Most helpful critical review
33 of 37 people found the following review helpful
A disappointing and biased approached to fibromyalgia
on October 10, 1999
As a physician who specializes in natural medicine, I ordered this book because it was written by a rheumatologist and purported to be scientifically based. And while the book may be helpful to many people, Dr. McIlwain's grasp of natural medicine is rudimentary while his infatuation with pharmacological interventions is seemingly boundless. Further, his assertions about natural interventions are not based on the whole of the medical literature but apparently on his narrow review of it. For example, in his positive assessment of growth hormone, which is poorly understood and could have potentially damaging long term effects, he states that it could have "important health benefits" while magnet therapy, which has been shown to not only be useful in pain management but to also have few, if any, side effect, is decried as being able to "induce brain seizures"! Similarly, his review of Chinese medicine is, at best, inept. He reduces the 5,000 year old art of acupuncture to "a form of hyperstimulation for pain relief", as if it were something procured in a massage parlor. Perhaps the most disappointing aspect of the book is the bias that a medical doctor is able to assess the validity of every other medical intervention. Again and again the patient is advised to get the permission of their doctor, as if their doctor even has a clue as to how naturopathic medicine, Chinese medicine, botanical medicine, ayurvedic medicine, orthomolecular medicine, etc. work. In the case of homeopathy, he intones "be sure this person is a medical doctor." And why is that? Because medical doctors are somehow inherently more intelligent or capable of ministering to human suffering than other professionals? What is pointedly missing is the warning that medical doctors often spend one to four weekends learning about a natural medical field (in which its practitioners spend three to four years) and emerge as "instant experts". Unfortunately, such practitioners are typically unable to understand and deliver the kinds of sophisticated protocols that patients require. The bottom line is: if you want conventional medical management of fibromyalgia, go to an MD. If you want alternative medicine, go to a licensed alternative medical practitioner. And by all means be sure the two of them are aware of each other - co-management is often critical to a good clinical outcome. The book has some good points, but be aware of its biases.