Own Your Health: Choosing the Best from Alternative and Conventional Medicine

Article excerpt

WEISMAN, ROANNE. Own Your Health: Choosing the Best from Alternative and Conventional Medicine. Deerfield Beach, FL: Health Communications, 2003. 471 p. $16.95. ISBN 00 -75730 -00110 -1.(∞)

For those interested in alternative therapies alone or as a complement to conventional medicine, Own Your Health is a unique combination of inspirational stories, research facts, and the power of integrative medicine. Weisman, a medical writer, wrote the book as a testament to the alternative treatments (namely exercise, massage, and Chinese medicine) that helped her recover after a debilitating stroke. Co-author Brian Berman is an international authority on alternative medicine and founder and director of the complementary medicine program at the University of Maryland, the first university-based center of its kind in the United States focusing on research. Berman's expertise and authority will definitely increase physician awareness of other therapeutic treatments available to patients. Berman helped establish and now directs the complementary medicine field of the International Cochrane Collaboration.

Each chapter in this book is structured to include the following: "Closer Look" sections, which include more information about certain alternative modalities; "Take Action" sections, which include health tips from experts; and for health sciences librarians and physicians interested in evidence-based medicine (EBM), "What's the Evidence?" sections, which explain which treatments work and which do not, according to published research. In addition, there are sidebars in shaded boxes, which offer assessments of both alternative and conventional treatments.

The "integrative medicine" philosophy sets the tone for this well-informed guide. "The term integrative medicine originated in the late twentieth century to describe the combination of conventional (also called "allopathic" or Western) medicine and alternative, or complementary, health practices" (p. 6). "In addition to providing the best conventional care, integrative medicine focuses on the preventive maintenance of health by attention to diet, exercise, stress management and emotional well-being" (p. 28).

Weisman presents a wide variety of case histories and describes both, conventional and alternative treatments. Among the many illnesses discussed are osteoporosis, stroke, cancer, cardiovascular illness, chronic pain, spinal cord injuries and multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS). There are many alternative treatments given in-depth coverage in this volume, including: Ayurvedic medicine, acupuncture, hydrotherapy, yoga, the Alexander Technique, meditation, herbal medicine, energy healing, chiropractic and craniosacral therapy, therapeutic touch, and muscular therapy.

Own Your Health is comprehensive in its scope as it includes alternative treatments for children (including integrative approaches to asthma) and a chapter on aging well with complementary methods. …