Traditional Herbal Medicines — a guide to their safer use

Traditional Herbal Medicines cover

Published October 2007

Dr Lakshman Karalliedde and Dr Indika Gawarammana
Editorial advisor: Dr Debbie Shaw

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300pp £19.99 (Paperback)

ISBN: 978-1-905140-04-6

'For the protection of the public it should be on the shelf of every GP, herbal practitioner, pharmacist, toxicologist, anaesthetist and public health department.'
Norman Parkinson, Senior Lecturer in Public Health, King's College London


The part played by traditional medicines in our health care continues to increase year on year. Used for many centuries, they have the reputation of being gentler, less invasive, and more 'natural' than modern western prescription medicines. However, for individuals seeking care that includes traditional medicines there are in fact many risks. While the toxic profiles of western medicines have been precisely and extensively documented and publicised, the harmful effects of traditional medicines taken on their own, or often in combination with western medicines, are not well enough known to ensure safe use.

In this highly structured compendium, Drs Karalliedde, Shaw and Gawarammana bring together what is currently known and has been scientifically validated regarding traditional medicines from around the world. Covering Chinese, Afro-Caribbean, Unani and Ayurvedic traditional medicines, this book describes the sources of these medicines, their known effects and sideeffects, recommended dosages, interactions, and, very importantly, precautions.

About the author

Dr Lakshman Karalliedde grew up in Sri Lanka amidst a strong belief and heritage of Ayurveda medicine but chose to study allopathic medicine. He did his postgraduate studies in the UK and then practised in Sri Lanka for several decades, where he taught and researched in anaesthesia, pharmacology and toxicology with a special interest in pesticide poisoning and snake envenoming. He has been working at Guy's & St Thomas' Hospitals for the past ten years, continuing his teaching and research interests, and spent several years as a toxicologist at the Medical Toxicology Unit of Guy's & St Thomas' Hospital (a collaborating centre of the WHO South East Asia Regional Office). He is now a toxicologist with the Chemical Hazards and Poisons Division of the Health Protection Agency. He has edited books on drug interactions and organophosphate toxicity and published widely on poisoning and interactions (including herbal medicines) and contributed to Davidson's Principles & Practice of Medicine.

Dr Indika Gawarammana is Consultant Physician and Senior Lecturer in Medicine at the University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka, and was formerly Registrar at the Medical Toxicology Unit (MTU), Guy's & St Thomas's NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK. His interest in the efficacy and safe use of herbal medicines stems from his upbringing in an environment of traditional medicines while training in allopathic medical practice.

Editorial advisor: Dr Debbie Shaw heads the herbals work at the Chinese Medicine Advisory Service, Medical Toxicology Unit (MTU), Guy's & St Thomas's NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK. She has been actively involved in reviewing and investigating suspected adverse reactions to herbal and traditional medicines for the past 11 years. She works closely with the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew and has participated in the development of the Chinese Medicinal Plants Authentication Centre. She is a member of the Herbal Signals Review Panel for the Uppsala Monitoring Centre (WHO Collaborating Centre for International Drug Monitoring), and an advisor to the American Herbal Pharmacopoeia.

Contents


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