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Professional Book Review - by Bobette S. Jones

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By Bobette S. Jones-President of Preventive Lifestyles, Inc.

I was a bit intimidated when I first picked up Optimal Wellness, Ralph Golan MD's voluminous reference on healing. After all, the book is over 500 pages long and is billed as "A bible for 21st-century medicine." Nonetheless, that didn't stop me from immediately turning to Chapter 17, Common Ailments from A to Z, which I presumed was the how-to section of the book. Being a typically busy consumer, I wanted Dr. Golan to give me a magic bullet cure for my sinus problems.

The text on sinus infection was relatively short. Although it contained general information on conventional medical treatment and a discussion of nutritional, herbal and other complementary therapies, I had a definite feeling that I was missing something important. The discussion was too short, too simple for a book of this size. Then I noticed four coded letters symbols – CHEM, DietH, Y, and FA – at the beginning of the section, under Related or Underlying Causes.

I quickly flipped pages back to the beginning of the chapter, where I learned that the symbols stood for Chemical Hypersensitivity and Environmental Illness, Dietary Hazards, Yeast Overgrowth, and Food Allergies. Dr. Golan's introductory paragraph also admonished me that just treating symptoms can't "create the foundation of health needed to achieve optimal wellness and that I should carefully review the (earlier) chapters that discussed the Ten Common Denominations of Illness. So I abandoned my once-over-lightly approach and sat down to read the read from beginning to end.

As my experience proved, Optimal Wellness is not a health care cookbook (although it does contain a small recipe section). It does not offer quick, easy cures for what ails you. Instead, it provides an explanation of the complex nature of health and of the interrelationship of all the body systems, including the "mindbody". It offers courses of action by which you can improve your health and well-being, no matter what your specific symptoms or complaints might be.

Dr. Golan dedicates several early chapters to examining the relationship between health and diet, including topics as dietary hazards and excesses, "all-star foods", and finding your personal optimal wellness diet - a fascinating look at differing nutritional needs based upon blood and body type. This leads directly into the Ten Common Denominators of Illness: nutritional deficiencies, poor digestion and assimilation, a sluggish liver, hypoglycemia, yeast overgrowth, food allergies, chemical hypersensitivity and environmental illness, and psychoneuroimmunology (a long word for the body-mind connection), and how they affect your immune system.

It is not until you have a strong understanding of the interrelated body systems and what cause them to malfunction that Dr. Golan launches into the how-to chapters-Common Ailments, Natural Remedies, and Preventive Approaches, New Age and Age-Old Approaches, New and the Medical Profession. Once you have read this far, it all ties together and you are qualified to fabricate a health plan to fit your own body's requirements.

Although it is a voluminous book, "Optimal Wellness" is well organized and not difficult to read. Most chapters start with a general introduction to the topic and an informal case study. From there, Dr. Golan goes into each topic in a chatty and informal style, yet he is able to include a great deal of technical information-even physicians' protocols-without confusing or boring his readers.

This is a thoughtful and exhaustive examination of self-care options, full of insights and explanations. It is an excellent general source book for natural and complementary therapies, including herbal remedies, fasting and cleansing, and touch and energy therapies.

I would be surprised if everyone did not experience at least one "Aha!" when they discover the explanation for their symptom or reaction. Dr. Golan names specific products and their sources, recommends further readings and resources, and references his statements in a Notes section at the end of the book.

"Optimal Wellness" is an excellent handbook for lifestyle change and a valuable reference on self/health care for novices and experts alike. Despite its imposing size, its easy-to-read style and wealth of information on a very broad range of topics makes it an important addition both to your family's and to your health care provider's libraries.
Overview of Optimal Wellness
Professional Book Review by Julie Klotter
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