Principles and Practice of Phytotherapy: Modern Herbal Medicine. – Review

Principles and Practice of Phytotherapy: Modern Herbal Medicine. – Review – book review

Kathi Head

Principles and Practice of Phytotherapy: Modern Herbal Medicine By Simon Mills and Kerry Bone Churchill Livingstone ISBN 0 443 060169 Hard Cover; 643 pgs.

Priciples and Practice of Phytotherapy is one of the most comprehensive of current botanical texts — reminiscent of some of the old materia medicas. However, it is much more than a materia medica. After an introduction which explores various herbal systems around the world, an extensive discussion of the pharmacognosy of various plant constituents follows (cardiac glycosides, flavonoids, anthraquinones, coumarins, phytoestrogens, alkaloids, etc.), with in-depth examination of plant constituent chemistry, mechanism of action, and potential toxicology.

In the section entitled “Principles of Herbal Treatment” various approaches to prescribing herbs are discussed, including sections on the use of herbs for detoxification, heating, cooling, nourishment, and tissue repair, in place of allopathic drugs, and in conjunction with other healing modalities. The book includes excellent discussions on safety and efficacy of botanicals and illuminates some of the false alarms that have been sounded over the past decade pertaining to herbal toxicities. It also includes a section on good manufacturing practices.

Chapters on practical applications of botanicals comprise most of the book, starting with a section on dosages for various herbs in various forms, followed by chapters on herbal approaches to various conditions and system dysfunctions.

More than half of the book is dedicated to a comprehensive materia medica, consisting of well-referenced monographs on 45 of the most commonly prescribed herbs, from Andrographis to Withania. In addition to the typical information in a monograph (constituents, mechanisms of action, traditional uses, clinical trials and indications, dosage, toxicity, etc.), the authors have included a section on current regulatory status in various countries for each botanical. Overall, the authors have compiled a well-referenced wealth of information and an important addition to the library of any serious practitioner of herbal medicine or to the required reading list of students of herbal medicine.

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