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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Stephen M. Delisi, MD (Rush University Medical Center)
Description: The authors of this book draw together the existing information available on St. John's Wort, Kava Kava, Ginkgo, and Valerian. They draw upon historical perspectives, clinical experiences, and academic research evidence as they present the current state of understanding of how these herbs affect the human mind. The authors utilize a question-and-answer format that is quite effective.
Purpose: The purpose is to provide the reader with a comprehensive understanding of the effects of various herbal remedies. The authors seek to provide more detailed information regarding the specific uses of the herbs. In addition, they present clinical and scientific evidence to both refute the common misconceptions and support the benefits of these particular remedies. These are very worthwhile objectives and the authors meet their goals well.
Audience: This book is targeted to both clinicians and lay consumers. Readers will find this presentation concise and clear. They will appreciate the thoroughness of the authors' examination of the material presented. Both authors have extensive experience in the areas of clinical psychiatry and psychopharmacology. They have published their collaborative work in numerous, peer-reviewed journals.
Features: The book begins with a wonderful introduction — a brief history of herbal remedies in the U.S. Following this history lesson, the authors provide a 'Consumer's Guide' on investigating and buying herbs for medicinal purposes. The book is then divided into four chapters, each one devoted to a specific herb: St. John's Wort, Kava Kava, Ginkgo, and Valerian. The information provided is very complete, and the authors approach the issue of illness diagnosis and treatment with care and discernment. Their use of text boxes and tables is particularly effective for summarizing key information. A glossary and resources section is also provided.
Assessment: This is a very useful book for anyone interested in the study of herbal remedies for the treatment of depression, anxiety, memory loss, and insomnia. The authors bring together a large body of information that includes both scientific and clinical experience. The "Resources" section will be of particular interest to readers seeking additional sources of assistance and information.