The Ten Best: Family health books

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1 BMA A-Z Family Health Encyclopedia, Dorling Kindersley

1 BMA A-Z Family Health Encyclopedia, Dorling Kindersley

Any medical guide endorsed by the country's doctors is going to be authoritative - and this one is about as good as it gets. It has clear explanations of diseases and conditions, is easy to use and covers every aspect of health and medicine, including the latest significant developments and theories.

£25 (01279 623963; http://uk.dk.com)

2 Natural Health for Kids, Dr John Briffa

A combination of nutritional manual and medical reference guide that focuses on babies and young children, and the role a good diet can play in their development. Dr Briffa gives down-to-earth, practical advice on what to feed kids - and, more importantly, how to get them to eat it. Written in a relaxed, chatty style, this is about prevention as well as cure.

£16.99 Penguin (020-7010 3000; www.penguin.co.uk)

3 What Really Works for Kids, Susan Clark

An essential guide for parents who want to bring their children up without constantly resorting to conventional medicine. Clark, one of the country's leading natural-health writers, explains the techniques of baby-massage and hand-reflexology, as well as detailing the best vitamins, herbs and homeopathic treatments for children.

£10.99, Bantam Press (020-8579 2652; www.booksattransworld.co.uk)

4 500 Of The Most Important Health Tips You'll Ever Need, Hazel Courteney

A guide to a vast range of conditions. As well as being a guide to illnesses, it gives the low-down on treatments and remedies, and it gives readers easy-to-follow dietary advice. It's useful for the whole family and is an excellent source for anyone keen to know more about alternative treatments.

Cico Books, £10.99 (020-7253 7960)

5 Harvard Family Health Guide, Anthony L Komaroff

This American guide has been adapted for a British readership and is one of the most detailed reference books. Readers can use flow charts to examine their symptoms and to find advice on what action to take. Explanations of the latest medical treatments are mixed with remedies for ailments.

£30, Cassell (020-7240 3444; www.orionbooks.co.uk)

6 Merck Manual of Medical Information, Robert Berkow

The lay reader's edition of the Merck manual that is considered a bible by doctors, nurses and other health professionals. It covers everything from the most common childhood complaints to rare conditions and disorders, with detailed discussions of symptoms to spot and the drugs used to treat them.

£14.99, Simon and Schuster (020-7316 1900; www.simonsays.com)

7 What Doctors Don't Tell You, Lynne McTaggart

McTaggart's controversial take on medicine is at times very one-sided and should not be considered a reference guide, but this book is interesting for anyone who doubts their doctor's advice. The scientific evidence (or lack of it) on a range of issues is presented and there is good advice on how to make informed decisions about healthcare.

£14.99, Thorsons (020-8307 4000; www.harpercollins.co.uk)

8 The Holistic Doctor, Dr Deborah McManners

Written by someone who is both a practising GP and a registered neuropath, this is a guide to both conventional and complementary medicine. It discusses not just physical health, but also the psychologicaland environmental factors that affect us. It includes healthy-eating guidelines and relaxation exercises.

£12.99, Piatkus (01476 541080; www.piatkus.co.uk)

9 BMA Guide to Medicine and Drugs, John A Henry

A jargon-free lexicon of more than 2,500 drugs and medicines most commonly prescribed by doctors. This contains clear advice on how to take named medicines. Another British Medical Association-inspired idea that should have a major impact on the problem of patients failing to take their prescriptions correctly.

£16.99, Dorling Kindersley (01279 623963; http://uk.dk.com)

10 Good Consultant Guide, Dr Foster

From the respected Dr Foster company, a guide on how to seek the best treatment for a range of conditions. This is not about naming the best doctors, but telling patients the facts about diseases and treatment, and how to help themselves.

Available second-hand from www.amazon.co.uk. £24.99, Vermilion (020-7840 8400; www.randomhouse.co.uk)

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