Monday, June 23, 2008

A fantastic book...

I recently read a really good book, The Most Effective Natural Cures on Earth, by Jonny Bowden. It's chock-full of natural treatments and what conditions they can help -- including vitamins, herbs, minerals, foods, plants, "designer" nutrients, acupuncture, stress reduction, image therapy, and reflexology.

In the introduction, he talks about the "rule of thirds" that one of the doctors whom Bowden interviewed for the book (Joseph Brasco, MD) believes: "One-third of the people I treat with natural medicine (like diet and supplements) will get 100% better -- effectively "cured." One-third will improve considerably--they may be able to go off meds or reduce meds substantially...or they'll have measurably less pain and suffering. And one-third, unfortunately, won't be helped very much at all." Bowden agreed with his analysis but added that even for the one-third of the population who might not be very responsive to a given treatment, chances are that some area of their health would be improved by following the "natural prescription" for their condition...which could make a big difference in their overall well being.

I like those odds.

Bowden has done a ton of research for this book. Every natural "cure" he offers is backed up with studies. He offers a very long list of resources at the back of the book for follow-up study if you want.

He talks about how the average doctor has a "limited tool kit, and that tool kit consists exclusively of drugs. Asking the average doctor to recommend a natural treatment or supplement is like asking your piano teacher to recommend a tennis racket." However, Bowden goes on to warn, "Natural medicine is rarely quick and easy and doesn't always bring instantaneous relief." He compares natural care to a long-term 401(k), rather than an "impulse purchase on your maxed-out credit card. But like all long-term investments, it pays off in dividends much greater than the temporary 'high' of dealing only with the immediate."

Bowden says Western medicine is very bad at treating chronic conditions -- ongoing states of unwellness that are not emergencies, but last for months, years, or asthma, fibromyalgia, diabetes, hypertension, fatigue, allergies, depression, low libido, heartburn, gastroesophageal reflux disease, indigestion, constipation, and muscle pain. (The ones in bold are the ones I am dealing with, and therefore, particularly interested in. Additionally, Steve has asthma, so I was very interested in reading about that.)

Bowden talks at length about many faulty "studies" that have been done, to support a pharmaceutical and to debunk the effects of food or supplements. It's so aggravating to know the truth behind some of the advertising and the "proof" they report.

Bowden divided the book into six main sections:

Pure Cures -- single nutrients or herbs that can be used by themselves to produce an effect. Examples would be melatonin for jet lag and B12 for anti-aging.

Plant Cures -- herbal supplements as opposed to vitamins and mineral supplements.

Combo Cures -- combinations of nutrients, treatments, and/or foods that, when taken together as a natural prescription, have the best and most dramatic effect. For example, magnesium, vitamin B6, and evening primrose oil for PMS.

Food Cures -- foods that have medicinal or curative powers on their own. Like celery for blood pressure.

Natural Treatments -- healing modalities like acupuncture, chiropractic, exercise and others.

Desert Island Cures -- the supplements Bowden would want if he were stuck on a desert island. (He said making this list was really hard, and he could have added dozens more, but if you held a gun to his head and told him he could only choose a few, these are what he would pick.)

Under each "natural cure", he gave the science behind how and why it works, as well as lots of additional information. For example, I was very interested in the pages dealing with B12, since I'm chronically low in that vitamin. I read this and was hooked: "Without enough B12 we start to act and feel old and show more prominent symptoms of aging: ataxia (shaky movements and unsteady gait), muscle weakness, spasticity, incontinence, slowed reactions, memory loss, disorientation, and depression..." Let me just say that I've experienced every single thing on that list and my favorite saying seems to be "I'm too young to feel this old." Another thing I learned is that you must always take B12 with folic acid. Oops. Why did I not know that?? Also, anyone over 40 is at risk of B12 deficiency because they lack enough of a protein that is secreted in the stomach called "intrinsic factor," which you need to absorb B12. I bet I don't have ANY intrinsic factor!

One thing that struck me was the difference (vast difference, in some cases) between the "RDA" (recommended daily allowance) and the amount Dr. Bowden recommends as a therapeutic dose, in pretty much all of the supplements I'm interested in. He talked a lot about that disparity...and how that in many cases, if you're taking what the bottle says is a dose, it can be way under what your body truly needs. Therefore, people many times will stop taking a supplement because it doesn't seem to work, when in fact, it may be that they simply haven't taken enough of it.

Can I tell you how much I enjoy his conversational writing style? It made this book very readable, and very enjoyable.

I love this book. I've learned a lot reading it, and it's going to be one of those "go-to" books that I refer to again and again. I've placed my order for some supplements that I want to try, to see if I can improve my health and well-being, and at last, I feel like I have a handle on what I might need, and why.

So...that's my long version of why this is a great book.


Vikki said...

Well Girl,
You've convienced me, I guess I will be ordering the 2 books asap.

Patty said...

I hope you like it, Vikki; I'm pretty sure you will!


/* Use this with templates/template-twocol.html */