From spring 1996 - Alternative Medicine - Helpful or Harmful? (Book Review)
With approximately a quarter of the population using at least one form of alternative therapy, it is important that as Christians in the medical profession we know something about the treatments available and the theories behind techniques used. Reading 'Alternative Medicine - Helpful or Harmful?' by Robina Coker is an ideal opportunity to do just that.
Written with the general reader in mind, this book is easy to understand (definitions are given for all of the medical terms used) and makes enjoyable reading. It is relatively short, but in its 130 pages the author still covers many issues and offers much information. An added benefit is that the text does not solely concentrate on alternative medicine but also compares and contrasts all aspects of both alternative and conventional treatments.
The book is divided into three parts, each discussing different issues. Part One defines alternative medicine and gives a brief historical account of orthodox medicine throughout the world. This helps to give a clearer understanding of the origins of conventional and alternative techniques used today. The section also explores possible reasons why interest in alternative medicine is increasing amongst patients.
Part Two goes on to discuss the problems associated with alternative treatments. This includes some of the physical hazards and also the possible dilemmas faced by Christians either as patients or as doctors advising patients.
The final section provides an A-Z guide of existing alternative treatments, and includes possible questions we should ask ourselves when deciding to accept or reject aspects of alternative medicine.
This book does not attempt to give all the answers to the many questions raised by alternative treatments and techniques. Instead the reader is encouraged to think of the motives of the therapist administering treatment, the possible religions that some of these techniques are based on (for example Transcendental Meditation based on Hindu concepts), and the psychic risks behind certain approaches. Above all, the writer stresses the importance of studying biblical teaching about medicine and prayer.
So, if you are looking for a short book to read, and are keen to find out more about alternative medicine, then this book is for you. It will provide you with the ideal introduction to alternative treatments, and will start you thinking about whether alternative medicines are helpful or harmful.
Clinical Medical Student