Do You Believe in Magic?: The Sense and Nonsense of Alternative Medicine

In Do You Believe in Magic?, medical expert Paul A. Offit, M.D., offers a scathing exposé 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.

Dr. Offit reveals how alternative medicine—an unregulated industry under no legal obligation to prove its claims or admit its risks—can actually be harmful to our health.

Using dramatic real-life stories, Offit separates the sense from the nonsense, showing why any therapy—alternative or traditional—should be scrutinized. He also shows how some nontraditional methods can do a great deal of good, in some cases exceeding therapies offered by conventional practitioners.

An outspoken advocate for science-based health advocacy who is not afraid to take on media celebrities who promote alternative practices, Dr. Offit advises, “There’s no such thing as alternative medicine. There’s only medicine that works and medicine that doesn’t.”

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Tags: health advocacy, New Health Ideas, paul a offit, sense and nonsense, placebo response

2 comments for “Do You Believe in Magic?: The Sense and Nonsense of Alternative Medicine

  1. Dorit Rubinstein
    July 20, 2013 at 6:56 PM

    Well written, informative, thoughtful Dr. Offit’s new book examines different ways Americans try to promote their health outside traditional medicine. He examines the use of vitamins and supplements, telling the story behind their (lack of) regulation, carefully analyzing the studies done on them, and addressing whether any vitamins are useful (and which) as well as potential dangers from mega doses. He examines alternative treatments for autism and cancer, among others. He addresses well known alternative healers and celebrities. He discusses why do some alternative treatments work in spite of the fact that they do not work empirically, detailing the studies of the placebo response. He discusses the relative spheres of alternative medicine and well, medical medicine, and suggests in what situations alternative medicine becomes problematic (for example, when alternative healers urge patients away from life-saving traditional medicine solutions, harming their health). He addresses empirical studies of all of the above and what science knows. And he does all that in an accessible, engaging, occasionally funny and always interesting style. The book brings to life interesting characters, tells tragic stories, and does not hesitate to criticize where justified. I learned a lot from this book and enjoyed it. I recommend it.

  2. Nan
    July 21, 2013 at 12:20 AM

    The truth isn’t always popular Some people aren’t going to like this book because it 1)explains how many supplements and vitamins have not been proven to have the effects claimed 2) the person may be in the vitamin/supplement business 3)their favorite supplements/treatments may be debunked.Most supplements/vitamins have never been tested for efficacy. The supplement business is not regulated. Many supplements do not contain the dosage stated and may have contaminants. These contaminants (like lead) themselves may be harmful. ConsumerLab does test supplements and has found these problems. Check out their website for more information.If you read this book with an open mind, you’ll be better able to make an informed decision about what substances you want to take and what treatments are best for you. More information and scientific testing help us make better decisions about our health.This book is well worth the read.

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