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MotherTalk Blog Tour: The 24 hour Pharmacist

This review is part of a MotherTalk blog tour, and I received the book from the publisher to review.

I signed up to read The 24-Hour Pharmacist: Advice, Options, and Amazing Cures from America’s Most Trusted Pharmacist, by Suzy Cohen, R.Ph. because of my status as a person with multiple chronic ailments, multiple medications, and multiple supplements used by me and the rest of the household.

This book is written by the author of the nationally syndicated column “Dear Pharmacist”. Sine the book is written by a pharmacist, rather than a doctor, there is a unique perspective on medications (both over the counter and prescription) as well as supplements. Many doctors dismiss supplements as having no effect, but Ms. Cohen discusses the pros and cons of supplements with as much respect as she does medications.

I like the writing style – it feels like you are sitting down and having a discussion with a friendly pharmacist rather than feeling like a lecture from a medical professional. While there are a few cases where Ms. Cohen shows a bias against certain medications, in general it is a well-balanced book with an honest feel to it.

I looked up a few of my health problems, to see what Ms. Cohen has written about them. For osteoarthritis, she has discussed several medications, and has also discussed Glucosamine and its effects on osteoarthritis. For me, glucosamine has reduced my use of anti-inflammatories, and I am a strong proponent. She mentions the benefits, but says that for people with rheumatoid arthritis, it is not a desired supplement, as it will increase the problems in the joints. In all of my own arthritis glucosamine research, I had not seen that, and it is an important differentiation.

I also looked up her information on digestive issues, and was excited to see that my favorite “alternative” lab (http://www.enterolab.com”>Enterolab, was discussed as a true alternative to the celiac tests that frequently give false negatives (the disease affects 1:100, and 97% are undiagnosed/mis-diagnosed). I was even more impressed to see that she lists disorders that are frequently linked to Celiac Disease and/or gluten sensitivity. She goes beyond the classic Diabetes and Downs Syndrome, and into the world of MS, Autistic Spectrum, general GI distress, Lupus, auto-immune and psychiatric disorders (to name a few).

The rest of the book appears to be similarly balanced (I don’t have first-hand knowledge of all of her topics) – discussing possible links to under-diagnosed issues (ie: asthma and eczema could be a sign of food sensitivities), as well as discussing different treatments – from surgery to medication to supplements (ie: Lysine for canker & cold sores). She and I agree on several of the must-have vitamins/minerals as well as herbal remedies. Ms. Cohen also discusses the use of different health care providers – from naturopaths through medical specialists, and gives each of them equal weight.

Finally – my favorite part of every non-fiction book – the index! This book has a fabulous index – not only are items listed there by condition, but they are also listed by supplement, with different pages listed as links to different conditions (so you don’t have to look up all 7 page numbers listed for Folic Acid, each one has a few words that identify what condition is discussed on each page).

Few books are perfect. I do have a complaints about The 24-Hour Pharmacist:

  • Lyme Disease is not mentioned at all. It does deserve at least a few words, especially since certain supplements (B vitamins and C) feed the bacteria.

  • The book doesn’t always discuss cross-reactions between drugs and supplements/herbs. This can be a big problem if folks are on several medications in addition to several supplements.
  • Several options are given for conditions (such as wrinkles), and surgery (face lift, Botox) is shown as an equivalent option to less invasive (and less expensive!) options such as Vitamin E, etc. While I applaud listing the prices for the more invasive options, I wonder if a book that is designed to discuss medications and supplements should be giving surgical options for non-life-threatening issues.

In summary, I think The 24-Hour Pharmacist is a great resource. I think it should be up on the medical shelf in your library along with a select few. It is a great book to read before going to the doctor so you will have good questions and points for discussion. It is easy to read with its conversational tone, and it is easy to locate an ailment through the table of contents and/or the index. The 24-Hour Pharmacist is a reasonably complete book, and gives multiple options for each complaint, recognizing that no one solution will treat everyone. This is a great book for folks with either minor health problems, or only a couple problems – it is NOT a perfect reference for anyone with complicated chronic illnesses, but then it is not designed for that market.

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