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Fighting Multidrug Resistance with Herbal Extracts, Essential Oils and Their Components

Fighting Multidrug Resistance with Herbal Extracts, Essential Oils and Their Components edited by Mahendra Rai and Kateryna Kon. London, UK: Academic Press; 2013. Hardcover, 296 pages. ISBN: 978-0123985392. $129.95.

Each year more than 2 million people in the United States become infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and it is estimated that more than 25,000 die each year as a direct result of resistant infections. Multidrug-resistant microbial strains are rapidly becoming a global threat, and, at present, the discovery and development of novel antimicrobials to thwart this menace does not appear to be a primary concern of Big Pharma. Most conventional antimicrobial compounds have their origin in natural products, and one category — botanicals — offers a plethora of unique chemical entities with which to combat emergent multidrug-resistant microbial strains. In their book Fighting Multidrug Resistance with Herbal Extracts, Essential Oils and Their Components, editors Mahendra Rai and Kateryna Kon have compiled a varied and comprehensive series of reviews from many of the world’s leading researchers that discuss phytochemicals as a potential means of treating multidrug-resistant microbial infections.

The book is well organized, and its 17 chapters cover a host of topics from basic mechanisms of multidrug resistance to specific plant genera (e.g., Melaleuca, Garcinia, Hypericum, Baccharis, and Sophora) and select phytochemicals (e.g., essential oils, alkaloids, flavonoids, etc.) that offer promise for treating a variety of multidrug-resistant bacterial, protozoal, fungal, and viral infections. Much of the data presented in each chapter is in vitro in nature, but several clinical studies are described. Sadly, very few large clinical trials have been conducted with phytochemical candidates. This is likely the result of the difficulty in translating in vitro findings to in vivo drug candidates.

Of the more promising phytochemicals that appear effective against multidrug-resistant strains, essential oils offer the best and most readily available remedy on account of their potency and multiple mechanisms of action, but these are primarily limited to dermatological or more localized infections. Nevertheless, select phytochemicals and their semisynthetic derivatives appear to provide a promising scaffold from which to develop drugs that may be effective in treating systemic multidrug resistance, and this book provides an excellent review of the topic.

For researchers interested in the current status of phytochemicals for treating multidrug-resistant microorganisms, this book is an invaluable resource. While a few chapters are a bit redundant and several have more than the usual number of typographical and syntax errors, these are only minor issues that do not detract from the book’s strengths, of which there are many.

—Bill Gurley, PhD Professor, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Little Rock, AR