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The American Pharmaceutical Association Practical Guide to Natural Medicines Hardcover – February 17, 1999

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Editorial Reviews Review

With an endorsement from Dr. Andrew Weil, you know this book is going to be good. And it's about time that an authoritative book like this was written; it'll come in handy for consumers who are bewildered by the lack of labeling on the hundreds of supplements available, as well as doctors and pharmacists, who likely learned nothing about these remedies in school.

The American Pharmaceutical Association (APhA) has listed more than 200 herbs--and some supplements, like DHEA, zinc, and Coenzyme Q10--alphabetically. Many herbs are illustrated. Each listing includes the following:

  • scientific and other common names (including those used in traditional Chinese medicine),
  • what part of the plant is used,
  • what ailment or ailments it's recommended for,
  • the forms in which it is available,
  • the dosages commonly used,
  • and solid discussions of effectiveness and safety based on scientific study.
The APhA also rates each herb on a 1-5 scale, with 1 being given to herbs that have been judged the most safe and effective over the years. It also cites both book and journal sources, so you know exactly where to research further if you're interested in learning even more about a particular herb.

Dr. Weil points out that while the majority of prescription drugs were derived from botanicals, the lack of standardization in the U.S. supplement industry poses a hazard. For example, extract of feverfew has been shown to be effective in treating migraine in England, but the feverfew on the U.S. market may or may not be English feverfew, and therefore may or may not be as effective. The essential "Do's and Don'ts for Wise Consumers" gives tips on choosing the best brand of herbs, and the quick indices (one listed by symptoms and the herbs recommended for treatment, and one listing the herbs and the ailments they're used for) make it easy to familiarize yourself with the many herbs available. Highly recommended. --Erica Jorgensen

About the Author

Andrea Peirce is the author of The American Pharmaceutical Association Parent's Guide to Childhood Medications and has extensive credits in medical writing and reporting. A graduate of Stanford Univeristy, she and her husband, a physician, live in New York City.


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Product Details

  • Series: American Pharmaceutical Association Guide
  • Hardcover: 752 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow; 1 edition (February 17, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0688161510
  • ISBN-13: 978-0688161514
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 1.9 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #823,956 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

94 of 104 people found the following review helpful By Craig Weatherby on September 7, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Don't believe the rave reviews...She omits quite a few prominent dietary supplements (e.g., phosphatidyl serine), and the entries are pretty superficial from a pharmacologic standpoint, especially for a book from the APA. For example, 1) she mentions that Ginger is used for arthritic inflammation, but never says why it is credible for that purpose (it is a significant COX-2 inhibitor, a la Vioxx or Celebrex), 2) she omits that the primary modern use of Elder is as an anti-viral (she doesn't mention the substantial lab work on its mode of anti-infection action or list the well-known Israeli clinical trial as an anti-flu drug, 3) she erroneously equates grape seed and pine bark extracts as sources of antioxidant OPCs (the former is substantially more potent). And, she offers almost no info on the pros and cons of differing product forms, which can have very different effects and potencies (e.g., ground plant vs. standardized extract).
Laypeople and even professionals are much better off with The Natural Health Bible (Stephen Bratman, MD), Michael Murray's Encyclopedia of Natural Medicines, and similar works by Saul Hendler, MD and Dennis McKenna, PhD (the titles escape me).
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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 9, 1999
Format: Hardcover
As a user of herbal remedies, I found this book extremely informative. One of the most objective books I've seen on using herbs and natural supplements. Scientific research is included with each herb/supplement that has undergone laboratory testing. Both positive and negative aspects are included along with traditional uses, safe doses, a rating of 1-5, and warnings when applicable. With too many people jumping on the herbal bandwagon and forgetting that natural doesn't necessarily mean safe especially when mixed with other medications, this book is a "must have". Although I've had good results with some of the herbs that have not undergone stringent testing and, therefore didn't receive a high rating, this book is a great guide especially for the beginner.
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33 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Craig on April 19, 1999
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In the growing movement for U.S. consumers to take charge of their health, we now have a resource to help us become knowledgeable and informed consumers of medical services. That resource is the 700-plus page reference, American Pharmaceutical Association Practical Guide to Natural Medicines, by Andrea Peirce. It is a giant work - lots of pages of organized research written for layperson and health-care professional. It is a smorgasbord of data about dietary supplements. And like most smorgasbords, you can expect it will take some time for consumers and health-care professionals to digest its content and to develop the habit of consulting it. The health-care professions can help by recommending that their members become familiar with the book. Perhaps professional associations can buy large numbers of the reference book and make them available to their members at a discount. What is certain is that the Practical Guide to Natural Medicines is a godsend for consumers, like me, who are looking for guidance. And that guidance is provided throughout the book. It begins with the shout-out by the National Professional Society of Pharmacist's executive vice president urging consumers to include your pharmacist in your medical recovery team. Pass on records, including medicines, to your druggist. In the introduction, noted physician-researcher Andrew Weil brings an inquiring mind of a superb teacher who continues to explore the boundaries of the frontier we often call natural medicines. Weil declares: "This guide to natural remedies is an excellent addition to the information available on the subject. It is comprehensive, clear, well researched, and useful." After examining dozens of entries, I am convinced that Weil's assessment of Andrea Peirce's work is correct.Read more ›
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful By R. Gates on May 2, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I'm a pharmacist who believes every physician interested in an easy to use, up to date overview of this emerging market needs this book.VERY pleased with it!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By harold jitschak bueno de mesquita on November 8, 2014
Format: Hardcover
For sure one can learn a lot of this book and there are excellent references.
For sure I will benefit from it
What makes me give the book a 2 star is the arrogance [ we are setting the standards] that seems to characterize the book for a great deal.
It seems that mostly products familiar in the USA may get a high rating,
It becomes a joke when olive oil is rated for internal use as 3
Salvia miltiorrhiza: 3 ?? sage: 3 saw palmetto: 1? turmeric: 3 ?
Is this book by any means sponsored by the pharm industry?
The review of natural products seems to me a far better choice.

And dr. Andrew Weil could write a forward for this book?
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