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Book review: Wild Drugs, by Zoe Hawes.

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"Wild Drugs" is a very good beginner's herbal.

The first few pages include things like photo pages of leaf shapes, leaf margins, stem forms, leaf formations and flowers. Like, wow!

There's a few pages on herbal actions - astringent, relaxant, expectorant, nervines and so on.

Then there are the usual (and essential) few pages on common preparations.
(Zoe says not to heat herbal oils of St. John's wort and mullein flowers; I disagree on the SJW: I've happily heated my own St. John's wort oil on a waterbath for decades now.)

The bulk of the book consists of the herbs. Zoe Hawes fits every herb into just three pages. That includes photos and a summary.
(How do you do that with herbs like yarrow and nettles?).
(The summary box for eyebright says, among other things, "Eye-catching flowers" ... heh, sure yes, if you go creeping in the sandy grass where it grows, it's quite beautiful.)
The photos make me want to visit the English countryside in spring, summer and fall ... they have so many more plants than we do!

At the end there's a section for minor ailments. It gives practical and holistic views on things like acne, eczema, sprains and strains. The sentence "High blood pressure is a symptom, not a condition" is absolutely spot on. There's similarly excellent advice in the IBS entry: "Studies have shown that one in three cases of IBS results from the sufferer having some kind of food allergy or intolerance and poor digestion". That's great information to give out.
(I'd give more than herbs for some problems, though. For cramps, painful periods, and restless legs, I give loads of magnesium and the B vitamins; for migraines, either magnesium + B or checking for a sensitivity to aspartame, glutamate or similar food additives; for gout, I give dark berries daily; and for psoriasis, I start with vitamin D, these days.)

The index isn't as extensive as it could be, but that's alleviated by the text links ("see page __") in the ailment section.

"Wild Drugs" is a lovely book. It outshines most beginner's herb books. I would have loved to pour over its pages back when I first started to look for and pick herbs in the woods and meadows of southern Finland. And I think today's beginner will find it an excellent book to start their herbal journey with.

Comments

How lovely that she brings the holistic perspective into play in her minor ailments - a book about herbal MEDICINE, not just herbs! (And by the way, I'd love to try some of that SJW oil that's been heated in a waterbath for decades... I can only imagine what color it might be... ;})

:-) Deep deep red of course :-)



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