In Germany, where medicinal herbs are an integrated facet of modern medicine, doctors and pharmacists rely on Commission E's guidance to prescribe and dispense herbs confidently. Now this guidance is available in English. "Ignorance of the Commission E monographs is ignorance of a substantial segment of modern medicine," continues Tyler. "The information contained in them is now made readily available in the common language of science to a vast audience worldwide. Without question, their ready availability will benefit all of us, consumers and healthcare practitioners alike."
According to Prof. Heinz Schilcher, vice-president of Commission E for 16 years, "It is a shame that the German authorities were not able to translate the monographs into the English language and give a precise introduction in a worldwide understood language. Your book will be very useful not only for the U.S., but also for the European community and the WHO."
Dr. Joerg Gruenwald of PhytoPharm Consulting in Berlin adds that the ABC publication "will be an excellent work and has to be translated back into German, because such a structured and indexed version [of Commission E] has never existed."
Commission E was first convened in 1978. Composed of physicians, pharmacists, pharmacologists, and toxicologists, the Commission actively researched all available information on more than 300 herbs and approved or disapproved them on the basis of whether absolute safety and reasonable efficacy of the herb's use could be established. The monographs published by the Commission include nomenclature, plant composition and key chemical constituents, uses and indications, contraindications, side effects, interactions with other medicines, dosage, and medicinal action of each herb.
ABC's translated edition presents 380 herb monographs, including 81 revisions. The book, over 700 pages, is cross-referenced by common. Latin, and pharmacopeial herb names, and includes a 70-page introduction, a general index, a therapeutic index with "Approved Uses," "Contraindications," "Side Effects," and "Pharmacological Actions" tables, and a 20-page glossary of botanical, medical, pharmaceutical, and technical terms.
Mark Blumenthal, the senior editor of the book, believes that "the translated Commission E Monographs will be an essential reference for the shelves of every pharmacy and medical office in the United States.
"This publication will increase the acceptance of legitimate medical uses of phytomedicines among physicians, pharmacists, regulators, Congressional members, journalists, the pharmaceutical and herbal industries, and the general public. The monographs will have a positive impact on the current need for authoritative and credible information on the proper uses of herbs."
On June 12, 1998, the final edited version of the manuscript was sent to the printer. ABC plans to begin filling pre-publication orders for the book in August.
Article copyright American Botanical Council.
By Betsy Levy