Books, Journals, New Media Section Editor: Harriet
S. Meyer, MD, Contributing Editor, JAMA; David H. Morse, MS, University
of Southern California, Norris Medical Library, Journal Review Editor.
In reviewing this book I must in good conscience declare a bias: I have
to date not had much patience for complementary and alternative medicine in
my daily clinical practice. While not actively discouraging my patients if
they ask for it, I almost never initiate a referral to a nonallopathic physician.
Although the book reviewed herein may have only partially disabused me of
my prejudices, it has certainly clarified them for me.
James Whorton, professor of the history of medicine at the University
of Washington School of Medicine, covers the subject while clearly exhibiting
two important senses: humor and history. The book begins with the early 19th
century, explaining how the thickest roots of the present conflict between
allopathic and alternative medicine took hold and grew. We learn of an epic
battle between allopathic practitioners who preferred "heroic therapy" and
other practitioners who preferred to rely "on nature." These two antipodes
take us right up to today. Of course, as we learn from the history of any
good conflict, things are never purely black and white.
Clarfield AM. Alternative Medicine. JAMA. 2003;290(20):2741-2742. doi:10.1001/jama.290.20.2741