Thursday, December 17, 2009

Rediscovery Review of the Green Pharmacy Herbal Handbook

Rosmarinus officinalisImage via Wikipedia

Here's a book to add to a healing library:

While whiling away several hours at the home of a relative earlier this week, I noticed an old, water damaged copy of THE GREEN PHARMACY by American botanist James A. Duke, PhD on the coffee table and began an engrossing, self-educational re-read.  Now I am about to buy an updated version of the book, because I found too much useful information to remember -- hundreds of remedies and dozens of recipes, craftily laced with stories.

James A. Duke is an expert on botanical medicine. He developed the USDA's Phytochemical and Ethnobotanical Databases and has studied healing foods, herbalism and plant spirit medicine with natural, folk and shamanistic healers worldwide for many decades.

Generous introductory chapters cover safety and how-to grow, forage and buy healing herbs, defined by Duke as any healing or ailment preventing food. Most of the book is organized around an alphabetic listing of health troubles, but it reads like novel.

Duke repeats pertinent information each time an herb is recommended, but the informal, anecdotal narrative flows smoothly around these helpful redundancies. I skipped around, flipping backwards and forwards as questions arose. The book ends with an entertaining yet still instructive autobiographical postscript.

Perusing the older edition, I did find myself lamenting the lack of any specific citations of published studies to go with Duke's brief allusions to scientific research supporting or discouraging the use of particular herbs. I don't know if the newer version adds any of these references. An appendix for these, as well as a table, organized alphabetically by herb names would be a useful enhancements.

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