OVER THE PAST DECADE, alternative medical therapies have played an increasingly prominent
role in American health care. In the nation’s grocery stores, homeopathic treatments and over-thecounter
herbal remedies crowd aisles that were once largely devoted to analgesics, sore throat
lozenges, and fruit-flavored, animal-shaped children’s vitamins. Eager to fill their beds and their
coffers, hospitals advertise—even celebrate—the inclusion of nontraditional medical practices.
The publication of a medical textbook for a new or emerging field always signals a turning point—a shift
toward greater awareness of theories, basic science research, and modes of clinical practice at the cutting
edge of medicine. Essentials of Complementary and Alternative Medicine represents just such a coming of
age for an important new clinical and scientific field.
I’ve spent the last 28 years studying, practicing,
teaching, and evolving as a naturopathic
physician. Two themes have been consistent:
natural medicine and the health care of women.
Alternative medicine has come to be the
popular term used to distinguish natural, noninvasive
therapies from conventional medicine.