Get Involved
About Us
Our Members
Thai Medicinal Plants Recommended for Primary Health Care System.
by Norman R. Farnsworth and Nuntavan Bunyapraphatsara, (Eds.) Published by Medicinal Plant Information Center, Faculty of Pharmacy, Mahidol University, Bangkok. Distributed by the American Botanical Council, P.O. Box 201660, Austin, TX 78720. 402 pp. Hardcover. $89. ISBN 974 0587-498-1. Available from ABC Books.

Thailand, like many developing countries, has placed emphasis and resources into the development of medicinal plants to provide health care to a larger population at a reduced cost, not dependent upon Western orthodox medicine. The present volume seeks to support the development of medicinal plants while minimizing problems associated with plant identity and nomenclatural confusion, improper usage, and the hesitation of medical doctors to use medicinal plants because of a perceived lack of scientific data. Meant as a reference manual for physicians, pharmacists, and other health care professionals, the book provides substantial scientific data on all aspects of over sixty commonly available medicinal plants. This large format book includes dozens of color photographs, showing the plant in flower or fruit, the crude drugs, and other details.

Non-Thai readers should not be deterred from purchasing the book because of its regional Thai focus. More than half of the medicinal plants treated in detail are commonly available on world herb markets. This list includes garlic, aloe, safflower, senna, lemon grass, citronella, hibiscus, basil, cloves, ginger, and many others.

The information presented in this book is nothing if not comprehensive. Major sections under each of the sixty major entries include common and regional names, a botanical description, ecology and distribution, propagation, ethnomedical uses, traditional remedies, chemical constituents, pharmacological activities, and clinical trials. Here the medical practitioners, who may be skeptical about medicinal uses of plants because of "lack" of scientific data, are given enough material to make them realize that ignorance on the use of the plant is theirs alone. The garlic chapter, for example, spans 25 pages, and contains more information than found in most review articles I have seen on the plant. Hypocholesterolemic effect, antiplatelet aggregation, fibrinolytic, hypotensive, antidiabetic, antibacterial, antifungal, anthelmintic, anticancer, antimutagenic, and antiprotozoa activity, effects on insects, carminative effect, effect on the uterus, spermaticidal activity, antiinflammato ry activity, immunomodulating activity, and toxicity assessment are some of the 29 categories reviewed in detail under the "pharmacological activity and clinical trial" section on garlic. All information is fully referenced. Under garlic are 466 complete citations to original research in the bibliography, much of it from the last decade.

This book is a rich source of information. Rather than being placed on a bookshelf across my study with a collection of other Southeast Asian medicinal plant references, this book will be placed close to my desk where I can refer to it often.

Article copyright American Botanical Council.