Daniel B. Mowrey "Guaranteed potency herbs" - critique.

Newsgroups: alt.folklore.herbs
Subject: Echinacea: I found it !!
From: fryd01.mcclb0.med.nyu.edu
Date: 1 JUN 94 03:00:38 GMT

Another great book is "Guaranteed Potency Herbs Next Generation Herbal Medicine" by Daniel B. Mowrey, Ph.D. Keats Publishing, Inc. New Caanan, CT. This is a really good book, very scientific (which means, to those of you not used to reading scientific literature, that it is VERY informative but a little dry, but this is the least driest of scientific literature that i have read in a long time). It only discusses a few herbs, those which a significant amount of scientific research has been done on and which the Western Medical Science community has grudgingly begun to accept. Namely, Billberry, Butcher's broom (which i take for non-rheumatoidal arthritis), Centella, Echinacea, Gingko (the tree which thrives on pollution, which is why there are so many in NYC), Ginseng, Milk Thistle, and Tumeric. Like I said, it's main focus is on 'guaranteed potency herbs.'

The author laments, however, that not enough scientific research has been done on echinacea.

On page 60, under 'Route of Administration' the author states; "The guarunteed potency echinacea is currently available only as capsule." It doesn't mention how this capsule is prepared. I would assume that it is either powdered (no mention as to either root or leaves, but i assume root) or freeze-dried (scientifically known as 'lyophilized').

The author states under the heading 'Toxicity;' "Echinacea does not appear to be toxic even at very high doses. Incidentally, heavy use of echinacea may induce temporary infertility in the male." And then the author goes on to the reason why.

To anyone that is interested, there are 39 references to scientific articles at the end of the echinacea section. i will send a xerox copy of this index to anyone who emails me for my address and then sends me a self addressed stamped envelope. There are a few references to the isolation of the polysaccharides in echinacea. You can discover their methods of extraction, if you wish. Also, I have lots of scientific literature at my disposal, i will help anyone find an article if they want (but i have time limits, don't expect expediency, please).

This is a great book for the herbs in it, especially in dosage and delivery. For echinacea it suggests that mega-doses are not necessary, only moderate doses. (in other words, increased efficacy was not found by increasing the dose). It's suggestion is two to four 125mg capsules per day. A few weeks on then a few weeks off. It states that this is the recommendation of most European manufacturers of echinacea.


From: Paul Bergner <pbergner.delphi.com>

Much of what you cited in the books is covert marketing information by large companies. Freeze-dried echinacea is highly unstable -- it is porous due to the freeze-drying methods and actually degrades faster than regularly dried echinacea. I think there is proabably only one herbal company that uses freeze-drying to any extent, and if you hear anything good about that process and herbs, it is probably information planted by that company's marketing department.

Likewise, Mowrey's book, which purports to be independent, just happens to contain, in each chapter, a formula that just happens to be sold by a major herb company. Mowrey is pushing fancy pseudo-pharmacetuical herbal extracts (standardized solid extracts) They are made by preparing an alcohol-water extract of an herb, and then evaporating the solvent. Often other solvents such as acetone are used in part of the process. it makes a potent drug-like herbal preparation which is expensive an unnecessary for most herbs.

The polysaccharides in echinacea are completely unnecessary for its therapeutic effect. Echinacea was introduced into "white folks" medical practice late in the last century after its use was learned from the Indians in the Midwest and Plains states. The form was a strong tincture of the root of E angustifolia, which, polysaccharides notwithstanding, managed to cure a wide variety of conditions through its strenghening effect on the immune system.

Paul Bergner, Editor, MEDICAL HERBALISM