Book of Herbal Wisdom by Matthew Wood


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In The Book of Herbal Wisdom Matthew Wood creates a vast and sweeping history of herbalism, drawing on Western botanical knowledge, homeopathy, Traditional Chinese Medicine, and Native American shamanic botony. Detailing the history and use of more than forty plants, he shows how each tradition views a plant, as well as its use in cases drawn from his own herbal and homeopathic practice. Wood relies on herbal wisdom from Native Americans, Quakers, and the English as well as descriptions from botanical literature and his own clinical observations to explain the uses of a variety of herbs. One by one, Woods examines 36 herbs, showing how each reflects various principles, doctrines, experiences, and patterns of knowledge from the natural world. 38 line drawings.

An initial section describes signatures, similars, and patterns in these traditions, and elements, temperaments, and constitutions. Wood has two objectives: to demonstrate how herbal medicines are agents of healing and wisdom, and to give the reader a useful catalogue of plants for medicinal uses.

His clinical observations of his patients bear the wry wisdom of the country doctor; his love of plants is evident in lush botanical descriptions, which show the connection between remedies – whether homeopathic, Chinese, or Native American – and the plants from which they are derived.

The Book of Herbal Wisdom brings to readers centuries of lore about healing from indigenous traditions, at a time when people are exploring empirical enthosciences with a seriousness unparalleled in history. In no other contemporary botanical compendium have North American Indian medicine, homeopathy, Traditional Chinese Medicine, and Western herbalism been so thoroughly integrated, and so engagingly described.

I, Sarah, studied with Matthew for an entire year in the 1990’s, and my practice of herbalism has been deeply influenced by his teachings.  He is a fascinating and creative thinker who pulls together ideas in a way that creates a memorable “picture”.


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