Here are some of my favorite herbal books for use in clinic📕

This podcast episode is in response to a question from Phoebe, who asked if I could share the books I most often use in my clinical work. 

Here is a (likely incomplete!) list of the herbal books I've been calling on lately: 

Please do note that I've collected these over time. I don't recommend that new practitioners buy all of these, nor am I implying that these are all necessary for clinicians. I recommend instead starting with a few references books, working closely with those in your practice, and expanding to a few more texts as you have the time, energy, and finances to do so. 

I'd love to hear your favorites ❤️

Helpful Links for Practitioners


Episode 56 | Herbal Books I Use in the Clinic - powered by Happy Scribe

Well, hi there. Welcome to in the clinic with Camille. My name is Camille Freeman. I am a licensed nutritionist and registered herbalist, and in this podcast, I share little tips and tidbits that might be interesting or helpful for other practitioners.

Well, hi there. Today I wanted to answer a question from Phoebe, who sent him this question a while ago, and I just have not had a moment to get to it until right now. So here's the question. Phoebe said, I'm curious, would you be willing to share a list of textbooks and reference books that you find yourself commonly using in your practice? I've been given many lengthy lists, and I'm trying to see what others are doing.

And yes, I would love to share this. I want to provide just a teeny bit of context here, which is that I've been in practice for a long time, more than 15 years at this point. So I have tons of books that I love for folks who are just learning about herbs that have given me a lot of the context that I carry around with me. So I don't necessarily refer back to them all the time. So I'm I'm not going to go over all of those books here, and I know I'm going to be leaving out some of my very, very favorites.

And what I want to share here is just the ones that I turn to now when I am trying to look something up for a client or actively working on a case. So let me just share with you some of my favorites. This first one is, I find, not a very well known book, and I find it super handy. It's actually a little spiralbound book called the ultimate herbal compendium by Kerry Bone. And the reason that I like this book so much is that it provides very little information.

It's really just a reminder. And a lot of times when I'm working with clients, I don't usually do my formulating on the spot. I spend a little bit of time and get back to people a few days later. But still, I find that I get a little overwhelmed sometimes and I forget sometimes I can forget about very basic herbs that I know and love and would want to call upon. So sometimes I just need to be reminded what are my options, what are the choices I'm making here?

And so this Ultimate Herbal Compendium has three very well, has several sections, but three big sections. One of them is just a basic materia medica. There's a little teeny section on each herb, just reminding you the part used, the approximate dosage as recommended by Kerry, which, of course is different from what other people might recommend. It'll have main actions, key indications, other indications, major safety issues, key constituents, and quality or adulteration issues. And that's it.

So it's really just a refresher. You need to already have some background. The second section is an actions index. So it will go through. And if I want to look up, oh, okay, what are some anti emetic herbs?

Or what are some antimicrobial herbs? What are some anti tussives? You can see I'm in the A section right now. What are some diaphoretic herbs? It'll just have a list of common names of the herbs according to Kerry that fit into this category.

And this is not an exhaustive list. I don't know exactly how many herbs are in here, but it's not as many as it's not like a complete list of all herbs ever. It's really just some of the common ones that care uses. So this is helpful. Again, if I'm like, oh gosh, I can only think of one expectorant, even though I use these all the time and so forth, I could just look, okay, here's a bunch of options and that helps me point me in the right direction.

And then there is a section on therapeutics which has things broken down by specific condition. So for example, it will say something like bronchitis, comma acute, and then it will say, look into these particular herbs. And it just has a list of herbs, nothing else. So, again, that's really helpful for me. There's also a little section about example protocols, which I actually don't call upon that much, but it is there and that's it.

So I find this is a really helpful tool for me. When I'm just blanking a little bit, I need a refresher of my memory. I turn to this quite a lot because it has nothing extraneous and it's just very, very simple. Okay, so what else am I calling on in my clinical work? Another series that I really like is Jill Stansbury's Herbal Formularies for Health Professionals.

Especially if I have a client coming in with a condition or something that I haven't worked with a lot. And I want some ideas about how other herbalists have approached this. I do find that Jill's books, if it's covered in the book, it gives me a really nice overview and some great jumping off places. So I do appreciate these. It is a little bit of an investment to get the whole series.

I think there are five of them at this point, and sometimes they do go on sale, so you can keep an eye out for that. But that's another series that I turn to frequently. A more recent addition to my library is Christa Sinadinos's Essential Guide to Western Botanical Medicine. And this is another one where if I have an herb that I'm going to be working with that I don't often work with, where it's either I haven't used it in a while, or it's just not a regular part of my materia medica, and I'm thinking it might be a good fit for a client. Her materia medica in this book is really extensive.

It covers quite a lot of herbs. And I really appreciate in this book, she combines a lot of basic information, the kinds of things that we might find in many books, but also it has a lot of her own clinical tidbits in it, which I really appreciate, because sometimes when you're in practice, you get a lot of the same basic information in many books, which is amazing. It's such a great place for people to start, but at a certain point you're like, okay, yes, I know all the basics, but I'm curious how has it showed up in your practice? Somebody who has been in clinical practice and been working with this herb, what are their personal impressions? Sometimes that's really, really helpful for me, so I appreciate that.

Also, this book is just really pretty, which is nice. Again, this is a little bit of an investment, well worth it for the advanced practitioner, in my opinion. Because of my particular focus in pregnancy and fertility, I do use Aviva's Botanical Textbook for women's Health. I'm forgetting the exact name of it. I'll put it in the show notes.

I do reference that one a fair amount. Again, it's one of these that when you look at it often enough, eventually you don't need to look at it very much. But I do periodically need to bust that one off the shelf. And then also when I have clients working where we're working together on GI conditions, I really like Eric Yarnell's Natural Approach to Gastroenterology. That's a two volume set.

Again, it's a little bit of an investment. Sometimes you can find it on ebay or the like. But I do appreciate learning more from Eric when it comes to some of the more advanced GI types of situations. It's a natropathic approach, so I don't always use all of the different recommendations there. But from an herbal perspective, there's a lot of juicy tidbits based on clinical experience, which is what I'm really looking for.

And then the last one I'll mention is my old standby, Principles and Practice of Phytotherapy. I think that's not going to be a surprise to anybody. I actually helped work on the second edition of this textbook, but I do find it's a great refresher if I need to look something up. Oh, I will add one more. I said that was the last one, but it wasn't the last one.

I will mention that. Again, I turn to these if I'm working with a new herb that I haven't spent as much time with, or it's been a while. I do really like to look at Michael Moore's books. I find that they're very succinct and I like the way that he encapsulates everything. You can't find all herbs in there, but the ones that he covers, I think he does a really nice job.

So those are the ones that I turn to. I do sometimes. I will also use some online sources. I do like to look up things in Kings. If I haven't worked with them lately.

I have a lot of that in my notes already. So often I don't have to look back up, but that's one I look at. And then there's a couple of other online sources that I use. I will get into those a different time, perhaps, but I hope that is helpful for you, Phoebe. One thing I will say, especially for folks who are newer to clinical practice, is it's an investment to get all of these textbooks.

If we add up all the ones I just mentioned, it's probably close to $1,000 if you're paying a full price for them. And that's just a ballpark. I don't actually know, but they're a lot some of these books are a lot of money. And I'll just say that if you have some advanced training, you don't need to have all of these books. I've collected these books over years and years and years, and I'm not buying them all at once.

And I think I would be fine without any particular one of them. It's not like not having these makes me a poor practitioner or uninformed or anything like that. So I think you can think of some of these textbooks as a growing library. You can work on building your library over time, and it's very tempting to want to just collect and collect and collect, because I think sometimes we feel like, oh, well, if I just read enough, then I'll know what I'm doing. And obviously there's a minimum baseline that we want to be knowledgeable and understand the basics about our herbs.

But a lot of times it's mostly about you getting practice with them, you interacting with these herbs yourself, tasting them, smelling them, growing them if you can, being with the plants, working with them, listening to clients. And what are the clients experiencing when you're working with these herbs, really, you're going to get a lot of information from that way, so you don't need to read everything that was ever written about a specific herb before you can work with it. All right, so essentially I'm saying these are some books that have been useful for me and that I do turn to, and if I only had one of them or two of them, I think I would still be just as good of a practitioner. So don't feel pressured or obligated to go out and get all these or any books that other people are recommending to you. Think about, do I have some gaps in my library?

Would I like to get another resource that fulfills this particular purpose? And if so, perhaps some of these can help inform your next choice. But also remember that you do know enough already and that adding more and more and more books at a certain point is not going to shift your practice and it's maybe even going to prevent you from going out there and doing the work with the actual herbs, with the actual people. And that's not what we're going for here. All right, so start with maybe one or two.

Really get to know those books. Really dive in and implement and practice and understand what those books are recommending. And then once you feel good there, you can add another to your collection and start comparing it to what you already have as your baseline. All right? I hope that's helpful.

If anybody has any other go to reference books that you're using, I would love to hear them. I'm sure I've forgotten some, but I was just looking at what do I have surrounding my desk right now? These are the ones that I've been turning to lately. So there you go. All right, have a great day, and I'll be back soon.

Thanks for listening to in the clinic with Camille. Hey, did you know that I write a weekly practitioner note for herbalist and nutritionist? If you would like to get that in your inbox, you can sign up at Love to have you join us there.

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