Between Fibroids and Flatulence: Further Thoughts on Dr. Weil

I mentioned yesterday that I was an adherent of Dr. Andrew Weil’s back in my twenties – and to some degree I hung on to the habits I developed in those years until recently. But after I finished yesterday’s post it occurred to me that I have never actually looked up what Dr. Weil says about fibromyalgia. So I pulled some of his books off the shelf and took a look.

In the index of the 1998 edition of Weil’s Natural Health, Natural Medicine, fibromyalgia is listed on only two pages. Both references led me to a chapter called “Home Remedies” in which a variety of ailments listed in alphabetical order are discussed in terms of the herbal and other natural remedies that Weil believes will help to treat them.

This is what Weil has to say about fibromyalgia:

“Fibromyalgia is a fashionable disease not well understood by conventional medicine. The name is a fancy way of saying “it hurts all over,” and generalized pain is a common symptom, along with fatigue and disturbances of sleep and mood. The condition grades into chronic fatigue syndrome and may be associated with depression. Far more women are affected than men, as are people with significant histories of injury, especially to the neck.”

Fashionable? Moi? Does this mean that I can finally eat lunch with the popular kids? Wait – let me go fix my hair.

There is another brief paragraph, but these few sentences comprise the bulk of Weil’s treatment of the syndrome. On the other hand, flatulence (the next item in the alphabetical list of conditions), is listed in the index on pages 35-6, 43, 186, 217, 241, 287, 292-3, and 311. My first response was to feel insulted by the brief treatment of such a complex disorder as well as by the condescension in Weil’s tone. Looking over the four sentences above, though, I have to admit that he manages to summarize the last four years of my life in strikingly accurate terms – he even catches on to the idea that neck injuries can cause fibromyalgia, a fact that my real-life doctors mostly pooh-pooh. And while his tone is a little condescending, it is no worse than that of most of my own doctors. At least he doesn’t suggest that I sleep on a dog bed.

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