By the time this second edition is published, the first edition of the Handbook of Medicinal Herbs will have been out more than 15 years. The second edition is designed to present most of the old information plus new information on the more important of those original 365 herbs. I submitted the first edition under the original unpublished title, Herbs of Dubious Salubrity.
I intentionally left out many of the completely safe culinary herbs, spices, and food plants that are clearly medicinal. I also intentionally omitted some strictly dangerous herbs, such as foxglove, that were too unhealthy for use in unskilled hands. I did include several obscure hallucinogenic plants of dubious salubrity. I did, or should have, dropped some of these because they have little medicinal importance. Some poorly documented species, such as Mimosa hostilis and Phoradendron leucarpum, for example, were retained with fragmentary entries, so as to at least mention species from the first edition that might better have been dropped.
Now I think I have the most important herbs well covered here. In edition two, which I will refer to frequently as my Herbal Desk Reference (HDR), I have tried to concisely corral the data on some 1000 herbs in as little space as possible, striving to make a reliable, referenced resource to parallel the PDR for Herbal Medicines. I use the three-letter abbreviation, HDR, to indicate the second edition of my Handbook of Medicinal Herbs, because I compare and contrast it to other important sources, which are also represented by three-letter abbreviations.
James A. “Jim” Duke, Ph.D.,
is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of North Carolina, where he received his Ph.D. in Botany. He then moved on to postdoctoral activities at Washington University and the Missouri Botanical Gardens is St. Louis, Missouri, where he assumed professor and curator duties, respectively. He retired from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in 1995 after a 35-year career there and elsewhere as an economic botanist.
After retiring, he was appointed Senior Scientific Consultant to Nature’s Herbs (A Twin Labs subsidiary). He currently teaches a master’s degree course in botanical healing at the Tai Sophia Institute in Columbia, Maryland.
Dr. Duke spends time exploring the ecology and culture of the Amazonian Rain Forest and sits on the board of directors and advisory councils of numerous organizations involved in plant medicine and the rainforest. He is also expanding his private educational Green Farmacy Garden at his residence in Fulton, Maryland.