At last count there were more than 500 different forms of holistic medicine. Unfortunately it is often very difficult to get impartial advice about what approach may help you personally. Many articles, books and websites simply extol the virtues of one or other form of treatment and it is not uncommon to see people who have traipsed from one therapist to another in the hope of finding help.
If you are looking for a reliable and informative overview of some of the major therapies and some of the ailments that they might help, this is a good place to start. The book is beautifully produced and must have taken an enormous amount of effort.
It begins with an overview of many of the forms of holistic therapy. Most aim to treat the whole person, though some do that more than others. It also tries to indicate how much evidence there is to support the therapies. There are sections on general well-being with a short self-assessment questionnaire. There are then sections on sleep, diet and exercise, stress and emotion.
The book then presents an overview of over 90 widely used complementary therapies with information on their history and methods, philosophy and key principles and something about what to expect during a visit with someone trained in a particular modality.
The final part of the book is very good. It offers a guide to choosing therapies for over 200 health problems and is cross-referenced with the earlier art of the book. There is also a list of potentially serious symptoms where a doctor should be consulted immediately. This is something that is rarely addressed in books on holistic health. Within the last week I was contacted by someone who had some odd symptoms and wanted to take an herbal remedy and stay at home. Fortunately the person took my advice and went to the local emergency room, where they found that she had indeed had a heart attack.
The one weakness in this otherwise excellent book is the evaluation of the evidence for particular therapies. As two examples use of biorhythms and iridology are discussed and it mentions that the evidence for each of them is thin. That is an understatement: sad to say there is empirical evidence to show that each is ineffective.
Even with that small quibble, this is an excellent book that I recommend highly.