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Lyman Maynard Stowe Library
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These books and online resources about complementary and alternative medicine are recommended for public and health sciences libraries. All of the listed books may not be available in the University of Connecticut Health Center Library. This list was updated February 2013.


Alternative treatments for arthritis: A to Z guide.. Dorothy Foltz-Gray. Arthritis Foundation , 2007. 274 p. Second edition. (ISBN 0-912423-53-6 paperback), $9.95.

One to two page summaries of the benefits, risks, and validity of more than one hundred alternative and complementary arthritis therapies appear in this concise Arthritis Foundation publication. Therapies include bee venom, coenzyme Q10, magnet therapy, glucosamine, and DHEA. Common uses, dosages, side effects and interactions, safety concerns, and scientific evidence about the treatment's effectiveness or ineffectiveness are described. References to medical journal articles in which the scientific evidence appears is specifically cited within the text so that it is possible to locate and read the scientific articles.

American Cancer Society’s complementary and alternative cancer methods handbook.  Anneke Smith, editor. American Cancer Society, 2009. 893 p. Second edition. (ISBN 0-944235-71-9 paperback), $24.95.

This book provides two page summaries of the use and effects of more than two hundred complementary and alternative methods of cancer treatment.  Treatments described include mind, body, and spirit methods, herbs, vitamins and minerals, diet and nutrition, and biological preparations. This guide also advises patients and families how to evaluate alternative therapies.  There are guidelines for safe use of dietary supplements and questions to ask about each alternative therapy to determine if it is safe and effective. The book also includes specific warnings about possible dangers from unproven treatments.

Finding the right treatment: modern and alternative medicine: a comprehensive reference guide that will help you get the best of both worlds. Jacqueline Krohn and Frances Taylor. Hartley & Marks, Inc., 2002.  700 p.  (ISBN 0-88179-196-2), $24.95.

This handbook provides an analysis and description of  conventional and alternative medicine, the effectiveness of their  treatments and therapies, and their strengths and weaknesses.  An encyclopedia of common health problems offers a description of each condition, its signs and symptoms, how it is diagnosed, how it is treated using conventional medicine, and how the condition  may be treated using alternative methods such as homeopathy, herbs, acupuncture, exercise, and nutritional supplements.

The 5-Minute herb and dietary supplement consult. Adriane Fugh-Berman, editor. Lippincott, Williams Wilkins, 2003. 400 p. (ISBN 0-683-30273-6), $89.95.

Although this guide to herbs and dietary supplements is concise, the research-based information provided in each herb’s two-page description is comprehensive and detailed. There are descriptions of  more than one hundred sixty herbs, vitamins, minerals, and dietary supplements. Written mainly in technical terms for a medical audience, the information is clearly laid out and categorized by topics such as active ingredients, mechanism of action, adverse reactions, evidence of effectiveness, and dosage.  Footnotes in the text refer to books and medical journal articles that form the basis of descriptions of the herbs’ effects, uses, and risks.

Green pharmacy herbal handbook: your compehensive reference to the best herbs for healing. James Duke. Rodale Press, 2000. 282 p. (ISBN 1-579-64184-4) $19.95.

This encyclopedic herbal desk reference describes 180 herbs.  There is an index of disorders that links the reader to the main entry for the herb used to treat the disorder.  Information is given on the form of the herb, its uses, parts used, side effects, and dosages. Descriptions are comprehensive and detailed.

Healthy child, whole child: Integrating the best of conventional and alternative medicine to keep your kids healthy. Stuart H. Ditchek, Russell H. Greenfield, and Lynn Murray Willeford. Collins Living, 2009. 2nd edition. 330 P. (ISBN 0-06-273745-7) $17.99 paperback.

Written by physicians who are also parents, this guide is designed to help parents determine "which [alternative] therapies are safe and effective for children and which are useless - or worse, dangerous." The authors provide clear recommendations for or against specific alternative therapies. They have included information about immunizations, nutrition, common medical conditions, and therapies.

Integrative medicine. Expert Consult Premium Edition. David Rakel. Elsevier, 2012. 1072 p. (ISBN 1.4377-1793-4), $83.31

Written for the primary care physician, this book is a comprehensive, well-organized guide to treatment and prevention of nearly eighty medical conditions. References to journal articles and books cited within the text appear at the end of each brief chapter.   Each disease-related chapter includes sections on the disease’s symptoms and background, types of therapy possibly effective including nutrition, mind-body techniques, medications, spirituality, and surgery. Also in the chapter are “Therapies to consider,” ones that may be effective but have not been proven scientifically, and a “Therapeutic review” which highlights  therapies recommended in the chapter. The book concludes with chapters on how to implement a number of alternative and complementary techniques, e.g. meditation, guided imagery, self-hypnosis, acupuncture.

Mayo Clinic book of alternative medicine. 2nd ed. Oxmoor House, Inc. 2010. 208 p. (ISBN 1-603208-36-4), $25.95.

An overview of alternative medicine in understandable text, this book is addressed to health consumers who are considering incorporating alternative medicine into their health care practices. Each type of alternative medicine is explained in a one to three page article that includes colorful illustrations and photos. Research on each medical treatment is summarized but there are no references to research studies. In addition to mind-body medicine therapies such as biofeedback, hypnosis, and guided imagery, energy therapies such as acupuncture and reiki, homeopathy, and ayurveda, the book discusses the treatment of twenty common medical conditions. The advisability of using each therapy, herb, or supplement is indicated by a traffic light: green for a usually safe product or therapy, red for an unsafe product or therapy, and yellow for one to use with caution.

Mosby's Dictionary of complementary and alternative medicine. Wayne Jonas, editor. Elsevier, Inc. 2005. 592 p. (ISBN 0-323-02516-1), $42.95.

Concise dictionary of commonly used terms for complementary and alternative medicine and related conventional medical terms. Includes illustrations and photos. Written for physicians and students in health care professions. The appendix includes one to two page summaries and histories of alternative therapies such as acupuncture, aromatherapy, ayurveda, bodywork, chiropractic, orthomolecular medicine, and magnetic field therapy.

Natural medicines: a comprehensive database. 12th ed. Pharmacists Letter, 2010. 2326 p.(ISBN 0-9678-82057-6), $900.00.

The Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database gives accurate scientific data for every herbal medicine and dietary supplement used and referenced in North America. The database covers more products than any other reference. For each product the database provides 15 categories of information. These categories include other names by which the product is known, safety and effectiveness ratings, common dosages, potential interactions with drugs, foods and other natural products, and potential effects on laboratory tests and diagnostic procedures.

This database is also available online.  The rate for a single subscriber is $91.00.  The annual rate for the Consumer version of the database is $49.00. A print edition of the Consumer version is $49.00. May be ordered online at http://www.naturaldatabase.com . You may also write to Natural Medicines, 3120 W. March Lane, PO Box 8190, Stockton CA  95208; telephone: 209/472-2244.

New medicine: complete family guide . David Peters and Kenneth R. Pelletier, editors. DK Publishing, 2007. 512 p. (ISBN 978-07566-0933-7), $35.00.

"Integrating complementary, alternative, and conventional medicine for the safest and most effective treatment." In addition to explanations of bodywork therapies, acupuncture, traditional Chinese medicine, homeopathy, and other "integrated medicine" practices, this lengthy, comprehensive, colorfully illustrated guide discusses conventional and alternative treatments for many diseases and disorders. Scientific journal references, by chapter, for complementary medicine treatments, appear at the end of the book.

PDR for nonprescription drugs, dietary supplements, and herbs 2011. (Physicians' Desk Reference for Nonprescription Drugs, Dietary Supplements, & Herbs)   Annual. 32nd ed. PDR Network, 2011. 400 p.. (ISBN 1-56363-784--7),   $57.95.

This compendium offers information on over 600 common botanicals.  The monographs are based on the findings of the German Regulatory Authority’s herbal watchdog agency, better known as "Commission E".  Based on an intensive review of peer-reviewed medical literature, each monograph includes the herb’s scientific name and its most common name along with a description of the botanical parts of the herb and its actions and pharmacology. Indications and usage, contraindications, precautions and possible adverse reactions, symptoms and consequences of overdose, dosages, and references to the scientific literature are included. A full-color identification guide of 400 herbs, a scientific names index, and a common name index are included.


Alternative and Natural Therapies - Arthritis Foundation

Information on complementary therapies for arthritis such as acupuncture, heat and cold, massage and bodywork, magnets, and aromatherapy.


PubMed has a feature that allows the searcher to retrieve journal article citations related to complementary and alternative medicine. (CAM).  “CAM on PubMed” currently contains over 462,000 citations related to CAM.  This subset of the National Library of Medicine's Medline database is a result of a cooperative project between the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) and the National Library of Medicine (NLM).  You can search “CAM on PubMed” from the NCCAM site at http://nccam.nih.gov/camonpubmed/ and your searches will automatically be limited to CAM-related citations.  If you search directly from PubMed, you need to limit your search to the CAM subset.  First click on the “Limits” button.  Next, select “Complementary Medicine” on the Subsets pull down menu  (on the right side of the “Limits” page). Your search will be limited to complementary and alternative medicine citations.

 About Herbs

Descriptions of herbs, botanicals, and related products on the website of the Integrative Medicine Service of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. Each article about an herb, written by a pharmacist, is reviewed by editors or advisors. The information on which the review is based is gathered from online searches of medical literature databases. Each herbal description is reviewed twice a year.

 Ask Dr. Weil

The popular doctor discusses alternative healing remedies for many common ailments.  Although Dr. Weil sells vitamin and mineral supplements on his site, the information he provides is balanced and not aimed at selling his products.

Connecticut Holistic Health Association

The mission of this organization is to promote awareness of the principles of holistic health, support the practice of holistic healthcare, and facilitate opportunities to achieve wellness.  Although there isn’t much information here on alternative therapies, there is a Connecticut listing of alternative medicine practitioners and facilities with links to their web sites when available ("Holistic Practitioners Directory"). This resource is similar to looking in the telephone book yellow pages so there isn’t a way to judge the quality of the practitioner.

Health and Wellness Resource Center

The Health and Wellness Resource Center(HWRC) has an alternative health module. A section designated to "Find Drugs and Herbal Remedies” offers monographs on prescription, over-the-counter medications, and herbal products.  The herbal product information is from Herbal Medicine: Expanded Commission E. Monographs, PDR for Nutritional Supplements, PDR for Herbal Medicines, and the PDR Family Guide to Natural Medicines and Healing Therapies.

A separate section of HWRC has the Gale Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine which offers profiles of common medical conditions and how they may be treated using alternative therapies such as meditation, herbs, homeopathy, relaxation training, chiropractic, acupuncture, and others.

Alternative medicine topics may also be searched from the main page of the HWRC with the results including not only information on alternative medical treatments, but standard medical therapies as well.


Search the MedlinePlus database for a wealth of information on alternative medicine.  Enter searches using the terms “Alternative medicine”, “acupuncture”, “herbal medicine”, “chiropractic”, and “cancer alternative therapy”.    Under each topic there is news about current research,  overviews and background information,  links to information on research currently being conducted in alternative and complementary therapies, directories, organizations to contact, and advice on the safety and efficacy of various therapies.  Under the general heading “Complementary and Alternative Medicine,” you can find information about magnet therapy, massage, biofeedback, aromatherapy, selecting a complementary and alternative medicine practitioner, and questions to ask when considering an alternative therapy.

National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine

Part of the National Institutes of Health, the NCCAM site has general information about alternative and complementary therapies with links to research studies currently being conducted on alternative therapies for addiction, aging, AIDS, cancer, asthma, stroke and neurologic conditions, and women's health.

Office of Dietary Supplements

The Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS), part of the National Institutes of Health, supports research and disseminates research results in the area of dietary supplements as they relate to improving health and treating diseases. The Health Information sections describe what constitutes dietary supplements and includes fact sheets on supplements, safety notices, access to the International Bibliographic Information on Dietary Supplements Database, Dietary Reference Intakes (DRI) and Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA ), and separate listings of related links for consumers and professionals.


Information on health fraud, medical quackery, “new age” medicine and “alternative” and “complementary” medicine from an opinionated physician who investigates the validity of their claims.  Scroll the list of contents to find “Non-recommended sources for health advice” for a listing of doctors and also a listing of “Questionable Organizations”.

Rosenthal Center for Complementary & Alternative Medicine

Offers links to resources on acupuncture, homeopathy, chiropractic,  herbal medicine,  and alternative therapies for cancer and women's health. The Center at New York Presbyterian Hospital sponsors research on alternative and complementary medical practices.


Healthnet -- revised 2/2013
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