Reviews on Indian Medicinal Plants. Volume 9 (Da – Dy)

June 7th, 2010

Reviews on Indian Medicinal Plants. Volume 9 (Da-Dy)

edited by Neeraj Tandon and Madhu Sharma

Indian Council of Medicinal Research, New Delhi  2009

The Indian subcontinent is a major hub of plant biodiversity, and Indian herbal medicine is one of the most ancient and validated traditional medicines in the world. Indian scientists are also at the forefront of the study of medicinal plants, and the sheer size of this monumental endeavour vividly testifies to the convergence of these observations. Indeed, after nine hefty volumes, only plants in the A-D name range have been covered, in a project that was started in 2000 and that will not probably finish before the end of this decade. The most recent volume of the series covers plants from Dactyliandra through Dysoxylum. While some of these plants (Datura, Digitalis, Derris) are well known and have provided major drugs or biochemical probes, other are still waiting to be fully exploited. The literature coverage is strong on Indian studies, but often poor in terms of studies carried out outside India, especially for the best known species. In general, the biological coverage, and especially the ethnopharmacological section, is the strongest part of each monograph, while phytochemical studies are generally only briefly summarized.

I believe that, even in these days of fast access to information, this book is an indispensable tool for all scientists investigating Indian plants. First, because it covers Journals outside the PubMed circle and therefore studies difficult to find, next because of the consistantly high quality of the reviews, especially those on little known plants. The limits are seen with the best known plants, where it would be difficult to give a comprehensive coverage without doubling the size of the book, while the series gives its best with less known plants. Each entry commences with a section of General Information, where the botany, ethnopharmacology and ayurvedic description are treated, providing also a selection of regional names for each plant species. When available, pharmacognosy studies are also described, sometimes in great detail (Datura). Chemical studies are next described, providing in some cases also the chemical formula of the major constituents. The biological studies are divided into preclinical studies, clinical studies and toxicological studies, with numerous (in some cases hundreds) of references. In general, the biological sections are very well organized. Color pictures are also provided for some species. In short, a really great book for those interested in pharmacognosy and bioactivity, but that often needs other sources for a comprehensive phytochemical coverage.

Giovanni Appendino

Facoltà di Farmacia, Università del Piemonte Orientale,

Novara, Italy

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Stockey’s Herbal Medicines Interactions

January 6th, 2010

Stockley's Herbal Medicines InteractionsStockey’s Herbal Medicines Interactions, edited by Elizabeth Williamson, Samuel Driver and Karen Baxter | Pharmaceutical Press, London, Chicago  2009, ISBN 978 0 85369 760 2;  Price: £50.00

Review by Dr. Rocco Longo, Carlo Sessa, Milan, Italy

This book is the result of an unique collaboration between a team of experts in the fields of drug interactions, clinical herbal medicines, phytophamacovigilance and regulation of medicinal products. It provides an invaluable reference text for all healthcare professionals, pharmacy chemists, herbalists, phytotherapy  consultants and researchers. Whoever needs  evidence-based information on the interactions of mainstream drugs with herbal medicines, dietary supplements and nutraceuticals, will find the book useful.

This issue of the interaction between plant natural products and synthetic drugs is nowadays very important, since the use of herbal medicine is growing in all Western countries, the major market for prescription drugs. An important feature of the book is the clear distinction between interaction that are potential (the majority), backed up by animal experiments (some) and clinically observed (few).  All metanalyses published in the past four decades on herbs- drugs interactions are analyzed in a critical way, and over 550  herbal interactions are discussed, with specific monographs being dedicated to the 150 most important herbal drugs and healthfood ingredients. To give an idea o how comprehensively the literature has been scouted, 128 potential interactions of St. John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum)] are discussed.  Each monograph of herbal ingredients is made up by the following sections: Synonyms, related Pharmacopoeias, Constituents, Indications, Pharmacokinetics, Interactions, Literature References both for clinical  as for interactions data.   The paragraph “Interactions” includes all clinical evidence currently available, discussing the underlying mechanism(s) and the possibility of translating data from animal experiments into a clinical setting. Thus, the interaction of St. John’s wort with enxymes (various CYPs) and transporters (various PgPs) are critircally examined.

The book has 433 pages, and its general features include:

-         ease of use, which allows rapid information

-         rating system simple and easily understood

-         worldwide appeal with approved pharmacopoeial names and synonyms from Europe and U.S.A.

-         indexing of interactions full and comprehensive with  names and synonyms.

There is no doubt that this book, also available as a CD ROM, will become the standard in the realm of herbs-drugs interactions for many years to come.

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