New Herbal Handbook Helps to Inform Health Care Professionals
Fox News
by Chris Kilham

It’s an old, shopworn story: A patient goes into the doctor’s office and tells the doctor that they are taking several different kinds of herbs. He has been advised to seek the doctor’s advice. Are these herbs okay to take with my medication, he asks. The doctor has no idea, and suggests that the patient stop taking the herbs – just to err on the safe side. Scenes like this happen every day.

Now, thanks to the recent publication of the new edition of the American Herbal Products Association’s (AHPA) Botanical Safety Handbook, no health professional needs to make an uninformed decision like that ever again. Researched and written by herbal scientist Zoe Gardner, and edited and reviewed by an expert advisory panel of world-class botanical specialists including AHPA President Michael McGuffin, the Botanical Safety Handbook provides a reliable, scientifically validated reference that lets doctors know the current state of science and safety on over 500 common and lesser known herbs.

Years in the making, the more than 1,000-page long AHPA Botanical Safety Handbook provides definitive information on herbs, their standard doses, contraindications, any possible drug interactions, safety of use during pregnancy and lactation, any reported adverse events, toxicity studies, and references for all data cited. The most exhaustive reference of its kind ever assembled, the AHPA Botanical Safety Handbook distills in one place hundreds of thousands of pages of scientific and medical information on herbs – the most widely employed class of health remedies in the world. Without question, the handbook answers the question, “Is it safe?”

As numerous studies have shown, people in the United States are turning to herbs at an unprecedented rate. Reasons for this include dissatisfaction with conventional pharmaceuticals and greatly expanded media highlighting the benefits of herbal medicines. Yet even with decades of steady escalating herbal use, physicians and other health care professionals, including pharmacists, have been slow to learn about this burgeoning category. With the AHPA Botanical Safety Handbook on hand, now every doctor, nurse, pharmacist, clinic and hospital can have readily on hand the definitive guide to recurring herbal questions.

Since 1999, the World Health Organization, the public health arm of the United Nations, has published four authoritative volumes on medicinal plants – the WHO Medicinal Plant Monographs. These volumes give up-to-date information on known uses and benefits of many major herbs. In addition, the American Botanical Council has published numerous books on these traditional medicines, including the ABC Clinical Guide to Herbs. The WHO volumes, combined with the ABC guide and the AHPA handbook, lift the veil of confusion surrounding herbal remedies and firmly establish the deep scientific roots of plant-derived medicines. With this small library, a once uninformed doctor can confidently answer the herbal questions that patients pose every day.

Health experts used to complain that there wasn’t enough science on herbs to give accurate recommendations on their uses and safety. Those days are long gone. Hundreds of thousands of scientific and medical papers and thousands of books have been written on herbal medicines. Now, with the AHPA Botanical Safety Handbook and the other guides described here, no health care professional needs to remain bewildered or uncertain about this globally valuable sector of human health care.

As William Blake famously declared, necessity is the mother of invention. For many years, we have needed definitive botanical safety science, all in one convenient reference, in the hands of health care professionals. With the AHPA Botanical Safety Handbook in print and available, that critically important need has been fulfilled.

The new edition of the American Herbal Products Association's Botanical Safety Handbook is available on Amazon.com.

May 2013