Creating an herbal apothecary is a rewarding endeavor, connecting us to our ancestors, the seasons, and the plants. It has always been my favorite way to learn about herbal medicine, so my home library is full of herbal apothecary books. Transforming a plant into a potent medicine is an ancient skill passed down from generation to generation. When we handcraft herbal medicine in our kitchens with care and conscientiousness, we know our medicine chest is filled with potent and high-quality herbal remedies. A home apothecary filled with homemade herbal concoctions is enlivening and gratifying.
To help get you started down the path of home medicine making, we’ve put together a list of our favorite books for creating your own natural medicine chest. This article shares our top picks for the best home herbal apothecary books, including essential medicine-making guides and recipe-rich herbal books. And if you want to take your passion even further, consider our top-notch medicine-making course!
Four of the best home herbal apothecary books.
Preparing herbal remedies at home connects us to the seasons, plants, and our bodies.
When crafting herbal remedies, look at the big picture and notice how those medicines feel in your body. Which preparations emanate healing? My favorite, most potent botanical remedies have been made in the company of a good friend. Laughter, song, and story are often part of the mix.
Along with a sense of connection, paying close attention to safety when making herbal medicine is essential. You’ll want to know the contraindications for each herb, such as possible side effects and drug-herb interactions. Another consideration is the shelf-life of the preparation. Does it need to be refrigerated or kept out of light? How long will it last? When choosing a solid resource for making plant medicines, check if the author includes safety information and the shelf-life for each recipe. The best herbal apothecary books will consist of specific measurements and detailed techniques to get you started down the right path to creating your own natural medicine chest.
How can I learn about medicine making for free?
Peruse our online tutorials and recipes for preparing medicinal teas, herbal ice cubes, infused oils, salves, pestos, mushroom concoctions, and more when you visit our Herbal Medicine Making Hub. You can also check out the following books from your library (if your local branch doesn’t keep them stocked, try using an inter-library loan). Check out our other tips for learning about herbal medicine for free.
If you check out my book The Healing Garden: Cultivating and Handcrafting Herbal Remedies from the library, you can enroll in our Healing Garden Gateway, which contains a free course on growing herbs and making medicine. You’ll also want to hop down to book #11, written by my herbal teacher, Michael Moore: it is available for free on the Internet.
Which herbs are best for starting my herbal medicine chest?
Inaugurate your apothecary with beloved herbal remedies by taking a cue from our article on the 10 Best Herbs for Your Home Apothecary. You’ll find these herbs used in many recipes in the books below. We picked these botanical medicines based on their broad therapeutic properties and safety profiles.
A few of the best home herbal apothecary books.
What other types of herbal books do you recommend?
Visit our Herbal Book Hub for more book list recommendations, including our selections for the Best Herb Gardening Books and the Best Books for Beginning Herbalists.
We’re proud to say the Chestnut School of Herbal Medicine has the most comprehensive list of herbal medicine books on the Internet.
Without further ado, we’ll list our top picks (in no particular order) and then describe them below.
The Best Home Herbal Apothecary Books
Making medicine for the home herbal apothecary is at the heart of the herbalist’s path.
ACCESSING BOOKS: We recommend purchasing books from independent booksellers and BIPOC-owned bookstores whenever possible. Some books on this list may be more expensive or difficult to find since smaller publishing houses print them. For tips on affordably accessing books, visit our Herbal Book Hub.
*Titles in purple are written by BIPOC authors or co-authors (Black, Indigenous, People of Color).
The Healing Garden: Cultivating & Handcrafting Herbal Remedies by Juliet Blankespoor.
The Healing Garden is an herbal home apothecary guide for medicine makers excited to stock their cabinets with handcrafted tinctures, teas, syrups, and herbal culinary delights. It’s jam-packed with medicine-making tutorials, herbal recipes, and garden-to-apothecary guides. For a sneak peek at this beautiful book and the high-value bonuses that accompany it, visit the Healing Garden Gateway. Full disclosure here, Juliet Blankespoor is the founder of the Chestnut School of Herbal Medicine.
The Herbal Medicine-Maker’s Handbook by James Green.
A wonderfully detailed guide to making herbal medicines—including tinctures, elixirs, teas, medicinal oils, salves, and more. Expect a good bit of philosophical waxing to accompany this entertaining foray into herbal formulation and medicine making. This is a reference that has stood the test of time!
A perfect-for-beginners medicine-making guide that includes 250 of the authors’ favorite formulas. You’ll find suggested uses and dosages for a long list of herbs, plus a discussion on the merits of numerous preparations (including alcohol-based tinctures, glycerites, flower essences, capsules, powders, vinegars, and more). The instructions are straightforward and easy to follow.
Making Plant Medicine by Richo Cech.
A book dedicated to the herb gardener and home medicine maker. Comprised of two parts, the first section covers fundamental medicine-making techniques, while the second offers materia medica profiles for over 100 plants. Cech’s playful storytelling adds panache to this practical book. Order the 4th edition from Strictly Medicinal Seeds.
African American Herbalism: A Practical Guide to Healing Plants and Folk Traditions by Lucretia VanDyke.
A ritually-rooted introduction to the African American apothecary. This book includes tutorials for making tinctures, infused oils, salves, herbal baths, and teas. You’ll also find a rich array of recipes for preparing herbal remedies and healing soul foods.
Herbal recipes and cookbooks for the home apothecary are a cornerstone of the herbal kitchen.
For the herbal chef, this book is a dream come true. You’ll learn how to incorporate medicinal herbs and spices into smoothies, cordials, ghee, pestos, salts, and sprinkles. The beginning of the book includes detailed profiles of common culinary and medicinal herbs, including their therapeutic uses and how to incorporate them into beverages and dishes.
Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health: 175 Teas, Tonics, Oils, Salves, Tinctures, and Other Natural Remedies for the Entire Family by Rosemary Gladstar.
A fantastic medicinal reference and recipe treasury written by the original herbal fairy godmother herself. If you regularly prepare remedies at home, you’ll want to have this book on hand! This is a fantastic book for beginners and seasoned herbalists alike. Rosemary’s longtime love of herbs and medicine making is delightfully infectious.
A top-shelf beginner’s guide to herbal energetics and kitchen herbalism. Rosalee serves up a smorgasbord of simple recipes for incorporating medicinal plants into meals and your home herbal apothecary. You’ll find well-informed chapters featuring a range of herbs, including scientific research on each plant.
Earth Medicines: Ancestral Wisdom, Healing Recipes, and Wellness Rituals from a Curandera by Felicia Cocotzin Ruiz.
A gorgeous, elemental guide to working with herbs written in the context of Native American earth-honoring ritual. Ruiz’s book is a jewel for any home medicine maker, packed with marvelous recipes and evocative photography. If you are a visual learner and attuned to the seasons, this book will hold a treasured spot on your bookshelf and in your heart.
A culturally significant compilation of ancestral recipes, stories, and accessible ritual practices for physical and spiritual healing based on the herbal traditions of Guyana, the Congo, India, and China. Karen’s book is beautiful to behold and filled with time-tested wisdom and magical herbalism.
Always keep a marvelous medicine-making guide or two at your fingertips…
A fantastic home apothecary resource for referencing ratios, menstruums, and dosages for a wide range of major medicinal plants. Access this complimentary guide via the Southwest School of Botanical Medicine website, which contains a wealth of medicine-making and general herbal information.
Herb Harvesting & Medicine Making Chart by Juliet Blankespoor.
A medicine-making-made-simple reference that provides you with all the information you need to start preparing herbal medicines at home. It includes details on when and how to harvest nearly 50 healing herbs, appropriate preparations for each herb, and corresponding tincture ratios. This chart is one of many phenomenal bonuses you’ll receive when you purchase a copy of Juliet’s book, The Healing Garden. It can be printed and laminated for easy, day-to-day use! Visit the Healing Garden Gateway to learn more.
To craft a truly dazzling herbal home apothecary and explore the essentials of medicine-making under the guidance of passionate experts, join us for our Online Herbal Medicine Making Course.
You’ll receive our tongue-in-cheek tutelage on crafting a treasure chest of herbal medicines along with dozens of our favorite recipes and formulas. In a twinkle, you’ll have an apothecary filled with sublime-quality homemade tinctures, teas, syrups, salves, infused honeys, vinegars, herbal salts, and more. The Medicine Making Course is your glimmering green ticket to a beautiful and healing herbal medicine cabinet overflowing with vital remedies.