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Alchemy of Herbs
By Rosalee de la Forêt
If you're like me and you believe in the power of nature and plants to heal, then this is the book for you.  If you're also like me and you don't necessarily want to learn how as much as be told what works and how to make it happen, then you may find this book just vaguely frustrating.
Rosalee De La Foret doesn't give you a glossary of symptoms to use for looking up which herbs are appropriate healers.  She doesn't really think it works as straight forward as that.  Instead, she employs an ancient system of energetics that personalizes the preparations to your particular constitution. 
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The downside is this takes a bit of time to figure out.  The upside is that she provides a concise tutorial in the opening of the book that will guide you to what she calls the herbal sweet spot!  And it's not really that hard.  I'm probably just being a whiner. Much of what she emphasizes is how instinctive this is.  And she's right.
The majority of the book is filled with rich detail about the herbs 🎉 Take mustard for instance, an herb most would pick as a weed. We discover the medicinal properties and energetics of mustard include its ability to fight cancer, how it supports heart health, that using a poultice over the lungs helps with congestion and historically it was used to treat pain and arthritis.  Now that we know all that, the author holds our hands through implementing that knowledge:  how to use it, recommended amounts, special considerations plus a recipe for homemade mustard condiment, a recipe for squash soup with mustard seeds and a recipe for mustard and ginger bath salts. 
All 28 plants in this book is treated in the same way which makes it a treasure trove of interesting history, modern day uses and medicinal affects of the things we are many already growing and have around us.
One thing that's missing from this book is a flat out Tools List.  She does call out her favorite, important tools, so I found the most pressing items you'll need to get started and linked them here to make it easy for you.
Primary Tools Shopping  List
Spice Grinder
Stainless Steel Funnel Set
Stainless Steel Fine Mesh Strainers
Digital Kitchen Scale that measures in ounces and grams
Le Parfait Glass Jars with Glass Lids (size depends on the task at hand)
Weck Glass Jars with Glass Lids (size depends on the task at hand)
More people commonly grow herbs than spices, so you may find you want to use some of the recipes in the book but are lacking ingredients from the garden.  After all...we don't all grow EVERYTHING!   Here is a list where you can procure some of the more unusual ones in her recipes.  Once you click through, you can also browse for the common herbs you also need.
Spices Shopping List
Ashwaganda Root Powder
Nettle Leaf
Astragalus Root
Hibiscus Dried
Hawthorn Berries
Hawthorn Flowers
Holy Basil
Lemon Balm
May this book bring you any and all the healing you may need at this time.
Happy Growing!
 Siri Kay Jostad


Key Takeaways

Did you know there is a powerful herbal medicine chest in your garden?  The greatest bit of takeaway from Alchemy of Herbs is that you will finish it having an understanding of how to match the properties of each plant to your unique needs.  In addition, you will see all of this:

  • 6-page glossary to help you understand terms like adaptogen, vermifuge, styptic and rasayana (like you even need this glossary! 😆

  • A critically necessary, wonderful Resources list.  If you're going to take this seriously, you will need places to buy things such as oils, cheesecloth, beeswax, bottles, and some of the more unique herbs and spices that may not grow in your climate.  If you want to put the book's information straight to use and skip the growing part, those resources are shouted out here too.

  • Easy metric conversion chart for those outside the United States

  • Recipes and Remedies Galore

  • Quiz to determine your constitution (to discover best herb uses for you)

  • Tools of the Trade

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Rosalee de la Foret, Registered Herbalist, is passionate about increasing people's understand of herbalism and its connection with natural health.


Her journey began when at age 23, she became very ill and spend a month in bed, tormented by musculoskeletal pain, an itchy body rash that came and went and a fever that spiked at night.  After ultimately being hospitalized and diagnosed with an autoimmune condition called Still's, the only help was steroids, until she was predicted to meet an early death. 

She took 6 months to delve into natural healing modalities and has now been symptom-free from this "incurable" "terminal" disease for 15 years.  This was the beginning inspiration that led her to where she is now.

Along with Alchemy of Herbs, she is the author of several online courses (The Taste of Herbs, Herbal Cold Care and Apothecary: The Alchemy of Herbs Video Companion).

Infused into everything she does is her deep-rooted belief that we are all happier when we are connected to the natural world around us.  We share that feeling at SmartPlant too.

As she says:

"I'm here to help you use herbs confidently."

*  Our Book Club pages are not sponsored.  They do however include some affiliate links.  That means if you buy a book or product by clicking through our links, we may make a small commission, but at no extra cost to you.  All opinions are our own.  

We DO appreciate your loving the books that we do and thank you for your support.

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