A rare, informative resource, Powledge's book apprises readers of the origins of products they probably know only from store shelves, and of the world politics involved in the commerce of medicine. Most people who take Sudafed to relieve a stuffy nose have no idea their medicine originated as a Chinese plant; through such examples, Powledge tackles an intriguing subject: The correlation of plants and medicines. He cites some important statistics that powerfully support the need to protect the earth's forests: More than half of all drugs currently in use are from nature, and one in four prescriptions written were originally based on plants. He explores several major plant-based medicines, e.g., aspirin, ginseng, neem, and Echinacea, and makes clear that when it comes to knowledge of plant medicine, modern cultures are deeply indebted to so-called primitive cultures and their experiences with indigenous plants. He's not shy about pointing a finger at and naming drug companies who have been reluctant to credit or pay for information from developing countries. Due to the nature of the book, there are provisos here of the don't-try-this-at-home kind, while a list of related web sites expands this volume beyond its covers.