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Book Reviews

Lucy Jones has had her book published: 'Self Sufficient Herbalism'

Self Sufficient Herbalism is the first ever practical guide to the growing, gathering, and preserving of medicinal herbs for a working dispensary. Written by a practising herbalist with a high street clinic, it covers everything you need to know to become truly self sufficient in creating and dispensing your own herbal medicine.

Relying on only a small allotment and access to the fields and woodlands of rural England, Lucy Jones provides a masterclass in the wild crafting, growing, harvesting, drying, storage, and processing of medicinal herbs. Her passion for the plants and traditional ways of preserving them for medicine shines through as she explores the deeper implications of self-sufficiency and the transformative impact it has had on her practice.

The guide includes a glossary of detailed notes on the cultivation, harvesting, and processing of 108 individual herbs arranged by the seasons. It is a must read for practising herbalists, herbal students, herb gardeners, and all those who love herbs.

Click here to buy a copy

Vicki Pitman's Aromatherapy book is now published!

Aromatherapy - A Practical Approach (Second Edition) - Vicki Pitman

From the back cover: "This comprehensive guide to aromatherapy provides thorough coverage for students and is also an excellent reference for practitioners. It includes all the information required by students training on aromatherapy courses accredited to Levels 3 or 4."

If you'd like a copy, click here to buy from Amazon (or you can order one from an independent bookshop).

The Western Herbal Tradition - Graeme Tobyn, Alison Denham, Margaret Whitelegg: A Book Review by John E Smith F:URHP

The Western Herbal Tradition - Graeme Tobyn, Alison Denham, Margaret Whitelegg coverWe live in a time when (and I quote from the above text) "the treatment of illness over the health and well-being of the whole person has come to dominate society” so a reminder of our traditional herbal heritage is timely.

This great text draws from the work of herbal luminaries over a 2,000 year period from the time of Dioscorides to the modern day, and introduces  the reader to not only "evidence based” herbal medicine ( which tends to refer more to laboratory based or "scientifically validated” results) but also knowledge derived from centuries of traditional usage.

 The authors discuss the phytochemistry of the plants, with many scientific references and modern applications; devote space to the work of a host of authorities including Pliny, Ibn Sina and other more classical scholars and current practitioners such as Matthew Wood and Kerry Bone.

We learn that not only is Vervain a relaxing tonic but was also used by the Romans to purify sacred places, especially temples and altars dedicated to Jupiter. We are also informed that Artemesia absinthum is not merely a good bitter tonic to improve digestion, but was also traditionally taken with wine re hemlock poisoning, "shrew bites” and "the stinging of spiders and other venomous beasts”.

The bulk of the text is taken up with very detailed monographs of 27 commonly used western herbs, these monographs are beautifully illustrated with both photographs and pen and wash paintings making this a useful reference book for practitioners of herbal medicine.

The Western Herbal Tradition was published in February 2016 by Singing Dragon and is priced at £35.

The Yellow Monkey Emperor’s CLASSIC of CHINESE MEDICINE: A Book Review by John E Smith F:URHP

The Yellow Monkey Emperor’s CLASSIC of CHINESE MEDICINE coverProbably my favourite novel of all time and one which undoubtedly inspired my interest in all things oriental (back in the sixties) was "Monkey” or "Journey to the West” by Wu Cheng’en. Monkey (published in 1592) is considered to be one of the Four Classic Novels of Chinese Literature. It tells the story of a monk’s journey to bring a set of Buddhist Scriptures out of China. The monk ,Tripitaka, is accompanied by a group of unlikely fellow travellers, a wise but mischievous monkey, 8 Precepts Pig, a White Dragon Horse (a descendent of the Dragon king of the Western Seas) and a river ogre (an immortal skilled in the 18 methods of transformation).

As a TCM practitioner another text which has (of course) inspired me is "The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine” (Huangdi Neijing – approx 250 B.C.). This is largely a discourse between the Yellow Emperor (Huangdi) and his acupuncturist/advisor Qi Bo.

Do I digress? No! All will be revealed!

The Yellow Monkey Emperor’s Classic of Chinese Medicine is obviously inspired by both the above classics. It includes a myriad of colourful characters including a pig (boar) a singing dragon, a hoarse (deliberate spelling mistake) and ,of course, a yellow monkey.

 It begins (as does the Neijing) with the main characters query:

 "Why do people no longer live for more than 100years?”

 This question is asked by the Yellow Monkey Emperor when meeting Bee Bo, a wise Bumble Bee, who answers:

"Things were different in ancient times; the animals of the world practised the way of Dao…. In contrast, the youth of today are irresponsible and have stepped away from the natural rhythm of the universe….”

This leads us into an investigation of 78 imbalances in the main Zhang Fu organs, using amusing and colourful cartoon drawings to illustrate what are often difficult syndromes for the average western student to understand such as: "Small Intestine Cold and Deficient "– described in the text as "Banana Cheesecake, Spleen and Stomach Syndrome”.

The drawings in this profound "picture book” have been beautifully crafted by Spencer Hill, a long term student of the Daoist Arts. Who co-ordinated on the development of the idea, the text and the concept with Damo Mitchell, the technical Director of the Lotus Nei Gong School of Daoist Arts and the author of several books.

The Yellow Monkey Emperor’s Classic of Chinese Medicine
was published this year by Singing Dragon and printed and bound in China

Book Reviews: Make Your Own Aphrodisiacs, by Julie Bruton-Seal and Matthew Seal

Make Your Own AphrodisiacsIt is amazing how much information has been packed into this little book. It is a masterclass of photography and a truly beautiful piece of visual art, but inside there is so much more. A wealth of knowledge and wisdom gleaned from every corner of our planet is thoroughly reported in a crisp, easy-to-follow format and more fabulous photos illustrate each section.

Of course, I was intrigued by the title and lured in by the sensuous portrait of a red rose in full bloom on the glossy front cover. It was not the racy read I’d half expected, but a sound and factual piece of research that covers all aspects of this often overlooked but very important subject. Far from being salacious in any way, it is a serious study of sexual health and discusses both orthodox and herbal methods of helping people get the most out of their love lives.

In fact the emphasis is very much on a loving relationship rather than sex as an end in itself, and it quite rightly emphasises that the basis of a good sexual relationship is love and respect. The authors provide a pictorial example of this on the credits page.

The book covers plant medicine in great detail and includes herbs from all over the world. It is fascinating to read about local favourite remedies in different cultures and also how traditional dessert recipes for romantic dinners are based on their aphrodisiac qualities. It seems we’ve been onto something for a long time with the wide popularity of chocolate, almonds, figs and vanilla. Savoury recipes are not excluded either, and there are lots of good ideas on how to include chilli, cardamom, nutmeg and oats in both food and drink.

Aromatherapists are well aware of the complex, sensual and powerful effects of the absolute oils of rose, jasmine and neroli. These are looked at in some detail, with lovely ideas for recipes and massage blends.

There are fun things to do for loving couples but it will also be of real value to practising herbalists. Here is an in-depth reference manual for treating those clients whose love lives are not quite as perfect as they would like. You can find interesting facts on herbs such as Ashwaganda and Shatavari from India; Schisandra, a native of China; spiny Tribulus, which grows all over the temperate world; Muira Puama, which hails from the Amazon; and tricky, dose-dependent Yohimbe from Africa. The various ginsengs are given a collective study and you can finally find out the truth about Horny Goat Weed instead of reading all the rumours that abound about it on the internet!

Our sexual health is just as important as any other aspect of well-being. In this book there is valid acceptance that, as in anything else, we cannot be well in one department if we do not take care of the whole.

This would make a lovely Christmas present or indeed a fun, but informative, gift for lovers of both plants and people at any time of the year. I liked its small size – handy for the bedroom – and the rich, colourful pictures lend themselves very well to romance and the love of life in general.
Heartily recommended for lovers everywhere.

Reviewed by Alex Martin
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