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Handbook of African Medicinal Plants.
by Maurice M. Iwu, 1993. CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL. 435 pp. Illustrations and photos. Hardcover. $99.95. ISBN 0-8493-4266-X. Available from ABC Books.

The author is a professor of pharmacognosy at the University of Nigeria and a research associate at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in Washington, D.C. The first part of the book is an extensive table cataloging 1,046 plants used in traditional medical practices in Africa today. Most of these medicinal uses are gleaned from published sources which are cited in the tables. The second part of the book contains the pharmacognostic profiles of 152 selected medicinal plants. Included in each brief monograph are the Latin names and synonyms, English common name and local African name, plant description, habitat distribution, medicinal uses, constituents, citations of pharmacological studies, clinical properties, and toxicity (when available). The third part of the book includes chapters on healing and African culture with sections on African traditional healers, spiritual and cultural aspects of healing, and totems and taboos. An additional chapter on "The African Medicine Man" includes training of traditional healers. Different types are differentiated. Finally, a chapter on medicinal plants and traditional healing methods gives lists of plants which are commonly used for various conditions and purposes. The book is extensively referenced with 873 citations. Also, two indices, one on species, genera and families, and another on subject, are comprehensive to the point of being almost exhaustive, making this a truly handy and valuable book, especially considering the relatively reasonable price for a CRC publication. At a time when there is increased interest in medicinal plants for their potential use and traditional medicines within their native cultures, as well as for sources for new drug development, this present volume will no doubt serve the research community as an excellent guide for future investigations.

Article copyright American Botanical Council.