The Fibromyalgia Handbook Review: How to Halt & Even Reverse Fibromyalgia

In Reviews by Alyssa Reid1 Comment

The Fibromyalgia Handbook

Today I thought that I would do a review of The Fibromyalgia Handbook, written by Dr. Harris McIlwain, a rheumatologist.  The book is a 7 step program that is helping people to halt – and even reverse fibromyalgia.

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: St Martin’s Press; New edition edition (30 May 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805072411
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805072419
  • Average Customer Review (Amazon):**** (actually 4.5* but I don’t know how to add a 1/2 a star!)
  • Cheapest Price: £12.99 Amazon UK and $17.39 Amazon USA

So You’ve Been Diagnosed – Or Suspect You have Fibromyalgia…

When you have fibromyalgia, particularly when you are first diagnosed, or you suspect that fibro is the culprit,  you start searching for answers.  And relief.  Well, at least I sure did (and still do!).

Educating ourselves through research (which is at the tip of our fingers!  Yay!  No need to go to the library!) about our condition(s), I believe is imperative if we want to try to feel better.

The Two Camps

In fact, I will go out on a limb and say (after dealing with many people through different support groups, such as the Facebook Fibromyalgia CFS/ME group I volunteer for over the years, that there seem to be two different kinds of people…the first type are willing to investigate, educate themselves, try different products (that have been well researched), implement diet, exercise and lifestyle change and more.

The second group seem to sadly wallow in a pit of despair…so many times have I heard, ‘My life is over’…yet these people are unwilling to make the effort to do anything to try and feel better!  (I hate to say it, but my experience is that these people actually ‘like’ to be ill. Sad, but true.).

It’s one thing to struggle with your illness – but keep trying different things in attempts to help yourself.  It’s another to just complain – and take zero action.

Taking Charge of Your Life

My experience of having fibromyalgia in the UK is that of the NHS (National Health Service – which is public, ‘free’ and, well, almost bankrupt).  What I learned very swiftly is that by taking the time and energy to educate myself about my illness, that I wound up knowing more about fibromyalgia than not only my GP – but the rheumatologist, physiotherapist and and and…

From this, I realised that the only way to try and get out of the hole that fibro has dropped me into was to take charge of my life. The bottom line was I certainly was very limited in the help, pain relief and more, from my doctor. Yes, I still have a few prescriptions.  But I have also dumped many after figuring out that they were actually creating MORE symptoms and issues!

By understanding everything from what causes flare-ups, triggers, my medications (a whole other story), lifestyle changes that I have implemented and more, is critical.

If we don’t understand our bodies, our patterns, what is working – and what isn’t, then how are we ever going to start getting better?

How I Started Gaining More Control

By educating myself.  I have read a lot of books, watched videos from the Mayo Clinic to YouTube stuff and started to make changes and adaptations to my life.

The Fibromyalgia Handbook really was an eye opener.  It is extremely comprehensive and looks at everything from western medicine to holistic and alternative approaches, diet, stretching and exercises.

This book has been around for many years and provides a 7 step program to start regaining our health. I found that it was an excellent guide, written by a doctor who has immersed himself in treating fibromyalgia patients for years. I think of it as my ‘fibromyalgia bible’.

The other thing I did (and still do), which I think is equally important, is to start tracking my pain, mood, fatigue, sleep, medications, other symptoms, mobility aids needed and journal every day.  This might sound like a lot of work!  But this is exactly where the FibroMapp App comes in.

FibroMapp App was designed and thoroughly tested by people with fibromyalgia – for people with fibromyalgia.

Personalising the app to fit my requirements, tracking flare-ups – and being able to figure out easily what the cause is, has helped me hugely, as the app creates PDF reports to download that are extremely easy to read and make sense of.  My doctor loves the reports, too! Plus, I have finally been able to weed out the meds that weren’t working and track results of supplements, plus much more.

If you want to start feeling better – then it is important to have the right tools, right?

One of the Best Tips in the Book?

The one thing Dr. McIlwain emphasizes, out of anything in the whole book to do…is to have moist heat (bath, shower, hot tub, steam room) at least twice a day, for 15-20 minutes each time.

And afterwards to streeeeeetch as the muscles are much looser at this time.


Making the decision to take charge and do what is necessary to get your health back on track is going in the right direction.  However.  It is a quagmire and myriad of information, research, books…you name it.  And in some cases, the information contradicts and conflicts with each other, making it more confusing.

There’s a ton of stuff out there!  From ‘cure all’ products to different approaches, such as the Guaifanesin Protocol, which uses guaifanesin (a common product in cough medications), that is believed to break down potassium deposits (nodules – where the pain areas are), as well as kick out salicylates, certain foods, aloe vera and more.

So, where to start?

And my answer is…with The Fibromyalgia Handbook. Getting to grips with the basics, following a program that also includes diet, exercise and lifestyle changes as well as exploring the different supplements (and any research evidence for each) I believe is certainly a start to reverse – and hopefully even halt fibromyalgia.


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