Alchemy of Herbs: Transform Everyday Ingredients into Foods and Remedies That Heal Info

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Did you know there’s a powerful herbal medicine chest
in your kitchen?

Imagine being prepared for that next cold,
scrape, headache, digestive issue, stressful day, or sleepless night
with simple ingredients from your cupboard. Instead of pills, reach
for:Cinnamon Tea to soothe your throat . . . Garlic Hummus to support
your immune system . . . Ginger Lemon Tea for cold and flu symptoms . . .
Cayenne Salve to relieve sore muscles . . . Cardamom Chocolate Mousse
Cake for heart health . . . A glass of Spiced Cold Brew Coffee as a
powerful antioxidant . . .
Alchemy of Herbs will show you
how to transform common ingredients into foods and remedies that heal.
What were once everyday flavorings will become your personal kitchen
apothecary. While using herbs can often seem complicated or costly, this
book offers a way to learn that’s as simple and inexpensive as
cooking dinner.
With the guidance of herbalist Rosalee de la
Forêt, you’ll understand how to match the properties of each
plant to your own unique needs, for a truly personalized approach to
health for you and your family. In addition to offering dozens of
inspiring recipes, Rosalee examines the history and modern-day use of 29
popular herbs, supporting their healing properties with both scientific
studies and in-depth research into herbal energetics.
Grow
your knowledge of healing herbs and spices and start using
nature’s pharmacy to feed, heal, and nurture your whole
family!

Average Ratings and Reviews
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2057 Ratings

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Reviews for Alchemy of Herbs: Transform Everyday Ingredients into Foods and Remedies That Heal:

2

Jul 04, 2017

I was excited to hear about this book, as the author is part of the Learning Herbs site that I have followed for years. I highly enjoy their blog posts and newsletter for kids about the benefits of plants that you can find in the wild. Our family makes heavy use of healing plants (especially wild ones), and I was eager to learn more.

There are things I loved about the book but there were also things that annoyed me again and again. None of these things might bother you at all, but I'll list them I was excited to hear about this book, as the author is part of the Learning Herbs site that I have followed for years. I highly enjoy their blog posts and newsletter for kids about the benefits of plants that you can find in the wild. Our family makes heavy use of healing plants (especially wild ones), and I was eager to learn more.

There are things I loved about the book but there were also things that annoyed me again and again. None of these things might bother you at all, but I'll list them in case it's helpful.

Pros:

This is a nicely sized, thorough book for the low price (currently low anyway, the suggested retail price is higher), especially since it has color photos.

The author gives a ton of medical information about herbs in general and each specific herb she profiles, including citing references to a vast number of scientific studies.

I enjoyed reading about the hot/cold, dry/moist aspect of herbal healing in the Western tradition and how the plants corresponded, especially since I recently attended a workshop about the similar teachings in Chinese medicine with Yin/Yang.

I like the idea of using these plants as foods and beverages, not in pill form.

Cons:

I was frequently frustrated by the measurements. The author explained that she gives dosage information in grams because it's easier to weigh but I would have so appreciated a general estimation of how much that is. For instance, she says about cinnamon: "The therapeutic amount for cinnamon is 1 to 6 grams per day." How much is that? Could she just give me a rough idea of whether that's a teaspoon or a quarter cup? Anything???? Every single plant is that way, and while I understand that you want to weigh for precision, if I am planning whether to buy a bunch of something I need some sort of clue about the quantities and what sort of amount I'm going to need to work into our family's diet.

I was expecting the herbs to be ones that I could forage (gather wild) or purchase inexpensively in a grocery store. This is not generally the case. For instance, artichokes are listed as one of the 29 recommended herbs -- but not the flower part that we eat, which is sold in stores. She recommends consuming 2 to 6 grams of artichoke leaves (found lower on the plant, she says) or a tincture 3 times a day. I live in Minnesota and am trying to grow artichokes in my garden this year (which requires an insanely long starter period inside first) but artichoke leaves are not something most of us have access to. The only recipes she offers for artichoke leaves are for a tea and for bitters. Otherwise, this seems like one of those "take 3 capsules" kinds of things. Not many of us are able to find artichoke leaves and there are no cooking recipes in the book to use them even if we could.

I would have loved more suggestions for how to use the herbs. Each section goes into some rather thorough information about how the herb can be helpful for various ailments, and then there is the recommended therapeutic dose in grams and generally about two recipes. Some of the recipes seem interesting but what I would really appreciate is a LIST of good ways to use that much of each herb REGULARLY in cooking. After all, the author points out that we should consume most of them often and in large amounts. It would have been simple and so helpful for each herb to have a list at the end of its section for other ways to incorporate it into regular meals such as "Other ways to incorporate X into meals include: stir a teaspoon into oatmeal, add to smoothies, stir into yogurt, add one teaspoon to chili...". After she convinced me of the benefits for some of the plants listed, I really wanted to use them but had no clue what else to do with them besides the couple of recipes she gave.

This is also not a book for foragers, which surprises me since she's affiliated with one of my favorite foraging websites. There is no ID information given on the plants that you can gather in the wild. There's not even information on how to grow them in your garden.

Finally, vegans and vegetarians take note: While the author says repeatedly that people who follow any diet can use the book, she includes quite a lot of meat, honey and other animal products in the recipes. This is probably not a drawback for most, but I'm mentioning it for those who care. For instance, the only recipes for lemon balm are for an infusion, for lemon balm flavored water, and for lemon balm chicken. If you do not consume animal products, then the few recipes included may be of even less use. ...more
5

Jul 17, 2017

I borrowed it from the library and it was so good I bought it! And I don't buy too many books these days. But this was absolutely worth having a copy for reference. In addition to the valuable information, it's a very pretty book that's typeset nicely, with eye-catching pictures.
5

Mar 06, 2017

Literally a food-as-tasty-medicine guide. Highly recommend for anyone looking for a down-to-earth practical overview on how best to incorporate healing herbs and spices into their daily routine and diet. Love her emphasis on paying attention to what works and doesn’t work for you. What you need therapeutically is determined by your energy and constitution. This may conjure visions of pagan dances beneath the moon for some but De la Fort’s explanation of discovering your own energy is extremely Literally a food-as-tasty-medicine guide. Highly recommend for anyone looking for a down-to-earth practical overview on how best to incorporate healing herbs and spices into their daily routine and diet. Love her emphasis on paying attention to what works and doesn’t work for you. What you need therapeutically is determined by your energy and constitution. This may conjure visions of pagan dances beneath the moon for some but De la Fort’s explanation of discovering your own energy is extremely practical. Are you someone who runs hot or cold? Sluggish or energetic? And so forth. Some foods will heat you up, others cool you down. We instinctively know this when we have a spicy soup to open up our passages when we have a cold or drink something minty to cool us down when we’re hot and inflamed. Love the reminder to add something bitter, which tend to be cooling and drying, to a meal to aid with digestion.

Most of the herbs and spices covered are well known but with a twist. Foods you may have given little thought to, such as black pepper and parsley, will suddenly be transformed into superfoods. Others that you may not have considered, such as nettle and holy basil, two of my current favorite teas, may become staples. Plenty of recipes to try out with solid guidance on how, when, and how often/how much to consume therapeutically.

I received a free advanced eBook to review via Net Galley. This book is so pretty I’ll likely purchase a print copy once it becomes available in April. ...more
4

Feb 24, 2017

I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review:

This book is gorgeous and is a fantastic addition to any herbalists shelf. I've studied herbology and aromatherapy for almost twenty years, and even I learned some things.
3

May 31, 2018

A beautiful book full of useful and interesting information- though more on foraging and uses for the herbs would have resulted in a better rating from me. And I echo what some other reviewers have said about the measurements, it would have been nice to have something more concrete to go on.
4

Sep 30, 2019

We tend to think of chamomile as a gentle herb, with effects that are mostly psychological. A cup of chamomile tea is nice before bedtime, but is there anything to this pretty little herb beyond the relaxing ritual of a steaming mug?

Yes! I felt chamomile’s powerful effects firsthand when I began taking medicinal doses for stress and tension headaches (parenting two young kids is rewarding, but it’s no walk in the park). Chamomile, it turns out, is a potent nervine and antispasmodic herb, and a We tend to think of chamomile as a gentle herb, with effects that are mostly psychological. A cup of chamomile tea is nice before bedtime, but is there anything to this pretty little herb beyond the relaxing ritual of a steaming mug?

Yes! I felt chamomile’s powerful effects firsthand when I began taking medicinal doses for stress and tension headaches (parenting two young kids is rewarding, but it’s no walk in the park). Chamomile, it turns out, is a potent nervine and antispasmodic herb, and a chamomile infusion has become my go-to remedy for stress.

I have Alchemy of Herbs by Rosalee de la Forêt to thank for my newfound love of chamomile. Although there are a lot of great books on herbal medicine out there, Alchemy of Herbs is an ideal beginner’s guide: it’s both simple enough to put into practice immediately, and comprehensive enough to keep you learning and growing as a home herbalist for years to come.

The book begins with a discussion of what herbalists call herbal energetics, or the physical feelings that herbs and spices trigger in the body (for example, mint’s cooling qualities and the heat of cayenne pepper). It’s not enough to simply match an herb to an ailment, de la Forêt explains; you need to take the energetics of an herb and a person into account when figuring out which herb to use. For instance, cinnamon is great for stimulating circulation because it’s a warming herb, but it could produce unwanted side effects in someone with an already-warm constitution. The system might sound complicated, but de la Forêt includes a simple quiz to help you nail down your body’s energetics. She also recommends learning about herbs through taste and smell, and includes an exercise that you can use to acquaint yourself with a new herb.

The bulk of the book is devoted to descriptions of individual herbs. Some of them, like lavender and turmeric, are already well known for their medicinal properties, but others, like artichoke and even coffee, are surprising and useful additions to a book on herbal medicine. De la Forêt is careful to keep her assertions evidence-based, citing numerous human clinical trials, but her writing style is warm and engaging instead of dry and academic.

Probably the best part of the book, though, are the recipes. Each chapter has a few recipes that you can use to incorporate herbs into your meals, instead of relegating them to capsules and tinctures. My favorite recipes are the spiced cold-brew coffee and the sage chicken, but there are too many wonderful recipes to list here.

Many people think of herbalism as a watered-down version of pharmaceutical medicine, but Alchemy of Herbs demonstrates that herbalism is not only a whole different kind of healing modality--it’s also fun and delicious!

This book is also available on e-Media.

While you’re at it, check out these other books on herbalism:

Medicinal Herbs: a Beginner’s Guide by Rosemary Gladstar

Rosemary Gladstar’s Family Herbal by Rosemary Gladstar

The Herbal Medicine-Maker’s Handbook by James Green

Medicinal Plants of the Pacific West by Michael Moore

Common Herbs for Natural Health by Juliette de Bairacli Levy

Reviewed by Julia G, Librarian, Frances Howard Goldwyn - Hollywood ...more
5

Jan 06, 2019

I really enjoyed this book. It's pretty and full of good information. I'll be using some of the recipes (which had plenty of vegan substitutions where appropriate, don't let the other reviews here fool you) and have some new ideas for tea blends. I'll also be talking to my doctor about some of these herbs.
3

Aug 02, 2017

A good book with useful information and recipes. There are a lot of home remedies, cooking recipes, scientific studies, and actual medicinal uses for herbs. To be honest, this is one of the better books on herbs to have come out in a while, if for any reason that the author had good sources, relevant info on each herb, and the language conveyed in the book was easy to read and digest. My reasoning for giving Alchemy of Herbs a middle of the road rating was that the author focused a great deal on A good book with useful information and recipes. There are a lot of home remedies, cooking recipes, scientific studies, and actual medicinal uses for herbs. To be honest, this is one of the better books on herbs to have come out in a while, if for any reason that the author had good sources, relevant info on each herb, and the language conveyed in the book was easy to read and digest. My reasoning for giving Alchemy of Herbs a middle of the road rating was that the author focused a great deal on organic and gluten-free recipes. While I have no problem with either, I felt the book was exclusively focused on persons that have large enough disposable incomes to make $30+ meals and snacks. There was very little in this book that people on minimum wage could afford to make, enjoy, and be satisfied with. I feel that the author could have made Alchemy of Herbs more accessible to varying incomes. ...more
1

Jun 06, 2017

The author purports to be an experienced herbalist who claims she has studied the peer reviewed literature regarding the nutritional and medicinal benefits of herbs and spices. And yet, she recommends recipes that include dairy and red meat -- known disease promoting substances and carcinogens. Either, the author lacks a basic understanding of the scientific literature she claims to have read, or she is willfully (selectively) disregarding the heaps of studies that have shown that meat and dairy The author purports to be an experienced herbalist who claims she has studied the peer reviewed literature regarding the nutritional and medicinal benefits of herbs and spices. And yet, she recommends recipes that include dairy and red meat -- known disease promoting substances and carcinogens. Either, the author lacks a basic understanding of the scientific literature she claims to have read, or she is willfully (selectively) disregarding the heaps of studies that have shown that meat and dairy are bad for your health -- and cause the very conditions the herbs and spices purport to alleviate. Either way, the author thereby lost all credibility to advise me on matters of health and nutrition. I regret this purchase and feel I've been duped by just another quack. ...more
1

Feb 11, 2019

My take away from this was that plants can solve very serious medical conditions with herbal tea. Pretty much only tea. Occasionally a tincture. There's no real sense of how to use them day to day and the information is so general and apart from actual plants- ingredients lists call for dried herbs but other than going on Amazon and seeing if they have them I'm no clearer on where or how to find these herbs. Honestly each chapter feels like the same chapter.
5

Jul 31, 2017

A wonderful resource to get you started in the way of using herbs more extensively and with puprose beyond a mere tasty addition to your meal. Maybe not for one who wants to have something which gives you the whooooole spectrum, but this is for me actually one of the strengths of de la Foret's book: It mostly portrais just the herbs you mostly have anyway in your kitchen, thus preventing the beginner from to much of a choice in what to do, which is (in my experience) actually a No. 1 reason to A wonderful resource to get you started in the way of using herbs more extensively and with puprose beyond a mere tasty addition to your meal. Maybe not for one who wants to have something which gives you the whooooole spectrum, but this is for me actually one of the strengths of de la Foret's book: It mostly portrais just the herbs you mostly have anyway in your kitchen, thus preventing the beginner from to much of a choice in what to do, which is (in my experience) actually a No. 1 reason to not doing it in the first place. Anyway, as it is with all such books: you have still to invest your time and get to work to make it work! ...more
5

May 31, 2017

I preordered the paperback edition. I knew nothing about medicinal herbs at all. Everytime I tried learning about herbs, I would get overwhelmed & not know where to start. Rosalee makes it so easy to understand. I haven't been overwhelmed at all since I got the book. I highly recommend it to anyone ...Full Review
5

Aug 18, 2019

This is lovely, well-explained and easy to use book about the herbs with lots of various recipes for homemade remedies and dishes.
The herbs included are: black pepper, cayenne, cinnamon, fennel, garlic, ginger, holy basil, lavender, mustard, nutmeg, parsley, peppermint, rosemary, sage, thyme, turmeric, nettle, elder, hawthorn, lemon balm, rose, tea, artichoke, cacao, chamomile, coffee, dandelion, ashwagandha and astragalus.

Coming from the European country where we use herbs on everyday basis, I This is lovely, well-explained and easy to use book about the herbs with lots of various recipes for homemade remedies and dishes.
The herbs included are: black pepper, cayenne, cinnamon, fennel, garlic, ginger, holy basil, lavender, mustard, nutmeg, parsley, peppermint, rosemary, sage, thyme, turmeric, nettle, elder, hawthorn, lemon balm, rose, tea, artichoke, cacao, chamomile, coffee, dandelion, ashwagandha and astragalus.

Coming from the European country where we use herbs on everyday basis, I appreciate the return to this gentle way of healing. Herbs works, albeit slower and gentler than classical medicine - and let me say here that I appreciate that the authoress respects the Western medicine (she states the contraindications, in the relevant cases recommends the non/usage of certain herbs under the medical supervision). She simply says that the herbs works, too, and that they are affective - but based on your personal condition (I like that approach). She intoduces the system of personal "energies" (no, this is not any New Age system, just categorisation based on your body behaviour and the sense the herbs can influence - hot/cold and dry/moist). I do not want to judge the system (I don´t have relevant information), I just simply agree that what works for the one person, does not always works for the other one (say coffee or lavender essential oil).
I like that the authoress says one should study oneself and recognize what works for them.

I have tried several recipes from this book (mainly, as a person suffering with lots of seasonal colds and flues: I tried the ginger and garlic ones) and they works for me. I am ready and eager to try the other options!

The beautiful photos are always a huge plus in my books, and here you can find a plenty of them!

Just a word of advice for the readers: all in moderation. What is a cure, can be also a poison in high amounts/wrong correlations, as the saying goes (not related to the recipes in this book, just a general advice). ...more
3

May 18, 2018

The author of this book takes you through the history of herbs and shows you recipes for health and for adding to your regular diet to improve your pain or stomach ailments, tea for sore throat and many others. You also are given recipes for regular food to just add to your everyday life instead of always using salt and pepper. You also have to remember that though the author makes it out that it is easy to find some are not and you may need to go to a specialty store which is going to cost The author of this book takes you through the history of herbs and shows you recipes for health and for adding to your regular diet to improve your pain or stomach ailments, tea for sore throat and many others. You also are given recipes for regular food to just add to your everyday life instead of always using salt and pepper. You also have to remember that though the author makes it out that it is easy to find some are not and you may need to go to a specialty store which is going to cost more, so this book might not be for everyone. Overall a good book. I received this book from Netgalley.com I gave it 3 three stars. Follow us at www.1rad-readerreviews.com ...more
4

Jan 07, 2019

Rosalee takes the reader through discovering the constitution of their body to know which herbs will work best with them.

Each of the herbs are sectioned in part 2 by pungent, salty, sour, butter, and sweet. Each herb starts it with a little introduction, a plaque with the Latin name, family, parts used, what she calls energetics, taste, plant properties, uses, and preparations. Then she goes more into depth about the herb and it's uses, how to use and theraputic dosage and the end of each herb Rosalee takes the reader through discovering the constitution of their body to know which herbs will work best with them.

Each of the herbs are sectioned in part 2 by pungent, salty, sour, butter, and sweet. Each herb starts it with a little introduction, a plaque with the Latin name, family, parts used, what she calls energetics, taste, plant properties, uses, and preparations. Then she goes more into depth about the herb and it's uses, how to use and theraputic dosage and the end of each herb has about 3 recipes to use.

A really nice introduction to using herbs to heal the body. ...more
5

Sep 16, 2017

If, like myself, you're a newbie in the field of herbs and herb healing properties, this is an ideal book to start!

Lots of introductory information about herbs, different types of herbs and the way they affect our body and mind. Then you have a list of most popular herbs (fennel, ginger, garlic, parsley, rose and even coffee). Each of the plants have their own small chapter in which they're well explained, including the herb's properties and how and when to use it.

All in all great herb reference If, like myself, you're a newbie in the field of herbs and herb healing properties, this is an ideal book to start!

Lots of introductory information about herbs, different types of herbs and the way they affect our body and mind. Then you have a list of most popular herbs (fennel, ginger, garlic, parsley, rose and even coffee). Each of the plants have their own small chapter in which they're well explained, including the herb's properties and how and when to use it.

All in all great herb reference and introductory to the world of herbs. ...more
5

Jun 07, 2018

This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I absolutely loved this book!!! It was very educational on so many levels, with plants and cooking and making oils and drying leaves and all the different kinds of recipes. There is so much to be learned from reading this book when it comes to healing also. I already have quiet a good bit of plant based healing knowledge but this book has taught me things I didn’t even know yet, she really explains the way each ingredient makes it effects happen and how it can benefit all kinds people and which I absolutely loved this book!!! It was very educational on so many levels, with plants and cooking and making oils and drying leaves and all the different kinds of recipes. There is so much to be learned from reading this book when it comes to healing also. I already have quiet a good bit of plant based healing knowledge but this book has taught me things I didn’t even know yet, she really explains the way each ingredient makes it effects happen and how it can benefit all kinds people and which people not mix certain things with. I will surely be reading this book mutilple times again! ...more
5

Jun 19, 2017

I loved this book. The beautiful photographs and concise layout make the information accessible, and the book an absolute pleasure to read. The author is a knowledgable herbalist, including great recipes, scientific studies related to each herb, as well as most common uses for the herbs in the book. This book is great for beginners, as well as a nice refresher with some new recipes for experienced herbalists. You will not be disappointed with this book. It is wonderful.
4

Dec 07, 2017

Very good introduction to herbology. Nice explanations about constitutions and how which herb can help with whichever ailment. Also good at explaining that trying different remedies are important because remedies don't always work for every person in the same way. Would have liked some other herbs to be included but I still liked this book enough after borrowing it from the library that I had to own a copy myself.
4

Sep 15, 2017

Nice book. Goes over all kinds of herbs from Nutmeg to nettle and garlic and honey and astragalus and ashwagandha. Nice photographs illustrating each herb and and a page or two describing it and then like three recipes for each herb giving you an idea of how to practically put it to use. These could be with tea or infusions or pesto or marinades, nice variety.
5

Jul 06, 2017

Read cover to cover

As a current herbal student, I thought this would be a great reference book. I was happily surprised and have recommended this book to people who are interested in learning about herbs. A really good read, easy to get through with nice reference work. I will definitely try some of the recipes!
3

Aug 31, 2019

Good introduction to the use of herbs, especially since most of the herbs featured in the book are commonly found in spice racks.

I walked away still pretty skeptical of all the medicinal properties for the herbs listed, but there is so much here that I'm sure there are benefits to using them. If nothing else, there are some intriguing recipes in here!
5

Sep 01, 2018

Really informative

The book is broken down beautifully, easy for somebody new to the subject to grasp all the information. Also the recipes were wonderful! Well worth the accidental purchase
4

Nov 10, 2017

The beginning clearly explained the basics of herbal medicine. Most of the herbs contained in the book had cooling/drying energetics, meaning they wouldn't help me balance my natural state (warm/dry).
5

Apr 21, 2019

I’m so glad that I picked up this book. This is a wonderful primer on herbs and their uses! There are gorgeous photos all over every page. It’s a delight to look at as well as read! I’d say that it’s great for a serious beginner.

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