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Book Reviews

 

All in My Mind
Jennifer Busch

Jennifer E Busch became very ill with a long-term undiagnosed condition after the birth of her second child.  After years of different medical and alternative treatment she discovered that she was in the critical stage of adrenal exhaustion.  “All in My Mind?” is a book about her journey back to health.

In her book she talks very candidly about her postpartum depression, her sense of impending death and her extreme fatigue along with the other symptoms she had.

She explains all about adrenal fatigue and her first steps to wellness and includes an interesting comparison of symptoms chart for adrenal fatigue, chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia.

Jennifer uses some lovely quotes all through the book such as, “Once you choose hope, anything’s possible” by Christopher Reeve.

This is a lovely little book that encourages patients to continue looking for ways to become well again.

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Trick and Treat
Barry Groves

Barry Groves has written several health-related books and he chose the title of this book to show “how the ‘health industry’ TRICK us into an unhealthy lifestyle so that they can TREAT us for the resultant conditions”

“Trick and Treat is supported by over 1100 references from peer-reviewed medical journals and other learned works.”

Barry explains in the book how mistakes were made in the last century such as the concept of “healthy eating”; the low fat, high-carb ‘healthy’ convenience foods and blind faith in pharmaceutical medicines.

He talks about the use of screening to sell drugs; discusses how many portions of fruit and veg we should really be having; informs us of the practically non-existent evidence that salt is bad for you and looks at the causes and symptoms of ‘metabolic syndrome or ‘syndrome X’.

Trick and Treat has chapters on ‘Cancer: disease of civilization’, ‘Deficiency Diseases’ and ‘Diet and the brain’ among some other very interesting chapters.

This book is extremely comprehensive (428 pages) with a huge reference list at the back and has some very interesting points of view.  As with his other books, though, it really gives you something to think about.

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Waist Disposal
Dr John Briffa

Are you carrying extra weight, especially around the midriff, that you’d like to get rid of? Can you be confused by conflicting and contradictory weight loss information, and just want something that really works? 

If you’re looking for a practical and easy-to-apply approach that provides long-lasting results, Waist Disposal is where you’ll find it. In his latest book, Dr John Briffa draws on hundreds of scientific studies to debunk popular myths about diet and exercise, and reveals the most effective way to lose fat and build an athletic physique.

Dr Briffa’s book shows which foods cause fatness and which foods don’t; why fat loss is the goal; why counting calories doesn’t work and how to get fit and toned by exercising just 12 minutes a day.

Although this book is aimed at men, the reviews on www.amazon.co.uk show that it’s helped women to lose weight too.

For more information on Dr Briffa’s book go to http://www.drbriffa.com/ where you will also find Dr Briffa’s profile, blog and you can sign up to his free
e-newsletter. Dr Briffa is a practising doctor and leading authority on health, diet and weight loss. He has been the recipient of the Health Journalist of the Year award and is a regular guest on TV and radio.

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The Edge Effect:
Achieve Total Health and Longevity with the Balanced Brain Advantage

Eric R Braverman

Review by Pat Endicott

I am not really sure now how I came across Eric Braverman’s book ‘The Edge Effect’; it could have been a recommendation on www.amazon.co.uk or a review in one of the scientific magazines.  No matter.  Within minutes of picking it up I was truly hooked! 

Braverman might be a very clever man but one of his greatest talents, in my opinion, is his ability to write about the highly complex workings of the brain in a way that I can easily understand – and make it interesting too!  My problems began at the end of 2002 when I was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism. 

As many of you will be aware, hyperthyroidism is usually treated with Carbimazole (couldn’t take it – made me very depressed and also to itch from head to toe and scratch until I bled – husband spent hours just saving me from myself!) and Propylthiouracil – better but slowed me down to the point that I had no energy and my brain dissolved into mush.  This was frustrating, frightening and devastating.  In the space of six months I went from being quite attuned mentally (having recently studied for two masters degrees simultaneously) to needing to read just about everything two or three times to absorb just the basics. My memory was poor to say the least!

Since then I had become disillusioned with the standard treatment offered by the NHS - I had the audacity to refuse Radio Active Iodine (how dare I!).  I was so very lucky to find a doctor through the Thyroid UK doctor’s list who had been able to help me regain most of my former health.  However, the mental acuity was still lacking and I often felt as if my brain had tucked itself away in a cotton wool cocoon and only agreed to play when it wanted to rather than on demand.  This, I soon discovered from Braverman, was because I had lost my ‘Edge’.  Intrigued, I read more.

Braverman starts by describing the workings of the brain - the four principle areas and the amino acids that make it function.  He then goes on to explain that there are a number of illnesses that can be grouped according to the deficiency or excess of one or more of these amino acids.  As I took the self-assessment questionnaire and read the book I came to realise that I am one of the 17% dopamine predominant members of the population who are, according to Braverman’s research, likely to have thyroid disorders among their list of complaints. 

Next shock was the chart on which he describes the different symptoms that crop up as one gradually progresses through differing layers of dopamine deficiency.  My father had Parkinson’s disease, which is known to result from dopamine deficiency.  Reading this list was like reviewing the latter years of his life – the progression of his Parkinson’s was clear, even though many of the symptoms appeared years before his diagnosis. 

Next was the horror that Braverman was clearly listing some of the problems I have been experiencing for the last six years; the loss of my working memory, the inability to make decisions, and worse still on really bad days I would do anything (yes, anything) to get out of meeting up with friends because I just could not keep up with the speed of their chatter and did not wish them to know just what a dimwit I had become.   I had also come to use caffeine and sugar (chocolate and those delightful gluten-free chocolate muffins from Tesco) as a prop or mal-adaptive coping strategy to boost what little concentration and brain power I had available to me.  Braverman also describes this craving for caffeine and sugar, as does Dr Myhill in her review of his book (http://www.drmyhill.co.uk/article.cfm?id=437).

In short, in recent years, and in order to cope, I had become a coffee- swilling, sugar-addict although in the early part of this year I had managed to go cold-turkey on diet coke (caffeine and aspartame) and for over a year have normally rationed myself to no more than two cups of coffee a day.  This, too, has helped me maintain a stable energy flow throughout the day and we can all do well without those horrible peaks and troughs!

As I read through ‘The Edge Effect’ it became apparent that I possibly have a slight acetylcholine deficiency (acetylcholine is another amino acid needed by the brain) as well but my feeling was to start with the most prominent, the dopamine deficiency and see if the book really did have ‘the answer’. 

I scoured the Internet to find a reputable pharmaceutical company from whom to purchase L-tyrosine, the source ingredient from which the body produces dopamine.

I am not really given to experimenting with my health but Braverman’s book provides clear and concise information and, as tyrosine is found in small quantities in food, I felt that I might try it for a short while and see what effect, if any, it had.  I was reassured by the fact that I had an appointment scheduled with the clever doctor who looks after me and could discuss this if needed then. 

So, when the tub of white powder arrived and I carefully measured out the recommended dose – being careful and making informed decisions is part of my nature. 

When confronted with the possibility of feeling better, I know there can be an inclination to go overboard in order to benefit as soon as possible.  However, I considered sticking to Braverman’s specified 1mg per day as important as taking the L-tyrosine.

I can’t really say that I noticed anything to start and it was probably about 3 – 4 weeks before I noticed slight differences in my performance at work – a combination of management and training and development.  I suddenly felt that I had more energy, was absorbing information more easily and was brighter in spirit.  Without consciously doing so, had adopted a habit from my pre-hyperthyroid days of reading a text book for half an hour at bedtime before tucking myself in with the thriller novel of the day. 

Within 2 months I was knocking off text books to do with my work in record time and was feeling so well.  I also managed to get through to Friday on the Times Killer Sudoku one week (each day of the week is progressively harder) which was a major triumph!  Overall I just felt as if someone had thrown a switch in my brain and it had started to work again when I needed it too. 

One thing I had not really noticed until things changed for the better was how little I had laughed in recent years or teased my husband.  I feel as if I have just woken up from dream world or perhaps have been given a new lease of life.  My anger at finding a guy trying to break into our house in August has led me to find the determination and energy to start a Neighbourhood Watch, not just for our close neighbours but for all 128 houses on the small estate on which we live, to arrange a general meeting and to badger the right people into helping on the committee.  I am a ‘doer’ rather than a spectator once more – and long may this continue!

I would never recommend to anyone that they make changes to their medication or nutritional regime without discussing this with their doctor.  Thankfully, I have a very good relationship with mine and when I explained what I had done and why received full support for my actions.  We all desire good health and many of us have to forego some of our desires due to the restrictions of our illness but if knowledge is out there and we can work in partnership with our GPs are then excellent progress can be made. We may never again feel as we once did but we can do our best to remain positive (I know this can be hard to do at times) and to keep chipping away at the problems.

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Unless otherwise stated, Thyroid UK is in no way affiliated with the authors of the books reviewed on this webpage. Thyroid UK cannot accept any responsibility for any damage or harm caused by any treatment advice or information contained in these books. You should consult a qualified practitioner before undertaking treatment. The placing of any book review on our website should not be taken as an endorsement by Thyroid UK.