All About Herbs

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As I have commented in previous columns, herbs are the most widely used medicines in the world. That said, most people don't know much about herbs, and those who want to learn about them wonder where to go for good information.

Herbal Roots

Eat The Weeds

The Green Pharmacy

The Green Pharmacy

The Green Pharmacy

Phytochemical and Ethnobotanical Databases

HealthNotes Online


American Botanical Council

National Geographic is up to way more than searching for lost tribes and producing maps. The august scientific and exploratory institution has turned out The National Geographic Desk Reference To Nature's Medicine, by Steven Foster and Rebecca Johnson. Clear, fascinating and chock-full of author Foster's brilliant photographs, this book on plant medicines deserves an honored spot on every coffee table. Whatever your health needs, you'll find answers in there. Or just flip through page after fascinating page and open up to a whole new world of knowledge.

Mark Plotkin's Tales Of A Shaman's Apprenticedescribes Plotkin's time deep in the Amazon rainforest with a canny and wizened native healer who imparted to him a vast body of knowledge about medicinal plants. The Harvard-educated Plotkin leads the reader into an extraordinary world of natural healing, and spins a terrific yarn in the process. Your hair will stand on end through some of it, but Plotkin, keeps his head level. It's a spellbinding book.

Two of my own contributions to the literature on herbal exploration include Kava, Medicine Hunting in Paradise, and Tales from The Medicine Trail. In the first title, I take readers through my early experiences delving into South Pacific island culture in the tiny nation of Vanuatu, hunting for kava, nature's most effective plant for anxiety. I tell of my first encounters with natives in one of the few remaining unspoiled places on earth. In Tales From The Medicine Trail, I detail my experiences, from the sublime to the thoroughly horrific, in India, the Amazon, the Peruvian Andes and the South Pacific. If you want to know what it's like to investigate medicinal plants in foreign and remote places, these two books will take you there. I promise you some wild, entertaining scenes, as well as plenty of great information.

There are thousands of titles on herbal remedies. American Botanical Council has a tremendous number of excellent works for sale. So whatever your level of interest or knowledge, you can find what you seek. Be assured, there is plenty out there. The days of insufficent information or science on herbs are long, long gone. Happy reading!

Chris Kilham is a medicine hunter who researches natural remedies all over the world, from the Amazon to Siberia. He teaches ethnobotany at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where he is Explorer In Residence. Chris advises herbal, cosmetic and pharmaceutical companies and is a regular guest on radio and TV programs worldwide. His field research is largely sponsored by Naturex of Avignon, France. Read more at