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Own Your Health: Choosing the Best from Alternative & Conventional Medicine    by Roanne Weisman & Brian Berman order for
Own Your Health
by Roanne Weisman
Order:  USA  Can
Health Communications, 2003 (2003)
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

I have been looking for this book for years, during which I wondered how to begin to investigate alternative medicine. Own Your Health advertises 'Experts to Guide You, Research to Inform You, Stories to Inspire You' but unlike some such books, there's no excess hype. This manual is down to earth and objective. Its authors advocate for patients to 'own their health' and tells us of a growing number of physicians and medical centers that practice 'integrative medicine' and 'incorporate aspects of both conventional and alternative therapies', but not uncritically.

Chapters talk of the relationship between stress management and health. They explore Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicine, yoga, the Alexander technique, meditation, herbs in healing, chiropractic and craniosacral therapies. There are regular summaries of actions that can be taken, and lists of references for further exploration of each subject. 'What's the Evidence?' sections summarize research results in the incorporation of various techniques into clinical practice (for example studies on use of herbs are quoted as having mixed results). Specific health concerns are addressed under topics like heart disease, cancer (including different therapies for pain management), chronic illness (including multiple chemical sensitivity), chronic pain, allergies and asthma, menopause, osteoporosis and aging.

Advice is common sense and includes encouragement to exercise, breathe deeply, eat nutritious food, and gather a support group. I especially appreciated the 'Take Action' suggestions for a 'frightening medical diagnosis or traumatic injury' which remind us that 'Diagnoses are fallible and prognoses rely on statistics' whereas individuals are unique and the approach taken to illness can make a difference. We are advised to look objectively at conventional and alternative medicines which both have weaknesses and strengths, and to be wary of some of the approaches touted as 'holistic', by checking with organizations like or The National Center Against Health Fraud, Appendices includes a glossary of alternative medicine practices, and very useful resources (websites and books) to find more information and practitioners.

If, like me, you've been wondering for a while about various complementary approaches to medicine and good health, then Own Your Health makes an excellent starting point.

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