Holly Bellebuono has earned a bachelor’s degree in creative writing and a master’s in public administration. But it was a job on a landscaping crew that set Ms. Bellebuono on the course that would see her publishing her sixth book last month, An Herbalist’s Guide to Formulary.

“It was not your typical landscape crew,” Ms. Bellebuono said of the team she joined as a graduate student at Appalachian State University in Boone, N.C. “It was run by an old hippy in his 60s. He talked a lot about the spirituality of nature, ethnobotany, biology, how to look at plants and feel their energy,” she recalled.

“It was a wonderful way to be introduced to plants, because I had grown up in the suburbs,” Ms. Bellebuono added. “I had no idea you could eat the plants by the side of the road.”

These early tastes of sourgrass, sweet locust flowers and the roots of Solomon’s seal would blossom into her career as an internationally-known journalist.

After earning her master’s degree, marrying and becoming the mother of two — now teenagers attending the regional high school — Ms. Bellebuono deepened her involvement with wild plants and herbs, opening a “tiny little apothecary” to sell tinctures and salves she made with dandelion, yellowdock, red clover and other medicinal herbs she harvested in the wild.

New book includes traditional remedies and combinations of herbs for virtually every health condition, along with Ms. Bellebuono's philosophy of healing.

When her family migrated north to the Vineyard, Ms. Bellebuono stepped into the spot left by the Island’s previous herbalist, who had just moved away. “I grew hundreds of medicinal plants on Great Plains Road,” she said, selling her Vineyard Herbs teas and other products at farmer’s markets and shipping worldwide.

Among the herbal remedies Islanders were seeking, Ms. Bellebuono named elderberry syrup and a poison ivy spray made from native jewelweed.

“I chop up the stalk and squeeze the juices out of it and mix it with witch hazel and other astringents,” she said. Another way to prepare jewelweed remedy, she said, is to freeze it in an ice cube tray and apply a cube to the poison ivy rash.

Want to try it at home? Wait till the stalks are “big and fat and juicy,” Ms. Bellebuono advised, and use “an old blender — nothing that you really care about too much.”

In recent years, Missy Harding has taken over the Vineyard Herbs business as Ms. Bellebuono has shifted her focus to teaching others how to use herbs for health. She still maintains a teaching garden for her Bellebuono School of Herbal Medicine, which offers two-week certifications and four-day exploratory sessions on the Vineyard as well as distance learning programs.

“My herb school was growing, and my writing and my lecturing were growing, and I needed to focus on that,” she said. In 2018, she already has speaking engagements booked for Alaska, Nova Scotia and England.

Ms. Bellebuono began her publishing career with The Essential Herbal for Natural Health (2012), an introductory guide to herbal crafting. She has also written The Authentic Herbal Healer, which is an in-depth guide for practitioners, and Women Healers of the World, which earned honors from the International Herb Association and the Nautilus Book Awards.

Her latest, An Herbalist’s Guide to Formulary, is aimed at practicing herbalists like those who earn certification from the Bellebuono School. Along with traditional remedies and combinations of herbs for virtually every health condition, Ms. Bellebuono shares a philosophy of healing she’s developed over years of practice and calls Priorities for Care.

“So many people assume that as a healer, your job is to fix the problem,” she said. “There are other things that come first.”

Her first priority, Ms. Bellebuono writes, is to “Initiate a relationship of respect.” Put simply, she said this means to “connect with the patient” and show respect for the individual.

Priority two, she said, is to help patients connect with other people in their lives who can help with the healing process.

“Part of my job as an herbalist is to foster that connection,” Ms. Bellebuono said. “For holistic health care, showing respect and making those connections is a huge part of healing.”

Only after these conditions are met should the healer address the specific problem at hand. Ms. Bellebuono writes: “Unless you are an emergency room doctor, this step should be third on your list. And notice I don’t say ‘fix the problem,’ because healing is as much in the pursuit as in the outcome.”

While this may sound New Age-y to some, Ms. Bellebuono said her students have included nurses and pharmacists who want to complement their mainstream medical skills with herbal knowledge.

“Because their patients want it, they want to learn more” about safely using healing herbs, she said.

Ms. Bellebuono will speak about her new book and herbal practice at 5 p.m. Jan. 10 at the Chilmark Public Library.