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The Textbook of Advanced Herbology.
Terry Willard, with assistance from James McCormick. 1992. Wild Rose College of Natural Healing, Ltd., 302, 1220 Kensington Road NW, Calgary, Alberta, Canada T2N 3P5. Clothbound. 436 pp. ISBN 0-969-1727-0-4.

The author has written several previous textbooks, this being the advanced volume in a series. The book is divided into chapters based on the chemical constituents of medicinal herbs. The author attempts to blend Western chemical pharmacology with his knowledge of Asian traditional medicine, including Chinese traditional medicine and Ayurvedic energetics. In the chapter called "A Foundation in Chemistry," the author attempts to give a beginner's explanation into the basis of organic chemistry. This is useful for the rest of the book, with chapters based on carbohydrates and related compounds, glycosides, organic acids, aromatic acids and tannins, lipids, volatile oils, resins, terpenoids, sterols, cardiac glycosides, and finally alkaloids. Each of these chapters then explains the various physiological properties of the different types of chemical compounds found in plants with examples of the plants whose activity may be attributed to the presence of these compounds. For example , ginseng, sarsaparilla, and wild yam are all found in the chapter on glycosides. Accordingly, ginkgo, milk thistle, and hawthorn are found under the subsection of flavonol glycosides.

This arrangement by chemistry is consistent with some of the leading textbooks in pharmacognosy, most notably Tyler, Brady, and Robbers in the U.S., and Trease and Evans in the U.K. The book also includes chapters on "herbal product assessment and herbal product manufacture," something not found in most contemporary herb books. Another chapter, "Herbology and Pharmacological Research" guides the reader to various sources of primary and secondary research for further information. Several appendices include the GRAS list, as updated by the Herb Research Foundation, and a fairly extensive index.

One curious chapter is "Alchemy and Herbs," in which the author explains some metaphysical attitudes and philosophies that have historically been associated with herbalism, including astrology and kabbalistic practices. While a chapter of this sort might be interesting as an historical footnote, it may tend to detract from the credibility of the overall work in the minds of more serious, contemporary, science-oriented readers.

In all, an interesting and richly packed work that is appropriate for advanced students only. However, with as many people around who have been studying herbs for the last ten to twenty years, this book should provide a considerable degree of resourcefulness.

Article copyright American Botanical Council.