Book Review – Herbal Formularies for Health Professionals, Volume 1: Digestion and Elimination

 In Book Reviews

Alethea Fleming, ND

Medical Resources for NDs: A Review of Current Publications for the Naturopathic Industry

After reading this first volume from Dr Jill Stansbury, my immediate reaction was that I can’t wait for the remaining 4 in her series. Herbal textbooks are not widely available, to begin with, and this series promises to be a cornerstone not only for students, but also for working professionals who rely on clinical recommendations when treating patients.

Chapter 1 – the art of herbal formulation, provides an excellent guide or refresher on fundamentals

Dr Stansbury’s many years of teaching come through clearly in the structure and style of her writing. This book is designed to be useful to a wide audience, not only as a quick reference, but also as a teaching tool to help those who are less familiar with herbal medicine, helping them to understand the basic concepts of how and why to create a specific formula. Chapter 1 is about the art of herbal formulation, and it provides an excellent guide or refresher on the fundamentals.

One of the goals of this volume (and series) is to make herbal formulation accessible to a wider audience of health professionals

The illustrative use of a triangle model allows for simplicity as well as a tidy explanation of how to expand upon it. She recommends first selecting an appropriate base herb upon which to build a formula – an herb that is nourishing, tonifying, and safe for long-term use. Next, she suggests selecting an herb that is specific to the presentation of the patient and their illness, and then selecting a third herb that serves as a synergist for the formula and which may also address other conditions or energetic considerations, such as a tendency to cold/damp or dry/heat. Simple, but clear. One of the goals of this volume (and the series) is to make herbal formulation accessible to a wider audience of health professionals. Dr Stansbury’s easy-to-follow structure gives this book an excellent chance of extending beyond an ND-only audience.

Patients of all ages are considered

Patients of all ages are considered with care in her formulations; recommendations for infants, as well as for conditions commonly seen in our geriatric population, are included. Although this book is not an exhaustive exploration of all possible herbal formulae in the digestion and elimination systems, it serves as an excellent starting point with clear examples, and it provides the skill-set for going much further. If this were a recipe book for cookies, the reader would learn how to make simple chocolate chip, sugar, and oatmeal cookies, but would also gain the confidence and inspiration to dig deeper and try a cocoa nib shortbread or a lacey almond wafer.

Dr Stansbury recommends imbibing teas for more direct application in the case of some gastrointestinal and urinary issues

The formulae themselves are broad as well, encompassing different forms of herbal treatment. Dr Stansbury recommends imbibing teas, rather than pills or even tinctures, for more direct application in the case of some gastrointestinal and urinary issues or when cost is a big concern. Traditional tincture formulae abound, but with enough encouragement of variation that even a simply stocked dispensary lends itself to the creation of some of her suggested options. Pleasingly, she also includes suggestions for topical applications such as salves or lotions, as well as oral lozenges and medicinal vinegars. A wide variety of treatment options ensures that the practitioner can successfully meet the needs of the individual patient.

All naturopathic medicine students learn the saying “When in doubt, treat the liver”

Early in their clinical training, all naturopathic medicine students learn the saying “When in doubt, treat the liver.” This first volume focuses on the organs of digestion and elimination, supporting the vital concept – found in most systems of medicine – that a patient’s ability to detoxify well is a critical component of health. It is thus fitting that this is the focus of Dr Stansbury’s first volume; subsequent volumes will build upon this base of knowledge and health. Particularly helpful is the chapter on skin issues, as herbal treatment of dermatological conditions is generally discussed much less in other books compared to liver, gastrointestinal, and urinary health issues.

Dr Stansbury’s formulae are specific to individual presentations, emphasizing importance of treating the individual

Although grouped under different disease conditions, Dr Stansbury’s formulae are specific to individual presentations, and she emphasizes the importance of treating the individual, not just the diagnosis. It’s delightful to see a clear embodiment of the tenets of naturopathic medicine throughout this book.

  • Title: Herbal Formularies for Health Professionals, Volume 1: Digestion and Elimination, Including the Gastrointestinal System, Liver and Gallbladder, Urinary System, and the Skin
  • Author: Jill Stansbury, ND
  • Publisher: Chelsea Green Publishing
  • Available from: Widely available
  • Pages: 352
  • Style: Hard cover
  • Copyright: 2018
  • MSRP: $59.95
Image Copyright: <a href=’https://www.123rf.com/profile_chamillewhite’>chamillewhite / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

Dr. Alethea Fleming, ND is a passionate advocate for naturopathic geriatric medicine. A 2007 Bastyr University graduate, she also earned a certificate in Gerontology from the University of Washington. Dr. Fleming is the owner and lead physician of the Vital Aging Clinic in Anacortes, Washington where she provides primary care to all adults as well as adjunctive geriatric care. Dr. Fleming is active in multiple community organizations as well as a member of WANP, AANP and OncANP. In her off hours, Dr. Fleming can be found hiking the beautiful trails of Fidalgo Island, spending time with her wonderful husband and son, or with her nose firmly in a good book.

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