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Thursday, March 13, 2014

Book Review: Jude's Herbal Home Remedies by Jude C. Todd

Jude's Herbal Home Remedies by: Jude C. Todd
Whenever I am looking for a new book I turn to recommendations from those I admire or those I wish to learn from.  And that is how I found this book. It was recommended by someone I see as somewhat of a role model, and someone who's herbal practice I hope to match at some point.  Her recommendation was so "glowing" in fact that I was very much excited to get myself a copy and when it came in the mail I actually quit reading another book in order to jump right in to this one.

Unfortunately, I was extremely disappointed!  More so I think than I have been with a book in a long time! Before I get in to all the things "wrong" with this book though, I want to talk about the things that are "right" with it.

There are in fact quite a lot of useful recipes here.  I would think, if I had to count there are more than likely 1000 solid recipes here. And there is a really good chapter on Gardening as well. Plus hundreds of drawings of herbs, flowers and other plants to help you identify what you're looking at.  All of that is great, BUT, in my opinion it's greatly outweighed by the books negatives, some of which could be downright dangerous.

First, it's important to understand that it was written in the early 90's.  Since that time we have learned new things about some herbs which has allowed us to limit or even delete their use due to possible long term dangers.  Because this book was written prior to that time, numerous recipes include herbs which are now known to be toxic.  The one which comes to mind first was Comfrey.  Comfrey has been shown to contain chemicals which can cause liver toxicity and even cancer, which is why MOST herbalists today will only suggest it's use for external issues, and even then with caution.  This book though, suggests it's use in everything from tea or capsules for internal use, and does so with NO cautions or alternatives.

Which brings me to my second issue with this book. Although the author was clearly writing to someone who is new to the world of Herbs and Holistics, there is very little description of herbs given. Towards the very end of the book there are a few recipes which do list the "reasons" why specific herbs are used, but this information is NOT provided for the vast majority.  Not providing this information is harmful for a few reasons, first, it does not allow for recipe adaptation when needed. Not every system is in need of the same strengths from one herb or another. Also, because there is little description given it would be difficult for someone who is new to make substitutions where they need to - either for lack of access to an herb or due to allergies.

The third problem worth pointing out here is that numerous recipes include ingredients which are toxic within themselves.  Mineral Oil, Petroleum Jelly and Motor Oil, just to name a few, should be avoided when it comes to creating herbal products.  In my mind the entire point of turning to herbs over "conventional medicine" is to get rid of the questionable and toxic chemicals and return to a natural way of healing. This can not be done with your herbal concoctions are made with the same substances which the conventional ones are.

Lastly this title confuses terms quite often, which could make it difficult for someone to find further information or advice.  The best example I can give of this is that the author uses the terms "infusion" and "tincture" interchangeably.  The problem with this is that infusions (such as herbal teas) are usually consumed on a much larger scale than their Tincture counterparts would be.  While an herbal tea may be drank by the "cup" serving, a tincture shouldn't usually exceed a tea-spoon dosage (and even that is extreme.) While this may seem like an impossible mistake to make, when you are new, it's easy to confuse things - especially when the book you're reading is less than clear on the difference!

I would have to give this book a 1 out of 5 stars and label it with a HUGE caution sign.  IF you are someone who has enough experience with herbs to navigate through the bad (sometimes dangerous) advice and alter the recipes given to fit your needs, you don't need this book in the first place. And if you're just starting out to the point that you would need to rely on such an extensive recipe book, there are a great many out there which will provide you with sound and solid advice - do NOT rely on this one!


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