Hope and Help For Chronic Fatigue Syndrome by Alison Bested – A Review

Hope and Help for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia, 2nd ed. Alison Bested, MD., Alan Logan, ND. and Russell Howe, LLB. 2008.

This is a book with it’s feet on the ground.  With the title “Hope and Help” for this disease –  this book, thankfully, offers help, not a cure, and hope – if you follow its recommendations –  for better times to come.  As it goes about doing this it provides one of the most evenly balanced overviews of  the major avenues of chronic fatigue syndrome treatment that I’ve come across.

Dr. Logan is a naturopathic physician who’s been extensively trained in the nutritional/alternative approach to disease but he’s objective enough to note that of the more than two hundred supplements touted for this disease that in his experience is that ‘only a handful may really help’.  We get his take on all the biggies: antioxidants (take synergistic formulations), fatty acids (give them a try), melatonin (use under a doctor’s supervision), rhodiola rosacea (exciting botanical!), etc.  The Mind/Body and Complementary Medicine sections provide conservative and cautious overviews of the different non-traditional approaches used to treat ME/CFS.

Dr. Bested is a hematologist turned ME/CFS physician who provides one of the best overviews of pacing and energy managemant strategies, complete with activity charts and functional capacity scales as well as the theory section, pharmaceutical drugs and others.  Her theory section is nicely written and understandable although I would have liked to seen them parsed in a  more critical fashion.  Her warning against intensive detoxification protocols is well taken. This is the first book I’ve seen to have a chapter on legal advice – a much underserved topic in the ME/CFS literature.

This is not a particularly long book  (267 pages) and it definitely has some holes. The pharmaceutical drugs section, for the most part simply noted why some drugs  may work  but provided little of the physicians experience with them.  Oddly enough, given the importance of getting good sleep the section on sleep drugs was surprisingly cursory – mostly consisting of a list of them. The section on  pain was better but, again often lacked individual recommendations. Perhaps because the book was published in 2008, it only mentions Lyrica in passing – this section could really use some fleshing out.

This book is not an encyclopedia of all the approaches people try to combat ME/CFS and it should not be your sole source to the treatment of these complicated diseases but it is a well-written guide based that often cuts through the maze of treatment possibilities to give ME/CFS and FM patients hard won and much needed  advice.

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