Herbal Vade Mecum by Gazmend Skenderi. Rutherford, NJ: Herbacy Press, 2003. 480 pp. ISBN 0-9713209-2-6. $24.95.
The term Vade Mecum may not be very common among English speakers, but will be readily recognized as “manual” or “handbook” by those who are of Spanish or Latin American origin. The phrase indicates a book that will “go with you,” a companion, so to speak, and this is exactly what this book is—a reference work to have by your side.
Herbal Vade Mecum, authored by the Albanian pharmacist and pharmacognosist, Gazmend Skenderi, is a compilation of documented information on 800 botanical ingredients and 657 monographs about medicinal herbs from around the globe, including their therapeutic applications, and possible caveats related to their uses.
Each of the succinct herbal monographs includes the plant’s common name(s) in English, its scientific nomenclature (botanical name and family), the plant part(s) used, the principle chemical constituents, its form of application (external or internal, according to each case), and a precautionary statement regarding possible risks or interactions, where applicable. Additional notes are included about the plant whenever needed.
Even though the monographs are brief, this does not mean they are incomplete—far from it. The author has managed to include the most pertinent information about the herbs in a practical and objective manner, precisely apt for the reader who wishes to consult this book for a quick reference.
One of the main features is the inclusion of various plants used in traditional healing by various ethnic groups around the world, many of which have been unreasonably neglected by other texts, such as Copalchi (Coutarea latiflora Moç. et Sessé, Rubiaceae), Epazote or wormseed, (Chenopodium ambrosioides L., Chenopodiaceae) and muira puama (Ptychopetalum olacoides Benth., Olacaceae), to cite a few examples. It is precisely this wide coverage of species that makes this book both appealing and useful.
Professor Skenderi has also included glossaries of chemical and medical terms, and a therapeutic checklist, making the search for a particular plant or its application for a particular affliction both rapid and easy.
This book is exactly what the title expresses—a handy reference work prepared with the health provider in mind. This herbal handbook will be of great value to phytotherapists, physicians, nurses, and students of biomedical sciences interested in knowing the basic aspects about the principal therapeutic uses of plants from diverse origins around the world.
—Armando González-Stuart Cooperative Pharmacy Program, University of Texas at El Paso