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Healthy Living Through Medicinal Herbs: Rodale’s '21st Century Herbal' Guide

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There’s been a bond between people and plants since the dawn of civilization. Medicinal herbs have been helping us heal since long before it was documented. The earliest known written instruction came 5,000 years ago by Sumerian healers around the same time as Egyptian medical healers wrote what’s known today as Ebers Papyrus. The new book, "21st Century Herbal", written by Michael J. Balick, PhD, with the help of the Rodale Institute, provides a colorful, easy to follow, yet intensive guide to all things herbal.

Ethnobotanist, Michael J. Balick, PhD, has devoted his career to the connection between plants and civilization and this new book is an epic outline of knowledge he has gathered through conversations with healers and on-the-ground research. The beautiful guide highlights important medicinal herbs of Asia like Chinese licorice for the treatment of lung conditions, peony for the treatment of gout, and sandalwood, used both as a perfume and a pain reliever.

The book also looks at the important herbs of Europe, like dandelion, used as a potent diuretic, a deadly nightshade used to poison victims in Medieval Europe, and sage used as a digestive aid.

His guide shows the herbal enthusiast and gardener how to classify medicinal herbs like the plant family, genus, species, variety, etc. And it outlines how to define and describe flowers and leaves with terms like apex, axis, pistil, and stamen.

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Once you pick them out, it explains how various medicinal herbs work in the body, including the difference between a tonic, a mild herb that can be taken for preventative purposes over a long period of time and an effector. An effector tends to be much more powerful and can even be toxic in high doses.

After discussing the history of herbs globally, how to pick them out, and how they work in humans, the book serves as an easy to understand yet definitive guide to the herbs you should recognize in your life. Herbs are listed in alphabetical order by scientific name and each entry includes the culinary, medicinal, and ornamental use, along with how to grow them. When it comes to herbs, what more could you ask for in terms of knowledge? This is a book any herbalist will want to add to their collection.

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