Sarah Myhill is not everyone’s idea of an average GP. Indeed so far was she from the GMC (General Medical Council)’s idea of an average GP that they tried to ‘de-frock’ her no less than 12 times. Only to have their attempts foiled by their own lawyers who pointed out that ‘all Myhill’s patients are improved and refuse to give witness statements’.
Yes, I too thought that having your patients improve would actually be the proof that you were not just an average, but a rather good GP, but apparently not…..
Anyhow, as a result, Dr Myhill (now re-instated once more as a ‘doctor’) has chosen to forge her own path. So while her books are heavily referenced and her conclusions and treatment based on conventional medical science and research, her approach is ‘ecological’.
(To quote the British Society for Ecological Medicine: ‘Ecological Medicine is firmly rooted in the science of conventional medicine and additionally recognises the key importance of external influences (such as nutrition, environment, e.g. exposure to toxins and lifestyle) and internal influences (such as gut bacteria, genetic disposition, allergy, nutritional deficiencies, biochemical disturbances) in causing disease. Ecological Medicine aims to maintain or restore health by making use of those same influences in a therapeutic way.’)
Her area of particular specialism is ME and Chronic Fatigue but the protocols she has developed to deal with these extreme instances of physical exhaustion are equally valid in less extreme case – or even if you wish to avoid ever getting ill in the first place.
Much of her wisdom is to be found on her website but she has also written a number of books on her specific areas of interest: on the paleo-ketogenic diet which she now recommends for most of us but especially for diabetics; on controlling infection and on treating ME and CFS, which I reviewed here when it first came out. Her latest book, Ecological Medicine, pulls this all together into one relatively substantial but actually very readable tome.
As she says in an early chapter, the idea of the book is to ’empower people to heal themselves through addressing the root causes of their diseases’. Then she uses her favourite analogy of a car. A garage mechanic would first ask the driver what was wrong (symptoms), then look at the car to see what was could be causing the problems (the diagnosis). Once the mechanic has discovered what was causing the problem he can put it right. And so with us. Symptoms should be used as a guide or an early warning system to discover what is malfunctioning – they should not, as they so often are in conventional medical practice, just be controlled by powerful drugs with no further investigation into what has caused them.
The book follows this plan.
- Chapters 4 to 9 look at clinical histories, the different symptoms they reveal and what they might suggest in terms of cause.
- Chapters 10 to 19 investigates what might have gone wrong– the mechanisms – poor energy production, poisonings, mechanical damage, inflammation, genetics.
- Chapters 20 to 28 examine what Dr Myhill regards as her basic protocol for health – the right diet, sleep, exercise, sunshine, reducing the toxic burden, spiritual and emotional well being.
- Chapters 29 to 37 look at what else you can do – much of it through appropriate nutritional supplementation – to address specific issues and underpin your return to health.
- Chapters 38 to 58 look as specific conditions and branches of medicine to see where and how an ecological approach might help.
- Chapters 59 – 79 take this further by looking at specific case histories and how they responded to an ecological approach.
- Three appendices then give you a roadmap for what Dr Myhill calls Groundhog basic, Groundhog Acute and Groundhog Chronic – the diet, lifestyle and supplementation changes that you need to make to establish a basic level of health, to deal with any infections and to remain healthy as you age.
None of her recommendations are complicated or indeed hard to follow – but they may require some fairly fundamental lifestyle and especially dietary changes. But she is tolerant and she know we are human. So while following her protocols closely is obviously the idea, she knows that we will fall off the wagon now and then. Just as long as we climb back on!
Although underpinned with medical research (references given) this is primarily a book for those with little or no medical knowledge. The text is in lay-speak and her protocols are easy to understand and to follow. It is also peppered with quotations from everyone from Hippocrates to Spike Milligan, and historical footnotes and personal anecdotes from both Dr Myhill and her co-author Craig Robinson. You will find these either charming and informative or rather irritating, depending on where your taste in medical books lies. I must admit that on the whole I found them fascinating.
Ecological Medicine – the antidote to big pharma and fast foods by Dr Sarah Myhill and Craig Robinson (496 pages) is published by Hammersmith Books at the RRP of £35.00 and is available from the publishers’ site (where you can get the print book with the ebook added for free), from good bookshops or from Amazon, Book Depository (especially if you’re outside the UK) or Books Etc, at a variety of special-offer prices.
Whatever you pay – it is a fascinating read and a possible blueprint for those who want to take the management of their health into their own hands, whether because they are sick and want to get better – or because they are well and want to stay that way!