The Magic Feather Effect: The Science of Alternative Medicine and the Surprising Power of Belief

The Magic Feather Effect: The Science of Alternative Medicine and the Surprising Power of Belief

The acclaimed author of Pandora’s Lunchbox and former New York Times reporter takes an enlightening, engaging deep dive into the world of alternative medicine and the surprising science that explains why it may work.

We all know someone who has had a seemingly miraculous cure from an alternative form of medicine: a friend whose chronic back pain vanished after sessions with an acupuncturist or chiropractor; a relative with digestive issues who recovered with herbal remedies; a colleague whose autoimmune disorder went into sudden inexplicable remission thanks to an energy healer or healing retreat.

The tales are far too common to be complete fabrications, yet too anecdotal and outside the medical mainstream to be taken seriously scientifically. How do we explain them and the growing popularity of alternative medicine more generally? Is there a biological basis for practices like acupuncture, tai chi, chiropractic, and energy healing? Who are the faithful patients and practitioners who tell these stories and speak of such mystical-seeming concepts as qi, chakras, and meridians in the first place?

In The Magic Feather Effect, author and journalist Melanie Warner attempts to answer these questions, taking us on a vivid, fascinating journey through the world of alternative medicine. Crossing continents and sides of the debate, visiting prestigious research clinics and ordinary people’s homes, she investigates the scientific underpinning for the purportedly magical results of these practices and reveals not only the medical power of beliefs and placebo effects, but also the range, limits, and uses of the surprising system of self-healing that resides inside us.

Equal parts helpful, illuminating, and compelling, The Magic Feather Effect is a brilliant exploration of some of the world’s most popular health treatments, the people who seek them, the scientists who study them, and the reasons they may work.

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    The Magic Feather Effect: The Science of Alternative Medicine and the Surprising Power of Belief Reviews

  • Elaine

    Thanks to NetGalley for a Kindle ARC of The Magic Feather Effect: The Science of Alternative Medicine and the Surprising Power of Belief. This was a fascinating and informative look at alternative th...

  • Anne Acorn

    I feel really conflicted about this book. In my mind it was equal part exploration and equal part memoir- not in the sense that it was about the author’s story, but in the sense that throughout the ...

  • Andria

    It always feels too good to be true when a book crosses your radar that just happens to be about a subject you're currently interested in. I went into this book with no expectations and was pleasantly...

  • Karen

    Alternative medicine has always interested me. I believe doctors are too quick to prescribe drugs (and then more drugs to counteract the side effects of those drugs) rather than suggesting lifestyle c...

  • Max Ellithorpe

    I received an ARC of this book courtesy of the publisher. As someone interested in pursuing a career in medicine (and mental health in particular), I found this book quite compelling. I tend to avoid ...

  • Lorena

    This book provides a fascinating, clearly written discussion of a journalist’s exploration of alternative medicine. The author provides a very balanced view of what works based on a combination of i...

  • Alysha Mac

    More people need to read this book! From the title, I was afraid it'd be a pseudo-scientific rant telling me to go get Reiki to cure cancer. Quite the opposite! It's an investigative journalism piece ...

  • Lael Braday

    Acupuncture, chiropractic, tai chi, qi gong, and energy healing are investigated by an author with a background in journalism to determine their medical efficacy, contrasting and comparing to accepted...

  • Marya

    I love reading about the placebo effect, so this book was a real treat. While Warner is solidly in the science camp, that doesn't mean she dismisses the claims of alternate healers. Instead, Warner tr...

  • Jess Macallan

    3.5 starsThis book offers an interesting look at a few types of alternative medicine from both patient and practitioner perspectives. I appreciated how the author presented interviews and information ...