It seems that there is no end of new books being published on the subject of herbs. Although bookstores and buyers might feel a bit saturated, this particular publication merits the attention of both consumers and professionals alike. The author, a trained naturopath, is one of the leading proponents of scientifically confirmed herbal medicines, particularly those from the European phytomedicine area. This book is divided into six parts. Parts One and Two deal with the recent developments and changes in herbal medicine and how European phytotherapy can act as a model for future regulatory reform in the United States. Part Three answers many of the most commonly asked questions about herbal medicines such as, "Do herbs really work?" "If herbs are so effective, why don't doctors regularly recommend them in the United States?" "How can herbs fit into self-care?" "What are the different types of herbal dosage forms?"
Part Four addresses the different categories of herbal medicines by their physiological effects, e.g., adaptogens, antioxidants, astringents, carminatives, laxatives, etc.
Part Five presents 18 of some of the most popular and well-researched herbs in the U.S. today. They are bilberry, chamomile, cranberry, echinacea, eleuthero, evening primrose, feverfew, garlic, ginger, ginkgo, ginseng, hawthorn, kava, milk thistle, St.. John's wort, saw palmetto, valerian, and vitex. Each monograph contains information on the common uses of each plant, a brief description of some of the active compounds, how the active compounds work, recommended uses, side effects, safety issues, history of the plant as used in traditional and modern medicine, and healthcare applications, including various conditions and indications for which the herb has been shown to be useful either in clinical practice or as often verified by scientific clinical studies. Additionally, each monograph ends with a listing of conditions as noted in Part Six -- conditions for which the herb may be useful.
Part Six is divided by the various physiological systems and the various diseases or conditions of that system for which herbs and phytomedicines might be applicable, e.g., cardiovascular system (prevention of atherosclerosis, angina, varicose veins, etc.), digestive system, immune system, nervous system, respiratory tract, and so on. The information presented by Dr. Brown is extremely practical and well organized.
Parts Five and Six are extensively referenced, allowing both consumer and professional the opportunity to follow up all of the information presented on each herb and/or condition. Dr. Brown liberally pulls from primary European source materials as well as authoritative references such as Tyler's Herbs of Choice, articles from HerbalGram, and other sources.
This book presents an opportunity for millions of Americans who are looking for sensible, responsible, science-based information on the appropriate uses of herbs in selfcare and healthcare, written in an extremely user-friendly yet authoritative manner. Hopefully, the publisher will devote adequate marketing resources to assure that this book becomes well-distributed in bookstores across the country. It certainly deserves wide distribution. The overall health of the American public can only benefit from access to the information that it presents.
Article copyright American Botanical Council.
By Mark Blumenthal