Book Review – Do You Believe in Magic? by Dr. Paul A Offit

Book Cover Do You Believe in MagicThis book is the package insert that should come with any alternative medicine treatment.

A must read for any medical professional today.

Don’t misunderstand, the book discusses the potential and sometimes scientifically validated benefits of some alternative therapies. However, like any form of treatment there are always benefits AND risks.

Even the holistic veterinarian I work with knows, just because something is called “natural” doesn’t make it safe.

As this book describes, just because something was the way people did things for a long time doesn’t mean it was the right way to do things. He cites statistics that less than 18% of Chinese rely on alternative therapies and acupuncture is almost exclusively used by the rural poor.

Any treatment should not be based on whether it is “natural” or whether it is ancient but on its own merits – what are its risks and does it work or not?

The book describes what big business alternative medicine is, what lobbyists they have to support them, and what tools they use to prey on the vulnerable – especially individuals with cancer and parents with sick or autistic children. He describes a clear set of guidelines for when alternative medicine has crossed the line from something “probably not harmful” into true exploitation.

He talks quite a bit about supplements specifically and especially how the 1994 supplement act has crippled the FDA’s power to protect us.

Since the FDA cannot require safety studies, cannot recall products, cannot require label changes, or require the company to give warnings about product dangers, the FDA has *less* ability to protect us from supplements than they can protect us from unsafe foods.

He describes the system that so often drives patients to alternative therapies. He suggests that one of the biggest draws of alternative practitioners is their ability to comfort patients and make them feel like they are getting individualized care in a medical system that feels ever more like an assembly line.

What have to remember to be healers of people, not just diseases.

He also talks about the very real power of the placebo effect and how we might harness that power to help people without exposing them to the potential risks of some alternative therapies.

An absolutely compelling book and vital for anyone willing to know the whole story about alternative medicine.

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