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From The CriticsReviewer: Vincent F Carr, DO, MSA, FACC, FACP (Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences)
Description: This is both a print and a website version of a book on the current evidence and cost-effectiveness of integrative versus conventional treatments for common health conditions. The previous edition was published in 2007.
Purpose: The purpose is to empower clinicians to add an integrative approach for patients, using therapies that address all aspects of health to facilitate healing. This is a noble cause and one that has developed from the patient's perspective as much as from the clinician's. The editor and contributors present the evidence to help decide what integrative measures clinicians might consider in expanding their armamentarium of therapies.
Audience: This is a useful book for clinicians who want to understand what their patients may be asking about and to determine what can be recommended as alternative therapies. It is equally useful for laypersons who are interested in doing their own independent research on a topic that may concern them. The book is written in terms that are easily understood and the evidence is explained for those who wish to understand the proof of the concept.
Features: The definition and philosophy of integrative medicine begins the book. This is followed by an integrative approach to selected problems such as depression, attention deficit disorder, etc. Subsequent sections follow a more traditional organ-system approach with chapters on disorders such as hypertension, insulin resistance, carpal tunnel syndrome, and the like. One of the more imaginative tools this book uses is an icon estimating the evidence base versus the potential harm of a proposed therapy — a quick intuitive warning for clinicians. While the subjective degree of evidence basis or degree of harm might be challenged by proponents of a therapy, this exercise does have great usefulness. Numerous "Therapeutic Reviews" address prescribing and include the evidence/harm icons. Each chapter includes limited pathophysiology, epidemiology, and clinical presentations similar to traditional medicine books.
Assessment: This is an extraordinarily valuable book on many levels. I have encountered patients with preconceived ideas of what supplements they wish to take, often in very high dosages. For those wishing to take an integrative approach, this book outlines the correct dosages, contraindications, and other considerations. I highly recommend this book to every clinician who may be questioned by a patient interested in a specific therapy or who is considering adding these therapies.