Rosemary Gladstar’s “Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner’s Guide: 33 Healing Herbs to Know, Grow, and Use” Book Review


Book Review by Hannah

Rosemary Gladstar’s Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner’s Guide: 33 Healing Herbs to Know, Grow, and Use is a staple book to have at home. It is suitable for all levels of herbal experience and contains recipes applicable for all members of the family.

If you are a beginner herbalist or curious to know more about the many uses of plants, this is the book for you. If you are an experienced herbalist, this book contains insight, advice, and new and old recipes from one of the most significant members of the American herbal community.

Who is Rosemary Gladstar?

Rosemary Gladstar is known as the ‘godmother of American herbalism.’ She is an herbalist, an activist, described as a wise woman, a conservationist, and a pioneer in the American herbal movement.

Rosemary began her herbal career over 35 years ago, creating herbal remedies in rosemary-gladstarher herb shop Rosemary’s Garden in Sonoma County. She founded the California School of Herbal Studies, the oldest running herbalist school in the United States. She is the author of many herbalism and plant books, and the author of the Science and Art of Herbalism home study course. She is also the organizer of the International Herb Symposium and the annual New England Women’s Herbal Conference.

In 1994, Rosemary founded the non profit organization United Plant Savers, an organization dedicated to the conservation and cultivation of at-risk North American medicinal plants. Its mission also includes preserving and promoting botanical sanctuaries throughout the US to help preserve land and native species.

Currently, Rosemary lives, works, and teaches from her home, the Sage Mountain Herbal Retreat Center, a 500 acre botanical preserve in central Vermont.

Rosemary is one of my personal heroes and I admire her passion and drive to protect, conserve and educate about the incredible plant life that surrounds us.

What is Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner’s guide?

In Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner’s guide, Rosemary details the basics of herbal medicine, how to make herbal remedies, and herbs to identify and to grow.

The book is divided into four sections: first, the ‘wonderful world of Medicinal Herbs,’ which includes an introduction to medicinal herbs, how to use them, and how to start your own medicinal herb garden; the second section addresses how to make your own herbal medicine, which includes directions for how to make a variety of herbal remedies such as salves, tinctures, oils, syrups, poultices, herbal teas, and more; the last two sections are devoted to herbs and spices to know, grow, and use. Each section is so full of useful information, tips, and advice that it feels like Rosemary is right there with you in the kitchen.

For each plant, Rosemary includes a photo, the botanical name, a little introduction to the herb, information on how to grow it, its medicinal properties and uses, and recipes that use the herb. The recipes are straightforward and easy to understand — they include the purpose (such as a salve for skin trauma or a syrup for coughs), the ingredients needed, how to prepare it, and directions for how to use it.

My favorite recipes include: Calendula salve, Elderberry syrup, Rosemary’s Famous Face Cream, and the Gypsy Cold Care remedy.

Why is Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner’s guide a must read?

Both beginners and experienced herbalists can benefit from this book. From the sheer amount of information to the beautiful pictures and descriptions of herbs and herbal remedies, there is something for everyone in Medicinal Herbs. This is a staple book to have on hand, whether for learning how and when to harvest herbs, or for setting up a personal herbal medicine cabinet.

In Medicinal Herbs, Rosemary blends ancient herbal wisdom with modern day uses. New remedies and herbal applications are woven in with her tried-and-true recipes, like the famous Fire Cider recipe.

It is a timeless book and I highly recommend it. Rosemary encourages us to take charge of our ability to be healthy, to interact with the natural world, and to explore herbal wisdom.

For beginners, it is an informative and gentle welcome to world of herbalism. For experienced herbalists, it is book of familiar plant friends, a trove of practical herbal recipes, and the valuable insight of a woman who shaped the American Herbal movement.


In Medicinal Herbs: A Beginners guide, Rosemary’s passion for plants and herbal medicine really shines through. This is one of my favorites of her books, and I use it time and time again. Her gentle style of teaching comes through her words as well as her encouragement to explore the herbal world.

Learn how to confidently identify plants using their unique family patterns in this in-depth video by author of Botany in a Day, Thomas Elpel!

Hannah-Staff-Photo-300x225Reviewer Hannah completed our Outdoor Skills Apprenticeship in in 2013 and graduated as a lead herbal instructor in 2014. She is an aspiring herbalist and loves plants, animals, and crafts. She graduated from the University of Oregon in 2014. Hannah will teach and assist a number of courses for Wolf Camp this summer.

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