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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Chiayeng Wang, PhD (University of Illinois at Chicago School of Medicine)
Description: In Chinese culture, it is believed that all food falls within one of the "five elements" of the body's control cycle. According to Chinese tradition, to obtain the optimal benefit of nutrition, one must carefully select food sources (natural and preserved) that balance the interaction of these different elements. For the same reason, specific formulations of these different types of dietary material have been used to treat aliments that are thought to be caused by an imbalance of the five elements in the body. The book is divided into three major sections; the first section is devoted to ideology of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), the second section describes the nature of different food groups, and the third section describes the practical approaches of dietary therapy according to ancient Chinese custom.
Purpose: The purpose is to raise the awareness of the importance of nutrition in normal and disease development, as developed by Chinese tradition. Few such books are available in English, and this book meets its objectives of introducing and discussing TCM dietary therapy.
Audience: This book provides largely lay description of TCM that is expected to be useful for general public. It is likely to be informative to specialists who are interested in exploring the possibility of disease control by ways of natural means, i.e., without drugs, but no scientific basis is provided for these traditional methods.
Features: This book would fare better if more graphic materials were included in the section where the history and principle of TCM are derived. The book has cited 10 references in the introduction. While these references are appropriate, additional references should be included in the other sections of the book. There is a glossary of herbs at the end of the book, although little information can be extracted from this list.
Assessment: This book provides informative materials for two general groups. The first group includes those who are not aware of diet being one of the most powerful medicines for health maintenance. The book will help them take notice, if not comprehend, that the choice of food intake is largely responsible for the stamina of a person. The second group includes those who have a vested interest in learning or practicing traditional dietary therapy. The book provides a fascinating summary and description of ancient, traditional Chinese diet therapy. Although many aspects of the therapy have been practiced for centuries, no scientific basis for these practices is presented.