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Alternative Medicines, the Definitive Guide.
Goldberg, B. et al. 1993. Future Medicine Publishing Co., Puyallup, WA. 1068 pp.

Snowed in for three days during a snow/sleet/ice storm, I was sure glad that editor James Strohecker had sent me a copy of this book a few days earlier. With three days and cabin fever, I scanned the book three times, for new aromathera-peutic, Ayurvedic, herbal, and nutritional information. Took a lot of notes, too. Even though I am one of the more than 400 people listed as consultants, editors, writers and/or contributors I don't seem to remember the contribution I made. I did not see any of my footprints except the one quote (I don't remember but I like it anyhow) "What commercial drug dealer is going to want to prove that saw palmetto is better than his multimillion dollar drug, when you and I can go to Florida and harvest our own Saw palmetto?" I have wagered my prostate, however, that FDA-disapproved saw palmetto will do the same thing as the newly FDA-approved multimillion-dollar drug, finasteride.

I'm afraid that this useful book, like the useful alternative medicine program at N.I.H., will be used by conventional medicine to deride alternative medicine. But in a book trying to cover all facets of alternative medicine, including many facets about which I know nothing, I find many things that I too view as extremely flaky. I won't comment on those things, so far outside my meager field of expertise.

Although the cover claims that "350 Leading Edge Physicians explain their treatments," I find fewer than 125 of the editorial board members, contributors, and consultants bear the title M.D. There is a potpourri of abbreviations, only a few of which I am sure of the meanings. Ph.D., D.O., D.D.S., R.N., all convey a message to me, but I have written a letter to the editor requesting the explanation of all the titular acronyms or abbreviations following the names of these "Leading Edge Physicians."

In spite of there being so many contributors, I get the feeling that most of the aromatherapeutic info comes from three people, Kurt Schnaubelt (Dr. rer. nat.), Robert Tisserand, M. H. and author, Editor, International Journal of Aromatherapy, and Ann Berwick, B.S.C. I am indexing all the information to see what, if anything, is new here.

The Contributing Writers to the section on Herbal Medicine were Mark Blumenthal and David Hoffmann, B. Sc., M.N.I.M.H. with three N.D.s, Donald Brown, Mary Bove, and John Sherman, listed with me, Ph. D., as consultants. My conclusion after three days with the book is that most of the herbs mentioned are those frequented by David Hoffmann, a very articulate and skillful herbalist who has helped lot of people. I will be carefully comparing the herbal recommendations here to see what they offer over and beyond the interesting offerings in Hoffmann's best-selling books. Except for the illustration labeled Milk Thistle (p. 267), the Herbal Medicine chapter is relatively conservative and sound.

The Contributing Writer of the Ayurvedic Section is Vasant Lad, M.A. Sc., with Virender Sodhi, M.D. (Ayurveda), N.D., Deepak Chopra, M.D., and David Frawley, O.M.D., as consultants. But most of the Ayurvedic formulations and recommendations are attributed to Sodhi.

The Contributing Writer of Nutritional Supplements is Jeffrey Bland, Ph. D,.with D. Lindsay Berkson, D.C., M.A., and Paul McTaggert as consultants.

Article copyright American Botanical Council.


By James A. Duke