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A History of Plant Medicine by Christina Stapley

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.

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