The Complete Guide Medicinal Herbal by Penelope Ody

Medicinal Herbal
An A-Z of over 120 medicinal herbs for all Australians.

This is my favourite beginner’s book. Not because it is basic, as it is not but because of its easy page -per-herb layout. Although there is terminology that may yet be foreign to the beginner the wording used throughout this publication is easy to follow and very personable.

Leading with an historic introduction Penelopy Ody gives the reader some background into the origins of herbal medicine. Each herb is discussed in terms of its historical background, parts used and applications. There are full-colour photographs to help the reader identify various parts of each plant. This book does not contain some of the herbs you might find in Mrs Grieve’s A Modern Herbal but it is a more than adequate source of information particularly for the home user. Unlike some other herbals, Ms Ody includes small sections dedicated to the lesser known herbal lore of Ayurvedic Herbs out of India, Australian bush herbs, South American rainforest remedies and even some types of funghi .

Approximately two thirds of the book is herb lore, the remaining third shows the reader what to do with this newly acquired knowledge. Using easy to follow photographs the author takes the reader from harvesting and drying to the techniques involved in making the various remedies. There are basic formulas which can be adapted to many recipes. Charmingly, although the quantities given are standardised, the measurements are provided in metric as well as kitchen utensil equivalent. For example, 62.5mls is given to equal 1 sherry glass whereas 150mls is the same as one tea cup. The section on home remedies goes into the nitty gritty of treating common ailments, suggesting combinations of herbs appropriate for each condition and cautioning the use of some herbs in certain situations.

It is fabulous to see a herbal that addresses some issues unique to Australia, includes some of our native bush remedies, is written in non US English and most importantly it contains a comprehensive list of Australian and New Zealand address list of organisations and practitioners.

Now the bad news, I have looked high and low to find copies of this book. There are some used copies available on Amazon but I can’t find new ones. They may be out there, but even the publishers’ website does not feature it in their search engine. Before you howl with disappointment though, there are other versions of the same book. I ended up buying the American version which is almost identical. I have noticed a few exclusions in the herb department, such as Khella and Galangal but then the use of Khella is restricted in Australia anyway. There are over 130 herbs in this version probably based on the use of Native American remedies in the US. Of course there are not the lists of contacts that I mentioned and you would have to endure US spelling and measurements. I would love to have the Australian version in an Herbology eShop , so if anyone knows if a source, feel free to email me.