Best Health Books II

More Best Books




"Andrew Saul is one of the best reviewers I have ever known. He is an amazing scientist and contributor." (Abram Hoffer, M.D., Editor in Chief, Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine)

Why do movie complexes have upwards of eight screens, when it is tough to find one good film?  Cable TV: 45 channels and nothing worth watching.  With computers, it is GIGO: garbage in, garbage out.  You even need intellectual hip-boots to wade through the useless volumes that crowd our libraries.  Our information superhighway fast becoming an information landfill, resulting in a lot of people being over informed and under educated.  Wisdom is the reduction of a complex jumble of theories down to the simple, effective, economical, and life-supporting.

In an ongoing attempt to provide quick health book reviews for folks with time to read only the winners, here is my continuing list of the best books on therapeutic nutrition.

(While I enthusiastically recommend these books, I do not sell them. To purchase copies, try your favorite bookseller, or do an internet search for used books. To borrow copies, ask your public library's interlibrary loan department to assist you.)

Balch, James F. and Balch, Phyllis A., Prescription for Nutritional Healing, Avery Publishing, Garden City Park, NY, 1990

    This book's strength is its presentation of specific therapeutic nutritional procedures (protocols) for many illnesses.  Many a registered dietitian will blanch at the vitamin and mineral doses recommended, but that is almost certainly a sign of a really good nutrition text.  The work contains practical general dietary and supplemental guidelines, along with an abbreviated 16-page section of "Remedies and Therapies" including fasting, juicing, colon cleansing and an altogether too brief column on vitamin C saturation.  The herb section lists nearly 80 herbs in under 14 pages, with very few references.  If you have complete confidence in either the subject (drugless healing) or the authors (one of whom is an M.D.), you will love this book.  If you are a skeptic, you will want to know more than even these 360 large pages offer.  Health is too big a subject to be covered in one volume, and if you are going to try to do so, more references are needed than the two and one-half pages provided.  Taken at its title value, this book is indeed rather like a prescription: it tells you what and how much to take, but does not provide enough supporting information on why.  This is a common complaint about most doctor visits.  But then, where else can you get a good natural  healing prescription for under $20? 

Carper, Jean  Food: Your Miracle Medicine, HarperCollins, 1993

     This work is an unusually good sequel to the author's best-selling The Food Pharmacy.  Weighing in at over 500 pages, here is an example of how you can pack a book with references and still come out with an easy-reading, congenial work.  Carper focuses on cardiovascular health, digestive troubles, mental alertness, infections, arthritis, and the ever-popular subject of reproductive health.  To her credit, she includes other topics as well, but wisely delves deeper than the average writer into her main subject areas.  This is a book about foods, not supplements.  Since not everyone will take supplements, and since we all have to eat anyway, Carper's work is all the more desirable.

    The reader gains much assurance as supportive clinical studies are effortlessly woven into the text.  However, the cover promises that the book is "based on more than 10,000 scientific studies," and only about 250 are listed in a reference section at the back, plus a quite disappointing list of only 21 books.  For the worried reader, the serious reader or the professional reader, including the titles of every one of the 10,000 papers would have been good use of paper.  C'mon, HarperCollins: as nutritional freedom champion Senator Orrin Hatch says, "The American people are not a bunch of dummies."  Still, good book is more than the sum of its bibliographic entries, and this is indeed one good book. 

Chopra, Deepak  Perfect Health, Harmony, 1991

    Dr. Chopra's knowledge as both endocrinologist and ayurvedic physician is presented in several books including Return of the Rishi, Creating Health, Quantum Healing, and Ageless Body, Timeless Mind.   Of the lot, Perfect Health is the most practical because it provides specific instruction in ayurvedic routines and techniques.  Early in the book there is a well-constructed self quiz to determine your body type.  The body types themselves are well discussed, and dietary guidelines are set out for each.  This is the book's strongest feature, and why you should buy a copy, and why I did.  How to exercise, massage, use aroma therapy, perform balanced breathing, and follow the seasons of nature together make up only about an eighth of the book.  The illustrations are excellent, and there is both room and need for more of them.

    The book's biggest weakness is failing to provide in print the rest of what you'd pay (a lot) to learn from an ayurvedic consultation or seminar.  It is not easy for an author to spill all the beans in his particular field, but I do think that much more could have been told about how to do marma (pressure-point) therapy, and that basic instruction in pulse diagnosis should certainly have been included.  Dr. Chopra's books are marvelously uplifting, and with more step-by-step lessons, they would be even better.

Cleave, T. L. The Saccharine Disease, Keats, 1975

    To begin with, this book has nothing to do with the artificial sweetener known as saccharin.  The Saccharine Disease refers to excess sugar consumption as a key cause of chronic disease in our time.  Dr. Cleave, formerly a Surgeon-Captain of the British Royal Navy, wishes us to pronounce it "saccar-RHINE," like the German river.  That we can do.  What we will have a harder time doing is admitting that he is correct in ascribing colitis, peptic ulcer, varicose veins, coronary heart disease, and diabetes to excess intake of simple carbohydrates.  A theory like that one needs a book to explain it and a lifetime of experience as a doctor behind it.  Here are both.

    It is party line medicine (and dietetics) that sugar consumption is pretty much connected only with tooth decay and obesity.  Since the 1950's, Dr. Cleave has been a voice in the wilderness, informing doctors of what they do not want to believe and patients of what they do not want to do.  Only the sturdiest readers want to tangle with a book that relentlessly takes them to task one sweet tooth at a time.  References are provided with each chapter, and suggestions for improved diet are compactly set forth in an Appendix.  The Saccharine Disease is somewhat dry reading, although this is compensated for by its overwhelming scientific importance.  If there is indeed a root cause of illness, and that cause is our everyday use of sugar, it will take plenty of straight science to convince us to change our ways.  Even then, really innovative science has a way of being kept from the public, not by being disproved, but by being ignored.  If Dr. Cleave has been largely unsuccessful in influencing health policy so far, perhaps you will want to take up the banner after reading this book. 

Ford, M.W., Hillyard, S. and Koock, M.F. The Deaf Smith Country Cookbook, Collier, 1973

    I dislike cookbooks, and go out of my way to avoid them.  The only reason I'm even including one here is because I constantly get the question from others, "What natural foods cookbook would you recommend?"  Actually, I prepare meals from scratch, by taste, and out of necessity, using the by-guess-or-by-golly method.  If that impresses you, and now you want me to write out my recipes, forget it! Why?  Well, by definition, there aren't any.  And secondly, because The Deaf Smith Country Cookbook already exists.  This is natural, cheap whole-foods cooking made simple.  Really simple.  Many of the recipes require only a very few ingredients.  I like that.  All of the recipes are meatless, and many use no dairy products, either.

    The good-sized chapter on desserts uses only natural sweeteners such as honey, molasses, maple syrup, and fruit.  There is a chapter for dressings and sauces, and another for appetizers and spreads.  This is important, for simple, good-for-you vegetarian foods very much require a variety of garnishes, condiments, and flavors in order to please most palates (especially those of teenagers).  Soups, beans, breads, Mexican food, beverages, children's food, even how to make oatmeal is included.  And any natural foods cookbook with a recipes for ice cream, blintzes and natural "Cracker Jacks" can't be all bad!  More serious eaters will learn how to make sauerkraut (three ingredients), vegetarian soup stock (three ingredients), nut butter (three ingredients) and soy milk (two ingredients).  There are fancier cookbooks, but there is none better than The Deaf Smith Country Cookbook.  That is high praise from a guy who almost never opens, let alone reads, any cookbook.  If I do, though, this is the one. 

Garrison, Robert H., Jr., and Somer, Elizabeth  The Nutrition Desk Reference, Second Edition, Keats, 1990

    In my graduate Clinical Nutrition course, I required The Nutrition Desk Reference as a textbook, because all others I've reviewed are worse.  There are few nutrition texts that even give vitamin and mineral supplements the time of day.  This one does, barely.  For instance, arthritic patients are discouraged from using supplements, and none are recommended even for people with AIDS.   Vitamin C in doses over one or two grams a day is criticized as tending to weaken the immune system, which is incorrect.  There are very many references in this book, none of which are alphabetized, and most of which are of little use for curing disease.  Robert Cathcart, Linus Pauling and Ewan Cameron, all leading vitamin C authorities, are mentioned only in passing.  William J. McCormick, Frederick R. Klenner, Roger J. Williams, Wilfrid and Evan Shute, and Abram Hoffer are not mentioned at all.  BIG mistake. If you so limit your sources, it is impossible to write the best nutrition book.

    On the other hand, the authors have written some really useful sections, such as the ones about vitamin research (Chapters 5 and 8), the all too short update on cancer (Chapter 12), vitamins and cardiovascular disease (Chapter 16), and much of the "Specific Disease Conditions" section (itself containing over 200 references).  What makes these particular chapters so valuable is that they are well-balanced, fact-filled, and to the point.  The book also has a glossary, a good chapter on drug-nutrient interactions, the usual and still necessary fat, fiber, cancer and heart disease information, and a tidy, down-to-business chapter on proteins, lipids and carbohydrates.  For a traditional text, it is on the top of the heap. 

Lilliston, Lynn  Megavitamins, Fawcett, 1975

    Great topic, ample references, well written, and even cheap to buy.  Megavitamins is also probably out of print, but that will not stop your librarian from getting you a copy through interlibrary loan. Much of this book is focused on mental and emotional illness, children's behavior, and drug and alcohol addiction.  That is good, although the title might lead one to expect broader coverage of more diseases than this 200 page paperback actually delivers.  There is somewhat dated chapter on heart disease, which is almost "like deja vu all over again" as it advocates niacin therapy a full decade before mainstream medicine accepted the idea.  Still, the best chapters are about sicknesses from the neck up.  The pioneering work of Abram Hoffer and Humphry Osmond on psychoses is nicely reviewed, and Linus Pauling, David Hawkins, Roger J. Williams, Alan Cott, and other nutritional psychiatry heavy hitters are all here.  This book contains a fine collection of case examples of nutritional cures.  No "eat a balanced diet from all the food groups" nonsense here.  Avoid judging Megavitamins by its title, and you will be very satisfied with the rest. 

Natural Hygiene Society (of America), The Greatest Health Discovery, Natural Hygiene Press, Inc., 1972

    I would catch a little flak from my doctoral students every time I'd trot out "old" research studies from the 1940's, 50's and 60's.  Now to REALLY annoy them: here's a book of largely pre-Civil War sources of drugless healing.  For when Hygienists speak of the 40's and 50's, you don't even know at first which century they are referring to.  The natural hygiene lifestyle not only avoids drugs, but also involves neither supplements or nor remedies of any kind.  Its reliance on clean living, sunshine, water, unprocessed raw food and therapeutic fasting is straight out of the 1800's.

    The Greatest Health Discovery  is a condensed recap of the writers and ideas that have shaped some 200 years of an American version of macrobiotics, and is a veritable natural health hall of fame.  It includes Dr. Sylvester Graham (born in 1794), who is known for the crackers that bear his name.  Did you know that his lecture in my home town of Rochester, NY drew three thousand people at a time when all roads leading to it were made of dirt? (I missed hearing him by just over a hundred years.)  There's James Calab Jackson, M.D., abolitionist and founder of what was the world's largest naturopathic hospital in Dansville, NY.  There's John H. Tilden, M.D., the originator of the theory of systemic toxemia as the root cause of all illness, and the work of  twentieth century author Dr. Herbert M. Shelton.

    My favorite account is that of Russell Thacker Trall, M.D., who founded the first hydrotherapy facility in the U.S. in 1844, and is credited with setting down a system of natural hygiene still followed to this day.  So convinced was Dr. Trall that drugs were poisons, and that food and water would cure, that during the Civil War he wrote to various departments in Washington and to President Lincoln himself, offering "a system of the healing art which, applied to the treatment of the diseases prevailing in the camps and hospitals of our armies, would save thousands of the lives of our officers and soldiers." (page 55)  Dr. Trall's successful patients included members of Congress. When he lectured at the Smithsonian Institution in February, 1862, he argued that Willie Lincoln, the President's teenage son, need not die from "a cold, a pneumonia or a fever" but to no avail.  To this day, Presidents and Congress are yet to act on the advice of natural healing advocates.

    And by the way, Dr. Trall's letters were not answered, either.

Pauling, Linus  Vitamin C, the Common Cold, and the Flu, Freeman, 1976

    This is the book that so many have heard about and yet so few have read.  Dr. Pauling's interpretive review of the medical literature on vitamin C has had so great an impact that it may be quite some time before it is fully appreciated.  Pauling has reexamined studies which originally concluded that vitamin C was of no benefit and then shows that the authors failed to catch the statistical significance of their own work.  For example, Cowan, Diehl and Baker's famous 1942 study actually showed that persons taking just 200 milligrams of vitamin C daily experienced fewer days of illness per cold, and fewer sick days per person per year.  Other studies, with larger doses, were even better.  Even shortening most colds would add up to a savings of dozens of billions of dollars annually, not to mention the savings in discomfort to patients.  Vitamin C as a treatment for influenza is even more important, as it can save lives.

    One of my favorite parts of the book is a six-page passage (Chapter 3) where Pauling traces the history of severe vitamin C deficiency, or scurvy.  He is one of very few authors who can pull this off and keep the reader interested.  I refer to this chapter often.  Another outstanding section (Chapter 8) draws several sources together to show that humans should, and primitive humans did, consume several thousand milligrams of vitamin C each day.  Next, Pauling shows that animals, especially those most closely related to humans, either eat or make between 1,750 mg and 10,000 mg per human body weight per day.  Even the U.S. Government's Subcommittee on Animal Nutrition thinks that monkeys need a human body weight equivalent of 1,750 to 3,500 mg of vitamin C every day.  Yet the U.S. Recommend Daily Allowance for humans is just 60 milligrams, less than two to four percent as much!  Dr. Irwin Stone agrees in his even more extensive review of vitamin C entitled The Healing Factor (Grosset and Dunlap, 1972, Chapter 10).

    If you suspect that something is rotten in Denmark (or Washington, for that matter), you will especially appreciate Pauling's sharp criticism of medical politics and propaganda. If you have been scared off of vitamin C by a poorly informed physician, Chapter 11 will acquaint you with vitamin C's side effects, which are few, and its safety, which is extraordinary.  Dr. Pauling has not made this all up; what he has done is to use his good name, and risk his good reputation, to bring this knowledge directly to the people.  For this, he may even have deserved a third Nobel Prize. 

Shute, Wilfrid E.  Health Preserver: Defining the Versatility of Vitamin E, Rodale Press, 1977, reviewed together with
Shute, Wilfrid E.  Your Child and Vitamin E, Keats, 1979

    Anything written by Wilfrid E. Shute, M.D. (or by his colleague and brother Evan) is the best reading there is on the therapeutic utility of vitamin E.  The Shutes began vitamin E research in the late 1930's, and their books therefore encompass nearly 40 years of work. Your Child and Vitamin E is one of the few still in print, but is also their shortest (132 pages) and least technical effort.  It does include many case histories, 50 references, and important specific dosages.  If you want a concise introduction, this is it.  If you want more, try to obtain a copy of The Complete Updated Vitamin E Book (Keats) or Vitamin E for Ailing and Healthy Hearts (Pyramid, 1969).

    Health Preserver is a slightly longer book (161 pages) and also is brim full of almost impossibly diverse case histories.  This is, oddly enough, one of the biggest reasons why most contemporary doctors considered the Shute brothers to be quacks: vitamin E seemed to be far too good for far too many things.  Another reason the Shutes were criticized right from the start was due to an apparent over-reliance on case histories, or "anecdotal evidence."  Because they were true pioneers, they had few predecessors to refer to.  Today, it is the Shutes themselves that have become our best references.  After conspicuous success with tens of thousands of patients from all over the world, we need to ask this question: if curing cardiovascular (and so many other) diseases with Vitamin E is just an anecdote, then what a story! 

Smith, Lendon H.  Clinical Guide to the Use of Vitamin C: The Clinical Experiences of Frederick R. Klenner, M.D.  Life Sciences Press, 1988

    Stop giving fancy greeting cards and start giving people a copy of this book instead.  In just 57 pages, you can share a professional lifetime with one of the most innovative physicians of all time, Dr. Frederick Robert Klenner.  He is the medical doctor that spent nearly 40 years successfully treating patients by administering enormous doses of vitamin C, usually by injection.  Dr. Klenner achieved truly remarkable cures of pneumonia, herpes, mononucleosis, hepatitis, atherosclerosis, infections, multiple sclerosis, childhood diseases, fevers, and even polio... all with vitamins.  He had no trade secrets; he wrote and published 27 papers on how to do exactly what he did.  Why haven't you seen them?  Many were published in the smaller, regional medical journals such as Tri-State Medical Journal, and the Journal of Southern Medicine and Surgery.  Such articles have been hard to come by, until now.  Dr. Lendon Smith has done the world a favor by editing and condensing the essence of Klenner's work into this one slim volume.  References to the original papers, plus many supportive sources, are included.

    "Vitamin C should be given to the patient while the doctors ponder the diagnosis," wrote Dr. Klenner. "I have never seen a patient that vitamin C would not benefit."  Patients and doctors are still amazed that Dr. Klenner employed 350 to 1,000 milligrams of vitamin C per day... per kilogram patient body weight!  Since a kilogram is 2.2 pounds, this works out to be between 26,000 and 75,000 mg/day for a 165 pound (75 kg) adult.  That certainly is a lot of vitamin C.  But then, think of all the suffering that might have been avoided if doctors in the 1950's had listened to this man.  I'm glad I read about him, and now it is your turn.  Incidentally, my two children (one is in senior high, the other is in college) have never had an antibiotic, not once.  Why?  We did what Dr. Klenner said, that's why! 

Werbach, Melvyn R.  Nutritional Influences on Illness, Keats, 1988

    Here is the book to buy: it contains nearly 500 pages of abstracts, or summaries, of nutritional research papers.  This book doesn't need an index; it IS one.  Nutritional Influences on Illness succinctly reviews thousands of studies, each in one expert paragraph or less.  Both positive and negative findings are reported, earning this book the respect of almost all practitioners, both traditional and alternative.  Organization is logical and simple: alphabetically by illness, followed by a listing of specific nutritional treatment recommendations for that illness.  Next, there are subheadings for each individual nutrient, with a collection of abstracts, one after the other, in support.  Foods are included as well as amino acids, enzymes, vitamins and minerals.

    Dr. Werbach's book is indeed comprehensive, and in a big field such as nutrition, such a compliment is rarely deserved.  Here you will find 37 pages of abstracts just for atherosclerosis!  Other major sections include diabetes, alcoholism, bipolar disorder, dementia and depression, immunodepression and tiredness, infection, kidney stones, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and a marvelously encouraging section on nutrition and cancer.  Many other diseases are also covered somewhat more briefly, but even those passages are packed with information.

    If you have always thought that nutritional deficiency is the rule, not the exception, in America but have lacked the statistics to prove it, you will like Appendix A.  There you will find abundant substantiation that women, men, teenagers, children, the elderly, and the hospitalized are malnourished, and specifically what they are deficient in.  I think that Appendix B overstates the "dangers of supplementation," yet I'm glad it is there.  The fact that the topic, thoroughly researched though it is, makes up less than 2% of the book is a lesson in itself.  Laboratory methods for nutritional evaluation are discussed, and very well, too.  I doubt if any doctor is aware of all the ins and outs of medical tests for needed vitamins and minerals, and their limitations.  Nutrient interactions and absorptivity get their own appendix as well.

    Werbach, a medical doctor, may hesitate just a bit on really large doses of vitamins C, E, or beta carotene.  He has, however, provided more nutritional proof per dollar than just about any other book I've seen.

   For a review of Dr. Werbach’s newer, and even more thorough Textbook of Nutritional Medicine (1999), please look at .

Reviews copyright 2008, 2005 and previous years Andrew W. Saul.

Andrew Saul is the author of the books FIRE YOUR DOCTOR! How to be Independently Healthy (reader reviews at ) and DOCTOR YOURSELF: Natural Healing that Works. (reviewed at )

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Andrew W. Saul


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