Prepper Book Festival 12: Be Your Own Herbalist

Gaye Levy Gaye Levy  |  Updated: August 24, 2021
Prepper Book Festival 12: Be Your Own Herbalist

How much do you know about herbal medicine?  Or perhaps more important, how much do you know about becoming your own herbalist?  You might be asking, “what is an herbalist”?  An herbalist is someone who is proficient in the use of herbs.  As simplistic as that seems, if you are like me you have read books, studied and grown herbs, and then, with the exception of a few select plants, filed this herbal knowledge away for sometime down the road.

That needs to change.  Earlier this week I sat down and read Be Your Own Herbalist: Essential Herbs for Health, Beauty, and Cooking and all I can say is WOW.  This is the easiest to read, and easiest to understand book on herbal medicine that I have read to date.  I do not say that lightly.

Be Your Own Herbalist | Backdoor Survival

But I am getting ahead of myself. Be Your Own Herbalist, by Michelle Schoffro Cook, is the newest book in Prepper Book Festival #12.  In this book, thirty of the most common and most effective herbs are described along with a brief history, growing and harvesting instructions, common medicinal uses, and references to credible research attesting to their effectiveness.

What do I like the best about this book?  These are common herbs that we are familiar with and not obscure and expensive herbs only available from a mail order supply house.  The fact that these herbs are familiar coupled with an extensive index places this book right alongside my essential oils “bibles” and, indeed, encourages me to seek an herbal solution to minor medical woes as often as I seek an EO solution.

One more thing: the writing style is personal and familiar, almost as though a friend is chatting with you over a cup of herbal coffee or tea.  Be Your Own Herbalist is lacking in techno-jargon and I like that.

The author, Michelle Schoffro Cook, is here today to respond to the Prepper Book Festival interview questions plus offer three copies to lucky readers in a giveaway. Enjoy the interview then be sure to check in below to learn about the giveaway.

An Interview with Michelle Schoffro Cook, Author of Be Your Own Herbalist

Tell me about your book. What is it about?

Be Your Own Herbalist: Essential Herbs for Health, Beauty, and Cooking is a complete guide to growing, harvesting, using, and healing with herbs—in your food or as medicine.

I want to empower readers to take charge of their food and health and become more self-sufficient so I’ve created a handbook for growing or obtaining readily-available and commonly-grown herbs throughout North America. But the book is not intended to just be one that sits on shelves. It is intended to help inspire a revolution of sorts where people take charge of their own health instead of paying hundreds or even thousands of dollars every month to Big Pharma for largely toxic compounds to “improve” their health.

Herbs are the oldest and most powerful medicines on the planet and I want people to get back in touch with their ancestral roots in this regard.

What type of research did you have to do while writing your book?

I’ve been researching herbs almost every day for nearly three decades, at first for my own health and then for 25 years as a health professional. The research about long-standing traditional medicines excites me because it helps people in our society who need proof that herbs work obtain that proof.

How long did it take to write?

I wrote the book in less than a year but it is based on my article series about herbs for Mother Earth Living magazine which I wrote for a few years prior to the book.

Every book, fiction and non-fiction, includes a message. What message do you hope my readers will take with them after reading your book?

The message I want to convey is one of hope and empowerment. Many doctors told me that there was no hope for me by the time I was 21.

I don’t want others to know what that feels like, to know that despair and hopelessness. Instead, I want them to know that there is powerful plant-medicine all around us; we just need to learn to access and use it for our health. Many herbs have been shown to be more potent than the drugs people use and with far fewer side-effects, and a much greater safety record.

Can you tell us a little bit more about yourself?

I live with my husband of almost 19 years in a small, remote town with just over an acre of land that we’re converting from lawn to food and herbal medicine gardens. I’m passionate about food and herbs as medicine and spend my days gardening, foraging, and educating people about these topics in my books and blogs.

I blog on my own site,, and the popular health and environmental site

As an author in the survival, prepping, self-sufficiency or homesteading niche, what are you personally preparing for?

I am preparing for the current and ongoing destruction of our food supply through genetically-modified organisms (GMOs), nutrient depletion through industrial farming, monoculture, chemical spraying, and many other factors that are destroying the food we eat.

By living in a remote area surrounded by mountains with a great and long growing climate, great soil and fresh water, I am prepping against food insecurity and what seems to be increasing amounts of natural and human-caused destruction.

What would be your first prep-step if you were just getting started?

Dig up a portion or all of your lawn and plant some seeds. Water and care for them and harvest your own food and medicine. It is a great first step and an amazing feeling of accomplishment. Plus, you can’t beat the taste of freshly-grown food or the medicinal value of freshly-harvested medicines.

And the sense of accomplishment is amazing.

What movie do you think gives the best portrayal of what could happen?

I don’t actually watch many movies so that’s hard to say but just looking around I see that we’re facing some serious challenges as a species. Not only is our food supply in shortage and will continue to be if bee colonies die off as a result of pesticide use, but odd weather patterns and natural disasters show that we need greater self-sufficiency and preparedness for a wide range of possibilities.

Do you have plans for another book?

Yes, I’m working on a new book all about fermenting foods (which is a great way to preserve foods that you’ve grown) along with their many health benefits.

Is there anything else you would like to share with my readers?

I understand from experience that exploring the realms of herbal medicine can be daunting for many people. After all, we’ve been taught that herbs are dangerous or inferior to pharmaceutical drugs.

I want readers to know that peeling off layers of social conditioning is just as important for prepping as amassing stores of food. Growing and using natural medicines allows you to regain control over your own health and the health of your family, preventing and even reversing many serious health conditions. It is an essential step toward a life of self-sufficiency and independence.

The Giveaway

Michelle and her publisher have reserved 3 copies of her book in this newest Book Festival Giveaway.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The deadline is 6:00 PM Pacific Tuesday with the winner notified by email and announced on the Rafflecopter in the article.  Please note that the winner must claim their book within 48 hours or an alternate will be selected.

Note:  This giveaway is only open to individuals with a mailing address in the United States.

The Final Word

As an information junkie, a lot of written material crosses my desk.  Some of this information comes in the form of blog articles and eBooks, but a surprising amount still is in print book format.  To that end, Be Your Own Herbalist is one book I am thrilled to have in print form.  I will refer to it often and expect it to become quite dog-eared.

For more information about the books in this latest book festival, visit Prepper Book Festival #12: The Best Books to Help You Prepare, Stay Healthy and Be Happy.

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!

If you enjoyed this article, consider voting for Backdoor Survival daily at Top Prepper Websites!

In addition, SUBSCRIBE to email updates  and receive a free, downloadable copy of my e-book The Emergency Food Buyer’s Guide.


Spotlight:  .Be Your Own Herbalist: Essential Herbs for Health, Beauty, and Cooking

This complete guide will get you growing, harvesting, using, and healing with herbs — the world’s oldest and most effective natural medicines.

Popular health writer Dr. Michelle Schoffro Cook profiles thirty-one common and easy-to-grow (or readily available) herbs, sharing scientific discoveries about their usefulness and offering more than one hundred easy ways to use them in delicious recipes, healing teas, and soothing body treatments. You’ll discover ways to delight body and mind as you incorporate Mother Nature’s medicines into daily life, where they nurture and protect.

Plus: The Preppers Guide to Food Storage

No list of books would be complete without my own book, The Prepper’s Guide to Food Storage.  The eBook print version is available.

Third Edition:  The SURVIVAL MEDICINE Handbook

A frequent question I get on Backdoor Survival has to do with healthcare matters when there is no doctor around. This is the definite source of survival medical information for all Prepper’s and is my go-to bible for survival medicine.

Survival Medicine Handbook 2016


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92 Responses to “Prepper Book Festival 12: Be Your Own Herbalist”

  1. I am not sure what herb..but whatever is needed for reducing pain/swelling from arthritis…if there is an herb for this.

    • my aunt and I drink nettle tea for arthritis pain. You can google the health benefits of nettle tea and see too

    • Ginger and turmeric are both great, both as additions to food or brewed as tea. Fresh turmeric is easy to grow here in the South, and I also grow baby ginger and freeze it for up to a year. Eat some everyday on oatmeal for breakfast.

  2. I cant identify many herbs but I can identify planten and I know it has great healing properties, so go for it.

    • YARROW is an AMAZING herb! some herbalists so revere this herb they call her ‘Madame Yarrow’ she can be used both internally & externally, used to be carried by soldiers at war for the extensive uses – a book can be written about this herb alone

  3. I want to become an herbalist so learning about ALL of them is what I’d like! This book looks fantastic!

  4. If I had to name just one herb to learn more about, I’d say dandelions. They grow without trouble in any pesticide free yard, although I’ll need to deal with the small game that like to graze on our dandelions…rabbits and groundhogs for sure, possibly more I don’t notice….
    But if you’re doing an article, maybe something on things that grow as weeds in untended yards that can be used herbally would be awesome!

  5. I would like to know what herbs will help us maintain our health in plain language. Having Lupus and no thyroid I have been researching what I can do when SHTF and we are not able to get our meds and our “stash” has been exhausted.
    This would be so great to win
    Thanks Gaye!!

    • if there’s any herb that can replace the human thyroid gland, i’d certainly like to know about it!

  6. I am currently growing comfrey for fertilizing my gardens – and I hear 2 sides of the uses for medicine. Would love to learn the medicinal and health benefits of this herb.
    This sounds like a like-minded person and would love to utilize this book in my attempts to control my health for only my time vested. I currently drink nettle tea and am hoping to incorporate that into my food forest in progress.
    Thank you Deeply for all you do and all you care about!

  7. This book sounds excellent. I grow herbs but have read little on benifits and focus most on spices for food. I need more education and this would seam to be the one stop source

  8. I think including references on utilizing herbs is a great direction for gayle to be moving in. We all could benefit from some of this “common sense”healing. Thanks as usual for doing a super job, e.

  9. Herbs, so many and so much to learn. It would be nice to learn basics to get going and then delve deeper into more as we learn the basics.

  10. I can’t name a specific herb/medicinal, but rather I would like to know which ones are effective in the reduction of inflammation.

    • i’ve been taking 1 gram (1000mg) of turmeric twice a day for a few years, for inflammation caused by ibs and arthritis. i knew right away that it was helping the ibs, but wasn’t sure how much it was doing for my joint pain. then, in march, i ran out of the capsules and couldn’t get any more for almost a week. to my amazement, within 2-3 days every joint in my body was sore! i could barely move. a couple of days after i resumed taking it, my joints were back to “normal”. my ibs also flared and is only now settling back down–i guess my gut reacts more slowly than my joints do. a couple of doctors have told me they’ve heard similar stories from other patients. i take spring valley brand turmeric capsules containing 500mg curcumin (the active ingredient) each, and pay about $5.50 at walmart for a bottle of 90. of course, it may not work for you–but turmeric is not something that’s going to poison you, so it might be worth trying.

  11. Living in AZ, I’d like to know more about medicinal plants that grow in the desert. There is a fairly renowned naturalist who lives near Apache Junction AZ named Peter Bigfoot who I think has a lot of information about such plants. I know he makes his own tinctures. Maybe you could interview him?

    • I have read much about him. Since you live there, you might check when there is meeting there. i know there are many who look forward to that. I would go but it’s the wrong part of the country for me. He has a great reputation.

  12. I am excited about this book, as learning the “how to’s” on DIY herbs has been on the back of my mind alot lately. I am interested in the regenerative properties in herbs for medicinal applications, especially if antibiotics are not a reasonable choice.

  13. Slippery Elm and Alfalfa. Like Julia above this comment. We would like to know more about medicinal plants in AZ.
    One other item of concern. When I visit your facebook page there is a sign that pops up and covers a good portion of the page and it stays there. Anyway you could take it off? It’s just irritating. Also what breed is Tucker?

    • I do not have any popups on my FB page so I don’t have a clue as to what they are or where they are coming from. I am baffled and to tell the truth, somewhat annoyed that other online sites seed their ads on someone else’s FB page. Honestly, I do not place any ads at all on FB.

      Tucker the Awesome Wonderdog is a Yorkie.

    • I got a pop-up as well, but it was basically Facebook trying to get us to sign in/sign up. As I don’t have a FB account, I ignored it and read your page in the section of the window not covered. If Dennis was seeing something else, it’s possible he has malware that puts extra ads on websites….I’ve had a few teachers at the school I work for (in IT) who managed to infect their browsers with adware.

  14. This is something I definitely wish to learn, and intend that my whole family learns.With a possible 5th great-grandchild, on the way, using herbs is a far better solution, for the many ills the family has, and will go through, and without the side effects that prescriptions add to the currentchemical overloads most people have to deal with.. learning about natural remedies has long been my desire, and this book sounds like a great way to learn.

  15. Lavender, peppermint, and rosemary seem to take care of most ailments. An in-depth article on using those three would be great!

    • I hope you are a fan of my Miracle Healing Salve. I have an update planned for September 16th as well.

  16. I would like to learn what herbs are good for managing high blood pressure. I think garlic is one, and maybe Ylang Ylang?

    • Mushrooms Once you get your bp down to normal, just 2 per week can keep it there. O and don’t forget to set them in the sun in the am before you fix them in the pm. This way they can be absorbing Vita D. They are good source for D. Until you get it managed, begin by fixing some in your favorite menu dishes at least 3 times a week. At least that’s how I manage mine–now for 8 years.

  17. I would like to know more about harvesting and using cottonwood resin. I heard it has wonderful healing properties.

  18. I love the idea of herbs and flowers and stuff but know that you have to know what you’re picking just as is the case in picking mushrooms. Speaking for myself I have much learning yet before attempting doing it myself.

  19. I am interested in hearing about natural remedies for Rheumatoid Arthritis. I have chosen not to continue trying all the injections and infusions my rheumatologist prescribes.

  20. I would be interested in easy-to-grow herbs and any herbs for high blood pressure and/or high cholesterol.

  21. I’ve worked for years on incorporating herbs into daily, besides cooking, and already depend on them for some things. Learning more about them is my next goal.

  22. My husband has high blood pressure. I would like to know how to treat that naturally. Plus, I am both hypothyroid and have S.A.D. How could those be treated with herbs from my garden or yard?

  23. Wow! What DON’T I want to know more about? I would love to know more about the antiseptic uses of thyme. I also want to know how to prepare feverfew for headache relief.

  24. I would be interested in any herb that can be found “in the wild” and what it can be used for example, dandelion.

  25. I do plan to get this book; though since I’m working on my own, I won’t read until after I finish mine. Please remember, it’s not just about herbs and spices, it’s also about knowing the nutritional and medicinal benefits about any food/beverages we ingest.

    O and FYI: since salt and peppercorns have almost an indefinite shelf life, when stored with beans, pasta, and yes even in the pockets of our clothes in the closet, these 2 items keep food tasty while keeping the bugs at bay. 😉 I started with bp and ‘shrooms, and now only have to take one ‘script although I am seeing that changing now too. If/when you begin this, please consult your primary care—even if they don’t have much knowledge about nutrition, they can help you keep from going too far too fast.
    Also, one if the things I’ve learned is, like exercise if you take the same thing everyday or exercise doing the same thing everyday, our bodies have an amazing ability to begin to recognize this as a daily routine so it requires more or variation.

    I’ve found we’ve been given such variety when it comes to foods and their combinations, why would anyone want to eat the same thing everyday! Whether meds or supplements, its the same.

  26. I grow comfrey,peppermint, horehound, mullein, and have a yard full of dandelion, plantain, and violet.I would love to learn more about using them.

  27. I would like to know about growing and using herbs in hot humid areas of the gulf coast. I’ve found plenty of information for the east coast, west coast, mid-west and southwest but very little information for the hot and humid areas of the gulf coast like east Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, etc. Have found very few herbalists or foragers in these areas.

  28. There are so many herbs I have heard have medicinal properties that I don’t know enough about, but comfrey, rosemary, and turmeric are all on the list.

  29. I would have to pick plantain, dandelion and white clover since they all grow way better then grass does in my lawn.

  30. I would love to be able to supplement my EO’s with herbs. When the pills dry up you better be able to help yourself.

  31. Comfrey. I saw on a TV show that it can be used for a number of things. I don’t know what though. Would love to learn more.

  32. I have a balcony garden and would like to know what to plant next year for a basic medicinal garden. My space is limited and food is the priority but any suggestions would be helpful.

  33. I’d like to learn, not about a specific herb, but the best ways for growing them. I’m a student so only have my room at uni, no garden. Is it feasible? If so which herbs should be prioritised?

  34. Since I know almost nothing about herbs I would like to learn more and actually be able to grow and use them.

  35. I’d like to learn more about many herbs, but one that is covered in this book, red clover, is a particular one I want to look at closer.

  36. Culinary (food) oils can be used for so many things! The citrus family are very inexpensive and versatile. Rosemary oil can be used to groom the hair after washing (one drop goes a long way). Apply it to your palms and just rub in on hair ends.

  37. I would like to learn some beneficial uses of white clover since my yard has had so much of it the last few years.

  38. More information on comfrey would be appreciated. I was recently told it is found as a common “weed” in yards but has wonderful medicinal value. Just haven’t had the time to research it yet. Thanks for all you do!

  39. Wow, I dont know specifically which herbs but I would like to know what and how to grow a few basic herbs that are good for a variety of things and then what to do with them after harvest and how to best use them.

  40. I too would like to know about clover. It’s in my yard & I leave it as long as possible for the honey bees. What other uses for it?

  41. The herbs that I grow and use the most are parsley, oregano,mints, basil,and rosemary. Have a little more room for a few more but I would love to know how to use these for good things other than cooking.

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