Friday, December 19, 2014

For Christmas A Book of Herbs and History, The Herbalist's Bible!

The Best Blend of Herbs and History in The Herbalist's Bible!
Well, I'm still reading this, but I wanted you to know how much I am enjoying this read.  You see I have been a history buff for a long time.  Enjoyed history in high school, thought I would enjoy history in college (not so much), but I did end up an art history major in college.   I have always loved the history of the United States and of the world, etc.  So history has always been in my blood.

This selection and commentary called The Herbalist's Bible by Julie Bruton-Seal and Matthew Seal is of John Parkinson's massive herbal, Theatrum Botanicum or Theater of Plants of 3,800 species and 1,788 pages published in 1640.  If you click on the link above and scroll down to Viewability:  There are three links.  The second and third links are a page by page view of the text of the book.  I will definitely get several cups of herbal tea on a cold and snowy winter day and enjoy looking through it.  Julie and Matthew's adventures to obtain their own copy of this treasured herbal is recounted.  It was published between two well-established herbalists' herbals by Gerard and Culpeper.  Gerard and Culpeper much better known as English herbalists.  Parkinson grew herbs in his garden called Long Acre. 

What gave Parkinson validity was that King named him King's Herbalist.  Another writer looked at his work as a theft of de l'Obel, but Parkinson came through the critics with his reputation intact.  For his time, Parkinson used a wide range of methods to treat diseases and illnesses with herbs.  He was very interested in gynecology.  A lot of diseases were the same in the 1500 and 1600 as today.  There were exceptions though.  The plague was still a big problem as was leprosy and syphilis.   Infectious diseases were also a problem without the vaccinations and antibiotics of today.

This book is just a selection and commentary not a translation of the complete work.  The three criteria for what herbs that Julie and Matthew chose to comment on were as follows:

"Herbs well known to Parkinson that continue to be medicinally popular today, some times with different uses.

Herbs known and used medicinally in Parkinson's time but which have since dropped out of common practice--in other words--lost herbs that we think deserve a second look.  AND

Herbs new to Parkinson from either European herbal knowledge or as part of the explosion of plant samples or seeds then arriving in England from North or South America."

So I think it is safe to say that Julie and Matthew will continue their journey with this treasured classic and keep us enthralled by the results.  In this volume, I was just so happy that Julie and Matthew picked a lot of herbs that I was familiar with but also some I'm not.  Parkinson's words and Julie and Matthew's commentary in modern terms are side by side.  I loved reading from Parkinson that lemon balm calms bees.  There is a chili bread recipe from Parkinson that calms the heat of the chili.  Would like to try that and that chilies improve acid levels (maybe for people with low acid).  There were several herbs used for snake bites or mad dogs in Parkinson's time.  Betony was used for reflux and burdock was used for skin conditions then and now.

I do have a lot more to read.  I will add more thoughts as they come along.  It is wonderful to actually see an old herbal come to life in modern times.  This will be an ongoing project for them as for me as well.   Besides the history leading up to its publication, the selection of herbs, the notes are a book of their own and the appendix is full of inside facts about the times and the book, a timeline of Parkinson, his firsts in plants and what always gets me in trouble, a bibliography!  If you are thinking of a history selection for your herbal friends, think of The Herbalist's Bible.

Well, my car is encased in ice at the moment.  Christmas is less than a week away!  Where did the year go?  Hope you are ready for all of your festivities.  The one of the boxes for my latest giveaway was delivered early this morning in Michigan and my Texas delivery is in the vicinity.  So I will talk to you later.


Carla said...

Nancy, what a wonderful review of the book. I will check it out and think about getting a copy for myself. You always have the best information on books and herbs. I hope you and the herbal husband have a safe and lovely Christmas!

Lemon Verbena Lady said...

Thanks, Carla! All the best to you and your family for a Merry Christmas and a happy and healthy 2015! xo

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this book. I will add it to my wish list. Again, thank you for all the goodies I received in the package you sent. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Lemon Verbena Lady said...

Thanks Susanne! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and your family! xo