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A no-nonsense,nearly perfect handbook for a popular audience
am 4. Oktober 1999
Since I began making and using herbal remedies in 1980 I have been very concerned at the lack of reliable information. Pop and self-help books on herbalism suffer from excessive vagueness (if they are conservative and the author is trying hard to avoid lawsuits) or irresponsible promulgation of superstition (if the author is clumsy, credulous, or ignorant). On the other hand, publications dealing with formal studies of bioactive compounds of plants tend to be inaccessible to the public. There have been very few books that I (as a Ph.D. student in botany as well as a bit of an herbalist) feel comfortable in recommending. This one is at the top of the list.
Nobody can beat James Duke at comfortable pop-level communication combined with solid, informed good judgement. In this book he gives practical preparation and dosage suggestions -- something the too-careful books don't do. He also provides clear, definite cautions on drug interactions and side-effects.
My only criticism of Duke's book is that he may be a bit too confident when he suggests combining several herbs at once to treat some conditions. Folklore and formal studies may provide reasonable dosage guides for individual herbs. But no single folklore or ancient system encompasses, at once, medicinal plants of South America, China, and Europe. Combining herbs that have not been traditonally used, nor clinically tested, in such combination, is not something I would advise to a general audience.
Nevertheless I rate this book very highly. I don't know how many copies of the previous edition I bought to give to people: teenagers, undergraduate college students, my old hippy friends, my father, doctors, and various people who ask me about medical botany.
We all owe Duke a great deal for his tremendous work and his true desire to help others. EVERYONE, without exception, who is interested in medical botany from a practical standpoint, should have this book.