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Asthma: The Complete Guide

by Professor Jonathan Brostoff and Linda Gamlin

listed in asthma

[Image: Asthma: The Complete Guide]

At a time when there remains, perhaps inappropriately, a perception of a continuing antithesis between Conventional and Complementary Medicine, it is a delight to open this book that Bridges this Gap with the authority of a Professor of Medicine based in a London Teaching Hospital.

This book gives well indexed and comprehensive information on both Conventional and Complementary Managements for Asthma. It should be of great value to patients with a general interest in their condition. On the other hand, specific sections can be easily accessed by readers looking for a balanced description of a particular form of treatment.

I would feel that it also has a major place on the shelves of every General Practitioner, so that the family doctor can offer his patient sound advice on the various treatment options that they may hear about.

It is indeed the balance that is shown in this book that is likely to represent its greatest value, hopefully helping patients to avoid the danger of dismissing conventional medical advice on alternative therapies on the basis that doctors are just not interested in these approaches.

For instance, the thorough description of the Buteyko method identifies the potential benefits of this approach, whilst giving highly appropriate warnings about the possibly fatal dangers that can arise if certain advice given by some of the practitioners of this method is adhered to rigidly.

In the section on the Buteyko method there is reference to this being the most expensive complementary approach described in that section of the book, but a fair criticism of the book is that there is no real attempt to identify the costs of each intervention.

Patients may well want to know what expenses they are letting themselves in for in advance. Clearly this book is intended for worldwide distribution, but quoting costs in the UK would give an indication of relative costs, whatever country in which they are based.

The costs of the House Dust Mite Elimination procedures referred to in this book vary considerably but are potentially huge.

At the same time there is considerable doubt about how effective these are outside the realms of research studies, which provide enormous monetary and practical support in the application of the recommendations. It would therefore be useful for the reader to have an idea of potential expenditure so that they can balance the possible benefits against costs.For many families the ideal of eliminating damp and moulds is not attainable within their limited budget.

There are certainly useful references to the different key allergens in different regions of the world so that different approaches can be sought in different environments, although the primary emphasis appears to be on Britain. Elimination of Cockroaches may be easier to achieve in some cases.

A mark of how up-to-date this book is comes in the recognition of the lack of benefit from using artificial fibre as opposed to feather filled bedding – something which has only been recognised in relatively recent times.

The truly comprehensive nature of this book is reflected in the reference to psychological aspects, including some very stressful issues such a child abuse and the reference to the importance of exercise in improving asthma.

The short section on appropriate 'warming up' exercises should be conveyed to all teachers taking pupils for PE and Games. Properly followed, this advice could be the cheapest and safest way of preventing significant physical and psychological morbidity for children with asthma.

The section on dieting is again comprehensive, looking at several different approaches to diet. The advice on Elimination Dieting would help any patient contemplating this often tough form of intervention to understand what 'they are letting themselves in for'.

At various points there are very helpful suggestions on how a patient should manage the 'sceptical' GP. An example comes in the section associating athlete's foot with asthma, which at first suggestion can be expected to cause the average GP to freak out. The detailed description of the science behind this is likely to aid the patient in convincing his doctor that the athlete's foot does merit proper treatment.

In our well informed society all patients need to be able to understand the relative benefits and risks of any treatment that they are about to embark on so that the 'Treatment does not end up as being worse than the disease'. At the very modest cost of £12.99 this book will go a very long way in helping people to make an informed judgement about the therapeutic options available, be it Conventional Medicine or a Complementary approach.

About the ReviewerDr Michael A. Tettenborn is Consultant Paediatrician at Frimley Children's Centre. Dr Tettenborn is a General Paediatrician with a Special Interest in Asthma, Allergies and Food Intolerances.

Dr Michael Tettenborn

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