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The Complete Guide to Herbal MedicinesReview - The Complete Guide to Herbal Medicines
by Charles W. Fetrow, Juan R. Avila
Pocket Books, 2000
Review by Susan Wingate
Apr 30th 2001 (Volume 5, Issue 18)

This is a book of 300 plus herbs and alternative medicinals in a straight forward presentation: what they are and how to use them safely. This guide takes you through the history, folklore, practical uses, common doses, side effects, interactions, warnings (contraindications), listings of herbs alphabetically, as well as what other products they can be found in, and selected references (clinical studies). Within these pages are the recipes for the various preparations of herbs and a breakdown of what dangers are avoided when the reader takes the time to educate his/her self on the use of herbal and alternative medicines.

This Guide to Herbal Medicines is the equivalent to the Physician Desk Reference (PDR) for prescription medications given to western medicine clientele. It is one of the most comprehensive guides I have seen on the market. I believe the fact that the authors are both men of "science" gives great validity to the information gathered in this book. There has been and continues to be skepticism in the alternative healing practices and the use of herbs. Dr. Fetrow and Dr. Avila are to be commended for their systematic, practical approach they have taken to dispel both fear and disbelief, when it comes to the practice of using herbs as healing agents.

This is truly a finely crafted tool that has far reaching benefits for the "average" person. This book is great for presenting the vast amount of information in an easy to read, easy to understand language. Here is an opportunity for anyone to have what it takes to educate themselves on how to optimize their own self care in a way that can and will improve the quality of their life. This is not to say this book replaces the need and use of physicians. If anything, the guidance provided in the pages of this book can give MORE options for the medical profession in daily treatment of patients. Patient education can extend beyond the office visit and it can also be used as an empowering tool to instill confidence in the patient to participate more in decisions in the course of action to take place about their health care.

I would highly recommend those that are knowledgeable about herbal and alternative medicines keep this book as an extremely valuable reference guide. I would caution the novice before actually using any of the "recipes" or preparations, to consult with an herbalist, naturopath physician, homeopathic physician, pharmacist familiar with the use of herbs and/or the novice's own physician, (hoping they too are familiar with herbs). It is so very important to ensure proper use/dose/application in the use of herbal and alternative medicines as outlined by the warnings and contraindications found in the text of the book.

Susan Wingate is currently working in personnel management at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina. She has worked for twelve years as a chemical dependency counselor for adolescents, as well as having worked with survivors of domestic violence and sexual abuse. Her passion is to be a vehicle for creating awareness for self and others.


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