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Vitalism: The History of Herbalism, Homeopathy, and Flower Essences Paperback – Mar 16 2000

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 232 pages
  • Publisher: North Atlantic Books; 2 edition (March 16 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1556433409
  • ISBN-13: 978-1556433405
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 1.3 x 22.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 358 g
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #295,100 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


"...Vitalism shows the continuity of independent thinking from which all progress springs, and should bolster the spirits of those who are still being persecuted for deviating from the 'party line.'"
—Irene Alleger

"Matthew Wood has written an outstanding book, with much to contribute to the herbal renaissance and the coming of age of holistic medicine. It is a unique and important look at the history of western medicine from the perspective of vitalism."
—David Hoffman

About the Author

Matthew Wood is a registered herbalist with the American Herbalists Guild, and has maintained a private practice as an herbalist for twenty years. He lives and practices at Sunnyfield Herb Farm in Minnetrista, Minnesota.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x9d211864) out of 5 stars 7 reviews
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
By Steven H Propp - Published on
Format: Paperback
Matthew Wood is a practicing herbalist and homeopath; in this book he gives sympathetic treatment of practices he terms "Vitalism" (defined as "the recognition that the physical body is animated by a vital life force"). Homeopathic practitioners are a particular focus of the book.

This book provides a general history of herbalism and related practices, focusing primarily on seven figures: Paracelsus, Samuel Hahnemann (the founder of Homeopathy), Johann Gottfried Rademacher, Samuel Thomson (the "root doctor," known as the "father of herbalism"), James Tyler Kent (who developed the "philosophy" behind Homeopathy), James Compton Burnett, and Edward Bach (of "Flower essences" fame).

Wood considers the Renaissance alchemist and physician Paracelsus to be the source for the "Law of Similars" principle, usually expressed as "Like treats like."

Wood concludes the book with a chapter summarizing the "Vital Doctrines of Vitalist Medicine."

This book contains a lot of historical information as well as current comments of relevance to those interested in herbalist and homeopathic methods.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9cc5d81c) out of 5 stars Fascinating and useful recent history of alternative medicine March 6 2010
By Phillip Hershkowitz - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Recommended for anyone who wants to learn more about how the practice of medicine got to be where it is today. Over the past two hundred years, it has not been altogether clear which is main stream medicine and what is alternative, and this book details how we got here and shows that the current state is due as much to politics as to science. Also, this book is very useful if you wish to know more about the different schools of homeopathy and their rather unintegrated views of best homeopathic prescription practices, such as one high dose vs. multiple low doses.

This isn't a book for the lay person learning how to use homeopathy to treat himself and his family. The detailed writing got a bit plodding for me as the author gets into the details of the lives of the great figures of alternative medicine including Hahnemann, Rademacher, Samuel Thomsom, Kent and Bach.

Vitalism: The History of Herbalism, Homeopathy, and Flower Essences is an incredibly useful resource for those familiar with the topic who wish to substantially deepen their understanding.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9cc5daf8) out of 5 stars Highly Recommended Jan. 24 2011
By A me Beth - Published on
Format: Paperback
I love this book. It is a history of many healing traditions and should be required reading for mainstream and alternative practitioners alike.
HASH(0x9cc61030) out of 5 stars Must read for Herbalists or any interested in herbs Feb. 8 2015
By Sasha - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book explains the history of herbal studies. Matthew Wood is a fantastic writer and story teller. He brings the natural medicine world to his readers in a fun and exciting way.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9cc5d8dc) out of 5 stars History of Alternative Medical Practices Oct. 30 2014
By D. P. Gmyrek - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Good review of the alternative medicine practices which evolved at the end of the 18th and start of the 19th centuries and how they have progressed, morphed, and evolved . Some, such as homeopathy, remain fairly true to their originators ideas while others, such as the Thompsonian system, served as progenitors for more developed systems. Any student of medicine, medical (or pharmacy) history would enjoy this book. The author is something of a "true believer", so a grain or two of salt, or calomel, might be in order.