Organized into chapters covering such topics as “Foods,” “Herbs,” “Vitamins, Minerals, and Related Nutrients,” “Hormones,” and “Essential Oils,” the entries cover a wide scope from foods of relative safety like honey or seaweed to synthetic drugs and additives associated with much greater risk. Within the chapters, the more than 400 entries are arranged by each substance’s popular name and provide alternate names, food sources (if relevant), and information on effects, precautions, and dosage. Length ranges from a few lines to several pages for Vitamin C and Vitamin E. The effect on the human brain, not the body, is the focus. For example, although Horsemint, described as a possible aid in minimizing the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, is an entry, its in-store shelf-mate horse chestnut, a natural extract that may enhance circulation, is not. The encyclopedia does, however, describe the effects on the body that many of these substances can have. The peppermint taken to alleviate headaches can, in overdose, cause heart problems; the germanium found in aloe, barley, and ginseng and taken to improve brain function can cause kidney failure; and the wormwood ingested as a sedative can be a powerful poison.
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