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From The CriticsReviewer: Stata Norton, PhD(University of Kansas Medical Center)
Description: This book contains brief descriptions and evaluations of some active ingredients and the medicinal uses of about 100 plants found in Asia, especially in countries on the Pacific Rim. The plants selected are some that have shown evidence, reported in the scientific literature, of containing medically active ingredients and that therefore may be sources of new therapeutic drugs.
Purpose: The stated purpose is to show the rich source of potential drugs in the estimated 6,000 plant species in Asia in which the pharmacologic activities of the chemicals in the plants have not been thoroughly tested experimentally. The author has selected plants for which there is published evidence that the plants contain ingredients that act in three therapeutic areas: as anti-inflammatory agents; as agents affecting the central nervous system; or as chemotherapeutic agents in neoplasia. This objective is met, given that the review is limited to a few of the many plant species in the region.
Audience: The author points out that the information available on the plants is enough only to suggest that further investigation of clinical potential is warranted and these plants may have potential as clinically useful drugs. Therefore the book is primarily directed at individuals involved in research on new types of chemical molecules for treating inflammatory conditions, central nervous system disorders, or cancers.
Features: A unique feature of the book is the emphasis on similar chemicals found in some plant families, such as the frequent production of anti-inflammatorysesquiterpenes by members of the family Asteraceae. Line drawings of characteristic plants and molecular structures of primary chemicals are presented. Within each of the three therapeutic areas, the plants are organized according to type of action: inhibitors of cytochrome oxidases, inhibitors of lipoxygenases, inhibitors of nitric oxide synthase for plants with anti-inflammatory actions, with similar organization by mechanism of action for the other two.
Assessment: The analysis of biochemical activities of plants by family and the line drawings of plants and their chemical components are aspects of herbal therapeutics that are not often brought together. Adequate references to the scientific literature are given for each plant. The text has been poorly edited for minor errors, but this does not affect the usefulness of the data.