Herbal Medicines And Moving Toward Source: An Interview With Francis Brinker

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Francis Brinker, ND, helps the listener move from considering purchasing an herb on a grocery store aisle for a symptom (a uniquely American and rational, reductionist use of herbs) through the history, science and ultimately holistic understanding of our human relationship with plants and their potential to support our wholeness.

Dr. Brinker asks the listener to consider, “How close do you want to be to the source?” and points out in the interview that this question can shift the person’s view from a rational-reductionist view of treating symptoms to an awareness of the potential in relationship with plants.

Dr. Brinker’s work has influenced and shaped our understanding of herbal medicine today. He is a Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of Arizona’s Department of Medicine as well as the author of numerous books, including Complex Herbs, Complete Medicines and the first book of its kind published in 1997, Herbal Contraindications and Drug Interactions. His latest book is All American Berries: Potent Foods for Lasting Health, expands on the knowledge of native plants to support health and even reverse disease.

About This Book

This book’s first edition (1997) was the first of its kind in addressing herbal interactions with drugs. This 4th edition keeps current with research findings and scrupulously distinguishes between what is known through (1) empirical clinical observations such as case reports, (2) data obtained from modern clinical human studies, (3) different types of laboratory research on animals and with tissues and cells. Over 2700 medical and scientific sources are cited to document these findings. In addition, the type of preparation studied is described to emphasize differences between preparations from the same herb, along with dosage size and duration. Conflicting results are utilized to put these issues in context. This fourth edition further highlights those combinations of herbal preparations with drugs shown to beneficially enhance therapeutic activity or reduce adverse effects, identified for 98 of the 321 herbs listed in the main text. In addition, extensive appendices organize information on these 321 and additional herbal remedies into categories addressing specific cautions, interactions with particular types of drugs, precautions for mothers, infants and children, drug interactions with vitamins and minerals, and advantageous combinations with medicines used for inflammations, infections, cancer, and for addressing substance abuse. The appendix sections addressing herbal influences on drug absorption and metabolism involving transport proteins, cytochrome P450 isoenzymes, and conjugating enzymes are the most extensive compilations available anywhere.
The American Botanical Council Recommendation: 

Herbal Contraindications and Drug Interactions Plus Herbal Adjuncts with Medicines, 4thed.

“I have kept a copy of this book close at hand since the first edition was published in 1997. Through all four editions, as my herb safety questions have become more precise and extensive, it has consistently answered them. This expanded 2010 edition addresses “herbal agents” rather than herbs, acknowledging that herbal extracts and components are often used, rather than the whole herb. It also includes a new section on the potentially beneficial herbal-drug combinations and highlights combinations that might be beneficial in specific conditions. As in each of the previous editions, the appendices offer ready references to specific questions, such as herbals that fall into specific categories such as those to be used with caution in specific conditions and due to specific potential effects, and herbal-drug interactions that modify or potentiate specific effects of certain medicines or in specific conditions. Most of all, I appreciate that the author never stops researching, documenting, and updating the information that will appear in the next edition and makes that information available on an ongoing basis.”

Gayle Engels, Special Projects Director

Photo Shutterstock/Sebastian Duda

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