Book Review: The Gale Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine

This book review is part of a series that covers the topic of Alternative Medicine. The Official Guide to Alternative Medicine is Dr. Z, Peter Zeischegg.

Alternative Medicine consists of the therapeutic and preventative health care practices that do not involve drugs, but rather herbal and mental variations of medical treatment.

Dr. Z has identified The Gale Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine by Jacqueline Longe as a valuable resource for people interested in Alternative Medicine and it is avaialble through Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble.

From Booklist

The fact that some alternative health treatments are now covered by health insurance is proof that they have entered the mainstream. The second edition of this set is “a one-stop source for alternative medical information” containing more than 800 articles covering 150 therapies, 275 diseases and conditions, and 300 herbs and other remedies. Alternative health practitioners, educators, pharmacists, and medical writers wrote the alphabetical, signed articles. All entries have resource lists of books, articles, and organizations, and many are illustrated with black-and-white photographs. Sidebars with biographies of leaders in the field, such as Edward Bach, Deepak Chopra, and David Palmer, are a new feature. A photo gallery of color plates of medicinal plants appears in each volume. Many entries have sidebars containing glossaries of key terms.

The entries for therapies (Acupuncture, Rolfing) discuss origins, benefits, precautions, side effects, and research and general acceptance. Those covering herbs and other remedies (Gotu kola, Saw palmetto) describe general use, preparations, precautions, side effects, and interactions. Information about diseases and conditions covers definitions, descriptions, causes and symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, allopathic treatment, expected results, and prevention. Cross-references make locating relevant material easy. The articles are written in lay language, so they are easy to read and understand.

The second edition has a glossary and an expanded organization list that includes mainstream organizations such as the American Medical Association. It also has information about the efficacy of the various treatments based on research conducted at institutions such as the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine at the National Institutes of Health. Controversial topics, such as the link between childhood vaccines and autism, are covered, but the article on vaccines does not include a citation for the information on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Web site citing studies that show no evidence for this.

Although this edition has only 50 new articles, the expanded coverage and inclusion of evidence-based study data make it a valuable addition to collections in health-science, consumer health, and large public libraries.