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Book Review:

Mood Enhancing Plants
Chrissie Wildwood

Paperback: 306 pages ; Dimensions (in inches): 9.60 x 6.70
Publisher: The CW Daniel Company, Ltd.; (March 15, 2004)
ISBN: 0852073585

With this volume Chrissy Wildwood has made a truly unique contribution to the plethora of books on herbs and aromatherapy already on the market. Her approach is holistic and wide-ranging: it includes discussions on the nature of emotional well-being and dis-ease within a greater philosophical and ecological context as well as discussing eco-spirituality and conservation issues alongside much practical information on utilising herbs to improve emotional well-being in a variety of ways, both remedial and for pleasure - for emotional well-being is a path of beauty and appreciation of beauty. But above all it is her thoughtful address of conservation issues that really made the book special for me. All too often this issue ignored by authors, merchants and users of herbal medicine alike.

The recent boom in aromatherapy and herbal medicine has had serious consequences on wild plant populations that are mercilessly exploited to satisfy an ever-growing market demands. Consumers meanwhile, like to think of themselves as 'green', simply because they utilize herbs instead of chemicals, never considering the fact that rare plant species are becoming ever more endangered due to over exploitation by the herbal medicine trade. Golden Seal, Ginseng, Rosewood and Sandalwood are just a few of the plants that have suffered from their own popularity. Her argument is very timely - healing cannot, by definition, be holistic if plants or animals have to suffer for our well-being. That does not mean we should not use herbs, but it does mean we must be conscious of our consumer choices and the effects they may have on the broader ecology. This book brings these issues into a sharp focus, but does not just paint the bleak picture, it also shows ways in which people can take responsibility and make a difference by making conscious choices.

Another aspect addressed here, also unusual for a book on herbal medicine, is the relatively new field of eco-psychology and the idea of reconnecting our bodies and souls to mother earth in order to regain a sense of emotional balance and ecological awareness.

The book is structured in two parts. The first part starts by dealing with the philosophical considerations of emotional well-being and ways to regain balance, including dietary considerations and engaging the senses to gain a richer appreciation of plants and nature. It continues with an exploration of the chemistry of plants and the ways in which they affect mind and body. The third chapter explores the wider issues of ecology and herbal medicine while the following chapters are full of practical suggestions on how to use plants for mood improvement, including many recipes for teas, incense blends and aromatherapy uses. Her recipes not only focus on moods, but also on celebrating the sacredness of all life. Her approach to emotional well-being also addresses some of the most common physical conditions associated with imbalance, such as PMS or menopause and stress. The second part of the book is an encyclopaedia of herbs that affect the nervous system and emotional balance. While much of this information can be found elsewhere, it is rare to find such a compilation in one book. There is also much up-to-date research information not just on the safety and actions of plants but also their regarding their conservation status. The information presented here is truly excellent and well researched and adds a unique dimension to the herbal library, not already covered by dozens of other books.

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Please note that although all the references to edible and medicinal herbs are tried and tested, their efficacy cannot be guaranteed and has not been approved by the FDA. Furthermore, everybody responds differently to various plants, and adverse reactions cannot be ruled out. Historical information regarding poisonous plants is included for educational purposes only and should not be tried out at home. Everybody uses herbs at their own risk and thus must make themselves fully aware of their potential power. Any information given here is educational and should not replace a visit to the doctor should this be necessary. Neither Sacred Earth nor Kat Morgenstern accepts responsibility for anybody's home experimentation. Links to external sites are included as pointers to further resources - we do not endorse them or are in any way responsible for their content, nor do we thus verify that their content is accurate.