Quirky Books: Herbal Emissaries by Steven Foster and Yue Chongxi

Monday, June 29, 2009

Herbal Emissaries by Steven Foster and Yue Chongxi

Exploring the world of Eastern Medicine, Steven Foster and Yue Chongxi teamed up, to find the American compliment to Asian: herbs, flowers, shrubs, trees and weeds with medicinal purposes. This book is interesting and organized for referencing information.

The study took place in the Ozarks. Accessing the 1977 version of "Pharmacopeia of the People's Republic of China," Yue Chongxi flew from China to the United States to find adequate plant substitutes for Chinese herbal medicines. They found close to fifty common plants with similar properties to plants found in China.

Published in 1992 the introduction provides basic information about Chinese medicine. The heating and cooling method determined by taste is an interesting concept. However, this is not enough information to diagnosis or cure disease with herbs. If attempting to harvest and use the recommended herbs I would prefer the less medicinal plants which are closer to taking vitamins, as opposed to refining plants with potential poisonous properties.

Asian cooking has a faint herbal quality. Common herbs are related to edible flower petals. Peony balances the liver. Blackberry iris clears toxins. Hardy orchid reduces swelling. Added fresh or dried, without processing, to meals they should possess medicinal value.

"Herbal Emissaries" is divided into five chapters. Each chapter identifies herbs by classification: major medicinal herbs, garden flowers, ornamental shrubs, trees and weeds. The common name, history, taste, character, function, use, dose, description, distribution, cultivation, harvest, process, additional species and other uses are described in relation to the plant. It reads like a textbook; however, the writing is excellent and keeps an even pace.

China is testing medicines the United States is slowly approving through government channels. The methods appear sound and they cite positive outcomes in China. Though processing appears to be written in simple language I recommend additional reading to fully understand the method, before attempting it at home. A handful of images were taken by Steven Foster and the text is designed by Virginia Scott. Interesting to people on several levels it appeals to people interested in China, botany, new age medicine and alternative cures.

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