Reviewer: Stata Norton, PhD (University of Kansas Medical Center)
Description: This book covers 17 herbs that are used therapeutically, selected on the basis of popularity and availability of information on efficacy and toxicity of each herb. Herbs include: ephedra, kava, ginkgo, valerian, St. John's wort, Echinacea, feverfew, garlic, ginger, saw palmetto, ginseng, cranberry, hawthorn, evening primrose, bitter orange, Vitex agnus-castus, and bilberry. This second edition updates the literature since the first edition was published in 2000
Purpose: The stated aim is to present objective information on the selected herbs, based, as much as possible, on original studies published in peer-reviewed journals and including expert reviews and case reports. The emphasis is on controlled trials of the herbal products. The amount of data for each herb is limited by availability of such studies. Given the current interest in, and therapeutic use of, herbal preparations, this is a useful and timely book.
Audience: The intended audience consists of forensic and healthcare professionals, including research scientists and clinicians interested in detailed information on the group of herbs selected on the basis of current therapeutic use. The authors of the individual chapters have clinical pharmacology and toxicology backgrounds at universities, hospitals, or research centers and are credible authorities on the selected herbs.
Features: Each chapter covers one herb and has the same format: history and description of plant, promoted commercial use, sources of products, pharmacological effects, pharmacokinetics, adverse effects and toxicity, drug interactions, reproductive effects, regulatory status, and literature references. The information available on each subject varies. The references are extensive and examination of some of these references is useful in evaluating the conclusions on each herb. The sections on pharmacokinetics, drug interactions, and reproductive effects are important areas not always covered elsewhere in information on herbal preparations.
Assessment: The number of herbs covered in this book is limited compared with some other sources of information on herbal products, such as The Complete German Commission E Monographs (American Botanical Council, 1998). There are also sources of detailed information on specific herbal genera such as Hypericum: The Genus Hypericum, Ernst (Taylor and Francis, 2003). As an up-to-date source of information on the 17 herbs covered in this second edition, the book represents a useful addition for individuals interested in the scientific basis of herbal preparations.