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Wild Drugs: Book review

Reviewed by's Darren Bevan

In these days of sustainability, everyone's after whatever they can get to improve their lives.

It's either recipes to improve your cooking a la MasterChef New Zealand (Check those recipes out here), tips on surviving off the land a la Te Radar (check out Radar's patch here) or alternative medicines - just like TV ONE show Grow Your Own Drugs. (Get James Wong's recipes here.)

There's an increased awareness of using the plants of the land to help you self medicate but it's always struck me as an area which is fraught with danger (mainly thanks to an incident involving poison ivy in my youth).

So it's with interest that I picked up the compact reference book Wild Drugs written by Zoe Hawes. In this 250 plus volume, Zoe's collected together every conceivable plant and its uses as a healing plant. Although the book comes with a disclaimer and doesn't profess to offer up a cure for every single complaint, it's a damn handy guide to learning the basics.

An in-depth opening details how to forage for plants, how to respect the environment around you when looking and harvesting plants as well as tips on what equipment you'll need - it's this kind of concise clarity offered within that will appeal to many. 

Bit by bit and section by section (woodland plants, wasteland plants and garden visitors are just a few of the chapters) Hawes looks at what's around, a plant's history,what it could be mistaken for, how it's collected and recognised and perhaps more importantly, what it can be used to cure. Each plant is given four pages, packed full of information and advice as well as compact pictures. Theres also a handy section packed full of shots of different types of leaves and stems and how to recognise the different varieties.

But it's the section which examines common ailments that many will find of most use - issues over respiratory systems, everyday infections and many others - all of these are given some alternative cure and some guidance.

It's hard to imagine that you'll need another reference guide other than Wild Drugs - it really is a cornucopia of informative writing and with its easy to use advice, you may find yourself sticking it in your car and going to find what's out there to cure what ails you.

Rating: 8/10

Wild drugs - A Forager's Guide to Healing Plants by Zoe Hawes
RRP: $32.99
Available: Now