Stephanie Tourles of Orland is a prolific writer and engaging presenter about healthful foods and herbs. Her most recent work, "Hands-On Healing Remedies – 150 Recipes for Herbal Balms, Salves, Oils, Liniments & Other Topical Therapies" (Storey, 2012; $18.95), is a must-have for the bookshelf.

Beautifully designed and printed, with delightful watercolors by Samantha Hahn throughout, the book is a treasure to hold and view. Top that off with superb organization, a good list of resources and an excellent table of contents and index as well, and you have an easy-to-use book.

Tourles learned about “medicines from the earth” from her grandfather in Georgia, who, in turn, learned about them from his mother in the hills of Appalachia.

Subsequent training led Tourles to become a licensed holistic aesthetician, certified aromatherapist, and community herbalist.

“I devote my career to plant-based topical remedies and nutritional therapies for skin disorders,” says Tourles in the introduction to "Hands-On Healing Remedies." The book clearly and attractively displays on each page one recipe for a topical herbal healing formulation that Tourles has developed, experimented with and perfected over 30 years.

The book begins with a brief history of herbalism, a discussion of ingredients in over-the-counter products that are applied to the skin and their potential harmful effects, and information about the body’s largest organ — the skin. Two more chapters cover safer, natural ingredients and tools used to make topical products at home.

Then come the recipes, organized alphabetically by condition, from alopecia, anxiety and arthritis, to sunburn, warts (common) and women’s intimate concerns. Each section begins with an explanation of the condition and some lifestyle and dietary changes that may help resolve it and is then followed by a few recipes for herbal products specific for that condition.

Those suffering from arthritis may be interested in the Healing Hot Pepper and Ginger Liniment, “recommended for treating arthritic joints with poor circulation that are cool to the touch while being quite stiff and painful,” or Arthritis Pain-Away Mentholated Oil, “with a cooling energy that will soothe hot, red, inflamed, stiff joints and surrounding tissue.”

A Joint Ease-Balm and St. John’s Wort-Infused Oil round out the arthritis remedies.

Gardeners will welcome a balm and massage oil specifically formulated for aching backs. And they may ask about the difference between a balm and a salve — which Tourles explains. “The main difference between them is that salves are quite bland in the aroma department, containing minimal or no added essential oils, while balms contain a stronger, more potent fragrance due to a higher amount of volatile essential oils.”

Learn to make your own deodorant, or your own “real” (free of petroleum products) witch hazel. Stock up on advice and preparations for next year’s cold and flu season.

I like this book so much that it led me to Tourles’ website,, where she shows in a short segment from TV’s 207 program how to make delicious energy balls from raw ingredients — and raw foods is the topic of another of her books.

Jean English lives in Lincolnville.