Martindale's Extra Pharmacopoeia.
As a lover of books, both old and new, I am on the constant lookout for herbals from the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries, as well as reliable modern sources of well-researched material on medicinal herbs. With so many books in my library, I find myself unable to generate much interest in books about herbs that report poorly organized collections of unreferenced assertions. I increasingly appreciate the concise, the well-organized and the well-documented works where there has been obvious care taken in the presentation. One book that has come into my library recently has been an excellent source of up-to-date information on herbs and drugs, and to its credit takes both a clinical and research oriented approach -- Martindale's Extra Pharmacopoeia, 30th edition. Martindale's Extra Pharmacopoeia, first printed in 1883, has a long history of publication on herbal and pharmaceutical drugs. I have several earlier editions, the first being the 21st edition of 1938. Over the years the scope of material reviewed for the book has drastically increased -- the size has gone from a mere 313 pages in 1883 to 2363 in 1993. And the pages are much bigger -- from 4 1/2 x 7" to 8 1/2 x 11". In the new edition, the print is small but readable, and the page layout has gone from 1 to 4 columns. For years, I have consulted Martindale's for a list of countries where a given herb is currently official. As an admittedly biased herbalist, I find it surprising that in the current U.S. Pharmacopoeia, the only official herbal drugs are the plant-based gums, gum acacia and gum tragacanth, used as pharmaceutic aids, emulsifying and suspending agents; agar derived from seaweed and used as a suspending agent; cocoa butter used as a suppository base; plant essential oils used to mask the flavor of some official syrups, namely anise oil, cinnamon oil, clove oil, cocoa, coriander, fennel, lemon oil, orange oil, peppermint oil, and licorice extract; and wintergreen oil as a source for the counterirritant methyl salicylate. The only four medicinal plants left are cascara sagrada and aloe as laxatives, belladonna leaf used as an anticholinergic, and ipecac as an emetic. In Martindale's, on the other hand, we find that valerian is still official in 19 countries worldwide, including France, Germany, and Great Britain. The 5,132 individual monographs are organized by uses and actions, giving the work a greater clinical emphasis. They include numerous herb sections that give the official part of the plant, drying and processing information, details about organoleptic evaluation, and common uses. Valuable modem scientific studies are often quoted where relevant to the herb's uses or possible toxicity -- over 28,000 citations in all. Although the herbal information in Martindale's is of primary interest to readers of HerbalGram, I find it to be one of the best sources of information on the actions, uses, and toxicity of numerous international drugs. It is a much better source than the widely used Physician Desk Reference (PDR) for this. I also find background information on disease processes and therapeutic categories to be useful as well. For instance, under the section "Chelating Agents antidotes and Antagonists," we can review the different mechanisms by which certain compounds help protect or rid the body of potentially toxic agents, for instance by reacting with it to form less active complexes. Thus, we learn from the comprehensive section on Activated Charcoal that it can "adsorb a wide range of plant and inorganic poisons, . . . redu[ing] their systemic absorption . . . [for which] it has become an accepted method [of treatment]." Another new feature in Martindale's is the inclusion of a section of 481 pages describing 46,000 commercially available preparations from 14 countries, including the UK, other European countries, North America, Australia, and South Africa. The section provides the proprietary name, the manufacturer or distributor of the product, and the active ingredients, as well as a summary of the product's indications. For instance, the valerian product made in France called Epanal is a suppository product containing phenobarbitone, thiamine, ballota, passion flower, white willow, hawthorn, and valerian, with indications for anxiety and insomnia. This information could be especially valuable to physicians, herbalists, pharmacists, and manufacturers of herbal products. The index of such a massive work needs to be comprehensive, and Martindale's is particularly useful, containing 153,500 entries providing full cross-referencing for every drug name, synonym, code, chemical name and preparation name, and all of its ingredients. Article copyright American Botanical Council. ~~~~~~~~ By Christopher Hobbs">30th Edition. Rittenhouse Book Distributor, King of Prussia, PA. $299.95. Hardcover, 2,363 pp. ISBN #C:\Inetpub\wwwroot\Data