Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Book Review: 8 Weeks to Optimum Health

I've long been very intrigued with integrative and/or holistic medicine. It seems like the wisest choice - to consider health and healing from the perspectives of both ancient wisdom and Western knowledge. I particularly appreciate the inclusion of the spiritual and emotional sides of health and how they affect and interact with physical health. That said, I haven't ventured far in this direction in my own healthcare. This is primarily because I am very wary of many so-called practitioners of holistic-type treatments that aren't, to my mind, truly helpful and are just quack money-making endeavors. I would love to have an MD certified in integrative medicine as a primary care provider, but no such doctor exists anywhere near me.

Dr. Andrew Weil is a pioneer in this field and I've been aware of his work for some time and just finally found the time to read his book, 8 Weeks to Optimum Health. Overall I found it a very interesting read. I was pleased to find that many of his suggestions are already a part of my mindset and behaviors. I also found several new tips to add to my life. Certainly, parts of the book I will likely not engage with, but ultimately I think this is a fantastic plan for improving your health in a natural way.

For each of the eight weeks in this plan,  Dr. Weil provides directions in areas of diet, exercise, mental/spiritual health, supplements, and other areas like news fasts, avoiding chemical and energetic toxins, and appreciating art and natural beauty. Among his suggestions I already actively engage in are eating lots of garlic and ginger (currently OBSESSED with ginger tea, especially Twinings Lemon and Chinese Ginger Revive Herbal Tea and Yogi Ginger Herbal Tea Supplement - SOOOOO GOOD!!) and regular use of breathing exercises. New things I will take away include tons of great-sounding recipes, further encouragement to try adding fish to my diet, further encouragement to be more rigorous with my vitamin/supplement routine, being more considerate of energetic toxins, and perhaps trying a few herbal treatments. This final item is one reason I really wish I had in integrative medicine doc to call my own, since I am hesitant to bring up non-traditional things like herbs or any type of CAM treatment to my doctors. I also hate the nuisance that it is to talk to my doc before trying something like this.

The book included several little vignettes of healing, wherein people who have integrated the suggestions in this book into their lives share how they have become healthier in various ways. Included are a few stories of MS patients. One such patients writes: "I now regard the diagnosis of MS as a blessing in disguise. It brought me to a much more spiritual path and reminded me that my task is to be a myself." Also an MD, this patient ended up studying Ayurvedic medicine and uses meditation, breathing exercises, a mostly vegetarian diet, Qi Gong, regular exercise and the herb ashwagandha in her self-healing endeavors.

I highly recommend this book. To learn more about Dr. Weil and his teachings, visit

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