Herbal Medicine: Trends and Traditions, Et Al: weekly product review

Medicinal Plants of the American Southwest (Herbal Medicine of the American Southwest)Legally I have to write a disclosure here, I PURCHASED THE BOOKS BEING REVIEWED HERE WITH MY MONEY and did not receive anything in exchange for a review of any type. Additionally, I am not a doctor any advice given is done so as part of a review and any questions or issues should be addressed to a medical professional. I did attempt to clarify some minor points such as his background and biography, however, he was unavailable for comment at the time of submission.

Books are among the most important tools that I can invest in when it comes to my children and the future through them. Specifically, literature that allows them to be better prepared where they live and outside these areas as well. One of the most important books I have in my extensive collection is, Herbal Medicine: Trends and Traditions. Additional works from this author include but are not limited too, Medicinal Plants of the American Southwest by Charles W. Kane as well as several others.

It is my opinion that some people make good teachers, others make great doers and lastly, there are a few who are both great doers and great teachers. I strive to simply do most days, this being said Charles W. Kane is someone who easily fills the role of teacher and doer. He is quite the opposite of what most people would expect, maintaining a low key life and attempting to stay out of the spotlight whenever possible. I believe, however, that his work is easily among the most important of the modern herbalists available.

His in-depth, well researched and proven methodologies allow for little argument from informed individuals who want to bolster their knowledge base or further increase it, to their great benefit. Additionally, his experience in the military, specifically in Afghanistan is something that does come into play with Herbal Medicine: Trends and Traditions.² Overall, I highly recommend his work regardless your place of residence, and especially if you live in the American Southwest and Northern Mexico.

I personally have lived in and around the American Southwest and other minor areas for over 3 decades now. Having moved to Cochise County, Sulfur Springs Valley specifically as a child in the 1980s the high desert is very much in my blood. In the 30+ years, I have spent in and around the Southwest easily 30% or more of that time has been spent quite literally living with the land. I know the plants, animals and even environmental habits of this arid land I love so very much. So the review of Charles W. Kane and his amazing masterpiece Medicinal Plants of the American Southwest is easily accomplished. My personal knowledge and experience in herbal medicine are not as in-depth as many here on this site.

Pros –

  • The work is concise and informative without being overbearing or discombobulated like so many tend to be.
  • Easy to read descriptions and step by step approaches allow for the well-read individual to easily navigate and utilize the information included.
  • Mr. Kane treats the reader as an adult, his approach is educated without being preachy, an important and very nice difference compared to many authors.
  • Pictures and descriptions are included with English, Spanish and even Latin names of plants included.
  • He also includes information with citations of that information if is based in medical journals and guide books.
  • My favorite information included is the techniques used for collection of EACH included plant as well as preparation techniques per medical information prior to the modern medicine approach.
  • He disabuses the notion that herbalism alone or western medicine alone are enough, quite in line with the simple approach of balance in all things.

Cons –

  • Pictures are included with blooming plants, however, in the Southwest, we have far more time spent with plants not in bloom, I understand the depth of work he put in so this is not a true problem though it may be something to consider for the future.

How an herb is prepared is as important as how it is dispensed.” ¹ This is the constant reality that he promotes regularly. He is clear in showing that each individual plant may, in fact, have different approaches best suited to its preparation and the application of said herbs. Per the author, “I have included an extensive glossary, but know it is better to stretch yourself mentally than stay in the confines of “if you have xyz ailment take xyz herb”. Additionally, he states, “The usefulness of this book hinges on two questions: When should I use herbal medicines and how should I use them?” ²

I firmly recommend these books and others in the series for anyone interested in a serious examination of herb-based medicinal approaches. As the author states, “I have attempted to clarify the therapeutic value of the most popular plants currently used in western herbal medicine” and his strident warnings resonate with myself who have been the recipient of misinformed holistic care resulting in further degradation of issues not fixable with herbs. He writes, “Do not use herbal medicines as replacement for ambulatory care. Herbs perform poorly of used for organic problems when an organ or tissue group is broken beyond repair.” ² As a firm believer in a balanced approach, something akin to Taoism in my own life there is a very real need for a balance of physical, spiritual and emotional within our persons. Regardless our definition of spiritual, the idea is that we must, in fact, nourish the aspects of our individual person if we want to see a net benefit overall.

While these amazing books do not outline much in this regards he understands that herbal medicine is not, in fact, a cure-all. A most important distinction that many individuals fail to recognize within their own approach and a failing that I have seen quite often among the independent and individualistic persons that make up the homestead community at large; most especially within myself. We all have approaches that have worked for us over time, and in many cases, we have clung to our fixes and approaches at the potential exclusion of additional valuable information from others. It is my goal as with all of my reviews to present you with information that may assist you in better preparing your life and that of your loved ones for success on the homestead and in our daily prepping journeys.

While I am certain there are many knowledgeable individuals with regards to various herb-based medicines, I am also well aware of far more who have decided to ride the wave of old wives tales and bad information that plagues the internet and this sadly is not a good thing. Knowledge of and ability to use herbal medicine can be a very valuable, valid item to add to anyone’s chest of skills on the homestead; this being said, misinformation can kill you. Follow the precautions laid out by those who know and avoid approaches sold as a “cure all”. I for one have little to no real time or energy for individuals who peddle snake oil. This author and the many valuable books he has written are not snake oil, rather they are extremely beneficial additions to anyone’s chest of tools on the homestead.

Free the mind and the body will follow

¹ Kane, C. W. (2016). Medicinal plants of the American Southwest. Oracle, AZ: Lincoln Town Press.

² Kane, C. W. (2009). Herbal medicine trends and traditions a comprehensive sourcebook on the preparation and use of medicinal plants. Oracle, AZ: Lincoln Town Press.

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Jesse Mathewson

Arizona since 86', lifetime prepper, camper - criminal justice advanced degrees, numerous certifications, 1+ million rounds (shooting for decades), prior contractor, instructor, current volunteer, disabled, honest, father of two husband of one - all budget and prepared. Jesse Mathewson reviews because regular people need someone in their corner as well!

10 Responses

  1. Mrs. B says:

    I love to read books about natural healing. It’s amazing what nature can do. In western medicine, much of this knowledge is ignored for a more civilized approach. Much to the users detriment. Have you ever read the side effects of the prescriptions you take on a daily basis? Scary. Natural remedies are so much better in the long run. Great job Jesse.

  2. JP in MT says:

    Books. One of the many things that I am putting in Deep Sleep. Some things will be skills you will need to have right away, but others can be saved for when “modern” conveniences are no longer available. My medical books seem to fall into both categories. I have not “bagged them up” for storage, but I haven’t gone through them either. Time, the master and enemy of us all.

  3. Always Forward says:

    Really a well-written and thorough book review. Another good book is “Southeast Foraging” by Chris Bennett. Very good and helpful pictures. Many wild edibles are also medicinal. Oh, to follow some old timer around who knew what they were doing!

  4. Norman Franklin says:


    We had hoped when moved down here we would have time to gather wild edibles and seeds. Much bounty in Az, NM, and northern Mexico. So far not much time for that except the wild goose berries, and black berries that grow close to our property. It sounds like Kane’s work is a must have for the desert dwellers of the SW. I will look to add it to my library. Thanks for the information.

    From the other post you wrote ‘the more you read the more intelligent you become. Reading powers the mind.’ I could not agree more. I wish I had more time to read. At night I read myself to sleep. In the morning with coffee I try to keep up on happenings.

    Thanks for a couple nice articles.

  5. Greg M. says:

    Jesse, I have that book too. Good piece of work. I’m with you on how interesting the SW is. The only thing I miss here is being close to a body of water to go fishing in, LOL. Thanks for the great review.

    • Jesse Mathewson says:

      Greg, so true- however, add our sunsets and lengthy growing season and…I can be okay driving for fishing hahah

      • Greg M. says:

        You are absolutely correct about our sunsets (and sunrises sometimes). Also about the lengthy growing season. We hope to have some cucumbers, tomatoes, cantaloupe, pumpkins, sweet peppers and we planted sage, lavender, and a ton of flowers this season. Roses are blooming like crazy. So far, so good for our growing season.

  6. GA Red says:

    I’ve added two more books to my shopping list on Amazon now. I think herbal remedies are useful and good to know, as is knowing what is edible in your area. I am reminded of the movie Into the Wild where the young man eventually died because he didn’t know how to tell the difference between an edible berry and one that looked similar but was poisonous.

    Also, I have found an herbal learning subscription that seems to be the right amount of reading for me (short and quick) so that I can learn a little at a time, but I like having more all-encompassing books on hand for reference too. Since I’ve only just started the subscription and have only gotten one month thus far, I won’t be recommending it yet. I read the booklet from the first month on the day I received it. Now all I need to do is find a place to plant the seeds that came with it.

    Thanks for the reviews. I don’t always comment but I do try to read them.