Michael Moore – large than life North American herbalist
Alas now deceased, his is one herbalist I dearly wish I would have met and travelled around with. When Michael passed on there were some amazing tributes paid to him which I share with you in the two links below.
Looking like a biker – Hippie and of large size this man helped shaped modern herbalism in North America and contributed to the revival of Spanish American herb craft.
Self taught but to a degree that allowed him to lecture at Universities. A man of many roles and abilities including Herbalist, lecturer, herb trader, author, herb gather and writer.
Any book this man wrote is a gem and needs to be in your library. A measure of the man is that Matthew Woods new herbal repertory work has quoted extensively from Michael Moore’s own repertory work.
Here in no particular order are his works with links and commentary
Click on the book images below to purchase from Amazon.
- Medicinal Plants of the Mountain West
Michael Moore’s books are divided up in the main by geographical regions. Here he talks of the mountain plants West coast USA ( The Rockies) from Canada down to Mexico. Illustrations are by Mimi Kemp his long time collaborator in his published work.
This is the revised and expanded 2nd edition and as all of his books focussed Medicinal plants of Western USA a long neglected part of the herbal scene. The book is fully referenced plus an extensive section at the back of definitions of various herb and medical terminology.
For a taste of his philosophy try this on ” Got a problem? By something for it – a strategy that at tit s core is corrupt since it places you in the line as a consumer in search of a product. Very new School. TO use herbs properly alternatively you usually have to learn to understand your body as well as the plant. This increases your personal stature and value to yourself. This is true self help, very Old School.”
Yes lots of these USA plants we cannot source but enough that makes this worthwhile. You will note in reading Michael he is focused on the physio medical effect of the herbs. No big focus on mental emotional states.
- Medicinal plants of the Pacific West
Covering the Western Pacific region from the Baja peninsula to Alaska with a range of 300 species covered. A forward by Michael Tierra and a review from Susun Weed shows the level of respect and accomplishment this man achieved.
Another pithy Michael Moore quote ” Our consumer society tries to convince us that quantity is substitute for quality. Nonsense, learn a few good plants, collect them yourself, get to know them yourself in the true sense of the amateur”
Also included in most to his books is an extensive section in the front of ways to gather herbs and prepare them into different forms. Michael Moore was an advocate and teacher of the percolation method of tincturing. This is straight from the physio-medicalists of 19th Century America.
Interested in knowing more? then look at this clip
- Medicinal plants of the Desert and Canyon West
Another regional herbal of specific locations. This book has a front piece review by Andrew Weil (Richard Evans Schulte’s student) prominent contempary Dr and herbalist. If that is not enough then the forward by Steven Foster author of regional herb guides and now photographer of herbal plants.
In his own introduction Michael describes his writing style as “Whole earth Aging Hippie Post-Grad Dropout Approach to the Low-Tech/High tech back to the Earth” school of writing.
- Healing herbs of the Upper Rio Grande
In this book Michael Moore has revised and edited a classic herbal text for this area by a lady called L.S.M. Curtin. Originally published in 1947 this book records the extant herbals practices of the area being a mixture historically of traditional Indian Spanish & Moorish herb lore.
Mrs Curtin learned all of this herb law and recorded it from full immersion into the New Mexican society of the time directly from the Curandera’s ( Women healers, wise women). This book recorded and held the knowledge until the later revival of the traditional ways.
Michael has revised the botany where needed added annotations plus there are the drawings of Mimi Kemp. This book is an important example of preserving our herbal heritage.
- Herbs for the urinary tract
This is the only work that addresses remedies for a specific part of the human body that he wrote. As mentioned above the other works were geographical or cultural based.
On his website he confessed to being a bit of a Luddite and challenged readers to take his example and do better. This I find inspiring and is part of the motivation for the increasing intricacies of my own website. His reproduction in digital form of classic Eclectic and physio- medicalists texts was a first in the herbal field and assisted their revival from obscurity.
- Los Remedios – A compilation of traditional New Mexican herbal remedies
Looking at Amazon and the price charged for this work I am a bit shocked. A price tag of over $160 is pretty steep, even the second hand price is excessive. This seems to be an earlier work and as such the later texts would cover this material and have it revised, updated. A work only for the tragic devotee.
- Los Remedios traditional herbal remedies of the south west
A related work to the LSM Curtin book covered above. This is Michael Moore capturing and recording traditional herb usage as of 1975 with later revisions to 1990. This is a herb tradition with 1400 year old roots that until mid last century was scarcely recorded.
Herbs are ordered by folk name with succinct notes on toxicity – usefulness – cautions – dosage – preparation and the various names.
Through his South West School of botanical medicine he trained many people. The training package is still available to purchase from his archived website. Click on the link below to go to his site and see a range of photographs of this great man.
Below is some YouTube clips showing him talking about his herb gathering experiences.