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General Practice: The Integrative Approach.

General Practice: The Integrative Approach

Kerryn Phelps and Craig Hassed

Elsevier Australia 2011

Tower 1, 475 Victoria Avenue

Chatswood Australia 2067

ISBN 978 0 729 53804 6


The high profile authors of this 1000 page text have attempted to assemble a comprehensive volume on integrative medicine with the assistance of numerous contributing writers. The preface makes for some interesting reading where both authors briefly describe their own personal journeys which resulted in challenging some aspects of conventional medicine they were taught in medical school. In an attempt to be comprehensive however, the table of contents actually appears quite confusing and somewhat off putting. The book contains 62 chapters within 7 parts but it is difficult to discern a logical flow of the chapters in each part of the book.

Part 1 is devoted entirely to the principles of integrative medicine and it is encouraging to see chapters on spirituality and mind-body medicine. This part also includes three chapters on the principles of herbal medicine, herb-drug interactions and clinical nutrition (food and supplements) written by Lesley Braun, whilst other chapters explore exercise as therapy, the role of social support and detoxification.

Part 2 looks at the principles of general practice with topics such as organisation and contents of the consulting room, patient communication, practice management and legal and ethical issues. It is not clear why these topics were included here rather than in Part 1. The chapters are very small leaving the reader wanting more information and this is a theme throughout the book; small chapters with limited information except for certain topics such as cancer, cardiology and gastroenterology which deservedly gain more attention.

Part 3 attempts to use a systems based approach in looking at a range of disorders but there are numerous chapters which could have been arranged in a much more logical order. Part 3 can best be described as 'being all over the place'. Parts 4 and 5 examine men's and women's health respectively and Part 6 looks at lifecycle health including adolescent and geriatric medicine. Part 7 briefly highlights social conditions such as domestic violence, HIV management, sexual health and substance misuse. Appendix 1 is a useful 60 page table on herb-nutrient-drug interactions.

There are diagrams as well as clinically relevant photographs and x-ray images throughout the book; for example the chapter on eyes has photos of infective conjunctivitis and blepharitis which would help a practitioner understand what they are dealing with in clinic. Another example is the chapter on respiratory medicine displaying xray images of pneumonia.

The information presented is well written and easy to understand even though the book's contents do not follow a logical structure and a lot of chapters are far too brief. The text is evidence based and all chapters are well referenced and include a handy section on available resources such as websites and books or articles for further reading. It is obvious that the book has been written specifically for the medically qualified practitioner who is a novice to integrative medicine.

Medical students wanting a holistic understanding would find the text useful but the qualified and experienced herbalist or naturopath may not find it particularly clinically relevant. The information could be expanded and presented in two volumes and it would be ideal if future editions have a more logical composition.

The book has a scratch off panel concealing a PIN on the inside cover to allow purchasers access to the complete contents of the book online.

Available in the NHAA library reference only.

Reviewed by Robert Provino
COPYRIGHT 2011 National Herbalists Association of Australia
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2011 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Provino, Robert
Publication:Australian Journal of Medical Herbalism
Article Type:Book review
Date:Jun 22, 2011
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