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Stevia: The Genus Stevia. A. Douglas Kinghorn, ed. New York, NY: Taylor & Francis; 2002. 211 pages, hardcover, tables, figures, references, index. $129.95. ISBN 0-415-26830-3.

This book offers an in-depth examination of the increasingly popular Stevia rebaudiana (Asteraceae), an herb from South America that is used as a sweetening agent and dietary supplement. An overview of the uses and history of the herb is provided, as well as the botany, ethnobotany, and phytochemistry of Stevia. Additional chapters investigate methods to improve the taste of the sweet principles of S. rebaudiana, as well as the chemical synthesis, pharmacology, and toxicology of compounds such as steviol, stevioside, and rebaudioside A. Information regarding the cultivation and use of Stevia in other countries such as Japan and Korea is also provided.

Spirulina in Human Nutrition and Health. M.E. Gershwin and Amha Belay, eds. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press; 2008. 312 pages, hardcover, tables, figures, references, index. $89.95. ISBN 978-1-4200-5256-5.

Spirulina, one of the most-researched functional unicellular foods in widespread usage, is a valuable source of readily bioavailable protein, carotenoids, essential fatty acids, vitamins and minerals. This book compiles the wealth of experimental data on Spirulina into a single accessible resource. It provides extensive information regarding Spirulina’s therapeutic applications, including its antioxidant profile, its use as an antibacterial and antiviral agent, and its role in aging and neurobiology.

Dietary Supplements (ACS Symposium Series). Chi-Tang Ho, James E. Simon, Fereidoon Shahidi, and Yu Shao, eds. Washington, DC: American Chemical Society; 2008. 335 pages, hardcover, tables, figures, references, index. $175.00. ISBN 978-0-8412-3992-0.

There has been a significant increase in the use of dietary and botanical supplements in the United States, as well as a strong push for additional research that investigates the activity, safety, and efficacy of these products. This book provides some of the most recent findings and perspectives related to the phytochemistry of botanical dietary supplements, the bioactive compounds in teas and fruits, and the safety and bioactivity of selected dietary supplements, among other topics.

Vegetables and Fruits: Nutritional and Therapeutic Values. Thomas S.C. Li. Boca Raton, FL: Taylor and Francis Group; 2008. 286 pages, hardcover, tables, references, appendices, index. $129.95. ISBN 1-4200-6871-7.

Vegetables and Fruits focuses on the importance of eating plant foods as a large part of dietary intake to improve human health and protect against chronic disease. This book discusses over 200 fruits and vegetables available in North American markets and how the vitamins and minerals of these foods can provide optimal nutrition. Chapters include information on the major constituents and therapeutic compounds of fruits and vegetables. This is a good tool for learning about healthy eating, and it provides enlightening information on why many of the modern mass-marketed conventional foods produce an over-fed and under-nourished population.

Trick or Treatment?: Alternative Medicine on Trial. Simon Singh and Edzard Ernst. London: Bantam Press Publications; 2008. 352 pages, hardcover, appendix, index. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-59306-129-9.

In this book, Singh and Ernst examine much of the published scientific research conducted on commonly-used alternative medicine practices. Detailed chapters discuss the history and evidence available for acupuncture, homeopathy, chiropractic therapy and herbal medicine. The appendix offers shorter comprehensive overviews of additional alternative therapies.

Tomorrow’s Table: Organic Farming, Genetics, and the Future of Food. Pamela C. Ronald and Raoul W. Adamchak. New York, NY: Oxford University Press; 2008. 232 pages, hardcover, tables, recipes, b&w photos, glossary, references, index. $29.95. ISBN 978-0-19530175-5.

This book, written by a geneticist at the University of California and her husband, an organic farmer, offers a unique perspective on current concerns in agricultural practices. The authors help distinguish between fact and fiction in the debate about the use of organic practices and genetically engineered (GE) plants in sustainable farming and in feeding an expanding human population. Also included are recipes used by the authors as well as an inside look on how they determine what to feed their family. This book will help answer questions for anyone concerned about how the food they eat is grown and how they can make informed food choices.

The New Book of Salvias: Sages for Every Garden. Betsy Clebsch. Portland, OR: Timber Press; 2003. 344 pages, softcover or hardcover, color photos, b&w illustrations, appendices, bibliography, index. $19.95 (softcover); ISBN 978-0-88192-913-3. $29.95 (hardcover); ISBN 978-0-88192369-8.

The New Book of Salvias expands upon the first edition with entries for over 50 new species and cultivars. The descriptions offer detailed information about the origins, habitat, botany, and cultivation for each plant. Listings for where to see and buy salvias are also provided, as well as a flowering guide and lists of salvias suited for various climates. The book also includes beautiful photos of salvias across the world.

Traveling Cultures and Plants: The Ethnobiology and Ethnopharmacy of Human Migrations. Andrea Pieroni and Ina Vandebroek, eds. New York, NY: Berga Books Inc; 2007. 256 pages, hardcover, tables, bibliography, index. $80.00. ISBN 978-1-84545-373-2.

Rapid globalization and urbanization has brought about a significant increase in human migration, creating new transnational communities and diasporas. Traditional knowledge, beliefs, and practices related to the use of plants is evolving as these migrating communities come into contact with other cultures, modalities, and plant species in their new environment. The contributors to this volume—all internationally recognized scholars in the field of ethnobiology, transcultural pharmacy, and medical anthropology—analyze these dynamics of traditional knowledge in 12 selected case studies.

Western Herbs According to Traditional Chinese Medicine: A Practitioner’s Guide. Thomas Avery Garran. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press; 2008. 272 pages, hardcover, color photos, appendices, glossary, bibliography, indexes. $50.00. ISBN 978-1-59477-191-0.

Contains 58 monographs of herbs commonly used by Western herbalists, each accompanied by full-color photographs. Herbs are grouped by the basic categorization for medicinals in Chinese medicine, such as Herbs that Resolve the Exterior and Herbs that Regulate Blood. The monographs detail the energetics, function and indication, channels entered, dosage and preparation, and contraindications of each plant. Garran also explains how to combine herbs to increase their effectiveness and how to use Western herbs to modify standard Chinese formulas. The Western Analogs for Chinese Herbs appendix further highlights 40 Chinese medicinals that have related species growing in the West.

The Most Effective Natural Cures on Earth: The Surprising, Unbiased Truth about What Treatments Work and Why. Jonny Bowden. Beverly, MA: Fair Winds Press; 2008. 360 pages, softcover, color photos, glossary, index. $24.99. ISBN 978-1-59233-291-5.

Jonny Bowden takes his practical, knowledgeable, and open-minded approach, and focuses it on natural cures, revealing the best of alternative medicine for a mainstream audience. Through his personal use, extensive research, and wide-ranging expertise in nutrition and health, Jonny sorts through the myriad home remedies from many disciplines and traditions to show which ones work and how best to use these healing techniques. He also explains through approachable and articulate descriptions why they work and on what basis he selected these cures.