Toddy - Hatfield's Herbal was a gift from my mum after a recommendation. I like the
style of writing but I think I might be looking for something a bit meatier in terms of
evidence for things. I've only read a few of the ... monographs ? (bits on individual plants)
- I thought I'd start off with things that I can at least recognise!
Anyway - there's lots of "Culpeper says it was used for this, that or the other" but I'm
frustrated that there (probably doesn't exist yet) enough evidence (not anecdote) of
effectiveness or at least plausibility.
It's a charming book though - full of anecdotes and quotations, but I want something that
links up the science of the chemicals in the plants with their alleged properties. She
does mention of course that this is generally lacking as the large scale trial data isn't
there. I've got another book of hers written with a co-author and I'll have to dig that out
again and see what I thought of that - it was more medical if I recall.
Also I tend to get a bit 'ggggnnnn' (that's me doing an irritated face) at phrases like
"believed to help purify the blood" or "good for the kidneys" as, to me, it doesn't really
mean anything. That's not the authors fault, she's reporting what Culpeper or
Gerard (I think) or someone else has said.
I think it's just me really - I'm a chemist deep down and I want to know (actually know is
probably the wrong word, I'm quite happy with not knowing) a bit more about the chemistry
underpinning these effects. It's not that I don't believe that there are chemicals in plants
that can have effects on the body - I absolutely do, but hearing that so and so records
the belief that a plant is good for something doesn't quite do it for me.
I have already taken a pencil to it - I am incorrigible
I might have missed the nuance of folk v. herbal although I was surprised that dandelions
were / are imported for herbal remedies... anyway it's firmly attached to my bedside
table as it's a fascinating read.
As an aside - I also received a lovely book by Jean Langenheim on Plant Resins and the
author is a paleobotanist who mentioned in her introduction the many disciplines she has
had to study in order to bring her resins book to fruition (chemistry, ethnobotany, ecology
etc. etc.) and she comments that a university colleague said that resins had created a
nice "cosmos" for her - I suppose a little world full of interesting branches of study.
I smiled when I read that as it's pretty much how I felt when I discovered this bushcraft
malarkey - it's bursting with interesting branches and side-branches. It's a whole world
of fascination really
Might have had a wee ramble there but I think I could quite happily learn an awful lot
more about plants and medical herbalism. I'm looking into a week long course at
Birkbeck (London) about medicinal plants, for the summer.
Jonny - what a good idea not to have your real name. I did wonder hehe.
"Ah well that's the trouble you see, only last week the doctor
said I wasn't even to look at another knapped flint."