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New book explains plants, medicine

A new book by botanists at Washington University in St. Louis enlightens both consumers of natural products and herbs and traditional physicians.

Medical Botany, Plants Affecting Human Health, is the second edition of a 1977 book, Medical Botany, published by Walter Lewis, Ph.D., professor emeritus of biology, and Memory Elvin-Lewis, Ph.D., professor of microbiology and ethnobotany in biomedicine in Arts & Sciences at Washington University. John Wiley & Sons Inc has just published the 812-page book. The book clarifies and classifies the role that plants and herbs play in human health. The work can be a cornerstone of an individual's research and practice in this area, whether it be parsing the properties of Echinacea or St. John's wort, or learning the calcium content in black beans, or the medicinal value of garlic and red wine.

"The work was over twenty years in the making and is by no means a 'pop', throwaway book on herbalism," said Elvin-Lewis. "It's a reference book that physicians should treasure, especially in light of the fact that so many patients are self-medicating. The book has a long shelf life. You can use it forever."

The 1977 book was patterned after texts on internal medicine. It was intended to be a guide to how certain pharmaceuticals evolved from plant sources and how the use of plants and herbs for health reasons has evolved in many cultures.

It was a very popular book that thrived throughout the years and was used by as many as 20 different universities, according to the authors, as a text for courses developed on alternative medicine.

"Since 1977, we've seen an explosion in the enthusiasm for nature's products, healthier diets, exercise, nutritional foods, lower fat consumption and alternative medicines to improve our health," said Lewis. "Memory and I thought the time was right for our second edition, an expanded look at what is being popularly practiced right now, and what plants and herbs
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Contact: Tony Fitzpatrick
tony_fitzpatrick@wustl.edu
314-935-5272
Washington University in St. Louis
30-Dec-2003


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