Tracking my efforts to beat Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME), aka CFIDS, aka CFS

Tracking my efforts to beat Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME), aka CFIDS, aka CFS

Sunday, January 29, 2012

ME/CFS Book Reviews

*This post will be an ongoing project, updated whenever I read a new ME/CFS related book.  I use the term "related" loosely here.  I employ the same 5 star rating system as Amazon, Netflix and most of the rest of the internet. 

Before I get into the details of this book, I want to mention that this review is written from the perspective of an ME/CFS patient reading a book that is primarily about chronic Lyme disease. The book overall has excellent reviews on Amazon  and it actually reached the New York Times Best Sellers list, which is remarkable for a specialty health book.  Clearly, Dr. Horowitz did something right here.

I read this book for two reasons.  I had recently received a questionable Lyme disease diagnosis, and I wanted to read a book about Lyme to see if it would help me decide whether I truly have Lyme or, if not, what else I could do to shed more light on this murky topic.  The second reason was that ME/CFS and Lyme seem to have a large amount of overlap in symptoms, test abnormalities, and treatments.  A Lyme book could be valuable reading for an ME/CFS patient.

At times I found this book to be a bona fide page turner; I was learning new things on nearly every page. Mind you, if you've been an ME/CFS patient for any period of time, you probably won't learn anything new on a "macro level"that is, you won't discovery any new concepts or treatments.  But the book offers a deeper understanding of many of these old concepts, like mitochondrial dysfunction, the HPA axis, immune dysfunction and others.  Dr. Horowitz views Lyme, ME/CFS, Fibromyalgia, autoimmune diseases, and other neuro-immune illnesses as being part of a spectrum he terms MSIDS (more on that later...), so it's relevant regardless of which neuro-immune disease one might have.

Usually when I read a health book, I'm constantly assessing how I might rate the book.  For over 400 pages, I had this book pegged as a solid 4 stars, despite its flaws.  Then on page 437 I came across this in a Chapter 19 called "Lyme and Exercise":
"Patients with Lyme disease, fibromyalgia, and chronic fatigue syndrome (myalgic enchephalomyelitis) find their fatigue and pain syndromes improve with increased exercise, independently of other changes in their medical regimens."
Uh oh!  It gets worse. Later, he says:
"Aerobic exercise has been shown to be effective in reducing fatigue among adults with chronic autoimmune conditions, as well as those with depression, cancer, multiple sclerosis, and chronic fatigue syndrome."
Later he recommends "a graded exercise program."  In the span of two pages, the book went from a 4 to a 1 star.  I was left wondering, how could someone who purports to be an expert on, among other things, ME/CFS be unaware of all of the studies showing that exercise makes ME/CFS patients worsethat it is, in fact, dangerous?  The book has a copyright date of 2013; two years before the Institute of Medicine (IOM), in conjunction with the National Institute of Health issued its report which attempted to rename the disease SEID, or systemic exertion intolerance disease. One wonders if Dr. Horowitz took note of the IOM report when it was published and if future editions of the book might contain a revised Chapter 19.

But let's not allow the review of a 532 page book be about 3 sentences.  Although I probably risk being ostracized from the ME/CFS community for saying this, the rest of the book does have some value.

The Good.  To build on what I said above, Horowitz does an excellent job of taking the reader on a wide ranging, comprehensive tour of the various systemic failures and corresponding treatment options for patients with chronic neuro-immune diseases.  A brief scan of the chapter headings for chapters 5 through 18 gives an idea of the breadth of this book:  Immune Dysfunction, Inflammation, Environmental Toxins, Functional Medicine and Nutritional Therapies, Mitochondrial Dysfunction, Hormones, the Brain, Sleep Disorders, Autonomic Nervous System Dysfunction/POTS, Allergies, Gastrointestinal Health, Liver Dysfunction, and Pain.  

Despite having read extensively about most of these topics in the past, many of them were explained in a more clear, logical way than I'd ever previously encountered. For that reason alone, I'm glad I read the book and I'm glad I have it in my library as a reference source, despite the glaring flaw regarding the "e" word.

The Bad.  Besides the exercise disaster mentioned above:

1)  Dr. Horowitz tries to coin a new term: MSIDS, which stands for Multiple Systemic Infectious Disease Syndrome.  This is meant to be a sort of overarching spectrum upon which the various neuro-immune diseases fall.  The problem is, we don't need another acronym. This is obviously not a term that will catch on in the larger medical community.  The goal of a book like this should be to make the subject less esoteric, not more.

2)  Similar to the above, Dr. Horowitz proposes an MSIDS diagnostic algorithm amusingly called "The Horowitz Sixteen-Point Differential Diagnostic Map."  Every time he refers to it throughout the book, which is often, he repeats the full 7-word eponymous title.  I pictured the author in an infomercial, and whenever he says "...the Horowitz Sixteen-Point Differential Diagnostic Map" we hear the chime of a spoon against a crystal glass as a cartoonish gleam flashes on the doctor's smarmy grin.  A voice-over adds "TM."

Look, things like this make me question an author's motive.  Is he a true scientist at heart, nobly trying to expand the knowledge base and heal people in the process, or is he trying to become the next celebrity doctor, ala Dr. Oz.  I don't want to be questioning this when I'm simply here to find some answers to my health problem.  It makes me want to say:  "It's not about you, doctor. It's about the patients."

3)  Each chapter follows roughly the same format: There is an explanation of the scientific evidence regarding the topic of the chapter, be it Immune Dysfunction, Inflammation, etc., and a review of various treatment options.  This is often done quite masterfully.

Then each chapter concludes with an anecdote or case study, lasting anywhere from 2 to 6 pages. These quickly become tedious and formulaic.  A patient comes to Dr. Horowitz very sick and desperate.  Dr. H applies The Horowitz Sixteen-Point Differential Diagnostic Map* (TM) and this results in him trying one or two treatments.  The patient returns a few months later still feeling miserable.  Dr. H digs deep inside himself and has a brainstorm.  He adds another treatment.  The patient returns a few months later smiling and signing. They hug. The end.

These anecdotes add very little except unnecessary length to an already long book.  The book would have been better without them.  They also serve as the vehicle for some eye-rollingly corny jokes.

4)  Dr. Horowitz struggles with objectivity a times.  He mentions that he has treated thousands of "MSIDS" patients but we are rarely let in on the big picture. What percentage are recovering fully?  Are they staying recovered?  Instead, the aforementioned anecdotes leave the reader with the impression that Dr. H is a kind of miracle healer.  It makes one want to run out and immediately board a plane to New York to track him down.  It is, of course, acceptable to use anecdotes to make a medical book more engaging, and naturally, the successes make for the best stories.  But the author should take care to emphasize that the results in the anecdotes are not typical, and that many patients (presumably) remain ill despite using the very same treatments described in the anecdotes.

The same goes for Dr. H's coverage of controversial testing and treatment procedures. It is OK for the author to pick a side on these controversies, but he should first explain both sides and then explain why he picked his side.  For instance, in the Allergies chapter, he discusses so-called IgG allergy testing and comes out heavily in favor of it.  There is very little credible evidence that IgG allergy testing is valid, and in fact, the weight of the evidence seems to suggest it is probably not effective. At the very least, it is highly debatable.  You wouldn't know this by reading WCIGB.  

Another example is Dr. H's reliance on controversial Lyme testing laboratories and other laboratories that test for metals and environmental toxins.  They are all controversial in their own way.  Dr. H should explain both sides of the controversy before choosing a side, so that patients can make their own informed decision.

Despite these flaws, I would have still rated this book fairly high if it wasn't for the melt-down in Chapter 19.  As an ME/CFS patient, I can't in good conscience give it anything other than a 1 star (★)

                                           Feel Good Nutrigenomics, By Dr. Amy Yasko

I recently finished Dr. Amy Yasko's latest book Feel Good Nutrigenomics.  It was the second book I've read by Dr. Yasko, the other being Autism: Pathways to Recovery.

If you've ever known a true scientist, you now they often struggle to explain their expertise to lay people.  Dr. Yasko doesn't seem to have that problem.  At this point, she's sitting on at least a decade of experience in explaining nutrigenomics and the "methylation cycle" to lay people.  With this book, we see the evolution of Dr. Yasko's theories and her educational style.  She is becoming more adept at simplifying this subject with each passing year.  The improvement is noticeable over Pathways to Recovery, which was published in 2004.

In Feel Good Nutrigenomics (FGN), Dr. Yasko makes her strongest case yet that "multifactorial" diseases (like Autism, ME/CFS, Parkinsons, etc.) can be attributed, in part, to faulty gene expression. She makes an equally strong case that it is possible to manipulate these genes into expressing themselves 'correctly' again, thus regaining health.  This is done by using specific, targeted supplements and diet based on one's genetic profile.

The problem with FGN is that it only addresses the "what" and "why" of nutrigenomics, not the all-important "how."  In that sense, it's a regression from Pathways to Recovery.  It's almost as if FGN was meant to be the first in a two part series, but there's no mention of another part.  So the book leaves the reader frustrated and wanting more.  Dr. Yasko gets the reader "charged up" to use her program, and then fails to give so much as a hint as to what the program actually is.  If she intended to leave the "how's" of nutrigenomics out of the book, she should have at least briefly offered the reader a guideline for further reading.  The book lacks a single sentence addressing the obvious question: "So where do I start?"

For those that have read Pathways to Recovery or some of Yasko's other writings, it's interesting to note the evolution of Dr. Yasko's theories.  For instance, the book contains virtually no reference to the role of RNA in the methylation cycle, or to Dr. Yasko's RNA supplements.  RNA and RNA supplements were a huge aspect of Dr. Yasko's protocol as of Pathways to Recovery.  It makes me wonder if she has discovered something that led her to quietly de-emphasized that aspect of her protocol.   

Overall, Feel Good Nutrigenomics would be great for anyone who can't decide if methylation protocols are worth pursuing.  But the problem is that most people who have gone as far as purchasing and reading a book on nutrigenomics probably don't need further convincing.  They need guidance on how to do it.  FGN does nothing for those who want to understand the protocol itself.  Ultimately, the promise of a "roadmap" never materializes, rather, the reader is left with a vague sense that a roadmap exists...somewhere.

I still think Dr. Yasko is a brilliant scientist and that her motivations are in the right place.  She is at the forefront of a very young science that will continue to increase in importance and popularity throughout all of our lifetimes.  Moreover, she seems to be a good person. To her credit, she addresses, head on, those who may have concerns about her motivations and financial incentives, in the last chapter.  I respect her for that, and I think she handled the situation well.  I believe her.

Here's hoping Dr. Yasko's next book is like FGN in that if further simplifies topics from her past writings, but that it actually covers the "how" of her methylation protocol.  Right now, her protocol is spread out across several of her books and literally thousands of posts on her online forum.  This needs to be consolidated, updated, and further simplified in one place.  (½)

This book should be considered an ME/CFS classic even though it's technically about autism.  By way of background: studies show that children with autism and adults with ME/CFS generally have the same or similar genetic polymorphisms causing a block in one of the body's key detoxification systems, called the methylation cycle. Why these SNPs would manifest themselves so differently in children and adults is not clear . But Dr. Yasko studied ME/CFS and other neuro-immune illnesses prior to her work with autism and, throughout her book, she speaks to both parents of autistic children and adults with ME/CFS.

Even if you're on a simplified methylation protocol, or no methylation protocol at all, you really should read this book.  If nothing else, it gives one an sense of the complexity of the biochemical processes that occur within the body, which argues in favor of a holistic approach not only to ME/CFS but to medical problems in general.  For those on simplified methylation protocols, this will help explain exactly why you're doing what you're doing, and likely will explain why you're not getting results (if you're not getting results.)

Unlike many other doctors & researchers who've written books, Dr. Yasko worked with a professional writer on this book.  As a result, she and her ghost writer manage to explain some very esoteric concepts in ways that a layperson can understand.  

It's difficult to find fault with this book, but if I had to criticize something, I would point to an occasional lack of specificity where doses of supplements are concerned.  Generally, Dr. Yasko warns that one should take the "recommended dose," but at times this idea becomes muddled.  For instance, she states that people with the CBS mutation should take only "limited amounts" of Alpha Lipoic Acid.  It's not clear what exactly limited means.  There are other examples where the exact doses need to be tailored to one's genetic profile, but no instructions are given how to do that.  But to be fair to Dr. Yasko, she does state, repeatedly, that one must implement this program with the help of a doctor and with frequent reference to the forums on her website:  

This leads to my one other, small criticism.  Although she repeatedly states that one should only embark on the program with the help of a physician, Dr. Yasko must know that this is unrealistic.  I live in one of the largest metropolitan areas in the world (greater Los Angeles) and, according to Google, there are no doctors in my area who can help with this.  (A few claim they can, but further investigation revealed they only have the capacity to help implement a small portion of the protocol.)  This type of treatment is simply too new and too poorly understood to be widely available.  I'm afraid most of use will be on our own with this protocol.  

But other than those minor issues, those book is an invaluable resource to ME/CFS patients.  I will continue to re-read and refer back to it frequently in the years to come.

Incidentally, the book is available as an (apparently) free download on the web.  (Here).  This is a wise choice by Dr. Yasko, as anyone who implements her program will end up spending plenty of money on her supplements.   Also, a bound version of the book is available in a kit along with a companion DVD and workbook from for $54.95.  The workbook is also downloadable here.  (★★★★)

I had already been on a Peleo diet for about a year and a half when I started this book, but sometimes I just like to 'reaffirm my faith.'  Keeping such a strict diet requires a fair amount of willpower, so I find that it's good to remind myself of why I'm doing it in the first place.  The Paleo Solution did that and even taught me a few things I didn't already know.

Drawbacks:  If you read the 1 star Amazon reviews of this book, almost none of them mention the diet itself.  They all seem to focus on Wolf's writing style, which can be annoying at first.  Wolf is really excited about paleo.  I mean, really excited.  And he wants everyone to know it.  So his writing style comes off as a little bit pushy and sales-y, like an infomercial.  To him, every reader is a whining, reluctant wimp who needs tough love.  Wolf likes to address you as "Buttercup" before he gives you some no-nonsense straight talk.

But the writing style ceased to bother me after the first couple of chapters.  We all know people with quirky personalities.  After a time, I sort of adjusted to Wolf's idosyncrasies and accepted that "it's just Robb being Robb."  For me, it happened by Chapter 3.  But this is, of course, subjective.  A minority of people just won't be able to get past the style.

I'll also say that I didn't think the book explained why dairy intake should be minimized or avoided.  While Wolf makes the case against sugar and grains like a dogged prosecutor, dairy was hardly mentioned except to say that it should be avoided.  As someone who's on the fence about dairy and still eating/drinking it occasionally, I would have liked more informationmore scientific data, as in the grains sectionto make up my own mind.

Pluses:  For a book with such a quirky style, the scientific content can catch the reader off guard.  But by Chapter 3, Wolf delves heavily into the scientific underpinnings of the Paleo diet.  This is the good stuff.  I've read much of this information before, but I thought Wolf explained it in layman's terms perhaps better than anyone else. I must say, he makes a very convincing case.  I dare you to read this information and not be gung-ho about paleo.  Just like I did with Life Without Bread, I'm now trying to get my loved ones to read this book because I want them to get it.

The longest chapter in the book is on exercise.  Most PWMEs will want to skip that chapter since any real exercise, in conventional terms, is pretty much out of the question.  I read the exercise chapter anyway just for the information about the daily lives of cavemenalways fascinating to me.

The second to last chapter contains several dozen paleo recipes as part of a proposed 30-day meal plan, including paleo pancakes and paleo pizza.  I suspect most people won't follow the 30-day meal plan day-by-day, but rather, will pick and choose a few of the best recipes.  Finally, the last chapter has some great information about supplements, like recommended doses, brands, and the importance of them.  This should be a popular chapter with PWME's.  I learned a few things about DHA/EPA ratios and the importance of quality in Omega-3 supplements.

In the end, I recommend it.  It's fairly brain-fog friendly and at the same time, absolutely loaded with facts that will convince you (or reaffirm your faith) that paleo is the only way to go and rest of the world needs to get on board or continue slowly killing themselves.  (★★★½)

The author of Love and Fatigue in America, Roger King, is an English novelist and professor who emigrated to the United States in the early 1990s to begin a new professorship at Eastern Washington University.  At the time, he was getting over a relationship break-up and looking forward to a fresh start in America.  But within his first year in Washington, he came down with ME/CFS and was soon forced to quit his position at the University.  The rest of the book follows King's life in the United States over the next decade, as he migrates from state to state, trying to find love and at the same time battling ME/CFS.  

Incidentally, as King explains in the introduction, the book is an "autobiographical novel," meaning that the majority of the book recounts true events in the author's life.  Whenever he's unable to remember details (often due to brain fog), he liberally fills in the blanks with his best and, sometimes, most creative approximation of the true events and/or dialogue.  

I'm having a hard time writing an objective review because, frankly, I loved it.  In fact, I probably would have loved the book even before contracting ME/CFS because I've always found it interesting to learn emigrants' fresh impressions of America.  King frequently finds new ways to give the American reader a fresh, humorous perspective on the county.  

Then, of course, King's musings on life with ME/CFS are instantly recognizable.  He has a way of summarizing the frustrations and paradoxes of life with ME/CFS in a way that will make any blogger (*ahem* myself) question whether there is anything new to say that King hasn't said better!  I began reading the book by highlighting all of the particularly quotable passages about ME/CFS, but was soon forced to abandon this when many pages were covered top to bottom in highlights.  

King's prose is pleasing and rhythmic--almost spartan at times--as he employs short sentences that are easily digestible to the brain-fogged reader.  Few chapters are longer than 4 or 5 pages.  Occasionally he breaks from prose altogether to give us a short chapter in verse.  When I've seen this done in the past, it sometimes signals an author who is trying too hard to add "artistic merit" to their work, but King somehow makes it work.  

If I were to find a criticism of the work, it would be that the 4th of 5 parts, entitled "Other States," in which King recounts a period of time where he wandered from state to state in a Jeep looking for his next home, seems disjointed and rushed.  Perhaps this was meant to mirror the disjointed feeling of that time in his life, but he loses the narrative thread.  In my opinion, the book would have been stronger without this section.  

King is also quite frank about his sex life, which didn't bother me. But I can see how other, more sensitive readers might place certain passages under the category of TMI - too much information.  

In my opinion, Love and Fatigue in America, should be on every PWME's to-read list.  It's the first and only book I've found that combines an interest in ME/CFS with a more general interest in good writing and entertaining storytelling.  (★★★★)

Bernhard is a former UC David law professor who was stricken with ME/CFS on vacation in 2001 and has never recovered.  She has a severe case of ME/CFS, and is mostly bedbound.  She and her husband were dedicated Buddhists from well before her illness, so she writes this book to share her Buddhist philosophies with others who have chronic illnesses.  

First, let me assure you that the book is brain fog friendly.  The main body is only 161 pages, with short chapters and generous line spacing. 

The first two chapters alone makes the book worth reading.  Here, Bernhard recounts the early history of her illness, from onset to diagnosis.  For me, such stories always stir up strong emotions.  Reading someone else's account of those first confusing months before diagnosis can be extremely cathartic.  Bernhard writes about it in a universally relatable way.  

The remainder of the book is Bernhard's presentation of various Buddhist practices as ME/CFS coping strategies.  Bernhard knows that not all of these practices will resonate with all readers, but she presents them as a sort of menu from which readers can select what they prefer.  And in fact, my experience with the book was somewhat of a Goldilocks dilemma. 

Too cold.  At times, it felt as if the book was attempting to elevate common sense coping mechanisms to the level of dogma, which often included the assignment of an exotic sanskrit word.  For instance, I'm not sure that I need to know the sanskrit word for the idea that if you're thinking about something unpleasant, you should try thinking about something else.  

Too hot. At other times, it felt as if the book's techniques would require a deep commitment to Buddhism in order to benefit from them.  Bernhard suggests various mantras and concepts for meditation which seem esoteric and inaccessible.  (One that I particularly struggled with was: "This is just my life.")   

I don't know anyone who merely dabbles in Buddhism.  It tends to be an "all in" or "all out" proposition.  So it is not always clear what the author is suggesting that the reader do with some of these concepts, short of becoming a full-blown Buddhist.  

Just right.  Much of the book offers the reader an opportunity to share in the common experiences - the fears and frustrations - that most PWMEs feel.  Seen in this light, the coping techniques almost become tangential to the gratification of connecting with another person who is able to articulate so many of your thoughts and and experiences.  

For me, the book's best moments were those that started with common sense ideas but grew into something more.  As a psychologist would say, these moments "validate" you.  After all, you may have had the thought that you should focus on the positive, but the Buddhists have had 2500 years to fully flesh out this idea.  So you may find that your own vague coping techniques are presented here as fully formed ideas - that the book pushes you farther along on a path you started on your own.  

And of course, as with all books written by PWMEs, the author should be commended and thanked for having the courage to share her thoughts and experiences for the benefit of others.  To that end, I also note that the book is published by a non-profit organization.  

In short, it is well worth the quick read.  I highly recommend it.  (★★★★)

Unless you have formal medical training, when you enter the online ME/CFS world, you're likely to be overwhelmed by the unfamiliar medical terminology.  No subject is more confusing than the immune system.  It seems that no one writes about familiar concepts like, "white blood cells," but rather types and subtypes of white blood cells with strange alphanumeric names like CD8.  My goal in reading In Defense of Self was to build a basic understanding of these concepts.  For that, the book was perfect.

Author William R. Clark, a professor of immunology at UCLA, explains the basics of the immune system in a way that's understandable to a lay person.  If it were any more simplified, it might seem patronizing, and if it were any more detailed, it might read like a medical text.  It will be a useful reference book for anyone's ME/CFS library.  It has a glossary of key immune system terms which should prove handy in your travels across the internet. 

The book is divided into two parts.  Part 1 is an overview of how the immune system works, and Part 2 examines various enemies of the immune system--everything from microbes to cancer. While I found concepts applicable to ME/CFS throughout the book, one could easily skip Part 2.  Part 1 is a brief 58 pages, but is, in my opinion, the heart of the book.  However, if you decided to skip Part 2, I would at least read chapter 12 regarding "Autoimmunity," because it discusses a number of concepts that should be familiar to ME/CFS patients. 

In Defense of Self does have it's limitations, which are probably intentional given that it's supposed to be an overview.  Notably, there is no discussion of Th1/Th2 imbalance.  And, as one might expect, there is no discussion of ME/CFS whatsoever (although Fibromyalgia is briefly mentioned in the autoimmunity chapters.)  Still, it's well worth the $11.54 purchase price in my opinion.  (★★★★)

Obviously, the title is ridiculous.  Nearly every Amazon review of this book mentions it among curses and invectives.  I, myself, outfitted the book in a homemade paper jacket constructed from butcher paper before venturing out with it!  But, let's say we discuss what's actually inside.

The ME/CFS message board crowd is fairly critical of this book, and much of the criticism is deserved.  In his effort to make the book wide-ranging and comprehensive, Dr. Teitelbaum gives passing credence to a few truly inane theories of ME/CFS.  For instance, he discussed a study that supposedly showed an overrepresentation of child abuse victims in the ME/CFS population.  What?

He also gives too optimistic of a picture regarding the ease of, and chances of, recovery.  While I certainly don't doubt that many of the treatments he suggests are somewhat helpful--I know first hand that they are--there is no panacea.  People simply aren't recovering from ME/CFS in large numbers--not fully anyway.  But Dr. Teitelbaum's book leaves one with the vague impression that they are.  The statistics don't agree with him.

In spite of all this, I still believe that this book is the best ME/CFS primer for someone who's been recently diagnosed or thinks they might have ME/CFS.  Most other books about ME/CFS are more narrowly focused on one or two of the author's pet theories.  This is as broad an overview as you'll get.

For the newly diagnosed, this book will introduce a you to a new vocabulary, and allow you to at least begin to make sense of everything you're up against.  From there, you can start to create your plan of action; what tests to seek, and what treatments to try.  The book also leaves you with an idea of what you don't yet know.   It's a great place to start if you're new to ME/CFS (like I am), and I can anticipate it being a good reference book to refer back to when I'm considering new testing and treatments. (★★★)

This book is exactly what the title says: 50 short stories (3 to 5 pages each) written by people who claim to have recovered from CFS.  I read the book to try to learn which recovery strategies were credited most often.  In that sense, I suppose it was a small success because it lead me to take a close look at my diet and, eventually, to change it for the better.  (Diet was one of the most oft-mentioned cures).

But, my problem with this book is that anywhere from 1/3 to 1/2 of the stories were, in my lay opinion, dubious cases of "CFS."  Many of the authors seemed to be using their supposed CFS recovery stories to promote their businesses--usually some type of nutritional program or lifestyle coaching.  Others credited pacing and graded exercise theory (boooo, hisss.) One gentleman even claimed to have been healed after renouncing a Masonic curse!  Yes, I know it's not good form to second guess the diagnoses or treatments of others, but I couldn't help feeling that many of the authors didn't have the same illness that I have.  Wouldn't it have been better to call the book "25 Personal Stories" and leave out the witchcraft and thinly veiled advertisements?

Having said that, the spirit of this book isn't lost on me.  I understand that it's supposed to be inspiring for those who find themselves feeling hopeless in the face of ME/CFS.  If you're feeling like that, I would say, go ahead and read the book.  Just be prepared to like some stories and raise an eyebrow (or two) at others.  ( ★★)

Probably most PWMEs adhere to one type of specialized diet or another.  Most of these are low carbohydrate diets.  This book is basically the low carb Bible.  It was mentioned by several different authors in the Recovery from CFS book (reviewed above), and was one of the few useful suggestions in that book.

Even if you're already on a low carb diet, I would recommend this book because it so convincingly explains the correctness of your choice.  If I suddenly got healthy tomorrow and never had to think about ME again, I would still eat low carb because of the case laid out in LWB.  In fact, I sent copies to my family members because I want them to live longer and healthier lives too! (★★★★)

If you search the internet for books on Candida overgrowth, two books dominate the results.  One is The Yeast Connection, by William Crook, and the other is this one, The Yeast Syndrome.  They both have comparable reviews on Amazon (4 stars), but The Yeast Syndrome is recommended more often on Candida forums.

Unfortunately, both books were written in 1986 and haven't been updated since.  In fact, neither book covers the number one prescription drug for Candida, Diflucan, because it hadn't been invented when the book was published!  But in spite of these limitations, I would still recommend The Yeast Syndrome. It presents a 4 phase, holistic approach to healing candida, covering nutrition, immune system, prescription drugs and natural remedies.  This holistic approach meshes nicely with most general ME/CFS treatment plans.

Most other Candida treatment books on Amazon focus on a narrower approach, the one exception being a 2009 book called The Candida Cure.  I hadn't seen The Candida Cure mentioned on any of the Candida forums, and it only has 16 Amazon reviews, but I might read it later if Candida remains a problem for me.

For now, I would recommend The Yeast Syndrome to anyone who might have Candida issues.  The writing style is a little quirky--typical of books where a doctor tries a little too hard to dumb down his subject for the lay person--but the research seems solid and easy to follow.  (★★★★)

External Links.

Here are some links to other pages with ME/CFS book reviews:

Fiikus blog
Hummingbird Foundation

1 comment:

  1. Having Trouble STICKING with the Paleo Diet?

    Want to munch on healthy tasty recipes TONIGHT?

    Check out this book: Paleohacks Cookbook.