Format of This Book

It is only natural that a believer in evolution would have an evolving format. The current format has evolved from my CRC Handbook of Medicinal Herbs, 2nd edition, which had evolved from my public domain Father Nature's Farmacy, online at the USDA. There are some new features here.

Lead Line: The lead line for each species remains pretty much the same. Common name — (Scientific name Author) followed by an X, a +, ++, or +++ representing the rather subjective safety scores, as in the past (X = don't take it, + = OK but probably not as safe as coffee, ++ = OK and probably as safe as coffee, and +++ = OK and probably safer than coffee); then the taxonomic family to which the species belongs. Family names are always in capital letters and end in "ACEAE." Like allopaths, health announcers, and reporters, I reserve the right to change my mind as new information comes in, positive or negative. I assembled this information, based on the published literature — no prescription implied or intended.

Synonyms: The next line may list some outdated synonyms, scientific names that at some time in the past also have been applied to this species.

Notes: The NOTES paragraph almost always begins with biblical quotes from various translations of the Bible (KJV = King James Version; RSV = Revised Standard Version, NWT = New World Translation). It is amazing how many uncopyrighted versions of the Bible in many languages are available on the Internet. And it is amazing how often the plant names (usually underlined in the quotation) are differently translated in the various versions. After these quotes follows a concise paragraph or two commenting on points of interest.

Common Names: Here I have compiled many, but by no means all, common names, often flagged as to language or country of origin. First comes a name in alphabetical order with a parenthetical citation of the country and/or language name or abbreviation. The country/language names/abbreviations always have the initial letter capitalized and subsequent letters in lowercase. These are followed by three-letter abbreviations (all capital letters) of the source(s), sometimes supplemented by journal citations or PubMed abstracts preceded by an X, to tell readers where I found these names. Sometimes one of the references, most frequently KAB, will list more than a hundred common names, from various parts of India and elsewhere, including dozens of Sanskrit names. In some such cases, I took at least one name from that source from each country or language. Few users will want to study all these common names unless it is a country they plan to visit. With an electronic version of the database, they could generate the names pertinent to the country they plan to visit. Often, the name itself will tell something about the plant or its medicinal uses. I have elected to use the standardized common names (Scn.) endorsed by the American Herbal Products Association (AH2) as the pivotal common name in the lead line for the entry. Occasionally, AH2 would offer an optional alternative common name, which I have abbreviated Ocn. (= other common name). Where there was no standardized common name, I often use the abbreviation Nscn. (= no standardized common name). In such cases, not uncommon in this biblical edition, I have consulted the USDA nomenclaturists and their database, trying to ensure that they and I will agree, and this might later influence the American Herbal Products Association should they decide to add some of these to a revised edition of their standardized common name book. With these common names flagged with geographic and linguistic handles, skillful database managers can readily print out mini-medicinal floras for many countries.

Activities: Following the common name paragraph are the activities reported for the herb, followed by a parenthetical scoring of the level of the efficacy of that activity. I have a subjective four-score evaluation of the efficacy of the activities f = strictly folklore; 1 = some animal, epidemiological, in vitro, or phytochemical studies support the efficacy (I actually feel that in many cases f may be better than 1); 2 = extracts of plant approved by Commission E, by the TRAMIL Commission, or demonstrated by human clinical trials; and a very rare 3 = herb itself clinically proven in human trials. If there is folkloric data (f), and animal or phytochemical support (1), and clinical proof for extracts or the rare clinical proof for the herb itself (3), as occasionally happens, e.g. with garlic, the efficacy score would read f123. Our computer programs can then print out the best scoring herbs for a given activity or indication. These efficacy scores are referenced like the common name, by three-letter abbreviations of my major sources in capital letters, and/or PubMed citation numbers preceded by X, and/or occasional shorthand journal citations.

Indications: Following the ACTIVITIES are the INDICATIONS reported for the herb, followed by a parenthetical scoring of the level of the efficacy of that indication. I have the same subjective efficacy scores f = folklore; 1 = some supporting animal, epidemiological, in vitro, or phytochemical studies; 2 = approved by Commission E, or the TRAMIL Commission, or proved in human clinical trials for simple herbal extracts; and a very rare 3 = herb itself clinically proven in human trials. Combinations of these four scores can appear, especially when many sources have been consulted. Not all sources consulted are cited but I attempt to cite my new source succinctly when the score goes up or down. These scores are referenced by three-letter abbreviations of my major sources, and/or PubMed serial citation numbers preceded by X, and/or an occasional shorthand journal citation. Occasionally, trying to reference every activity and indication, I have to resort to bibliographic shorthand; hence, there will be a cryptic journal citation (especially of journals not covered by PubMed), with an abbreviation for the journal, followed by the volume number and the page number, as in my CRC Handbook of Medicinal Herbs. Some examples are: EB12:368 = Economic Botany, Vol. 12, p. 368. FT67:215 = Fitoterapia. Vol. 67, p. 215.

ACT9:251 = Journal Alternative & Complementary Medicine, Vol. 9, p. 251.

Dosages: This entry has evolved significantly since CR2, the CRC Handbook of Medicinal Herbs (2nd edition, 2002). First, I have added a third scoring element for the food farmacy potential of the plant. FNFF stands for Father Nature's Food Farmacy. Here is the FNFF scoring pattern:

FNFF = X = I found nothing credible suggesting the plant as food. FNFF = ? = Very questionable survival food.

FNFF = ! = Survival food or little known but locally important; not in United States supermarkets.

FNFF = !! = Important food in some parts of world; not in major supermarkets. FNFF = !!! = Important enough in the world to be in many United States supermarkets.

Following the food farmacy score, there will be dosages from various sources using the same reference citations. Then there will be folkloric bullets suggesting how various countries and ethnic groups report using the plant. With this new FNFF scoring, my computer can rank the herbs for safety, efficacy, and food farmacy potential. In these litigious days, I feel safer recommending food farmacy to friends and family. I think food farmacy should be the first line of attack when a simple new medical problem arises.

Downsides: Under this heading I often report contraindications, interactions, and side effects, just as in the CRC Handbook of Medicinal Herbs (Edition 2, 2002).

Natural History: Because of my increasing interest in zoopharmacognosy and natural history, I added this cubbyhole to permit inclusion of pertinent facts on the natural history. Which animals are using it besides us?

Extracts: Here I try to include news on chemicals or extracts of the plant that have proven effects.

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