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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Julie Finger, MD, MPH (Tulane University School of Medicine)
Description: This is a comprehensive overview of the most common complementary and alternative medicine therapies currently available.
Purpose: This book seeks to explain complementary and alternative medical (CAM) systems, practices, and therapies to teenagers. With more and more people turning to CAM, including teens, this is indeed a worthy objective. However, this book does not fully meet its goal.
Audience: Although intended for teenagers, I find the book's language often too advanced or scientific for that audience.
Features: This book covers multiple components of CAM: whole medical systems, body-based practices, mind-body practices, sensory practices, biologically/energy-based practices, and dietary/herbal remedies. In general, it does a good job of presenting a balanced picture of CAM practices, weighing claims of effects with scientific evidence. It also gives good tips for CAM consumers regarding insurance coverage, selecting practitioners, and reputable resources.
Assessment: While the goal of creating a thorough, basic guide to CAM for teens is worthwhile, this book fails overall to meet that objective. The writing is often above the audience's reading level. Better explanations of the specifics of the techniques, including graphic representations of how they are done, are needed. The writing itself is very inconsistent; some chapters are well-written while others lose all sense of balance (the Riki chapter in particular fails to be objective). Finally, each chapter mentions current evidence frequently, but never cites any specific studies. The sources it does cite in each chapter are usually from that practice's main website, not necessarily an unbiased source. While this is a noble attempt to introduce teens to CAM, the book's deficiencies prevent it from reaching its goal.