It is not often that I read a book and remember it so well that I tell people about the contents. This non-fiction book by British PhD, award-winning science journalist Jo Marchant is fascinating and I urge everyone to read it. 



It came to me by accident as a recommended book on Amazon. The price was good and I liked the sound of the topics covered, so bought a paperback copy and started the read. Well, I couldn’t put it down! 


The structure of the book is long chapters about different ways that people or the world address physical conditions with psychological management. For example, the first chapter is about the placebo affect and how it has helped both children and adults, with and without their knowledge of it being placebo rather than a medication or curative procedure. 


As a doctor working in Emergency Medicine, we do see some miraculous improvements to pain when patients are given simple analgesia in the department that they say hasn’t worked at home. Others swear by the fact that turmeric being rubbed on a sprained ankle is what made it get better, not the analgesia and rest that they gave it for the last 2 weeks. Interestingly however, this books goes into detail so that we can all understand about the science behind why things work, and this is why everyone should read this book. 


Throughout the 300 pages of purely fascinating information and first-hand stories, we are told about the astounding success of hypnotherapy for IBS by Professor Whorwell and his colleague (this is done in South Manchester so I have actually contacted the consultant who runs the clinic and am going to sit in to see how it’s done!), different approaches to the treatment of autism, IBS, chronic pain and the connection of all these conditions with gastrointestinal and psychological upset. 


One of the most gripping parts of this book was the hard anecdotal evidence shown for improvement in so many conditions, but because the improvement is not due to western drugs or procedures, funding is rarely given for research to make it “credible or evidence-based”. Over 75% of research in the USA is funded by drug companies, which speaks volumes.


Just writing about this book makes me want to read it again, immediately. I talked about it to my family, my colleagues, and it has changed the way I think and practice some of my medicine in work. 


Jo Marchant has clearly spent a huge amount of time travelling the world to meet some of the most intelligent and passionate members of the medical profession, as well as caring mothers of autistic children and patients who have spent years suffering with a chronic problem. What she has written truly inspired me and I would recommend this book wholeheartedly.