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From The CriticsReviewer: Marie Londrigan, PhD (Pace University)
Description: This is a comprehensive source of information regarding alternative remedies used by an increasing number of individuals. The handbook, an essential reference tool, is designed with features that will assist healthcare practitioners in their practice settings.
Purpose: The overall purpose is to provide healthcare practitioners with peer-reviewed, referenced, clinical information regarding alternative treatment modalities. Over the past decade, interest in these modalities has grown tremendously, as evidenced by the increase in the use of these products by individuals. This development represents a challenge to healthcare professionals who must keep abreast of the new information. In this respect, there is a great need for this book and the authors have met their objectives by developing a book that is comprehensive, cohesive, and easy to use while presenting scientifically valid, referenced information essential to any practice.
Audience: The authors state that all healthcare professionals including nurses, physicians, and pharmacists would benefit by using this book. The authors also indicate that students or any individual involved with treatment therapy would find the text meaningful. I too see value in this handbook and find the contents essential to have on hand. Both authors of this handbook have extensive background in their professional practice area. The contributors and consultants represent diverse areas of practice throughout the United States.
Features: This handbook is comprehensive in its approach. The first chapter, "Overview of Complementary and Alternative Medicines," is well done and an excellent introduction. The section on the history of alternative therapies places the topic within an interesting historical context. Sections on the regulation of the herbal industry and the risks as well as benefits of herbal use and traditional medicine raise questions for discussion. The final section of this chapter looks at the importance of patient education so that individuals can make informed decisions about their care. The initial chapter is followed by over 300 monographs. Each monograph provides detailed information on the alternative treatment and is organized according to key features: generic name, synonyms, taxonomic class, common trade names, common forms, source, chemical components, actions, reported uses, dosage, adverse reactions, interactions, contraindications and precautions, special considerations, points of interest, commentary, and references. Particularly unique features include easily identifiable alert symbols so that the healthcare practitioner may take note of critical information about the modality, "Research Findings" which are highlighted in certain selected entries, and "Folklore" sections that also present background information on the particular modality.
Assessment: This handbook is essential for healthcare practitioners. As more and more individuals are requesting information and spending money on these treatments, healthcare professionals must keep abreast of the explosion of knowledge in order to assist their patients with factual, up-to-date, best evidence on a particular modality. This second edition has moved the science of alternative modalities to another level with the inclusion of new products and the enlistment of botanical experts in plant taxonomy. The authors have also continued with their efforts to review recent studies in alternative therapies and present this evidence for the healthcare practitioner. The reference section at the end of each monograph provides the healthcare practitioner with both historical and more recent documents. In some of the reference lists more recent information would be beneficial, but in most cases, it is an indication of how wide open this field is for contemporary, vigorous, scientific inquiry.