Plant Medicine. A Collection of the teachings of Christopher Hedley and Non Shaw

Plant Medicine. A collection of the teachings of Christopher Hedley and Non Shaw. Edited by Guy Waddell.

Published by Aeon

ISNB-13: 978-1-91280-725-3


Reading Plant Medicine brought to life these two legendary characters and their immense herbal knowledge eloquently. Cleverly sectioned; this book you need to read initially from cover to cover, enjoy and learn from. Only then, will you know where to dip into it when the moment of needing some extra knowledge, or another perspective, urgently calls.

It is the manifestation of not one, but two lifetimes of practical medical herbalism, three if you count the valuable insight that Guy’s work has contributed. It’s an intricate collection of all their experience, combined with history, science and the practicalities that need to be considered – with such a complexity of subject matter and the sheer duration of time that this vast amount of learning represents.


On initial inspection one could easily assume there is some repetition of materia medica, but this is not the case – because the sections each give different aspects of knowledge. As an example: the section called Fruits works well by body system including many considerations for herb selection, which is well supported by the Materia medica section. Delving further other sections include Galenic humoral theory, energetics and virtues for the same herbs, so that collectively they bring a depth of knowledge by plant family, by the action of their constituents, energetically and by their virtues. Thus, you get to feel and know the herbs as Christopher and Non knew them so intimately. Plant Medicine requires you to read and to view this book as body of work, as a whole being – made up of many constituent parts.


Whilst some do say that as a couple they were “the herbalists, herbalist” – this book works brilliantly for anyone interested in knowing in depth what plant medicine is, getting to know the actual herbs as Christopher and Non understood and used them, thus understanding the use of herbs as medicine.

In the materia medica section, are herbs included that one may struggle to find reliable information about… so it’s a highly useful resource, which integrates learnings from historic use and multiple disciplines.

Having read this book, I found myself asking on occasion – what would Christopher and Non’s approach have been? Sure enough, their wise words and extensive experience, carefully put together by Guy, could be easily found and considered, when I needed to consider specific plants for medicinal use, or I was needing to check and validate my approach.


The cover design uses Non’s lovely illustrations which have been very cleverly and creatively adapted by Phil Deakin. Plant Medicine is a book that actually feels like “it belongs”;as a friend, confidante and trusted advisor. It’s a book to own and to treasure.

This book deserves desk space and the cover lends itself to weathering the many cups of infusions, tincture bottles etc..that a herbalist’s desk copy will need to endure, as indeed the contents do deliver impeccably good advice – and practical insight that will last into the next millennia… and likely beyond.

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