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Review of "Dr. Andrew Weil's Guide to Optimum Health"

By Andrew Weil
Sounds True, 2002
Review by Christian Perring, Ph.D. on Apr 25th 2003

In this audiobook course on health and wellness, Andrew Weil sets out his ideas on what are often called "complementary" or "alternative" approaches to medicine.  The most compelling theme here is the need to treat the whole person and the limitations of standard medical approaches, which tend to treat the disease and ignore the person.  Weil argues for the importance of the link between mind and body and the ways that mental and emotional problems can affect a person's physical health.  He places strong emphasis on the ways that stress can be bad for one's health, and he argues for the importance of relaxation in maintaining health.  More controversially, he argues that hypnosis can be a very effective way to heal people in some cases.  He also argues that herbal and homeopathic medicine has been neglected by western medicine, and that these are often very helpful ways to enhance the body's ability to heal itself. 

Weil is a convincing and comforting advocate for his views.  He explains his ideas in straightforward language using many examples from his own medical practice.  He often refers to recent scientific research that supports his view, and he criticizes the medical establishment for its narrow views.  His is also occasionally critical of some "new age" thinking and the bad recommendations of some alternative medicine.  For most of the course, however, his approach is positive and inspiring.  Weil does not make overblown claims that alternative therapy is capable of solving all one's medical problems, and he generally suggests using complementary approaches in conjunction with standard medical solutions.  It would be rash to advocate that people with severe and chronic medical problems should just ditch their medication, but it is sensible to inquire into a variety of solutions to one's problems. 

Weil addresses many cases of mental disorders.  For example, he relates the case of a patient who had suffered frequent panic attacks.  The man had become addicted to Valium as a way to reduce the symptoms.  Weil recommended that the man use breathing control techniques to gain control over his feelings and to avoid panic attacks, and over a period of several years, the man eventually was able to discontinue taking the Valium. 

All through the course, Weil makes many practical and simple suggestions, from having flowers in one's house and avoiding people who make one feel bad, to changing one's diet and trying becoming more involved in helping other people.  Highly recommended. 




·          Andrew Weil website.

·          Sounds True website.

·          Review of The Healthy Kitchen by Andrew Weil and Rosie Daley

·          Review of Integrative Medicine: An Introduction to the Art and Science of Healing, by Andrew Weil MD with the Executive Director and the Fellows of the University of Arizona Program in Integrative Medicine


© 2003 Christian Perring. All rights reserved.

Christian Perring, Ph.D., is Chair of the Philosophy Department at Dowling College, Long Island, and editor of Metapsychology Online Review. His main research is on philosophical issues in medicine, psychiatry and psychology.

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