JCM Review"There is a sense of inevitability to the eventual inclusion of Western herbs (or at least many of the commonly used ones) into TCM, a traditional system that has long been open to incorporating foreign medicinals into its materia medica (e.g., myrrh, frankincense, American ginseng and a host of others). The idea of assigning Chinese energetic values to Western herbs was first put forward by Michael Tierra in Planetary Herbology, followed later by Peter Holmes with his two volume The Energetics of Western Herbs. Jeremy Ross has for over 15 years been teaching his own unique approach to using Western herbs in the Chinese energetic framework and has now taken up his pen to further this effort. The result of Ross's seven year long, herculean efforts is a well referenced book that is a must for the libraries and clinics of anyone interested in this idea of using Western herbs in the practice of OM.
"Combining Western Herbs and Chinese Medicine ' Principles, Practice and Materia Medica contains chapters on the history of Western herbal medicine, temperature, taste, actions, dose, safety and a materia medica section that covers fifty herbs; a number of herbs in the materia medica section are already commonly used in Chinese medicine, e.g., ginger, myrrh, cinnamon, licorice. Additionally the book contains a wonderfully detailed index and valuable tables for cross referencing, including the Chinese characters for herbs botanically related to the ones discussed. Each herb in the materia medica section is dealt with in exhaustive detail including botanical information, history and traditional use, pharmacological and clinical research, toxicology, regulatory status, dose, cautions, combinations and formulas. In an interesting section in each materia medica chapter Ross puts the scientific studies under his microscope to see which traditional uses are validated in some way by modern research.
"All pioneers have to be prepared to take their knocks, and Ross will undoubtedly find himself roundly criticized in some circles. The traditionalists in OM and European phytotherapy will likely object to such a bold effort and question its necessity. There are ample herbs already described in the Chinese literature and no difficulty in purchasing them, the argument might go, and you're just going to muddy the waters... Some will contend it is disrespectful to all the many centuries of accumulated experience in the Chinese herbal literature to assume one author could take on and explain the energetics of so many herbs in one fell swoop.The phytotherapists might simply feel that all this talk of herb "energetics" is unnecessary to good prescribing. Even for those who accept the notion of herb energetics, some will object to the values he assigns to particular herbs in the materia medica section; that type of criticism is inevitable for a work of this sort. It will be difficult for anyone, however, to dispute the fact that he has brought the idea of using Western herbs in this OM way forward by a giant step. To the extent it is humanly possible in such a ground breaking endeavor where much that is new has to be created (the Greeks, for instance, had nothing to say about the herbal energetics of Harpagophytum/Devil's Claw, so here the author had to rely on his own experience), Ross has referenced his positions, with each materia medica section commonly containing 40+ citations. In this way he seems well prepared for his critics.
"The approach used in the book is not a purely Chinese one; instead the author, who has credentials in the sciences as well as TCM and Western herbal medicine, has combined these three elements into a unique synthesis. He calls on his extensive experience in both Chinese medicine and Western herbal medicine to arrive at the indicated syndromes in TCM (and he has named a small handful of new syndromes) for a given herb. In many cases these indications are intuitively obvious for anyone who knows the herb and the Chinese framework, but in others the insights of a senior practitioner such as Jeremy Ross are needed for clarification. Where his experience seems to play a particularly important role is in the 380 herb pairs and the many formulas in the book. Some of these pairs can be found in the BHP, but the majority come from the author's own extensive clinical experience.
"The handling of safety in Combining Western Herbs and Chinese Medicine ' Principles, Practice and Materia Medica merits special attention here because the author goes to great lengths (36 pages) to give this topic the thorough examination its deserves. Each chapter in the materia medica section has its own relevant safety data, including cautions, contraindications and dosage. Additionally, three of the early chapters contain a detailed discussion of the issues surrounding the safe use of herbal medicines. There is a chapter with a general handling of safety that includes adverse reactions, standardized herbal products, negative and positive interactions between herbs and drugs, government regulation, practitioner training and so on.
"The second safety chapter deals with the organ systems. This discussion will be useful as a clinical guide for students and as a reminder to experienced practitioners. Here Ross goes into detail on how to avoid negative outcomes with particular Chinese syndromes, e.g., which types of herbs to avoid using in cases of Stomach Heat or Lung Dryness and so on. This discussion is also tackled from the Western scientific side of things with a look, for instance, at hypertension and cardiac arrhythmia and the herbs that are best avoided in formulas used to treat these conditions.
"The third chapter is titled Safety in clinical practice. Here the reader is led through the thorny issues of preventing adverse reactions through the use of balanced herb combinations, balancing herbal prescriptions, monitoring and managing side effects and adverse reactions, general dosage guidelines, size and timing of the dose, duration of the prescription, and breaks in treatment.
"In summary both the scholar and the practical-minded practitioner will find plenty to wrap his/her mind around in this ground-breaking work by Jeremy Ross. The design and layout of the book make it an easy read. Jeremy is is to be commended for the courage and vision it must have taken to step forward with so daring a work."
Robert Alder Quinn, L.Ac.
"By far the best, most practical book on this subject, written from the perspective of a clinician who has an in depth understanding of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Western Herbalism - an essential reference."
Michael Tierra L.AC, O.M.D.
Part I: Herbal medicine in theory and practice
Principles of herb combination
Practical herb combination
Safety and the organ systems
Safety in clinical practice
Part II: Materia Medica
Using the materia medica
Berberis and Hydrastis
Gentiana and Centaurium
Pharmaceutical-English herb names
Botanical-Mandarin herb names
Mandarin-botanical herb names
|Number Of Pages||970|