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Medicinal Plants in Tropical Countries, Traditional Use--Experience--Facts.

M.S. Mueller, E. Mechler, Medicinal Plants in Tropical Countries, Traditional Use--Experience--Facts, Georg Thieme Verlag, Stuttgart, Germany, ISBN 1-58890-253-6, 2005 (168pp., US$109.95, Hardcover).

This book makes a relevant contribution to the rational knowledge of medicinal plant use as alternative medicine in African countries and on other continents.

The introduction deals with topics of interest, such as the use of folk or traditional medicine and its integration into the primary health care system without ignoring the complexity of the topic and the need for multidisciplinary research and clinical trials for recommending the use of medicinal plants.

The 26 monographs that are presented are fairly complete, in that they give the scientific name of each plant as well as its common names in English, German, French, and Spanish. Most people only know these plants by their common names, which change from one country to another.

Each monograph details the plant part that is used, dosage, scientific research (chemistry and pharmacology studies), clinical results, warnings for use, and side effects. All this information is accompanied by a complete bibliography of scientific works for each monograph.

The clinical research included is important and should be noted, since it verifies the plant's use in popular medicine and decreases the risks associated with the use of the alternative medicines through a more rational, scientific approach.

Also noteworthy is the importance the authors give the warnings for use, counter-indications, and secondary effects related to the use of each plant if dosages are not respected or if treatment periods are over-extended.

Another very useful and practical aspect of this book is that the main use of each plant is presented with asterisks (****), clarifying its true usage of the many that are reported in general literature.

The book is an excellent guide for people who use alternative (or complementary or holistic) medicines; that is, 80% of the world population according to the authors themselves and studies by the Organization of American States.

In summary, the most important aspect of this book, without a doubt, is the presentation of clinical trials, allowing a certain rational, scientific validation of the plant's use.

Another important aspect to point out is the awareness of the authors regarding the need for efforts to continue doing multidisciplinary research (chemical, pharmacological, toxicological) in order to gain more scientific information and, particularly, clinical trials, which are still scarce and insufficient.

The authors insist that the use of medicinal plants is complex and, therefore, recommend the use of the present book as information and not as a book that gives instructions on the use of medicinal plants. They reiterate the necessity of continuing scientific investigation and, when possible, clinical studies.

Mario Silva, Magalis Bittner

Department of Botany, Natural Sciences Faculty, Chemistry of Natural Products, Universidad de Concepcion, Casilla 160-C, Concepcion, Chile

E-mail address: mjsilva@udec.cl (M. Silva)
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Author:Silva, Mario; Bittner, Magalis
Publication:Phytomedicine: International Journal of Phytotherapy & Phytopharmacology
Article Type:Book review
Date:Sep 1, 2006
Words:472
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