Book review for The Prisoner’s Herbal

A box of The Prisoner's Herbal books

I was so moved to recieve this book review from Dana L Woodruff, an incredible herbalist that I have admired from afar because of her explicit practical mutual aid with prisoners, people experiencing violence on the borders and more. This is what she wrote about the Prisoner’s Herbal book:

Focusing on common plants and Do-It-Yourself recipes, the thoughtful information shared in The Prisoner’s Herbal by Nicole Rose of Solidarity Apothecary holds so much potential for cross-pollination within and beyond the barbed wire and prison walls that seek to divide us. Writing from personal experience of having been locked up and connecting with plants at many levels, Rose has documented the various ways people may be able to integrate “weeds” from the yard, as well as medicinal fruits, vegetables, and spices into their daily lives while on the inside.

This book is important not only because is it full of information about familiar plants and simple yet powerful remedies made with them, it shares this info in a down-to-earth, accessible way and within the context of truth-telling about colonization and the impact of state violence. Rose writes about remedies for everyday ailments and health concerns such as high blood pressure, infections, and wounds, as well as the stress, trauma, and PTSD that so many experience, especially those living within the dehumanizing environment of prison.

I can see this book – with its beautiful cover of a gorgeous, vibrant dandelion in bloom against a grey concrete wall – and the valuable information contained within it rippling out through cellblocks, recipes shared in the cafeteria, plants recommended back and forth from either side of the tables in the visiting areas. As this book was written with so much care and thought as to what is accessible and possible within the extremely restricted experience of incarceration, it can be translated easily to the outside once folks are released, as it focuses on plants available in the spice section of grocery stores, the medicinal “weeds” thriving in parks and community gardens, and what’s available in convenience stores. The wealth of information held in this book can spread like dandelion seeds, back and forth through phone calls, letters, and visits between those on the inside and those on the outside, as well as through prison abolition organizations and books to prisoner projects.

Integrating herbal medicine such as food, teas, and compresses into our lives has been practiced world-wide since forever. This book makes vital information often withheld from those who are locked up available to everyone. Within a prison system that seeks to deprive people of their freedom, this book supports us in reclaiming our health and healing so that we can connect with and draw strength from the plants around us, and shares with us the empowering knowledge and skills to take care of ourselves and each other.

Please support the Solidarity Apothecary by making a donation and/or buying a copy of the The Prisoner’s Herbal, Overcoming Burnout, or some of Solidarity Apothecary’s gear so that more copies of The Prisoner’s Herbal can reach those on the inside. https://solidarityapothecary.org/

Dana L Woodruff (she/her or they/them)
Dandelioness Herbals, supporter of U.S. Political Prisoners, member of Angelica Care Collective and Central Vermont Showing Up for Racial Justice

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