A History of Plant Medicine

Western Herbal Medicine from the Ancient Greeks to the Modern Day

By (author) Christina Stapley

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Book Details

  • Publisher : Aeon Books
  • Published : November 2023
  • Cover : Hardback
  • Pages : 430
  • Size : 170mm(w) x 244mm(h)
  • Catalogue No : 95210
  • ISBN 13 : 9781801520416
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A comprehensive guide detailing the story of healing with herbs from pre-history to modern times.

Drawing on her decades of experience as an established herbalist and historian, Christina Stapley presents an encyclopaedic and accessible guide to the theory and practice of Western herbal medicine throughout history. Spanning an impressive timeline of two thousand years, A History of Plant Medicine is a fundamental textbook for students and practitioners of herbal medicine to enhance their study and practice, as well as an enjoyable narrative for anyone interested in this bountiful and fascinating subject.

Using a wealth of historical research, Stapley invites readers on a journey from the beginnings of botany, through to the development of Greek and Celtic medicine, including Roman medicine and the Roman settlement of Britain. It moves on to explore Anglo-Saxon leechbooks, Arabic Medicine, Norman influenced physicians and surgeons and pharmacy in the Medieval Period. It also examines the physic garden in Britain, Culpeper and Astrology, concluding with changes and developments to herbal medicine in the modern day.

As well as offering a detailed chronology of herbalism in the Western world, A History of Plant Medicine provides practical advice and recipes which can be implemented in the daily practice of the modern herbalist. Stapley creates tangible threads through time, focusing on the most used herbs at different periods, and following them over the centuries. Special emphasis is put upon seeking out effective recipes and practices abandoned in favour of new ideas and foreign herbs, and each is presented clearly and accessibly throughout. A History of Plant Medicine also illuminates the work of women physicians across the ages, whose work has often been obscured or forgotten.

Ultimately, A History of Plant Medicine invites herbalists (both new and old), historians, or interested lay people, to re-evaluate their relationship with herbal medicine, in understanding how different herbs are perceived in the light of knowledge and beliefs at particular times, in order to aid a greater understanding of the Western herbal tradition.


About the author

By (author) Christina Stapley

Christina Stapley is a retired medical herbalist with ten years of practice. She now teaches pharmacognosy, materia medica and the history of western herbal medicine. Christina is a member of the Herbal History Research Network, and for many years has tutored practical historical herb workshops. She is a Royal Horticultural Society lecturer and has written three books on growing and using herbs. Christina has written courses on ageing successfully with herbs and edited a book of 17th century cookery and medicinal recipes.

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Reviews & Endorsements

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Rosemary Gladstar, herbalist and author of 'Medicinal Herbs, A Beginners Guide' on 29/11/2023

A History of Plant Medicine takes us on a fascinating journey beginning with earliest recorded uses of plant medicine right up to the modern day herbal renaissance. Comprehensive and meticulously researched, this book introduces the reader to key figures in western herbal medicine, ancient herbal texts, how plants and herbal knowledge have traveled from one culture to another, and introduces us to the concept of herbal energetics and how it has evolved over the centuries. For anyone interested in western herbalism, medicine and history in general, this book is a must read. It provides important historical data and an understanding of the evolution of medicine in western culture.’

Alison Denham MA, FNIMH & Margaret Whitelegg BA PhD FNIMH on 29/11/2023

‘Christina Stapley takes us on a long walk through two thousand years of the use of medicinal plants. This big sweep is brought together by Tina’s discussion of her personal practical experience as a practitioner and in preparing medicines from historic recipes. The theme of each chapter is linked to a particular time and place and the use of relevant British plants. The timeline, bibliography and glossary mean that students or herbal practitioners can explore any theme in more detail.’

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