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Book Review: The Medicinal Handbook

Spirituality & Health Magazine
reviewed by Jennifer Haupt

The Medicinal Gardening Handbook
A Complete Guide to Growing, Harvesting, and Using Healing Herbs
By Dede Cummings and Alyssa Holmes
Skyhorse Publishing

Just in time for planting season, Dede Cummings and Alyssa Holmes offer this seed-to-salve guide to healing herbs. Luscious photos and simple “how to” information supply you with everything you need to know to grow 24 useful additions to your medicine cabinet: 12 sun-loving plants that are easily cultivated in the backyard or on a windowsill or deck, and 12 common wild herbs.

The authors provide comprehensive information on each plant, from how to cultivate it to the best way to reap its benefits: elderberries can be made into an effective syrup for relieving cold and flu symptoms, and its flowers into a healing salve for rashes, sunburn, and acne. Helpful tips cover the best times to plant, which species do well indoors, techniques for warding off pests, and harvesting tools. The versatile Saint-John’s-wort, a bright yellow flower, can easily be made into a tincture or salve to be used as a sedative, astringent, antibacterial agent, or antidepressant.Cummings and Holmes sprinkle in anecdotes about their favorite homegrown remedies and draw on a handful of other gardening experts to supplement their own knowledge. For example, Courtney Wilder, an urban landscape gardener who lives in Brooklyn, shares tips on incorporating medicinal herbs in ornamental pots on an apartment terrace. And there’s a section of great recipes for making everything from lip balm and bath salts to sachets and dream pillows.


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