This guide is an introduction to finding information pertaining to medicinal plants. Herbal science research can encompass ecology, botany, ethnography, and chemistry - this guide will help point you towards research in theses areas. Herbal science research requires multiple searches in multiple resources, so it's a good idea to consult with a librarian in addition to exploring the resources and techniques in this guide.
Be sure to check out our "How To" Guides to help you get started with search skills, writing and citation tips.
Fact Finding: define terms & gather background information
Determine the common and scientific names for your herb. Books, herbal monographs and encyclopedias in the BU Library Reference Section or on reserve, and the botanical databases, including Natural Medicines, will be helpful for identifying names.
Identify any bioactive chemical constituents (not broad constituent categories, such as flavonoids or turpines), but rather plant-specific ones, such as silymarin for milk thistle or curcumin for turmeric. Note: bioactive/therapeutic constituents that are unique to a species or genus haven't been identified for all herbs.
Gather additional general information about your herb such as therapeutic use, safety, effectiveness etc.before you search the databases.This will help you figure out your search terms and give you context.