I definitely love using the internet as a source for information and inspiration, but at some point I just get hungry for books: the fact that they have all the information in one place, and that I can make notes and highlight while reading is precious to me. I also started to write down the recipes I made onto index cards, noting where I got the recipe from, which amount I made, how it came out, if I would change anything next time etc. Like this I have them handy whenever I want to do something, plus it will be my very own personal collection.
My absolute favorite book is Medicinal Herbs – A Beginners Guide by Rosemary Gladstar. It is a great introduction to the healing qualities of herbs, often things you might already have in your own kitchen like ginger, garlic, cinnamon, basil etc. The practical section teaches how to make herbal tea infusions, decoctions, syrups and tinctures. She also gives instructions on how to make infused oils and salves, which is wonderful not only for strictly healing benefits, but also for creams and lotions which get this special and very unique touch by using oils you have infused with just the herbs you want.
This book also contains the recipe for her famous face cream. I have not tried it yet, but it sounds great. I also found this video instruction of hers on how to make it. There is only one thing she has changed in her process of making it: in the video she has the water part in the blender, adding the oil parts to it. But she has now changed over to having the oil in the blender, adding the water, which helps in making the water and oil blend better to get a smooth and lasting emulsion.
I have read this book twice, and loved being able to highlight and scribble notes onto the pages – something the internet just does not give. This is a wonderful book to also think about making your own herbal remedies and just knowing so much more about herbs. This book inspired me to get some more dried herbs to have them at hand for when I need them, and I have since made many wonderful herbal teas. One of my favorite being a super simple one with tulsi and dried rose leaves. I cannot wait to plant calendula, chamomile, lemon balm and so much more this year to then harvest some of the herbs/flowers myself.
I also got Gladstar’s book Herbal Recipes for vibrant Health, which has many recipes for teas, tonics, oils salves, tinctures and a chapter about skin care with some wonderful skin tonics and ideas for facial steams and cleanser. This is a a wonderfully extensive book, having different sections about general remedies, remedies specifically for women, men, children and elders and as mentioned above also about skin and hair care. I like having this at hand, being able to look up different ailments and suggestions on what to do. The appendix contains a herbal apothecary, a glossary to look up different plants/herbs, their benefits, uses, cautions. I totally love this book, but since I already wrote so much about Medicinal Herbs by her, I sort of ran out of words…..
To further support my craving to learn more about herbs I also got Herbal Medicine -Trends and Tradition from Charles W. Kane. For each herb you’ll find a description, the chemical components of the herb, its medical uses, the best way to prepare the herb – as tonic, salve, powder, etc. – suggestions for dosage and cautions on what to watch out for with the specific herb. This book also has a section about how to prepare tinctures, infused oils, ointments etc., similar to Gladstar’s Medicinal Herbs book. In learning about herbs I think it is important to get information from several sources, just to get different perspectives and a more whole picture.
I use this book mainly to look up a specific herb I want to use, or to go to the really extensive index to look up which herbs work best for certain symptoms. But it is also fun to just pick it up, randomly open a page and learn about whatever herb is described on that page.
I also very much like the glossary to look up some of the words describing properties and qualities of herbs. “Demulcent” for example I kept reading about certain herbs, like licorice root. Well – I knew it meant something, but what? Looking it up in Kane’s glossary I learned that it means the specific herb has soothing properties, helping to calm irritations. The herb world has a bit of a language of its own, and this glossary definitely helps me find my way around in this new territory…
Organic Body Care Recipes by Stephanie Tourles is a great book to get started with homemade skincare and learn about the structure and purpose of our skin, hair and nails, and the different skin types. Tourles also has a glossary section briefly describing the characteristics and benefits of the ingredients used for skin care. A wonderful trait is that each recipe has a brief note as to which skin types to best use it for. So far I have made a very nice face mask with bentonite clay and heavy whipping cream and a tiny bit of vanilla essence (the recipe actually says vanilla essential oil, but since I did not have that at hand I went into my baking supplies). This book is also a great inspiration for making presents: like wonderful little bath bags with moisturizing and healing ingredients, or a soothing facial tonic.
Since I just started delving into this domain of herbs and DIY skin care, I am sure there will be more books to come, but for now those four are the ones I have. Do you have a book or books about herbs and skin care you especially like? Please let me know.