Post Peak Medicine book is completed

Opium poppies Douglas Promenade Isle of Man

A sign of things to come? – opium poppies on Douglas Promenade, Isle of Man, planted by the Department of Infrastructure.  They are legal to grow here, but don’t try this at home.

The book “Post Peak Medicine” which I started in May 2010, is now completed.  At least, it’s as completed as it ever will be; I will keep tinkering with it around the edges and trying to improve it, but it’s now substantially in its final form.  You can download it here.  Here are some of the things which have changed, or haven’t changed, in the latest edition.

My original intention was that the book would be a collaborative effort, that physicians and nurses would write sections on their areas of interest and that I would merely compile and edit it.  With the exception of the section on nursing, that hasn’t happened and I have ended up writing most of the book myself.  That is largely because in the last few years, the concept of peak oil has fallen off the public radar compared to its high point around 2008, with many people believing that it has gone away, or it was a mistake to begin with, or it has been solved by fracking, renewable energy, Elon Musk’s hyperloop pods or some such nonsense.  I believe that is not the case, peak oil is very much here and it will start to bite increasingly severely in the next few years, but I don’t think we can afford to wait until people wake up to finish the book.

One thing which hasn’t changed is that it’s still free to download.  However, there is now a Paypal “donate” button on the download page.  I am not trying to make a profit out of this, merely to cover the annual website hosting fee which I have paid myself for the last seven years.  A suggested donation is three US or Canadian dollars or two British pounds, but nobody is checking whether you donate or not.

People sometimes set up a Facebook page for this kind of thing, in the belief that Facebook is free.  It isn’t: the product which is being sold on Facebook, dear reader, is you.  Post Peak Medicine carries no advertising, and nobody is going to harvest your details with the idea of trying to sell you something.

There are a couple of new sections in the book since the last edition: a quite lengthy Author’s Preface explaining why the book was written, and a section on Surviving the Dark Age – A User’s Guide (OK, a bit tongue in cheek, but if there’s a Dark Age coming you might as well at least try to enjoy it).

I have written, re-written and re-re-written the chapter on Herbal Medicine which was by far the most difficult chapter in the book.  Most herbal medicine books place too much emphasis on “traditional knowledge” and too little emphasis on whether the remedies actually work, and most herbal remedies have had little or no formal testing.  I have used a few general principles in deciding whether to include a herbal remedy or not:

If a medicine has been widely used for thousands of years, I have given it the benefit of the doubt and included it without looking too hard for scientific evidence.  Examples include alcohol, opium and cannabis.

If there has been a scientific study which has validated a medicine, I have tended to include it, even if the evidence is weak; however, I have excluded medicines where multiple studies have shown no effect.  An example of the latter is colloidal silver, beloved of survivalists.  Don’t waste your silver trying to dissolve it in water: buy some proper medicine with it instead.

If a medicine is thought to have some toxic effects on some people, I have tended to include it on the basis that it probably has some biological effect as opposed to being just a placebo.  Example: Kava has been implicated in liver damage including some deaths, and is banned in Europe and Canada for this reason, but still used in the USA.

Finally, I am dividing herbal medicines into a “must have” core list and a “nice to have” list of plants which grow locally.  The latter is obviously going to vary according to your own local area so you are going to have to compile your own local lists.  I am starting work on a slim companion book “Medicinal Plants of the Isle of Man” for readers who live on the Isle of Man.

I have tried to liven the book up a bit by adding more hyperlinks, particularly to short YouTube videos.  This may seem a bit odd for a book which is supposed to outlive the Internet, but as time goes by, the videos can be embedded in the book, or the book can be printed on paper without any significant loss of meaning.

Any comments and suggestions are welcome.  Good luck.

Slaynt vie, bea veayn, beeal fliugh as baase ayns Mannin


4 thoughts on “Post Peak Medicine book is completed

  1. Thanks, Peter! A lot of reading that I’m looking forward to (in a macabre way?). Might write again after this five-minute perusal. I do notice that your list of favorite “post-peak” books (I mean, other than medicinal) somewhat varies from mine. In particular, you like Diamond’s Collapse whereas I find Catton’s Overshoot similar but far superior. Diamond is always an attention-grabber, filling the bookstore shelves, while Catton is not. Diamond is a plagiarizer. Diamond plays odd political games, omitting petroleum (!) and downplaying the catastrophic results of “passing the peak.” Diamond knows who not to offend. For Catton, on the other hand, collapse is catastrophic. Looked at realistically, though, the word “collapse” is like the word “Muslim” — an excellent way to bring silence to a crowded room.

  2. I’ve tried several times, without success, to get your “Further reading” button to work — and now I can’t find it. Anyway, in terms of such a list, I think I was going on titles you’ve mentioned in the past. Tainter also gets bad marks from me. Is he implying (in a fuzzy manner) that there is a causal relationship between complexity and collapse? But Egypt had a complex and highly successful society for three thousand years. In fact one could say that it is the more-complex societies that prevail in any century. At most, Tainter is stating a tautology. One rule of thumb that I rely on (and forbid anyone else to use) is to go to Amazon’s book reviews — lots of good info pops up there. And now this keyboard is undergoing drag (slowdown). I’d advise writing this book on a much less sophisticated technical level — I mean the book as such, not the subject matter. (“High tech means high fail rate” — The Teachings of Peter Goodchild.)

    • If it’s the “links” button, I’ve tried it and it’s working OK for me, but if anyone else is having problems please let me know – Peter

  3. I’m using “high tech” in my last sentence, in a sarcastic manner — e.g., all the razzle-dazzle of computers, where the rapid and pointless quest for innovation is lucrative but not beneficial to society as a whole. Ancient Egyptian, Greek, and Roman technology and science were not razzle-dazzle.

    Must go.

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