by James A. Duke. 1992. CRC Press, 2000 Corporate Blvd. NW, Boca Raton, FL 33431. Hardcover. 183 pp. $89.95. ISBN 0-8493-3670-8.
by James A. Duke. 1992. CRC Press, 2000 Corporate Blvd. NW, Boca Raton, FL 33431. 29 pp. Manual plus computer disk (IBM). $195.00. Manual ISBN 0-8493-3676-7.
This trio constitutes the distillation of years of research by James A. Duke, the leading medicinal plant expert at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The first volume, the Handbook of Phytochemical Constituents of GRAS, Herbs, and Other Economic Plants is made up of pages and pages of herbs and common foods listed by Latin name after which a string of compounds is listed with the reference citation showing from which reference Dr. Duke gleaned the information. This information can be helpful to anyone wanting to know the chemical composition of commonly used herbs and other plants of economic importance. The project covers about 1,000 plants and about 3,000 compounds. Duke laments the fact that it is not possible to obtain from the Food and Drug Administration an up-to-date list of all the herbs that are GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe) and notes that the only place he could get a reasonably concise listing was from the Herb Research Foundation! Accordingly, one of the p urposes of this volume is to give researchers access to more data regarding the chemical compounds that have been reported in these plants.
The second volume in this trio lists the various chemical compounds alphabetically, with explanations as to their biological activities and the sources from which these references are derived.
Finally, the Database of Biologically Active Phytochemicals and Their Activities is virtually the same format as the Handbook. However, on a disk format, this information becomes increasingly more useful to researchers and writers, as it is extractable for papers, books, and other research, as well as updateable and thus fits the needs of many computer-literate researchers.
As herbs, foods, and other medicinal plants become increasingly important in medical research for both their cancer preventive role as well as their ability to prevent cardiovascular disease and be applied for numerous therapeutic purposes -- information like that which Dr. Duke has compiled becomes evermore necessary for researchers, product developers, health professionals, and, eventually, policy makers.
Article copyright American Botanical Council.