Tuesday, May 05, 2009
Alternative Medicine: The Christian Handbook
I absolutely adore Inter-Library Loans! I've been wanting to read Dr. Walt's book Alternative Medicine: The Christian Handbook since it first came out. This past month, I finally got the chance.
FYI: The picture is of the recently revised version of the book. I read the original version, from 2001.
While I'm a firm believer in chiropractic care, massage, vitamins & supplements, I do have concerns about other forms of alternative medicines, and looked forward to getting Dr. Walt's perspective (and that of his co-author Dr. Donal O'Mathuna) on the topic.
The authors did a great job of laying foundation in the first three parts of the book. They discuss the history of alternative and conventional medicine in the first part; a Christian perspective on health, healing and suffering in the second part; and lay out criteria for evaluating alternative medicine and their practitioners in the third part. The fourth part of the book is a reference section, where you can look up different therapies and practices and read their perspective on how safe or dangerous they are.
I particularly appreciate the spiritual approach they take to most of their evaluations. They give the history behind the method, and many times the philosophy so we can make wise choices about what we're allowing into our minds & spirits. They also refer back to studies evaluating the effectiveness of the therapies. They put any "Christian" therapies through the same evaluation process - so things like the "Hallelujah Diet" do not get a free ride from them.
Chapter 10, in Part Three is called How Science Tests Therapies and Remedies. In it, the authors walk through, in an understandable way, the importance of double-blind, placebo-controlled trials in evaluation of what works and what doesn't work. If you're not familiar with what that means, it's a great place to start gaining an understanding.
I didn't read the whole book - it's more of a reference book than a reading book - but did glean information about different alternative therapies my friends have recommended to me. If you're looking into an alternative therapy, I'd recommend picking up this book from your library to check out what Dr. Walt & his co-author say about it.
(To which, they would say what the scientific evidence says about the particular therapy - but every study needs interpretation, and this book includes their interpretation of the currently available studies.)