden my knowledge as I build my home apothecary.






  1. Glo

    Very good information. I love my Dr. Duke books and my Petersons field guide. I have always joked that when times get tough I just need my field guide and we can eat weeds.

    • Laura

      Thank you! I believe Dr. Duke also has a book about eating weeds for health. I need to check that out!


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