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The Story Behind Our New Book: Modern Herbal Medicine

In 1986, I was working for Nature’s Sunshine Products (NSP).  As an employee, I was very inhibited in what I could say about the company’s products because of the strict government regulations about making disease claims for herbs, vitamins, minerals and other nutritional products.  Yet, I could see that people were hungry to hear the “real story,” to know how supplements could help them recover their health when they were experiencing various ailments.

So, on the side I started producing third-party literature to educate NSP’s sales force and empower them with real knowledge about what herbs and other natural products could do.  I’ve been successfully doing this ever since.

By 1994, I recognized that people shopping for herbs and supplements at the health food store faced a similar problem, especially when it came to herbal formulas.  People had to do their own research to try to figure out what they needed, but most herb books only deal with single herbs or do-it-yourself formulas.  So, although most beginning herb users can get better results with a formula than they can with single herbs, they had no reliable guide to helping them figure out what formulas they needed.

We started working on a book in 1995, but personal and business problems prohibited me from getting it to market.  I continued to see the need for such a book, however, and never gave up on the idea.  So, five years ago, I started working on the project again.

We created a computer database and I hired people to start gathering data on herbal formulas from major herb companies. I spoke about the project with other herbalists, who suggested the book would be incomplete without adding a section on single herbs and major nutritional supplements.  My good friend, Thomas Easley, caught the vision of the project and started helping me with the project and we realized we also needed to include basic natural therapies related to things like diet, stress management, exercise and sleep.

Now, five years later, after literally hundreds of hours of collecting data, organizing it, writing, editing and rewriting we’ve completed the project. Modern Herbal Medicine is being printed right now and will start shipping on February 17.  It’s a work we’re very proud to promote, but rather than tooting my own Horne (pun intended), let me share with you what some of our herbal collegues had to say about the book when we let them preview a copy:

Margi Flint, a professional member of the American Herbalists Guild, wrote an absolutely glowing review for us.  Margi is an amazing teacher and mentor in the practice of traditional Herbalism, and her book The Practicing Herbalist is a very valuable part of my personal library.

I am honored to hold the preview edition of Modern Herbal Medicine.  How wonderful to merge these two minds, Steven Horne the elder, Thomas Easley a bit younger, both ripe with herbal wisdom here shared in conversational tones.  The Earth based philosophical introduction takes me back thirty years to my first years of study with Rosemary Gladstar.  “Herbs are the common people’s medicine.” a thought that became the foundation of my practice and is echoed in this precious tome.

Easley and Horne introduce “The Disease Tree”, delightful imagery to see the soil (constitution), the root (environmental stress including physical trauma, toxic overload, nutritional deficiencies, mental and emotional stress), the trunk (biological terrain), branches (body systems), and twigs and leaves (specific disease symptoms) of disease progression.  Yes, this living tree metaphor a reminder for us to see ourselves in our world holistically.

Herbalists have a precise new tool to sharpen their skills.  Modern Herbal Medicine explains biochemistry so nicely that you don’t even notice you have entered the scientific realm.  The book is laid out logically in sections with current-day concise descriptions, cross-references, lists of adjunct therapies, remedies, foods, and supplements from which to choose.  At last!  The confusion at the online or natural food store is alleviated, abbreviated and sources of each vitamin, enzyme or amino acid explained.  Suggested therapies are simply presented with internet or webinar options for further education.  Herbal Formulas, Single Herbs, Key Herbs and Supplements suggested from a great mix of readily available, well respected companies.

We all need good tools.  I will proudly, practically slide this tome in between two books I turn to for daily reference, Bartram’s Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine and Matthew Wood’s The Book of Herbal Wisdom.  Modern Herbal Medicine is a highly crafted tool, cleaned, polished and oiled, now ready for all in the healing arts to invest in, including every Mom and Dad on this beautiful planet Earth.


One of the most respected herbalists in American, Michael Tierra, a founding member of the American Herbalist’s Guild (AHG) and author of the popular East/West Herbal said:

This book is full of useful information on Western herbal healing by one of the finest herbalists in America.  Unlike any other book, it identifies a number of the finest sources where quality herbal products can be obtained.

That was high praise, considering I studied Michael’s East/West Herb course back in the 1980s when I was first getting started, so I consider him to be one of my mentors.

I first heard Amanda McQuade Crawford, another founding member of the AHG, speak at the Green Nations Herb Gathering. I have admired her ever since, not only as a great herbalist and teacher, but as a wonderful human being.  She wrote:

This is an invaluable key for anyone who wants to know how to heal themselves. Far more than a superb reference book describing products so consumers can understand what to buy, Modern Herbal Medicine gives simple yet compelling reasons why we treat root causes rather than herbs for symptoms. Care providers need to add it to their libraries. Everyone who has ever been sick or known someone who has fallen ill needs Modern Herbal Medicine.  

Another one of my favorite herbalists in the AHG, Matthew Wood, also wrote a glowing review. Matthew is the herbalist who got me started with Flower Essences through his Seven Herbs, Plants as Teachers and his Book of Herbal Wisdom and two-volume Earthwise Herbal books are among my favorite herb books. He told us he had a hard time writing a review because he thought the book was so good. He did finally come up with the following:

This is the single most comprehensive textbook on modern Western herbal medicine that I have seen.  It covers many subjects, any one of which could be a book in and of itself, is a simple, down-to-earth, practical fashion.  It will be a necessity for the practicing herbalist, the formula-designer, the health food store employee, and the family caregiver. I will have it on my reference shelf.

I was also pleased that Elson M. Maas, MD, who is the author of many books in my personal library, including Staying Healthy with the Seasons, the Detox Diet, and Staying Healthy with Nutrition agreed to write a review.

Modern Herbal Medicine is not only an excellent resource for using herbs, it also provides great information on naturopathy and general good health.

Finally, I got this endorsement from another AHG professional, Ellen Kamhi. She wrote:

Modern Herbal Medicine is a ‘must have’ for anyone who wants an easy to use, reference guide on how to use botanical medicine for themselves, their ‘cells’ and their families.

This book is unique due to the inclusion of SPECIFIC herbal products and formulas, that individuals can easily access. In addition, there is a simple to understand Key Herbs Section , that describes healing attributes of individual plants, and which quality companies offer them in the marketplace.

You can get the "flavor" of the book by reading the introduction, which we've provided for free on this website. The book is currently available for pre-order (at a 10% savings) in our online store.