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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Robert E Burke, MSN, MPS, BSN (Pace University)
Description: This book provides healthcare professionals with easy access to a wealth of information on a wide range of commonly used herbs, minerals, vitamins, amino acids, probiotics, enzymes, over-the-counter hormones, and other dietary supplements.
Purpose: The author states that "this is a personal book" and it is intended to be both entertaining and educational. It is intended as a quick reference and covers claims, indications, scientific evidence, possible benefits, adverse effects, contraindications and drug interactions for each herb and supplement. The author's objectives are realistic and greatly needed. To date, there are very few books that integrate information about herbs and dietary supplements in the same book.
Audience: This book is a member of the 5-Minute Consult Series and is intended for clinicians in internal medicine and family practice. In my professional opinion, this is a valuable reference/guide for students and practitioners in any of the allied health professions with an interest in herbs and dietary supplements. The author is a well-known authority on herbs and dietary supplements in the United States. She consults on this subject for the Federal Trade Commission, the NIH, and other federal and state agencies, is author of Alternative Medicine: What Works (Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 1997) and serves on the editorial boards of Focus on Alternative and Complementary Therapies, and HerbalGram.
Features: The book reviews 175 commonly used herbs and dietary supplements. Each section provides basic information, including a description of the herb and/or supplement, the parts used, known/active constituents, food sources, main functions and pharmacokinetics. Evidence incorporates selected clinical trials, animal and in-vitro studies, and other claimed benefits and actions. Potential and known risks are described and include adverse reactions and drug interactions. Information on dosage is provided, as well as a very interesting and entertaining section on common questions and answers relating to each herb and/or supplement. There is an extensive reference section at the back of the book. Reference tables are provided, and include a wonderful herb chart that provides the English, Latin, Pharmacopoeial, Spanish, French, and German names for each herb. This is extremely useful for finding the English equivalent for herbs that clients from different cultures use. There is also an excellent dietary intake reference for vitamins and elements that includes functions, dose/age, selected food sources, adverse effects of excessive consumption, and special considerations. As the reference guide that it is meant to be, there are very few shortcomings. Each herb and/or supplement is given two pages for the summary of all of the information described above. The book provides relevant information and offers easy access to a basic understanding of the herb and/or supplement.
Assessment: This book is an excellent guide to a majority of the commonly used herbs and dietary supplements. The information is efficiently organized, concise, and, in many instances, entertaining. The information in this book is consistent with that in Blumenthal et al.'s The Complete German Commission E Monographs (American Botanical Council, 1998), Brinker's Herb Contraindications and Drug Interactions, 2nd edition (Eclectic Medical Publications, 1998), Duke et al.'s Handbook of Medicinal Herbs, 2nd edition (CRC, 2002), Jellin et al.'s Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database, 4th edition (Therapeutic Research Faculty, 2002), and Mills and Bone's Principles and Practice of Phytotherapy (Churchill Livingstone, 2000). However, the only one that is comparable to it in terms of overall content (e.g., integration of herbs and dietary supplements in the same book) is the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database.