Harness Nature’s Power to Heal Common Ailments, Boost Vitality, and Achieve Optimum Wellness, by Dr. Maoshing Ni, New York: Rodale, 2009 (Hardcover Edition).


From the Backcover

Eastern Medicine has long understood the extraordinary innate ability of the human body to fight disease and stay healthy. All it needs is an assist from natural measures—including time-tested disciplined like herbal therapy, massage, and acupressure—to restore balance and stimulate healing from the inside out.

Join Dr. Maoshing Ni as he takes you on a journey through Eastern medicine and reveals the therapeutic power of its proven practices. In Secrets of Self-Healing, you’ll discover self-care strategies at once steeped in Eastern wisdom and tradition and supported by modern science. Here’s just a sampling:

  • Allergies? Drink chamonile tea for a dose of natural antihistamines
  • Flu? Press a point near the thumb to stimulate your body’s defenses
  • Headache? Visualize relief with a simple meditation technique
  • Insomnia? Soak your feet before bedtime to get a good night’s sleep
  • Memory trouble? Boost circulation to your brain with qi gong
  • Overweight? Increase your metabolism with apple cider vinegar
  • Sciatica? Try bromelain, a pineapple extract that’s natural anti-inflammatory
  • Whether you have a specific health concern or your’re seeking lifelong well-being and vitality, Secrets of Self-Healing offers solutions to suit your needs. It’s practical, empowering, and guaranteed to change health for the better.

Dr. Maoshing Ni is a doctor of Chinese medicine and an authority on anti-aging medicine. He is the cofounder of Tao of Wellness, a Chinese medicine practice in Santa Monica, California, and cofounder and chancellor of Yo San University in Los Angeles. In addition to Secrets of Self-Healing, he is the author of the best-selling Secrets of Longevity and Second Spring. To learn more about Dr. Mao and his work, visit his Web site www.askdrmao.com.


Review

Secrets of Self-Healing is a true compendium; it is complete for everybody who wants to responsibilize himself or herself for their health and wellbeing instead of shifting that responsibility toward an allopathic doctor.

The book is divided in two parts. The first part explains the principles of self-healing as they were developed over more than 5000 years by Chinese Taoist scholars and natural healers. These chapters are:

  1. The Tao of Wellness: The Naturalistic Philosophy of Self-Healing
  2. Symptoms and Signs: How to Take Your Complete Health Inventory
  3. Let Food Be Your Medicine: The Power of Nutritional Healing
  4. Mother Nature’s Genius: The Healing Properties of Herbs and Supplements
  5. The Rivers Within: Keep Your Vital Energy Flowing with Physical Activity, Mind-Body Exercises, and Acupressure
  6. The Rhythms of Everyday Life: Live in Harmony at Home, at Work, and with the Environment
  7. The Yin and Yang of the Mind: Why Emotional Balance, Intellectual Stimulation, and Spiritual Growth Are Essential for Optimal Wellness
  8. East Meets West: Integrative Medicine in Action: Joy’s Recovery from Cancer

The second part is a thorough and detailed survey of common ailments from ‘Acne,’ alphabetically through ‘Yeast Infections.’ Each section gives an overview over the symptoms of the disease, dietary suggestions, home remedies, daily supplements, herbal therapy, exercise, and finally, what’s to be avoided.

I can only full-heartedly recommend this book as a unique resource for truly holistic self-healing which comes from a unique authority, a doctor who has been trained in both Chinese and Western medicine and who is besides an astute research scientist. His efforts to combine ‘the best of two worlds’ in order to help create a new integrative health care system are to be lauded. This book is praiseworthy as all the other books by the author!

As a sample chapter, I shall quote here the Introduction from Part 1 of the book, by Dr. Maoshing Ni.

Introduction

America’s health care system is in crisis precisely because we systematically neglect wellness and prevention.
—Tom Harkin, U.S. Senator, Iowa

Doctors don’t have all the answers. I learned this more than twenty years ago as a young resident in a hospital affiliated with Shanghai Medical University. I was assigned to the outpatient clinic for gastrointestinal disorders, and one day when I was making my treatment rounds in the clinic I saw a patient who was suffering from a case of stomach acid reflux that was keeping him up all night. He had been medicated with all kinds of acid blockers for two months, without relief. As our conversation carried on, the woman who sat next to him in the waiting room barked out, ‘Drink potato juice in the morning to get rid of it. It sure got rid of mine.’ I thought to myself, I am the doctor. What does she know about stomach problems? The next week, when I saw the patient again, he said he had used the potato juice remedy and his acid reflux was 90 percent better. I was humbled.

I knew about many useful natural remedies that had been handed down over the generations, and I learned about others from my patients. I began researching the healing properties of potatoes and other foods. I learned that the potato is not only rich in magnesium and other minerals, but it is also an alkalizing food, meaning it neutralizes acid in the stomach. More recently the potato was discovered to contain compounds called kukoamines that can help lower blood pressure. This knowledge led me to ask, What is everyone learned how to take care of their health problems without fancy drugs and a minimum of invasive treatments? Wouldn’t that produce a healther and happier population?

The search for answers led to the publication of my first book, in 1987, called The Tao of Nutrition.

Just as planet Earth restores a fire-scarred forest with new saplings, each and every being comes with its own intrinsic healing capability. Human, since time immemorial, have activated this power of self-healing through natural means. They have chanted, danced, prayed, touched, and used plants to restore themselves and others to health. Virtually every culture in the world has developed natural healing traditions that were in popular use until about a hundred years ago. But in the past century this knowledge has nearly disappeared from our collective memory.

America’s Health Care Crisis

America’s medical system is dominated by the pharmaceutical, insurance, and biotechnology industries. Both doctors and patients are often left powerless and disillusioned. On the other hand patients are taught to be dependent on their doctors, but on the other, health care providers are overstretched while the insurance industry and HMOs dictate that they should spend still less time with their patients. Trapped in this morass are the nearly quarter of a million Americans who perish each year as a result of medical mistakes, neglect, and drug- or procedure-related side effects. All the while health care costs are spiraling out of control due to untenable economic models. The current health care crisis has exacted a heavy toll on society and individuals alike, sapping productivity and vitality and provoking angst.

Health care consumers have increasingly become frustrated with the broken-down system and are seeking alternative healing methods. The result is a renaissance of traditional medical systems that promises to empower consumers with knowledge and choices. The growth and emergence of alternative healing practices in the last decade have been driven by consumers whose needs have not changed since the days of their ancestors. The health care industry would be better adivsed to listen to what the consumers of their products and services want rather than force on them from above a sysetm that serves its own self-interest.

We can take a balanced approach in which the best of the world’s medical traditions work side by side for the benefit of the patient. That approach, in fact, has been practiced in China for several decades. Chinese doctors empower their patients by educating them about nutrition and diet therapy. Doctors form lifelong relationships with their patients, allowing them to have input and control over their own health and well-being. The system has worked, and it is a necessity since the government would not be able to support a Western-style health care system for its 1.4 billion patients. I think the two approaches can and should be married to form a comprehensive and successful health care system. (Ironically, as I was finishing this book, the press was reporting that Chinese consumers are increasingly asked for brand-name Western durgs as a result of both marketing efforts by drug companies and China’s modernization drive. If China isn’t careful, it could find itself in the same crisis the United States are in.)

The New Paradigm of Integrative Medicine

Recently, the term ‘Integrative Medicine’ has been coinced to describe the new medical paradigm of offering a multidisciplinary approach to health care. Integrative medicine is a fusion of all medical traditions for the welfare of the patient. It is nondiscriminatory in practice, and it has the potential to best serve the patients’ needs.

In addition to Western allopathic medicine, Chinese medicine is gaining recognition as an important health tradition. It has been in continuous practice among a large population for thousands of years, and today its erves close to 2 billion people in China and throughout Asia. Its success rests on the naturalistic philosophy of health and medicine that focuses on treating the person—rather than solely the disease—with natural means such as diet and nutrition, herbal medicine, acupuncture, and bodywork. Chinese medicine is less invasive than Western medicine, too. The relative lack of side effects combined with its mind-body approach has made Chinese medicine a popular choice for people looking for alternatives to traditional Western heath care. But instead of a flat-out rejection of Western medicine, why not integrate the best of both words?

I believe that integrative medicine is the answer to solving the American health care crisis because it involves you, the patient, as the stakeholder in the health care system. By educating you and encouraging you to participate in your own health care through lifestyle and dietary changes, stress management, and self-healing, the need for expensive medical procedures and drugs will decline. Your satisfaction will rise from having more control over your health. In exchange, your health insurance premiums will drop because utilization costs will drop. That is more money in your pocket—which is good for the economy. The science and drug industries would be directed more at prevention and wellness, innovating toward improving the quality and length of people’s lives. The reward of integrative medicine is a society of happier and healthier people responsible for their own health and well-being, as well as lower-cost, excellent health care.

The Wellness Medicine Approach

While this book does not pretend to be the ultimate solution to America’s health care dilemma, it is my personal effort to help move the process forward. I introduce time-tested and evidence-based health knowledge that will help you gain more control over your health and wellness. This body of knowledge springs from 5,000 years of Chinese medical tradition, which emphasizes prevention and wellness. Therefore, I use the term Tao of Wellness to describe its concepts and practices for everyday living. Tao means ‘the way,’ and the philosophical tradition of Taoism is the underpinning of Chinese medicine. Part 1 of this book covers the naturalistic philosophy of Wellness Medicine and its principles and applications. Wellness Medicine embraces a variety of safe, effective diagnostic and treatment options.

The seven key concepts of Wellness Medicine are optimal health, whole person, prevention, self-healing, personalized care, healing partnership, and integration.

  • Optimal health is the goal of Wellness Medicine. It is the active pursuit of the best level of functioning and balance of an individual’s whole being: body, mind, and spirit.
  • Treating the whole person is the focus of Wellness Medicine, including a person’s inner and outer life and his or her relationship to people and the environment. Disease is a symptom of life out of balance.
  • Taking care of yourself before a problem arises is at the heart of Wellness Medicine. Practitioners promote healthy lifestyles, energy balance, and prevention of illness instead of disease treatment.
  • The power of self-healing is innate in all of us. The aim of the Wellness Medicine practitioner is to educate patients to use this power to enhance the healing process.
  • Personalizing health care to you, the individual, is key to effective healing. Wellness Medicine recognizes that each person is unique and has a different nature. Your individualized needs require a customized approach to health care.
  • Wellness Medicine is relationship-centered care. The ideal healing partnership, practitioner-patient relationship, encourages the practitioner to listen to and guide the patient toward personal responsibility and full participation in the healing process.
  • Effective integration of Eastern and Western medical traditions offers the best available treatment options. Wellness Medicine promotes the use of natural, noninvasive healing practices as the first line of health care, but it will not hesitate to use chemical and invasive medicine when necessary and critical.
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