While it is true that conventional medicine is male-centric, so-called ‘alternative medicine’ has focused more on the female (with a few exceptions that see humans as essentially without gender, such as energy working). That has been specifically true of the herbal knowledge.

James Green, master herbalist, co-director of the California School of Herbal Studies in Forestville, Calif., and author of The Male Herbal: Health Care for Men and Boys is especially aware of this. For years he searched the herbal literature for information about the treatment and prevention of common male disorders. There wasn't much, and he wondered why. In workshops and seminars he asked other men and, Green says, "it dawned on me that American men are just now creating their gender-specific system of medicine and healing techniques." The result is a blending of conventional and complementary therapies. (In Europe, where physicians routinely prescribe botanical remedies, male conditions have long been treated with herbs, and much of what we know about plant-based disease prevention and treatment comes from that region.)

I found the prose captivating, and enjoyed Green’s ‘voice’ very much. He has eloquence (and a passion) for his subject that comes through clearly in each paragraph.

Although I am not a man, I have known many in my lifetime and I showed this book to several of them and asked if the information seemed valuable. They were interested in herbs like kava (for stress) and each one could relate to the idea of reducing the harmful effects of stress on their bodies (even if they couldn’t actually reduce the amount of stress they were enduring). The information on gingko and ginseng and their properties of increasing circulation led to a conversation about high blood pressure and heart disease. (A topic on which Green devotes a large portion of his chapter on “Specific Male Care.”)

The topics include herbal suggestions with recipes, how to pick the right herb, how to prepare the herbs (infusion, decoction, etc), creating a ‘wholistic’ way of life (as opposed to one including allopathic or traditional western medicine treatments), a pictorial glossary of herbs, an informative glossary, and wonderful folklore & herbal recipes for most every male complaint.

The Male Herbal is a lovely book, filled with exquisitely drawn illustrations of various plants. Highly recommended.


~review by Lisa Mc Sherry

Author: James Green

Crossing Press, 2007 (2nd edition)

pp. 340, $16.95