When I heard the Finnish Herbalist, Henriette Kress, was bringing out her second Practical Herbs book at the end of last year, I was excited. I’ve been a member of her medicinal herb email group for most of my herbal life. It’s been a major contributor to my herbal education and I know that any information Henriette contributes will be sound, sensible and based on personal experience peppered with a healthy dose of common sense. I knew I wanted a copy of the new book but was hesitant to buy it as my current income is virtually non-existent. I was therefore delighted to be offered a review copy by Henriette herself.
Practical Herbs 2 has not disappointed. The book is an easy size to take around and dip into. The information is laid out in a clear and simple format and the pictures are stunning, making it easy to identify plants and flowers in their natural habitat.
In Practical Herbs 2, Henriette has continued to include sections on how to make herbal products – oils and salves, honeys, salts, compresses and poultices plus a green powder which I had come across on an Oregonion blog but hadn’t seen elsewhere in the herbal community, She has also provided easy herbal treatments not only in the main Problems section but also in a series of “Quick Help for small problems” alongside the materia medica for individual plants.
It made me smile when she described heartburn and baldness as “small problems” since both can have devastating effects on individuals but by showing how such ailments can be treated simply with herbs a profound change to quality of life can be effected.
Practical Herbs 2 also includes a short introduction to herbal energetics, a subject which becomes increasingly important the more you work with plants. It’s good to see a European herbalist follow in Christopher Hedley’s footsteps and add to the work done by the notable American contingent of community herbalists. I was also grateful for her approach to tackling an under-active digestion last Saturday when I ran a workshop on bitters as it made an “unknown-to-many” concept simple to explain.
I was very pleased to see common vegetables included amongst the plants and trees in the materia medica in this book. Whilst I am familiar with the properties of cabbages and onions, I learned new uses for potatoes and celeriac. Did you know celeriac can be used interchangeably with celery? This pleased me a great deal.
Although I use celery in virtually all my savoury cooking, I loathe the taste of the medicinal seed. I learned that celeriac can increase pelvic blood flow and thus can be considered an aphrodisiac. I love Henriette’s wry sense of humour, apparent when she writes, “It helps if both partners know celeriac works.”
The Problems section deals mainly with issues concerning female health and fertility, highlighting the need for treating with vitamins and minerals as well as herbs. It would be good to see Henriette’s next book target men’s health which has a dearth of easily accessible literature.
I recommend Practical Herbs I to all my apprentices and mentees. Henriette’s second book will be a welcome addition to any herbal library, especially to newcomers to herbal lore. A sample of the book can be downloaded as a .pdf here The entire book can be purchased from Henriette's Herbal for £20 which includes postage and packing.