Since 2008, Holly Bellebuono of West Tisbury has been busy. She’s written and published two books, The Authentic Herbal Healer and The Essential Herbal for Natural Health, and created several audio CDs. She runs Vineyard Herbs apothecary full-time, and is a regular at both the summer and winter West Tisbury farmers’ markets. In 2010, she founded the Bellebuono School of Herbal Medicine.

While all of the business bustle was going on, Ms. Bellebuono also found time to work on a different project. An interview here, a research session there, a phone call here. A trip to Hawaii. Several trips to herbalism conferences across New England. Research, more research, computer crashes, and more research.

She was working on yet another book, one that required seven years to create. The result, Women Healers of the World, arrived at bookstores this week.

The coffee table sized volume is part biography, part history, part geography and part linguistics lesson, all set against the broad backdrop of healing. Ms. Bellebuono profiles 21 contemporary women, each practicing different healing traditions, and 10 historic women who influenced their fields. Twenty different countries are represented, from Peru to Gabon.

Book profiles 21 contemporary women healers and 10 historic women who influenced their fields.

Whereas Ms. Bellebuono’s first books were intended to be guides for home herbalists, with recipes and overviews of plant species, Women Healers of the World was created with a different goal in mind. It’s a way to give a voice to people, and to their way of life. Though these healing traditions have existed for hundreds (in some cases thousands) of years, they have seldom been written about from the perspective of those who practice them.

Ms. Bellebuono has been a herbalist for more than 20 years.

“The more into herbalism you get, the more into science you get,” she said, describing her immersion in the fields of chemistry, physics and botany. But in looking at the history of those fields, she found that she was reading largely about the accomplishments of men.

“And so I wanted to celebrate the women of science, and chemistry, and healing, and botany and medicine,” she said. “I started thinking this would be a good project, to look out there and find the women of today that are contributing to this heritage.”

At first, Ms. Bellebuono reached out to herbalists she knew from attending conferences, asking if they would be interested in participating. Word spread, and soon Ms. Bellebuono was getting recommendations for story subjects from across the globe.

“Just at the [West Tisbury] farmers’ market, people were asking me what I was doing, and I told them about the project, and they said, ‘Oh, do you know this Gaelic chronicler in Scotland? She records all this old Gaelic pharmacy information,’” Ms. Bellebuono recalled. “So it kind of grew organically like that.”

Ms. Bellebuono traveled to Hawaii to conduct two interviews — one with a Daoist master and one with a Polynesian kahuna. But despite the far-reaching nature of the book, most of the work was done closer to home. She arranged to meet with subjects at herbalist conferences and set up phone interviews with others. One subject is Princess Basma bint Ali, founder of the Royal Botanic Garden of Jordan. Ms. Bellebuono and Princess Basma emailed back and forth frequently.

“She’s just so busy,” Ms. Bellebuono said with a laugh. “She’s not a person you call up on the phone.”

To write the biographies of historical figures, Ms. Bellebuono turned to the library. She worked hard to avoid using Internet sources.

“That’s tough, to find reliable books and not just go on a website,” she said. The research process was admittedly time-consuming, but also an enlightening one. Some women she chose to write about are well known, like Cleopatra.

“But it’s not very well known that she was really into plants,” Ms. Bellebuono said.

Other historic women were much more obscure, but their stories no less compelling. Mary Prophetista of Alexandria, Egypt, invented the distillation machine, a key element of herbal medicine, and is credited with discovering hydrochloric acid, but remains unknown to most.

“I really wanted to include her and these other people who really deserve the recognition,” Ms. Bellebuono said.

Faced with the challenge of representing the historical figures but not having any artwork, Ms. Bellebuono improvised.

“We researched what these women might have worn in that time period, what was their social strata, how does that influence their dress,” Ms. Bellebuono said. “Tracy [Thorpe] created these original gorgeous watercolors based on that.”

Chilmark photographer Harry Beach contributed dozens of images from his travels around the world.

“It’s very much a geographic exploration as well,” Ms. Bellebuono said. It’s also a linguistic one. Etymologies are scattered throughout the book.

“The etymology was a key part from the beginning, because spoken language is how this knowledge is transmitted,” she said.

Though the traditions she writes about are varied, Ms. Bellebuono said she did come across some cross-continent similarities. St. John’s wort, plantain, yarrow and elderberry are common plants used just about everywhere.

“They grow in a lot of different places, and they’re used worldwide,” Ms. Bellebuono said.

When she explored the philosophies behind the traditions, she was struck by how important self-confidence was, particularly among indigenous healers.

“What we would probably think of as excessive self-confidence,” she said. “And it’s not to the point of arrogance, but many of the women told me this — if you don’t believe in yourself as a healer, get out of the camp. You have to believe that what you’re doing will save a life.”

The other common philosophy, she said, was the power of mentoring.

“A lot of people I spoke to had been mentored, very closely and individually, by someone who had been doing it already,” Ms. Bellebuono said. That was different from her own path, which was largely forged by striking out alone and trying to figure things out.

“I educated myself in a lot of different places with a lot of different people to get to what I found is my path,” she said. “But most women . . . were mentored, and it made a huge difference to them, and they also support mentoring others.

“It’s something that I really appreciate,” she continued. “It’s bringing someone else in under your wing and bringing someone else into your community.”

With Women Healers of the World, Ms. Bellebuono does just that.

Holly Bellebuono will speak about Women Healers of the World at a book release party on Thursday, Oct. 16, from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the West Tisbury Free Public Library. For more information visit Island author Cathy Walthers will also discuss her newest book Kale Glorious Kale. Refreshments will be served.