Sunday, September 03, 2006

Basic information on medicinal herbs and supplements

While some of these resources are written at a professional or near-professional level, it's important to consult one or more reliable texts to get more complete information about side effects and interactions.

Please note that because this is a rapidly-growing area of healthcare research, it's always very important to check your most frequently-updated resource for news on your topic - such as MedlinePlus, or HerbMed, listed below.


  • The Complete German Commission E monographs : therapeutic guide to herbal medicines. This reference book is the most respected authority in the field of natural medicines.
  • PDR for herbal medicines (this is the one you're most likely to find of the 3). This standard reference includes an alphabetical listing of thousands of natural remedies, as well as a problem-based index and an index of side effects.
  • Tyler's Herbs of choice: the therapeutic use of phytomedicinals. New York : Haworth Herbal Press.

Reputable internet resources on complementary and alternative medicines
  • Supplement Watch
  • Mayo Clinic's page on drugs & supplements
  • Mayo Clinic's page on interactions
  • MEDLINEPlus Health Information, National Library of MedicineWeb site, perhaps the top website for consumer-focused health information.
  • The Alternative Medicine Foundation's database, a well-designed website provides clearly-written information on herbs, their uses, Latin names, and the research that's been done (although much of the information is written at a professional level) - along with important updates on adverse effects, dosages, and even links to PubMed searches for follow-up purposes. It's very easy to search using the site's search engine, or you can simply use the alphabetical index to find your herb.
  • Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). This entertaining site is brimming with information concerning nutrition, health scams, and news articles. Here you'll find well-written and up-to date articles on soy, phytoestrogens, garlic, and others. They also send out a nutrition newsletter. It's very easy to search - look for the site's search engine in the upper left corner. You may also want to check out the section titled "Food additives."
  • The National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM). NCCAM's job is to provide support for research, so much of the information found here is at a fairly technical level. However, by searching, you can also find their 'Fact Sheets', like the one found at on black cohosh; these are written with the consumer in mind. This is not the easiest site to search. You can type in a term, such as 'menopause' - but then must read through the findings, deciding if what you see meets your needs. Once found, though, the information and links are impressive and complete.

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This is not by any means an exhaustive listing of all the reliable sites and resources. For more information – ask us! It’s why we’re here.

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