Book Review: Trick or Treatment

Trick or Treatment, The Undeniable Facts About Alternative Medicine by Simon Singh & Edzard Ernst, MD

I got to this book when someone in my family introduced us to this alternative treatment called the Atlas Profilax method. They attested to its effectiveness and went as far as making arrangements for us to go visit the doctor.

I am not a proponent of alternative medicine although not totally against it. For me, if it makes sense in my limited knowledge and if it does not cost too much, I don't mind giving it a try. But I must know what is involved. So I checked this Atlas Profilax thing out. It is a maneuver to reposition the first vertebra cervical bone call the atlas. I thought that to be a very risky thing to do and decided to say no to my relatives. We will not take the risk and will suffer our current condition, rather than risking paralysis or death.

My husband then told me about this book written by Simon Singh. I have read his book on the Fermat Theorem before, and was much entertained by his writing of a technical subject for lay people. I did some research and found that he has written an article in The Guardian entitled The Spinal Trap. The doctors took him to court. He won.

I was intrigued. So I got hold of the book and started reading. (I am an ebook fan. Getting the book was as easy as search and Click to Purchase, all done In a couple of minutes snuggled in my couch.)

It is a good book. My only complain is that it is a tad too repetitive between the chapters. Maybe it is written like a reference book where if you were to just read the section on one alternative treatment, it would make sense.

Being a historical buff, albeit a newbie at it, I enjoyed the section on the history of medicine, on how it got to where it is today, where medicine and treatments are empirically tested to be reliable. The alternative treatments handled by this book involves chiropractic therapy, acupuncture, homeopathy and herbal medicine. The final section of the book gives short reviews of the other alternative treatments from the Alexander Technique to Traditional Chinese Medicine, the latter being very interesting to me since I almost grew up on it.

The conclusion of the book is this: there is very little empirical evidence to substantiate the effectiveness of those treatments except for several possible benefits.

All in all, it is a must-read especially if you take or consider these treatments. You should know the risks, as you should any conventional medicine.



  1. Hi Pearlie!!! Great to hear from you!!! Edward graduates from Calvin tomorrow, so I am very busy, but here is a short clip from the middle of the play (John could hardly bare to watch it and did not want to see my photos):

  2. Here's Edward's senior design project presentation (taken also with John's iphone from far back, but you may get the idea!):

  3. Hey, BTW, this book looks interesting. I read Fermat's Theorem too.

  4. Congratulations on Edward's graduation - you must be so proud of him :)

    I just watched the videos (hence the late response :) Bridget is good. Well, I can't understand most of what Edward said in his presentation, but I am sure it was good as well!


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