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by Michael & Lesley Tierra

Healing with the Herbs of LifeHealing with the Herbs of Life by Lesley Tierra

Lesley's new book, Healing with the Herbs of Life, is hot off the printing press and now on our shelves. Taking her 2 ? years to update, revise, combine and add on to her original books, The Herbs of Life and Healing with Chinese Herbs, this 438 page volume is a must-have for lay herbalists and professional practitioners alike.

To quote Michael Tierra (and he's not just tooting Lesley's horn, though thank you!), 'Healing with the Herbs of Life is the best western herb book now available. With all the popular herb books out there, Lesley has set a new standard because it's written by a practicing herbalist with over 20 years clinical experience. If you follow the information within you'll be given maximum opportunity of success in treating yourself and others. A must have.'

Lesley says that 'besides the expanded chapters on diet, materia medica, diagnosis and tidbits throughout, what's unique about Healing with the Herbs of Life is the newest 114 page chapter on Treatment of Specific Conditions, fully based on my clinical experience using Western and Chinese herbs. I've written this chapter to provide quick easy remedies for the lay herbalist as well as included specific Chinese and Western herbs/ formulas for the professional to treat the many TCM patterns underlying the addressed ailments. This book focuses on healing, not curing, by addressing dietary, lifestyle and emotional issues along with giving herbal and adjunct therapies to heal the whole person."

PURCHASE Healing with the Herbs of Life at this site now.

Treating Cancer with Herbs by Michael Tierra.
In this book, Dr. Tierra provides a complete, systematic approach to treating cancer from a holistic perspective, while detailing the entire range of herbs and herbal medicines available to the practitioner and the patient alike. He adds his clinical experience and his deep compassion to create perhaps the definitive guidebook on cancer treatment for today's world. 508 pages.
PURCHASE Treating Cancer with Herbs at this site now.


The One Earth Herbal Sourcebook by Alan Tillotson, published by Twin Streams Health. An important new herb book written by a graduate of the East West Herb Course. It beautifully integrates all aspects of Planetary herbal medicine. click on the title to read the review.

Herbal Medicine by Rudolf Weiss M.D. and Volker Fintelmann, M.D. '“ second edition, revised and expanded 1999.
In view of some of my colleagues' opinion of this book I must change my original assessment based on a too cursory view of it that this edition is essentially a very superficial text based on the German Commission E evaluation of herbs and as such is far below and I might add even insulting to Weiss's original book. Herbalist Jonathan Treasure encourages us to snatch up any of the first editions of Weiss's book as it will be a classic and this 2nd edition is little more than a parody. It is co-authored with Volker Fintelmann, M.D. Includes colored photographs of the herbs, 184 illustrations, and the color resolution in many is off.

It is listed by Western pathological disease classifications. It includes old medicine usage, Western scientific data, pharmacology presented in a way that is relevant and useful. Good index of references for each herbal and disease section but it is strictly based on a western pathological model with no differential diagnostic evaluations. The price is around $59.

I've written them and suggested how it might be improved for future editions. Mainly, there are some serious gaps of herbs that are not included or mentioned in the text. I suggested that they make it a two volume book one with diseases and the second a more complete materia medica. They liked that suggestion and I hope they consider it for future editions.

Mind you, there are no so-called vitalist or energetic classifications in this book and considering what it is I don't expect it. Someday, I hope that Western medicine and Western herbalism becomes sophisticated enough to be able to present such texts within the context of a differential diagnostic system, for instance, differentiating between yin deficiency type hyperthyroid condition (lack of sufficient cortical hormones) and yang excess type (caused by heat and congestion) for instance.

It is published by Thieme with offices in Stuttgart and New York. The New York address is: 333 7th Avenue, New York, NY. 10001. Perhaps some of you can get them to send you a review copy. The cost will be around $55. Sorry for those of you who have herb books falling off your shelves like I do, but this is another "must have" book.

While on the subject of books, allow me to share with your four other books I recently acquired that I think are wonderful:

The Atlas of Chinese Tongue Diagnosis by Kirschbaum, published by Eastland Press is the tongue diagnosis book that I have been waiting for. It makes every other one out there virtually obsolete ( I have them all and I mean that). Mainly because it uses current photographs of Western people (some Chinese), the types we are likely to see in the clinic, and gives the pathological condition associated with the person's photograph (whew! why didn't anyone think of that). There are multiple pages of various types of cold, damp tongues. Many different ways that yin deficient tongues may appear, etc. My Western herbalists friends will get a lot from this book as well, since I think most of the Chinese jargon can be readily understood from the perspective of a Western herbal practice.

Pulses and Impulses by Graham Townsend and Ysha De Donna oriented around Chinese pulse indications but translatable by most advanced Western practitioners to some extent though decidedly more for the Chinese practitioner than the tongue book. It associates pulses with corresponding positive and negative conditions and emotions, something that has not been done before in a pulse diagnosis book. The part that has the most universal value to all herbalists, and for me, are the first 95 pages.

The descriptions are such that with a little practice, one can actually transcribe them with patients. For instance the "knotted pulse" is slow and has occasionally irregularly missed beats of short duration. In other words, if you don't pay close enough attention, you may not notice an occasional slightly missed beat. Slow means that it is less than 60 BPM but they also talk about how pulses were determined without a second hand watch, by counting the number of breaths per respiration. Four or five beats are considered normal during the space of one complete respiration (inhalation and exhalation), assuming the patient is not nervous, excited, under the influence of stimulants or other factors they mention. If the patient's breathing is abnormal then the count is according to the doctor's respiration (a point that was never made clear to me in previous classes or studies). Published by Thorsons, excellent for those who have knowledge of Chinese Diagnostics and theory.
I still think we can use a Western pulse diagnosis book. It was definitely part of the art of diagnosis, practiced at a time when clinical diagnostic skills were part of an M.D.s training, probably not more than 50 years ago. The basic TCM signs of fast, slow, superficial, deep, strong, weak, as well as various types of irregular pulses are easy to learn and should be part of what every skilled Western herbalist is able to accomplish. Where we go off onto the deep end of "if-iness" and intuitive ambiguity is when TCM assigns individual organs to different positions and depth. The basic overall qualities are an incredibly useful diagnostic skill. This book can help you understand those.

Wind in the Blood: Mayan Healing and Chinese Medicine by Garcia et al. published by North Atlantic Books, $20.00. More evidence for my hypothetical thesis of Planetary Herbalism, that the ancient healing wisdom of the planet emanated from one source and has been colloqualized and transposed according to local language and customs. I'm excited because for the first time, traditional healers, in this case of Mayan descent, and living on the Yucatan peninsula, got together and exchanged their "secrets" in full cultural context (instead of the inane ethno-botanical question "what herbs do you use for a headache"-- it becomes "what kind of headache would you use that herb for?"). This includes their cosmology, theory, classification (instead of yin and yang they classified herbs as heating or cooling -- same general idea and vitally important to the practice of herbal medicine). I appreciated this book because for the first time it describes in considerable depth the type of acupuncture they practice using bones, thorns and other suitable materials. Most of the points find a similar usage in Chinese medicine. Despite the increasing requirements for students (obviously to limit the profession), acupuncture is far easier than herbal medicine and anyone can become, not expert, but relatively effective knowing 20 or 30 points and you don't need to be a rocket scientist to administer it. It another of those healing folk arts that has been preempted by an authoritarian professional class. This probably happened in much the same as we see this process happening with herbal medicine in our own time. First, emphasize the extraordinarily few bad reactions, use this to make everyone afraid and once again alienated from nature, and what is all of our birthrights and heritage, Then, theorize and embroil what is commonsense in biochemical and physiological or esoteric Chinese or Ayurvedic jargon, add a mighty few with a lot theoretical ideas of how these herbs will counteract with drugs and Bwallah!, we're back to the old distrust of oneself and nature paradigm that is the basis for fueling every authoritative class be it the church, the FDA or the pharmaceutical companies.
Anyway, there is an extensive Mayan, Common ~~~~, Latin ~~~~, materia medica with common uses section that makes the book worth having by all herbalists. It of course emphasizes all the common herbs used by Western herbalists with some uncommon uses:
  • Rosemary for diabetes
  • Passionflower for skin abscesses
  • Solanum hispidum for anginas and dermatitis
  • Bermuda grass for bladder infection (glad to find a positive use for that stuff)
  • Scarlet (salvia coccinea) sage for nerves
  • Bougainvillea for cough, asthma, bronchitis

There's also mention of herbs that may not be native to the region such as
Licorice (G. glabra).

Rue (Ruta Graveolens) is generally regarded as an important herb in Central America as well as the Caribbean. It has gotten a bad rap here based on its supposed abortifacient properties and purported toxicity. It sure is bad tasting but that hasn't stopped us in the past, has it. I know in Costa Rica rue is macerated in olive oil and rue oil is the sovereign remedy used as ear drops for kids ear infections. These healers use if for "evil wind" --- I'll leave it for you to read the book and determine what this is -- but also for nausea, fever, nevers, fear and then as a talisman for the "evil eye." I bet it's one of those herbs that you can wear in a pouch, whose leaves when bruised, put out antibodies to ward off invading pathogens.

Chinese Herbal Secrets by Stefan Chmelik, publ. by Avery $17.95. Now this book is a gem! Full color illustrations on every page to exemplify the text. You don't have to do much reading and it is absolutely amazing how much Chinese medical theory is presented in this text. I would heartily recommend it as a first book for anyone wanting to become acquainted with Chinese herbal medicine and then, of course I would suggest my own Way of Chinese Herbs (Pocket Books) and after that by Lesley Tierra and myself, Chinese Traditional Herbal Medicine Vol. 1 and 2, publ. by Lotus press. Sorry for the self plug, but why would I write these books if I didn't think they would be useful? Seriously, you've just got to go out and buy Chinese Herbal Secrets. Besides the herbs, there are photographs of beautiful naked people. Now that should be an incentive to buy the book. For those of you who are skilled in TCM I know you will appreciate it, as Lesley and I did, for its beauty and the occasional clarification of several points that may be a little hazy or unclear in our understanding. There are chapters on common Western diseases, physiological systems with causes and treatments in terms of herbs, diet and lifestyle.
Just looking at the allergies section on pages 78 and 79, there's the usual description of conventional Western medicine's inability to satisfactorily address this condition, the types of allergies and sensitivities attractively illustrated in a box. At the bottom a number of cartoon-esque full color causes ranging from pollen, dust mites, household products, to pollution. Then there is a clear chart on the Chinese concepts of allergies: These include Wind --- a difficult term to define but as I see it it is involved with the histaminic overreactions some bodies make that cause some people to be more susceptible to substances than others. In general I think herbal antihistamines have both diaphoretic and antispasmodic properties. Dampness and phlegm are constitutional issues from too much mucus in the body causing its discharge to be triggered by various pollens and other airborne substances. Deficiency of Qi and Blood represent immune deficiencies of various types and the TCM understanding goes far beyond the usual "take Siberian ginseng" often used by some people to define underlying deep nutritional and hormonal deficiencies.

Herbal Medicine, Healing and Cancer
A comprehensive program for prevention and treatment by Donald R. Yance, Jr. C.N., M.H., A.H.G. with Arlene Valentine, publ by Keats, 1999. This is an eagerly awaited book by one of North America's most respected lay herbalists. It represents a major contribution to the literature of natural healing and cancer. It offers detailed information that shows how a proper diet, vitamins, and other micronutrients, when combined with herbs, can help create the right conditions for maximum healing. The book comes with rave endorsements from such respected herbalists as Chanchal Cabrera, Mary Bove, N.D. and Christopher Hobbs, L.Ac. The book is very practical and suitable for both the lay person and health practitioner. It is full of references attesting to the power and value of nutrition, herbs and special nutrients for the treatment and prevention of a wide number of cancers. He also offers a number of valuable case studies from his own voluminous clinical practice at WellSprings Center for Natural Healing in Fairfield, Connecticut. This book is now at the top of my list of outstanding and authoritative alternative medicine texts on the treatment of cancer along with Cancer & Natural Medicine by John Boik (publ. by Oregon Medical Press), Alternative Medicine's Definitive Guide to Cancer publ. by Future Medicine Publishing, The What to Eat if You Have Cancer Cookbook, by Maureen Keane and Daniella Chace publ. by Contemporary Books, Beating Cancer with Nutrition by Dr. Patrick Quillin, publ. by Nutrition Times Press, the entire corpus of Ralph Moss especially, Questioning Chemotherapy and Herbs Against Cancer, publ. by Equinox Press and finally, The Macrobiotic Approach to Cancer, by Michio Kushi publ. by Avery. MT

Prescription Alternatives --hundreds of safe, natural, prescription-free remedies to restore your health & energy ;
by Earl Mindell, R.Ph.D. &Virginia Hopkins, M.A.
This is a gem of a book that compares traditional medical prescription drugs for herbal, nutritional and dietary alternatives. Considering that prescription drugs are the fourth leading cause of death, this book describes how to avoid their abuse by seeking safer, more natural alternatives. It describes the possible side effects of the drugs, their possible interaction with other drugs and supplements. Specifically it outlines chapters for the digestive tract, upper respiratory system, pain relief, antibiotics, anti-fungals, insomnia and the nervous system, diabetes, eye diseases, prostate, synthetic hormones, osteoporosis and herpes. This book is very practical and useful for both the lay person and health practitioner. Highly recommended. Published by Keats and copyright in 1998. MT

Herbal Medicine: From The Heart of the Earth
Sharol Tilgner, N.D.
Published by Wise Acres Publishing, P.O. Box 1168, Creswell, OR 97426 or www.herbaltransitions.com
This is the best recently published book on Naturopathic Herbal Medicine that is in print. Dr. Sharol Tilgner is an accomplished herbalist and naturopathic physician working in Oregon. There are many wonderful things about the book but most importantly it is well written, thorough and highly practical. As a Planetary herbalist, I welcome a much needed presentation of the practice of current western herbalism. It is something I feel great about consulting when I want to reference the 170 most commonly used herbs used by an outstanding western naturopath both clinically as well as in my writing and teaching. The current highest standard of Western herbalism treats according to body systems and Sharol has organized herbs and formulas according to body systems. She also has detailed description of medicine making including the usual tinctures, oils and salves but also dry plant extracts, suppositories and clear calculations for measuring the potency and strength of the final product. This latter bit is hardly available in any western herb book. She has a detailed description and chart of dosing and a full two pages listing the best ratio of alcohol to water for making tinctures and extracts. There is a chart for harvesting various plants, and dictionaries of herbal properties, actions and preparations. Sharol's book is endorsed by Christiane Northrup, M.D., Dr. Jill Stansbury N.D., Dr. Jim Duke and Rosemary Gladstar and of course "unofficially" by myself. The cost is a modest $29.95 but it is one of the best investments anyone who has a serious interest in herbal medicine can make in a book. Sharol also has a beautiful video tape series entitled "Edible and Medicinal Herbs." -- Michael Tierra L.Ac., O.M.D.

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Roy Upton, AHG, editor American Herbal Pharmacopoeia and Vice-President American Herbalists Guild

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