Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine, 338 pages, fully illustrated (Ebook)
About This Book
In the past, books on herbal medicine have tended to focus either on the traditional and
folkloric use of plants or on their active constituents and pharmacology. The Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine, which features over 550 plants, aims to cover both aspects. It discusses each plant’s history, traditions, and folklore, and explains in simple terms what is known from scientific research about its active constituents, actions, and potential new uses. It is easy when concentrating on the scientific aspect of herbal medicine to forget that much, in some cases all, that we currently know about a particular plant results from its traditional use. Moreover, even when a plant has been well researched, herbal medicines are so complex and variable that what is currently known is rarely definitive, but rather a sound
pointer as to how it works. Sometimes the traditional use, insofar as it is based on the
experience of practitioners, provides an insight into how best to use an herb that is missing from scientific knowledge alone. Herbal medicine is, after all, both a science and an art.
In choosing the plants profiled in the Encyclopedia, the aim has been to select herbs that are commonly used in different parts of the world and are considered to have particular health benefits. The index of key medicinal plants (pp. 54–155) contains many herbs that are readily available in health stores and pharmacies, for example St. John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum, p. 106). It also includes herbs that are more commonly known as foods, such as lemon (Citrus limon, p. 82), but which, nonetheless, are valuable medicines. The index of other medicinal plants (pp. 156–283) contains some less commonly known but important medicinal herbs, such as andrographis (Andrographis paniculata, p. 167), a traditional Indian medicinal plant that stimulates recovery from infection and supports normal liver function. A global overview of the history of herbal medicine puts the development of different herbal traditions from earliest origins to the present day into perspective. This is complemented with features on herbal medicine in Europe, India, China, Africa, Australia, and the Americas, providing a rounded picture of herbal medicine worldwide.