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Evaluation of Herbal Medicinal Products

Evaluation of Herbal Medicinal Products by Peter Houghton and Pulok K Mukherjee (eds). London: Pharmaceutical Press; 2009. Hardcover; 520 pages. ISBN 978-0-85369-751-0. Price $199.99.

The enormous growth in the market for herbal medicinal products over the last 25 years has been one of the most remarkable aspects of healthcare in the developed and developing world. The (re)discovery and widespread use of natural substances with therapeutic uses has created a demand by both regulators and the general public for measures to be implemented to assure safe and efficacious herbal medicinal products. In response to this demand, regulators in the European Union have introduced the Traditional Herbal Medicinal Products Directive (THMPD), which, while harmonizing the regulatory standards throughout the EU, addresses one of the key issues of herbal medicinal products. Although they may have hundreds of years of documented traditional use in a certain indication, the mechanisms of action of many of these THMPs may still be poorly researched and their efficacy not clinically proven. The THMPD outlines a scheme for registering medicinal herbal products based on their traditional use only. While the requirements for documenting the safety and quality of the product as part of the registration process are similar to those for conventional medicines, proof of efficacy (derived from clinical trials) is replaced with adequate documentation of traditional use.

This book contributes to a better understanding and utilization of these regulations, as it brings together articles on current thinking and practices regarding quality, plus pharmacological, clinical, and safety assessments of herbal medicinal products. Evaluation of Herbal Medicinal Products also highlights up-to-date research that should facilitate improvements of the topics under consideration. The book seeks to provide a state-of-the-art review, informing and guiding those who are involved in the development, manufacturing, and marketing of HMPs. It extends coverage beyond herbs used in rational phytotherapy to those employed in other traditional healing paradigms such as Traditional Chinese Medicine, Ayurveda, and others. Challenges in understanding and explaining the activity of herbal products, and thus, of the development of standardized phytomedicines, are also discussed. Beyond the general overview, the publication covers approaches for pharmacological evaluation in some key therapeutic areas, such as gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, respiratory, memory and cognitive disorders, etc. It also elaborates on common hurdles in product development, such as stability of herbal products, and also provides perspectives on the evaluation of quality and safety.

The editors, Peter Houghton, emeritus professor in pharmacognosy at King’s College London, UK, and Pulok K Mukherjee, director of the School of Natural Product Studies, Jadavpur University, Kolkata, India, have compiled 77 highly informative and valuable contributions from a wide range of sources. All contributions are well-represented, well-structured, and extensively referenced. The book opens with a glossary of key terminology, guidelines, and regulations, and is complemented with an impressive 20-page index. In summary, this book is a timely, highly valuable, and potentially indispensible resource for researchers in both academia and industry.

—Thomas Brendler, Plantaphile, Berlin, Germany