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Women's Herbs, Women's Health

Christopher Hobbs, LAc, Kathi Keville, and Michael Amster, MD
Summertown, TN: Botanica Press; 2007
322 pages

This book succeeds in explaining and comparing how major women’s health issues are dealt with from a standard medical approach versus one involving botanicals, supplements, and natural healing. The bias here is toward herbal use, but an objective description of both sides is given in each chapter. The idea that herbal remedies can partner with traditional medicine is promoted.

There are 16 chapters covering health issues from mood disorders to pregnancy, and menstruation to menopause. Each health topic is clearly defined and discussed in enough detail that the intelligent reader should have a basic understanding of the standard medical approach as well as the nonstandard approach (such as herbs, Chinese medicine, Ayurvedic medicine, or aromatherapy). The medical information was reviewed and updated by MDs and there are an appendix of herb names and a comprehensive list of resources and references.

The authors caution about using herbs alongside prescription and over-the-counter medications. The question of whether herbs and natural healing are as safe and effective as traditional medicine remains unanswered in this book, but the information presented should help readers make reasonable decisions with their healthcare providers. Preventive medicine, patient responsibility, and the importance of contacting a professional healthcare provider for serious symptoms or illness are always stressed.

There are some drawbacks to the book. One is the implication that the standard doses of herbs recommended are generally safe, yet there are relatively few studies to support that belief. Another drawback is the lack of up-to-date information on the risks and benefits of hormone therapy.

All in all, I found this a valuable book and I recommend it for the interested consumer.

Review written by:

David A. Hutchins, MD
Assistant Professor
Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology
University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences
Little Rock, AR
Member, NAMS Consumer Education Committee

The comments contained here are opinions or information of the reviewers and not necessarily the opinions or information of The North American Menopause Society, its officers, agents, or Trustees. Oversight for the book reviews is given by David A. Hutchins, MD, a member of the NAMS Consumer Education Committee.
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