Dr. Rosenfeld's Guide to Alternative Medicine

James Metz, MD
Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania
Last Modified: November 1, 2001

Author: Isadore Rosenfeld, M.D.
Publisher: Random House, New York, 1997
ISBN: 0-679-42817-8
Price: $ 25.95 USA, $ 36.00 Canada
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Isadore Rosenfeld, M.D. is Rossi Distinguished Professor of Clinical Medicine at New York Hospital/Cornell Medical Center. He is an accomplished author with many best-selling books including "Doctor, What Should I Eat?" "The Best Treatment," and "Symptoms." This book is a guide for the layperson and professional health care provider through the world of alternative medicine. Dr. Rosenfeld reviews the most widely used alternative therapies, the theories on which they are based, the scientific evidence to support or refute the therapy, and whether the therapy may benefit a patient.

Each chapter reviews a topic in alternative medicine. The initial chapters are intended to provide the reader with an armamentarium to critically review each alternative technique. Dr. Rosenfeld explains the reasons people are looking to alternative medicine. He also writes an excellent chapter dedicated to the placebo response. He emphasizes "It's vital to differentiate those alternative medicine approaches that function as placebo and those that are truly effective." He also provides the reader with an informative and entertaining guide on identifying a quack from a legitimate practitioner.

Before reviewing any alternative technique, Dr. Rosenfeld uses cases to illustrate how dangerous it can be to abandon an effective treatment in favor of any therapy, alternative or conventional, that has not been tested and shown to work. Dr. Rosenfeld then reviews many different alternative medicine practices including acupuncture, aromatherapy, chelation, chiropractic therapy, herbal therapy, hydrotherapy, oxygen therapy, and reflexology. There are also some less publicized techniques reviewed including bee venom therapy, cell therapy, iridology, and neurolinguistic programming.

The chapter entitled "Diet Therapy For Cancer" discusses some of the most popular alternative diets such as the Wheatgrass Diet and the Macrobiotic Diet. Dr. Rosenfeld makes it clear that "cancer can often be cured by conventional methods if it is found early enough. Do not even look at any of the alternatives described in the following pages until you and your doctor are absolutely certain that your cancer has spread and that the mainstream treatment you're receiving is an act in futility."

This is an excellent book on alternative medicine. It is written in lay terms and is easy to understand. Dr. Rosenfeld gives good recommendations based on the available information on each alternative technique. Each chapter ends with "What's the bottom Line." Although this book addresses some techniques not of interest to the cancer patient, it educates the reader on how to critically evaluate the myriad of alternative therapies that people may recommend. The book is highly recommended for anyone interested in alternative medicine. It is also recommended as a reference for the health care professional who is questioned about many of these techniques.


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