Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Book Review - Alternative Medicine


Alternative Medicine (USA Today Health Reports: Diseases and Disorders)

By: Catherine G. Davis
Publisher: Twenty-First Century Books
Publication Date: January 2012
ISBN: 978-0761381457
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: April 2012

Andy, a lawyer who had a high stress job, knew there was something wrong. When he received the diagnosis of a peptic ulcer from his family doctor, he decided to look into “alternative, or integrative medicine.” Andy was interested in working with a neuropath and ultimately decided to work with a combination of therapies including acupuncture, diet, and natural supplements. Unlike conventional medicine, which is based on a disease model, alternative or integrative medicine refers to “the wide range of traditions that are available for managing health,” traditional treatments that can be as simple as herbal supplements or as complicated as biofeedback.

Not all alternative therapies have been backed up by scientific research nor approved by the FDA. In fact, some can actually be dangerous. Whether we are aware of it or not, many ancient heath practices “are still with us in the twenty-first century.” Statistics show that the majority of us have used some form of alternative medicine in our lifetimes. There are several categories of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), including herbal and dietary supplements, mind-body, hands-on treatments, energy-based therapies, and whole medical systems available to us. Most have heard of the chiropractic approach to healthcare, but not many know much about Native American Ayurvedic medicine. In this book you’ll get to take a look at examples of all of these approaches.

Conventional medical practice focuses on diagnosis and treating the symptoms of those who are already ill, while alternative medicine “uses herbs, natural oils, massage, and spiritual methods” and other methods “to encourage general well-being.” Your doctor must be licensed to practice, but not all forms of alternative medicine fall under specific guidelines, regulations and licensure nor are covered by insurance. In this book you’ll learn popular herbal remedies and supplements, mind-body therapies, “false healers,” spirituality and healing, guided imagery, hypnosis, biofeedback, meditation, music therapy, yoga, Tai chi, hands-on treatments (chiropractics, osteopathy, massage), energy-based therapies (acupuncture, acupressure, therapeutic touch), whole medical systems (naturopathy, traditional Chinese medicine, Qigong, Ayurveda), futuristic approaches to healthcare, and much more about alternative medicine. Do you know what Reiki is? Rolfing? You’ll find out when you read this book.

In years past, most people equated alternative medicine with quackery, however in recent years there has been a resurgence as interest has heightened. Young people, as they read this book, will become familiar with many different types of alternative medicine. I liked the wide-ranging discussion of therapies presented, something that prevented the book from becoming bogged down like others I’ve seen that simply discuss herbal supplements or dismiss alternative medicine as tomfoolery. There are several portraits of people who have opted for alternative medicine or supplemented their conventional medical care with it.

The reader will find charts (“Snapshots”), photographs, and numerous informative sidebars, including USA Today articles, that add to the text. For example, in one we learn about the Choose My Plate website, something that all young people should be aware of when they are “eating for good health.” In the back of the book is an index, a glossary, a list of related organizations to contact, source notes, a selected bibliography, and additional recommended book and website resources to explore. Complementary downloadable educational resources are available on the publisher’s website.

Quill says: This is an excellent, comprehensive overview of alternative, or integrative medicine.