Plant Medicine

A Collection of the Teachings of Herbalists Christopher Hedley and Non Shaw

By (author) Christopher Hedley, By (author) Non Shaw, Edited by Guy Waddell

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Book Details

  • Publisher : Aeon Books
  • Published : July 2023
  • Cover : Hardback
  • Pages : 560
  • Size : 178mm(w) x 254mm(h)
  • Catalogue No : 94094
  • ISBN 13 : 9781912807253
  • ISBN 10 : 1912807254
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A comprehensive compendium on the theory and practice of herbal medicine from expert herbalists Christopher Hedley and Non Shaw.  

This fundamental textbook draws on the wisdom of Christopher Hedley and Non Shaw, incorporating their belief in the importance of understanding herbal medicine in the context of living plants, and providing lived examples of how this can be used in the everyday practice of herbal medicine. Through these teachings, the book also acquaints readers with the rich legacy of Christopher and Non in Western herbal medicine.

Drawing on Christopher's own approach to teaching herbalism, which was abundant with the importance of storytelling in learning, Plant Medicine is as fascinating as it is accessible, enriched with the depth of Christopher's own knowledge and warmth.

The book is comprised of four parts:

'Roots' explores the history of plant medicine, investigating physiomedicalism and Galenic humoral medicine.

The second section, 'Flowers', is a thorough, alphabetically ordered materia medica of the medicinal properties of individual plants, with properties, uses, preparations, dosage, cautions, and clinical uses of ninety-two plant medicines that Non and Christopher gathered over nearly two lifetimes.

'Fruits' provides information on how particular body systems and patient groups are treated therapeutically with herbal medicines, specifically covering the digestive, cardiovascular, nervous, urinary, musculoskeletal, endocrine, skin and immune systems.

Finally, 'Seeds' concludes the book by inviting readers to consider going deeper and beyond their exploration of plant medicine, shifting their preconceptions of herbs to understand them on a more intimate level.

Plant Medicine is a foundational text for all students and practitioners of herbal medicine, but it's wisdom and insight will also provide a guiding light for anyone seeking plant medicine as a way to reconnect to the abundance and beauty of nature.

Guy Waddell in conversation with the Association of Master Herbalists in June 2023.

Watch this fascinating event here.

About the author

By (author) Christopher Hedley

Christopher Hedley (1946-2017) was a Fellow of the National Institute of Medical Herbalists, and taught herbal medicine at all levels, from beginners to MSc in Herb Schools across the UK and the USA, specialising in material medica and pharmacy.

By (author) Non Shaw

As well as being a herbalist, counsellor, and bodyworker who inspired many to take up their own healing paths in plant medicine, Non was an artist, sculptor, jeweller, clothes-maker, and inveterate maker of things, who built their patio out of recycled tiles found in skips. She was also a teacher and writer.

Edited by Guy Waddell


Guy Waddell PhD fHEA MNIMH is a herbalist and educator who lives and works in London. He is Director of Studies at Heartwood Education, which provides foundation and professional level courses in herbal medicine. Previously, he was a lecturer in herbal medicine in the Department of Life Sciences at the University of Westminster. He has authored The Enchantment of Western Herbal Medicine: herbalists, plants and nonhuman agency (Aeon Books, 2020). He has a particular interest in how humans and plants know each other and what may come of this. 

View author's website

Reviews & Endorsements

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Matthew Seal & Julie Bruton-Seal, co-authors of 'Hedgerow Medicine', 'Eat your Weeds!' and other herbal titles on 07/11/2023

'The herbal legacy of Chris Hedley and Non Shaw (who both died in 2017) has been secured in two Aeon books beautifully edited by Guy Waddell. It is the lasting recognition Chris and Non deserve. Together these books are perfect sources for anyone wanting a home study course in modern western herbalism. The same applies if you are a formal herbal student at any level or indeed a practitioner.
'Plant Medicine' (2023) is the theory and detailed materia medica you need, and 'The Herbal Book of Making and Taking' (2020) the practical guidance to make any herbal remedy. Listen to these voices of experience and trust their wisdom!
All those in the herbal community should be grateful to Aeon for backing and producing these two defining books.'

Paul Bergner, director of the North American Institute of Medical Herbalism and editor of The Medical Herbalism Journal on 11/07/2023

'Plant Medicine' delivers an uncommon depth of experience-based practical information. Based in the Physiomedical and Western humoral medical traditions, with reference also to Chinese medicine, it offers well-discerned clinical monographs on contemporary materia medica, and practical therapeutics by body systems and patient groups, documenting the authors’ mastery over six decades of busy clinical practice between them in medical herbalism. A must-have for professional and student alike.

Henriette Kress, herbalist, Finland, and author of 'Practical Herbs' on 11/07/2023

Christopher's writings give you deep herbal wisdom in an easy to read form.
'Plant Medicine' contains an introduction to humoral theory, an extensive materia medica, and a section on herbs for various organ systems with case histories.
So very illuminating. So many insights! Such an exquisite book.
Thank you Christopher and Non, for all you did.

Robyn Soma, President of the National Institute of Medical Herbalists on 11/07/2023

Christopher and Non inspired a whole generation of herbalists towards ‘being plant’. This collection of their teachings, placed in context by thoughtful contributions from their friend and colleague Guy Waddell, has that same ability to convey profound understanding with lightness and humour. Deep knowledge of the traditions of herbal medicine is placed alongside careful study of its science, all informed by their intensely creative artistic insights. Every now and then a seemingly simple turn of phrase will stop you in your tracks to absorb the new perspective that it opens up. It is a joy to hear these much loved voices again.

David Winston RH(AHG), DSc(hc), author of 'Adaptogens, Herbs for Strength, Stamina and Stress Relief' on 11/07/2023

The words “brilliant”, “magical” and “legendary” are often used and misused when describing books, art, films, music and people. In this case, the collected works of herbalists Christopher Hedley and Non Shaw actually are all three and probably more. It is difficult for a book to convey the humour, humility, profound wisdom and astonishing insights that Non and Christopher brought to their work and teachings, but I believe it succeeds brilliantly, giving you the reader entry into their herbal world, one that more people should know and undoubtably appreciate.

Keith Robertson MSc. FNIMH, director of education at the Scottish School of Herbal Medicine, Isle of Arran, Scotland on 11/07/2023

“There is a beautiful ease in the way Herbal Medicines are able to help the human body. However, learning the craft properly can be tricky. So many names and terms to learn and then every plant seems to be able to do everything, as you begin to learn the living language that is Herbal Medicine.
What you really crave along this path of learning is someone to say, ‘I have used this plant in this way and for these reasons to restore health and my experience shows this to be effective.’
Non and Christopher personified that ethos and this book shines with it.”

Dr Julie Whitehouse, principal lecturer at the University of Westminster (retired) on 11/07/2023

“Christopher Hedley is unforgettable to so many of us who knew and loved him, a kind and caring man, clever and unique, lively, funny, and inspiring. He was able to offer exceptional empathy and support to his many patients, understanding their physical and emotional needs and using his skills to heal and restore.
He was a celebrated herbalist and naturalist with an extensive knowledge of herbal history and traditional practices which he skilfully interpreted into his own practice and shared with his students and colleagues. His teachings continue to offer a valuable and unique resource to all who study them.”

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