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Book Reviews

Creating Health

by Deepak Chopra, M.D.

The New Natural Family Doctor

by Dr. Andrew Stanway, ed.

The Family Guide to Alternative Health Care

by Patrick Pietroni

Alternative Healing

by Arnold Fox,M.D., and Barry Fox, Ph.D.

Hoffer’s Law of Natural Nutrition

by Abram Hoffer, M.D.

Digestive Wellness

by Elizabeth Lipski

The Whole Way to Natural Detoxification

by Jacqueline Krohn, M.D.

Bloomsbury Encyclopedia of Aromatherapy

by Chrissie Wildwood

The Illustrated Encylcopedia of Essential Oils

by Julia Lawless

Aromatherapy for Mind & Body

by David Schiller and Carol Schiller

Herbal Remedies in Pots

by Effie Romain and Sue Hawkey

Sexual Healing

by Carlo de Paoli

Over the past few decades, an increasing public awareness and interest in alternative therapies has surfaced, partly due to a growing dissatisfaction with mainstream medicine, as well as a general desire to take personal responsibility in health care. The self-help movement has people asking questions rather than accepting the cultural norm, and it is gradually changing our approach to medicine.

In response, books on the numerous alternative therapies available have surfaced. Ranging from the general to the specific, these books are meant as guides for the uninitiated.

The New Natural Family Doctor, edited by Dr. Andrew Stanway, and The Family Guide to Alternative Health Care, by Patrick Pietroni, are general overviews of health that blend the basic principles of Eastern philosophy with the Western lifestyle. Each book describes the workings of a healthy body and mind, the mechanisms for protection and healing, and how to promote health from childhood to old age. Emphasis is placed on lifestyle changes and the use of natural medicines for common illnesses. Both are excellent resource books.

Alternative Healing, by the popular father-and-son team of Arnold and Barry Fox, responsible for such bestsellers as The Beverly Hills Medical Diet, looks at specific illness, discusses standard medical treatments, and suggests alternative options. While providing a cursory look at various alternative therapies available – from acupuncture, to psychoneuroimmunology –the book is chiefly concerned with how alternative therapies can be used in dealing with individual ailments.

The deleterious effects of our fast-paced life is a common thread throughout all self-help guides. So who has time to read about them? Deepak Chopra’s audio book Creating Health – an abridgment of the original 1987 publication – is the perfect medium for introducing stress-reducing therapies to people who refuse to do one thing at a time. Using the basic principles of Ayurveda, the 6,000-year-old Indian health-care tradition, Chopra offers listeners a combined system of health promotion, disease prevention, and treatment by providing them with an outline of the mind-body connection, and mortally compelling reasons for slowing down.

Our fast-forward lifestyle often leads to poor food choices in the name of convenience, resulting in a diet (the word is derived from the Greek, meaning “a manner of living” or “way of life”) lacking in nutrients and other health-promoting properties. Hoffer’s Laws of Natural Nutrition, by Dr. Abram Hoffer, a founding father of the alternative health movement, outlines a holistic and natural approach to diet that emphasizes good nutrition and vitamin and mineral supplements. Hoffer’s approach is a strident one: he suggests placing advertising for junk foods in the same category as those for tobacco, alcohol, and addictive drugs, and advocates health warnings for dairy products similar to those used for cigarettes. However he backs up his radical beliefs with sound evidence, and provides simple advice for a healthy diet, and an extensive list of the nutrients contained in common foods.

Next to the common cold, digestive complaints are the most common reason people seek medical advice; it is the third largest category of illness in the United States. Digestive Wellness helps address America’s “epidemic of digestive illness” through a biological approach, involving cleansing, diet, and nurturing. Where the standard medical approach would be to diagnose and provide treatment – often drugs or surgery – author Elizabeth Lipski focuses on prevention.

Lipski believes nourishment is central to good health, and that there is a connection between chronic digestive complaints and rising infertility rates, obesity, and violence in society. She outlines what causes digestive problems, and takes her readers on a detailed guided tour of the digestive system, outlining detoxification methods, simple home tests, and questionnaires to help identify specific complaints.

In The Whole Way to Natural Detoxification, Dr. Jacqueline Krohn contends that health is affected adversely by incalculable levels of exposure to harmful substances. Since our bodies have no previous experience with these chemicals, they do not have efficient mechanisms to metabolize or eliminate them.

However, despite both external and internal overexposure to toxins, it is possible to obtain and maintain good health through lifestyle management, cleansing techniques, balancing methods, and preventative measures. Krohn provides a brief history and overview of cleansing techniques, a sobering list of the many toxins that permeate our lives, and various methods – some of which are quite extreme – to rid the body and surrounding environment of them.

Creating and establishing a healthy diet and lifestyle requires determination and, in many cases, hard work. Thankfully, there are alternative therapies that help reduce stress by using relaxation techniques. A gentle healing art, aromatherapy is a hands-on therapy that combines the physical and emotional effects of gentle massage with the medicinal and psychotherapeutic properties of plant essences, but without the potentially harmful effects of drugs. The Bloomsbury Encyclopedia of Aromatherapy is Chrissie Wildwood’s practical guide to the many uses of plant essences. While focusing on massage, Wildwood, one of Britain’s leading writers on the subject of aromatherapy, also includes some intriguing diversions, such as an introduction to the art of natural perfumery, sensual aromatherapy, and aromatherapeutics for garden and pets. Replete with useful illustrations, Wildwood’s approach is user-friendly for the neophyte and an indispensable resource book for students of aromatherapy.

Other valuable books on aromatherapy include Julia Lawless’s The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils, subtitled The Complete Guide to the Use of Oils in Aromatherapy and Herbalism, and Aromatherapy for Body & Mind by David and Carol Schiller. Lawless’s in-depth approach seems slightly more academic than Wildwood’s, while the Schillers offer a concise outline of the art and provide worksheets to be used in conjunction with various aromatherapeutic formulas.

For those who prefer using herbal tinctures and teas to help calm their bodies and souls, Effie Romain and Sue Hawkey offer Herbal Remedies in Pots – 34 suggestions for creating pots of herbs that treat common ailments. This succinct, effectively illustrated book comes with planting and growing instructions, information on the therapeutic use of each herb, and a selection of recipes for each ailment.

To help make the health program complete, Carlo De Paoli’s Sexual Healing provides sensual and sexual techniques with spiritual overtones that are intended to pave the way to erotic pleasures. Based on Eastern erotic and spiritual principles, Paoli provides visualizations, exercises, and illustrations to help couples incorporate these practices into their lovemaking. Healing through sexual acts can not only increase your pleasure, Paoli maintains, it can also improve the general quality of life through learning to relate to your lover, and to others, from a level of offering rather than need.