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A Guide to Healing the Herbal Way

PDR FOR HERBAL MEDICINES; Medical Economics Co.; $59.95, 1,244 pages

THE CARE AND FEEDING OF PERFECTIONISTS; By Cynthia Curnan; North Star Publications; $14.95; 177 pages

July 26, 1999|JANE E. ALLEN

The publishers of the Physicians Desk Reference, a prescription drug bible used by doctors for more than half a century, tackle the uses of 600 herbal medications in this brand-new guide. Driven by the increasing interest in plants like St. John's wort for depression and saw palmetto for prostate enlargement, as well as concerns about the dangers of ma huang, the Chinese herbal name for ephedra, PDR added this volume to provide some frame of reference for using plants and extracts not regulated by the FDA.

It's based upon findings of the German Regulatory Authority's Commission E, which has analyzed literature on 300 common medicinal herbs, and a review of 300 others by the PhytoPharm U.S. Institute of Phytopharmaceuticals. The guide presents the scientific and common names of the plants and describes pharmacological actions, proper usage and dosage, side effects and circumstances in which use might be inadvisable. It also includes a 24-page herb identification guide with color photographs to help you distinguish mint from mistletoe. Although the reading is dry going because it's designed for medical professionals, the book offers what it calls "the best expert consensus on medicinal herbs currently to be found" to help doctors--or enterprising patients--sort through the claims and counterclaims of herbal adherents.

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THE CARE AND FEEDING OF PERFECTIONISTS

By Cynthia Curnan

North Star Publications

$14.95, 177 pages

*

Psychologist Cynthia Curnan, who calls herself a "recovering perfectionist" in the pop psychology tradition of 12-step programs so popular in Los Angeles, has penned a volume that may change your definition of "perfectionist." Read about the nine types of perfectionists, and you're likely to identify with at least one.

"Perfectionist" doesn't just describe the colleague who has the most orderly desk in the office. It can also describe those of us who feel guilty or anxious that we haven't achieved neatness nirvana, or body-weight bliss, or basic satisfaction with ourselves. In other words, this is another book about self-esteem. The author hopes to "out" the closet perfectionist inside all of us and replace it with an inner guide that doesn't succumb to fear of failure or feel constrained by the need to always be the good child. Although there are several patient anecdotes, the book veers heavily into the confessional genre, as when Curnan recounts childhood abuse at the hands of a stepfather and the drive to win back her mother's love.

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