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Professional Book Review- by Julie Klotter

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By Julie Klotter
"A Wellness Encyclopedia"

Townsend Letter for Doctors & Patients,

Many fine the books on alternative health care exist, but Ralph Golan's Optimal Wellness ventures into new territory by focusing on ten major underlying conditions instead of on specific diseases. These ten conditions cause a baffling array of symptoms, often treated by conventional medicine with symptom-suppressing pharmaceuticals. Golan relates how individuals can use diet, natural hygiene practices, supplements, and a range of "New Age and Old Age" therapies to feel truly well.

Optimal Wellness is divided into 6 parts. The first part discusses the necessity of taking responsibility for one's own health care and includes a Master Symptom Survey that allows readers to assess which of 10 Common Denominators, if any, may be affecting them. The second section covers dietary hazards and gives information that encourages experimentation to find one's "optimal diet". Part 3 contains a chapter for each of the ten common denominators of illnesses: nutritional deficiencies, poor digestion and assimilation, toxic bowel, sluggish liver, hypoglycemia, adrenal exhaustion, yeast overgrowth, food allergies, chemical hypersensitivity and environmental illness, and the mind-body connection. Natural remedies and preventative approaches for over 100 common ailments, all of which are linked to one or more of the 10 underlying factors, make up part 4. Part 5 explains several old and new non-pharmeceutical interventions - fasting methods, methods for cleansing toxins from the body, herbs, hydrotherapy, castor oil packs, ginger compresses, and massage, among others. The last section tells how to choose and relate to one's doctor.

Advertising, news articles, and organizations like the American Heart Association, provide most of the public's nutritional information. Unfortunately, their information presents an incomplete and inaccurate picture of a healthy diet. Golan weaves an exhaustive amount of nutritional information into a comprehensible whole. He thoroughly explains the dietary hazards of hydrogenated oils, trans-fatty acids, sugar, diet sodas, homogenized milk, and over 3000 chemicals permitted in our food supply and found in so may processed foods. He disputes the totally negative information about fat and salt; the body needs both, but in natural forms and moderate amounts. The information in this section is as knowledgeable and complete as any book that I have ever read on the subject of nutrition.

The practical and comprehensive scope of the diet section also characterizes Part 3 on the 10 common denominators of illness. Most conditions are treated by conventional medicine with pharmaceuticals that suppress symptoms instead of addressing the underlying cause. In Optimal Wellness, Golan explains how readers, sometimes with the help of a doctor, can identify which factors are playing a role in their health. Some conditions can be best determined by a laboratory test. In adrenal exhaustion, for example, Golan has found that measuring free cortisol and DHEA levels in saliva samples taken by the patient during the course of a normal day more accurately reflects the condition of the adrenal glands than the ACTH test. In other conditions, like hypoglycemia and yeast overgrowth, a person's response to prescribed diet and lifestyle changes and supplements indicate whether they have pinpointed the main underlying condition. Although many of the 10 common denominators are closely related, Golan provides a chapter for each. Each of these chapters begins with an example from Golan's patient files, then gives symptoms of the conditions, how to test for it, treatments - mostly self care - and contributing factors. Golan ends Part 3 with a separate chapter on the effect of these denominators on the immune system.

Optimal Wellness was designed to teach the reader "the wisdom and necessity of becoming your own and best health advocate." Golan wrote it for people who either found no answers from conventional medicine or who were dissatisfied with conventional treatments. He also wrote it to aid health professionals, who wish to initiate or increase the use of preventive and naturopathic care in their practice.

I was extremely impressed by the content, clarity, and perspective of this book. People interested in self-care and doctors who want to help their patients, but are baffled by diverse symptoms, will find an encyclopedia of valuable information in Dr. Golan's Optimal Wellness. Golan has combined his experience and knowledge as a practicing MD and as instructor at the naturopathic Bastyr University in Seattle to create a book "Where Mainstream and Alternative Medicine meet."
Overview of Optimal Wellness
Professional Book Review by Bobette S. Jones
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