Perhaps it is because I was sick so much as a child, or maybe it was that chronic stuffed nose that I suffered with for years until I learned I was allergic to dust mites, and took action that revolutionized my life. It could have been the other health problems I’ve faced, or maybe I might have had a natural interest in the topic anyway. Whatever it was, I am very interested in natural health because of its basis in the belief that the body has an inherent ability to heal itself when it is treated as a whole. The discipline also requires a strong sense of personal responsibility for one’s health, in contrast to conventional medicine’s focus on only treating illness. In my journey to wellness, I have found a number of indispensible books. These include:
Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine by Michael Murray, N.D. and Joseph Pizzorno, N.D. This is the finest single reference for naturopathic medicine. The information is organized alphabetically by health issue. The book also includes a section on what Murray and Pizzorno call “the four cornerstones of good health” and a second section on “enhancing key body systems”. I enthusiastically recommend this leading naturopathic encyclopedia that I first discovered at a workshop offered by the UConn Health Center’s medical library.
Women’s Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine by Tori Hudson, N.D. This outstanding resource focuses, rather obviously, on women’s health. Like Murray and Pizzorno, she presents information clearly, defines key points, and discusses alternatives in treatment and prevention. Among other topics, the reference explores eighteen common women’s health issues in detail, starting with abnormal uterine bleeding and ending with vaginitis.
Prescription for Nutritional Healing by Phyllis Balch, C.N.C. This resource provides excellent information on a whole host of health issues. It is a fine supplement because you can often find information on a health issue that is not covered in Murray and Pizzorno. This book discusses many minor health issues like canker sores, spider bites, bloodshot eyes, and varicose veins as well as covering the “heavy hitters and the in-betweens” like herpes zoster (shingles), Parkinson’s Disease, and chronic fatigue syndrome.
The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods by Michael Murray, N.D. This is an invaluable book even for someone who isn’t comfortable taking supplements or herbs. It gives a comprehensive look at whole foods, giving for each food a brief historical overview, how to buy it, how to store it, and its nutritional and medicinal properties. Randomly opening one page, I discovered one of my favorite foods – pecans. Murray notes that pecans are “an excellent source of vitamin B1 (17 percent of the recommended daily intake per ounce) and a good source of vitamin B3 (six percent of the recommended daily intake), vitamin B6 (five percent of the recommended daily intake) and vitamin E (eight percent of the recommended daily intake)” (pp. 442-443). Yum! Pass me another pecan!
Healing with Whole Foods: Asian Traditions and Modern Nutrition by Paul Pitchford. For whatever reason, I’ve never connected with Chinese Medicine but I am told by friends who do that this is one of the best books available on the topic.
Eat, Taste, Heal: An Ayurvedic Cookbook for Modern Living by Thomas Yarema, M.D., Daniel Rhoda, and Johnny Brannigan. Recently I have become quite fascinated by ayurvedic medicine. “The term Ayurvedic derives from the Sanskrit words ‘ayus’ and ‘veda’. Ayus translates as ‘life’ and veda as ‘knowledge’ or ‘science’… Ayus extends beyond mere chronological age or physical health. According to Ayurveda: ‘Ayus is union of the mind, body, senses and soul. It is energy and vitality and is eternal.” In addition to being a tasty cookbook, Eat, Taste, Heal gives a superb overview of Ayurvedic medicine, and provides an excellent test to determine your dosha type. Check out the book to see what that means!
Eat Right For Your Type by Peter D’Adamo, N.D. This book brings forth the idea that your blood type determines what foods are either healing, neutral or harmful to you. The idea that blood types evolved over time and at specific points in human history forms the foundation for the author’s approach. This is why, D’Adamo claims, that two people living in the same house, eating the same food, and eating the same amount of food can produce one healthy, lean person and one over-weight, unhealthy person. This book is absolutely fascinating to me! It was very popular a few years back and may have faded from some people’s memories but not mine! I still find myself asking people, “What is your blood type?” Most often people don’t know, which is unfortunate to my curious mind.
Taking Charge of your Fertility by Toni Weschler. It’s sad and shocking how many adult women don’t fully understand their fertility and how many of us continue to believe the misinformation that was told us, often I regret to say, in school. So forget that stupid film they showed you in fifth grade and check out this book! You will finally learn how it works and, guess what, it isn’t the 14th day.
Andrew Weil is probably the most famous natural health guru. I recommend any of his books: Healthy Aging, the Healthy Kitchen, Eating Well for Optimum Health, Eight Weeks to Optimum Health, Spontaneous Healing, Natural Health/Natural Medicine, and Health and Healing. Doesn’t that beautiful white beard say it all? Weil is a great introduction to the idea of mind-body connections and healthy natural living.
I wish you health!
Ann Marie is the Library Director of OWL with Blood Type O with a Vata dosha who rarely eats sugar but does eat a sweet potato every day.