BEATING PAIN WITH POSITIVITY
People who suffer from chronic pain but who don’t want to resort to a life of popping pills might find the help they need in Jan Sadler’s Pain Relief Without Drugs: A Self-Help Guide for Chronic Pain and Trauma (Healing Arts Press, $24.95). Sadler, who started the U.K.–based PainSupport Web site (www.painsupport.co.uk) delves into such strategies as deep-relaxation and visualization exercises, and explains the benefits of having a positive attitude, understanding emotions, and finding ways to enjoy yourself.
Sadler developed her numerous coping mechanisms after she injured her back. “The way you experience your pain is closely linked in a unique way with your own personal reactions,” Sadler writes. “No matter what your situation, there is always something you can do to reduce the pain and improve your lifestyle.”
Sadler’s advice is practical, her tone never flaky. She gives step-by-step plans to help people reach goals, encourages readers to help others, and at the end of each chapter includes a list of “action guidelines”, which remind people of the techniques they can use to feel better physically and emotionally. The book comes with a CD that has breathing and relaxation exercises.
Every family could use a book on home remedies. Few, if any, are as comprehensive and far-reaching as 1000 Cures for 200 Ailments: Integrated Alternative and Conventional Treatments for the Most Common Illnesses (HarperCollins, $43.95). The ultraworthwhile, 1,000-page encyclopedia provides health advice by professionals from five fields: conventional medicine, traditional Chinese medicine, naturopathy, homeopathy, and herbalism.
The authors cover in remarkable detail a breadth of conditions, including hangovers, laryngitis, food poisoning, heartburn, high cholesterol, mastitis, bee stings, migraines, prickly heat, and posttraumatic stress disorder.
Accompanying each entry is a concise explanation of the diagnosis and symptoms. Plus, the book has handy tips scattered throughout. If you have athlete’s foot, for instance, wear cotton socks; to relieve fluid retention, use fresh parsley to season your food; stay cool if you’re experiencing motion sickness, since excessive heat can aggravate symptoms; and to prevent macular degeneration quit smoking, get regular exercise, and wear sunglasses with UV protection.
The use of herbal medicines to prevent and overcome illness is increasingly commonplace. And according to David Winston and Steven Maimes, there’s a certain class of herbs called adaptogens that specifically helps the body adapt to stress. Winston, a New Jersey herbalist and ethnobotanist who also runs a company that manufactures herbal products, and Maimes, a New Hampshire freelance writer, take a close look at nearly two dozen such substances in Adaptogens: Herbs for Strength, Stamina, and Stress Relief (Healing Arts Press, $23.95).
Among the herbs are Asian ginseng (Panax ginseng), holy basil (Ocimum sanctum), licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra), and reishi (Ganoderma lucidum). Many have long been used in traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine. Although it’s not entirely clear how adaptogens work, the writers say the herbs support metabolic processes, stimulate the immune and neuroendocrine systems, and restore cellular, chemical, and systemic balance. The authors outline the many conditions that adaptogens can supposedly help, like sleep problems, anxiety and depression, and skin disorders. They also wisely tackle herbal safety, including dosage guidelines and herb-drug interactions. They make it clear that just because a product is labelled as natural doesn’t necessarily mean it’s safe. Bonus chapter “Adaptogens as Food” includes recipes for such dishes as David Winston’s Revitalizing Ginseng Soup, which contains carrots, sweet potatoes, shiitake mushrooms, and whole ginseng roots.