Best Herbalism Books: An Ongoing List of Resources

Best Herbalism Books

One of the most popular questions about herbalism (at least according to keyword research) is how do I learn herbalism? Where can I learn herbalism for free or cheap?

Luckily, there are no formal degrees necessary that you need to become an herbalist, so you don’t NEED to spend any money at all.

But this doesn’t mean it’s easy. Since you’re dealing so closely with health AND you need to know about the plant medicines that you’ll be using to give to patients, you’re essentially having to distill a doctors’ level of knowledge (or at least a couple Bachelor’s degrees) into your own self-study.

Acquiring an herbalist education is more than just learning the plants and what they’re good for.

Think about it: you’re the one assessing what a problem is through one of multiple therapeutic paradigms (Traditional Chinese Medicine, Ayurveda, Western herbalism, American herbalism…).

You need knowledge of biology and anatomy that is similar to what is taught to nurses, doctors and other health professionals. You need to know enough about the plants and their properties, their constituents etc. to decide what the best one to use for their unique condition and body constitution.

You need to know that what you’re advising doesn’t interfere with any medications they’re on, you need to know that it’s safe for their particular size, if it’s safe to take during pregnancy, etc.

And then in many cases, herbalists, unlike doctors, you will also be physically making the herbal medicines and applications that you are advising that they take.

You need to be knowledgeable in the production of herbal medicines. You need to be knowlgeable about plants and how to identify them, how, when and where to pick them in the wild.

That’s A LOT of information to learn, and it doesn’t happen overnight. Learning how to be an herbalist requires an attitude of lifelong learning.

Sure, there are classes out there that will teach you many things– but many of them are expensive and not everyone can afford to pay the hefty price tag.

The best thing that you can do is to try gain experience by practicing on yourself, your family and friends. Spent lots of time in the woods, spend time with the plants and spent time making and using your medicines on yourself. And also:


And read a lot.

So, I compiled this (ongoing) list of resources that you can use to study herbal medicine. The American Herbalists Guild, in their application to become a Registered Herbalist with them, provides a good framework for self-study to become an herbalist. (Alternatively, there’s The Christian Herbalist’s Guild which is more intensive.)

As such, I’ve design this list with this criteria in mind. Here are some of the best books on herbalism to guide you on your journey.

Basic Human Sciences

Anatomy & Physiology

Netter’s Anatomy Coloring Book by John T. Hansen

Anatomy & Physiology Made Easy by NEDU Publishing


Clinical Pathophysiology Made Ridiculously Simply by Aaron Berkowitz M.D.


Machinery of Life by David S. Goodsell


This is Your Brain on Food by Uma Naidoo

Back to Basics: Your Nutrients Guide to Vitamins & Minerals by Common Sense Factor

Medical Terminology

Medical Terminology: Easy Guide for Beginners by Adam Brown

Materia Medica (Plants & Uses)

Adaptogens: Herbs for Strength, Stamina and Stress Relief by David Winston

Edible & Medicinal Plants of the Midwest by Matthew Alfs (or one for your region)

Herbal Medicine Formulation

Hermetic Herbalism: The Art of Extracting Spagyric Essences by Jean Maveric

Advanced Herbal Pharmacy: The Practitioner’s Guide to Preparation, Formulation and Compounding by Scripta Rustica

Herbal Recipes

Herbal Remedies for Children’s Health by Rosemary Gladstar

Master Recipes for the Herbal Apothecary by Dr. JJ Purcell

Herbal Teas: Learn to Blend 101 Specially Formulated Teas by Sarah Farr

History of Herbalism

Philosophy of Herbalism

Evolutionary Herbalism by Sajah Popham

Therapeutic Paradigms

Medical Astrology by Judith Hill

Traditional Chinese Medicine

The Chinese Medicine Bible by Penelope Ody


Western Herbalism

American Herbalism (Appalachian)

Native American

The Native American Herbalist’s Bible by Linda Naranjo

Monastic Medicine

Physica by St. Hildegard von Bingen


Pharmacy, Pharmacognosy, & Dispensing

The Modern Herbal Dispensatory: A Medicine Making Guide by Thomas Easley

Fundamentals of Pharmacognosy and Physiotherapy

Botany & Plant Science

Botany in a Day: The Patterns Method of Plant Identification by Thomas Elpel

The Botany Coloring Book by Paul Young

Field Guides

Peterson Field Guide to Medicinal Plants and Herbs of Eastern & Central North America by Steven Foster

Scientific Literature

(Check PubMed or Google Scholar XD)

The Way of the Herbs by Michael Tierra

Clinical Practice/Management



These books provide a wealth of knowledge for anyone interested in herbalism, from the curious beginner to the seasoned practitioner. Each book offers unique insights and practical advice, ensuring you have the tools needed to explore and benefit from the healing power of herbs.

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