Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Do You Believe in Magic?

Do You Believe in Magic?: The Sense and Nonsense of Alternative Medicine
Today’s post is on “Do You Believe in Magic?: The Sense and Nonsense of Alternative Medicine” by Paul A. Offit, M.D. It is 305 pages long including notes and a bibliography. It is published by HarperCollins. It is a review of all current alternative medicine from the perspective of a doctor working with very sick people day in and day out. There Be Spoilers Ahead.

From the back of the book- A medical expect- the chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia- offers a scathing, sure-to-be-headline-making expose of the alternative medicine industry, revealing how even though some popular therapies are remarkably helpful due to the placebo response, many of them are ineffective, expensive, and even deadly.
A half-century ago, Acupuncture, homeopathy, naturopathy, Chinese herbs, Christian exorcisms, dietary supplements, chiropractic manipulations, and transitional Indian remedies were considered to be on the fringe of medicine. Now these practices- known as alternative, complementary, holistic, and integrative medicine- have become mainstream, used by half of all Americans today seeking to burn fat, detoxify livers, shrink prostates, alleviate colds, stimulate brains, boost energy, reduce stress, enhance immunity, eliminate pain, prevent cancer, and enliven sex.
But as Dr. Paul A. Offit, the chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, reveals, alternative medicine- an unregulated industry under no legal obligation to prove its claims or admits its risks- can actually be harmful to our health. In Do You Believe in Magic? He exposes the risks of alternative treatments, including megavitamins, acupuncture, dietary supplements, and Chinese herbs; debunks the treatments that don’t work, and explains why. He also takes on the media celebrities who promote alternative medicine, including Mehmet Oz, Suzanna Somers, and Jenny McCarthy. Using dramatic real-life stories, he separates the sense from the nonsense, showing why any therapy- alternative or traditional- should be scrutinized. He also shows how nontraditional methods can do a great deal of good, in some cases exceeding therapies offered by conventional practitioners. As he advises us, “There’s no such thing as alternative medicine. There’s only medicine that works and medicine that doesn’t.”

Review- I really enjoyed this book. The topic is of interest to me personally because I have some health problems and I do some alternative methods. By the end of this book I was sure that Dr. Offit would not have any problems with what I do in my life. He takes apart the money making machine that is alternative medicine and he names names. It is interesting to learn about the beginnings of alternative medicine here in America and some from around the world. Offit gives information about both the good medicine that works and how good doctors fall from grace. The whole book comes down to this- do not use someone else’s wisdom for your own good judgment. Offit does not blame people for looking help or answers because medical science does not have all of them. He comes down hard on the people who steal from the hopeless. I felt Offit’s compassion for the families just trying to get some hope in dark places.

I give this one Five out of Five stars. I get nothing for my review and I was given this book from HarperCollins in exchange for an honest review.