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Vitex: The Women's Herb, Christopher Hobbs.

Vitex: The Women's Herb, Christopher Hobbs, Healthy Living Publications, Summertown, TN (2003). 95pp., $7.95, Softcover, ISBN: 1-57067-157-5

Vitex agnus-castus L., commonly known as chaste tree, chasteberry, or monk's pepper, is native to the Mediterranean region. Chasteberry is one of the most popular herbs for treating female health problems caused by hormonal imbalance, including premenstrual syndrome, difficult in conceiving, mastodynia, acne, hyperprolactinemia, corpus luteum insufficiency, endometriosis, and menopausal symptoms. The book Vitex: The Women's Herb, written by Chris Hobbs, provides one of the best summaries written on everything you need to know about this herb with regards to women's health. Chris Hobbs is a practicing herbalist and has written several reviews of medicinal herbs. He is very skillful at translating results of highly specialized scientific research into language that is easy and enjoyable to read, even for a layperson.

With merely 95 pages, the book provides a great introduction to this herb and a good list of references for those who would like more detailed information. The author even summarizes studies published in German, which is important because a great deal of the research on this herb has been done in Germany. The main body of the text is only 36 pages and summarizes the history, modern research, potential mechanisms, treatment protocols, quality of different products, and different dosage forms of chasteberry. He also describes how chasteberry is often combined with other herbs, providing detailed recipes for tinctures with a rationale as to why each herb is added. Because Hobbs is a practicing herbalist, he has also included personal anecdotes on use of this herb based on his and other herbalists' experience.

The main text is followed by three appendices that provide more information. Appendix A describes botany, cultivation, chemistry, pharmacology, and pharmacy of chasteberry. Appendix B gives a more detailed review of human clinical studies and additional medical indications. Appendix C contains the rationale and complications of hormone replacement therapy and describes how chasteberry can be used as an effective replacement for synthetic hormones. Each section includes tables that summarize important points, which helps make information easier to comprehend.

It is possible for everyone to take away something from this book. It can serve as a comprehensive introduction for those who like to know more about the plant or even to start research on the plan. The book can also be used as a reference guide for those who like to use chasteberry. Botanists, herbalists, medical practitioners, and other scientists can find something of interest in this book. For $7.95, the book is a steal given the amount of information. The first edition of the book was published in 1990. This second edition is much more comprehensive and provides better evidence on clinically effectiveness. Since the publication, several recent reported studies have started to elucidate the molecular mechanism of action of chasteberry. Perhaps, one can expect a new revision when enough data are accumulated.

Donna E. Webster, Z. Jim Wang

Program for Collaborative Research in the Pharmaceutical Sciences, College of Pharmacy, University of Illinois at Chicago, MC 865, Chicago, IL 60612, USA

E-mail addresses: (D.E. Webster), (Z.J. Wang)
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Author:Webster, Donna E; Wang, Z. Jim
Publication:Phytomedicine: International Journal of Phytotherapy & Phytopharmacology
Article Type:Book review
Date:Apr 1, 2008
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