Book Reviews by Heidi Boudro

Nutritional Healing

Reviewed by Heidi Boudro

Rather than "alternative medicine," a misnomer, think of nutritional medicine. As Dr. Sidney MacDonald Baker, MD, writes in Autism : Have We Done Everything We Can for This Child?: Effective Biomedical Treatments, there is no "alternative" biochemistry: "There is only one biochemistry."

Were it not for Prescription for Nutritional Healing, by Phyllis A. Balch and Dr. James F. Balch, MD, subtitled, "A Practical A-to-Z Reference to Drug-Free Remedies Using Vitamins, Minerals, Herbs, and Food Supplements," I'd have to return to consulting such dry, depressing internal medicine textbooks as The Merck Manual.

Prescription for Nutritional Healing describes common ailments, as does the The Merck Manual, but it covers symptoms, diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment from the point of view of the patient and of nutritional medicine. The bulk of the book is an alphabetical encyclopedia of common disorders. Each entry ends with supplement recommendations as a resource list. You are, for the most part, not intended to take all of them. If you are not familiar with supplements you may need assistance in choosing among them.

An introductory section, "Understanding the Elements of Health," includes chapters on vitamins, minerals, water, amino acids, antioxidants, enzymes, natural food supplements, and herbs, in an excellent all-around reference. (I also recommend the lengthy introduction to Sally Fallon's Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and Diet Dictocrats for the most sophisticated well-reasoned discussion that I know of concerning vitamins and minerals.)

The Complete Book of Enzyme Therapy: A Complete and Up-to-Date Reference to Effective Remedies, by Anthony J. Chicoke, begins with a preface describing the role of nutrition and enzymes in his son's recovery from a brain injury caused by a fall. The book is arranged in a similar format to Prescription for Nutritional Healing, which it complements: an alphabetical encyclopedia of disorders, each followed by recommendations for enzymes and supplements. There is an extended introduction about enzymes, enzyme-oriented discussions of the disorders, recommendations of enzymes and supplements, and other unique information.

Enzymes are "protein-based substances found in every cell"; their function is to facilitate chemical reactions. More than 3,000 kinds of enzymes are used by the human body. The source of many enzymes is food; yet cooked food and processed food have no enzymes. The book discusses how to obtain the enzymes we need from "fresh fruits and vegetables, food concentrates, and supplements from animal, microbial, and plant sources."

"Supplemental enzymes can aid digestion, dissolve blood clots, fight back pain, decrease swelling, speed up healing, fight wrinkles, clean surfaces of dirty wounds,  help in delicate surgery, ease hindered breathing, stimulate the immune system, and help fight cancer and HIV/AIDS and other viruses," Chicoke writes.

Enzymes are common in European sports medicine. I myself use enzymes for pain and inflammation, such as that from a sprained ankle. Enzymes do not suppress inflammation the way anti-inflammatory drugs do, but reduce inflammation by facilitating the tissue repair process, thus accelerating healing.

Copyright © 2008 by Heidi Boudro