In the last number of years, there have been many resources on Traditional Chinese Medicine and healing practices of Asia, including using Eastern herbs, published in English. However, some of the herbs and ingredients for the Eastern remedies are difficult to come by in the West, and some remedies just don't jive well with the way many Westerners believe and think. Those who study Asian martial arts have most likely been introduced to some of these remedies, being a part of many advanced martial art practices. However, that still does not get around the lack of ingredients or the way some feel about such potions, even if they have embraced other Asian practices and arts. This problem has been solved by Sysan Lynn Peterson, PH.D. Her new book, "Western Herbs for Martial Artists and Contact Athletes: Effective Treatments for Common Sports Injuries," focuses on Western herbs that will help the martial artist with bruises, scrapes, cuts, sprains, muscle strains, breaks, and dislocations. There are also herbs that help with breathing, managing adrenaline, and other anxieties. The book is a great resource for all martial artist's bookshelves.
Peterson describes herself as a researcher, not an herbalist. She is also a 5th degree black belt in Shuri-ryu karate. With this background, she has written a book that is very user friendly and aimed at martial artists. I especially like that she uses a grading system regarding the various herbs and treatments that goes from Universally recognized by conventional medicine and alternative medicine, to tests that the herb does not work for a specific condition. This grading system is found throughout the book and helps you know which remedies are most useful.
The book starts with a chapter on using herbs safely, and the proceeds to chapter two "The Herbal." This second chapter is almost 200 pages long and contains an alphabetical list of herbs. Nearly 70 herbs are described in this section. Under each selection you find the scientific name, information about the herb, what it is good for, how to use it, how much to use, and what you should be aware of before using it. These entries are all backed up with a huge amount of research notes. There are 1798 notes in the "Notes" section at the end of the book. Enough research material to keep the person who wants to see where Peterson found her information busy for a long, long time. Personally, I'm so glad to have a researcher like Peterson put all of this information into a single easy to use and understand volume.
The third chapter is a short chapter on preparing herbs, where chapter four focuses on applications and uses. This chapter is organized by some of the more common ailments that you can use herbs to remedy. The fifth chapter is only two pages long and contains a few herbal contraindications regarding bleeding, blood sugar, blood pressure and a few others. Chapter six contains four pages of additional resources and then there is a short Glossary and the Notes section.
If you are a martial artist here in the West and have an interest in herbal therapies, this is the book to get. It is a fantastic resource on the subject that is easy to read and understand. It is a valuable addition to the martial art literature for the serious practitioner of any martial art or contact sport.
Reviewed by Alain Burrese, J.D., author of the Lock On Joint Locking Essentials series.