8 Weeks to Optimum Health


Listen to the good doctor!

In Eight Weeks to Optimum Health, Dr. Andrew Weil translates the brilliant insights and discoveries he outlined in his acclaimed bestseller, Spontaneous Healing, into a practical plan of action: a week-by-week, step-by-step program for enhancing and protecting present and ...
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Listen to the good doctor!

In Eight Weeks to Optimum Health, Dr. Andrew Weil translates the brilliant insights and discoveries he outlined in his acclaimed bestseller, Spontaneous Healing, into a practical plan of action: a week-by-week, step-by-step program for enhancing and protecting present and lifelong health.

The Eight-Week Program sets up a foundation for healthy living that will keep your body's natural healing system in peak working order. With clearly defined and authoritatively informed recommendations, Dr. Weil explains how to

* Build a lifestyle that protects you from premature illness and disability
* Fine-tune your current eating habits so that your diet is more nutritious
* Walk and stretch in regimens that satisfy weekly exercise requirements
* Safeguard your healing system by adding four antioxidant supplements--vitamin C and E, selenium, and mixed carotenes--to your diet
* Incorporate five basic breathing exercises for greater relaxation and energy
* Benefit from visualization, overcome sleeping problems, and test and filter your water supply
* Make art, music, and the natural world more important parts of your life

PLUS--a dozen tailored programs that address the specific needs of pregnant women, senior citizens, overweight people, and those at risk for cancer.

"...the best-selling author of Spontaneous Healing describes the array of changes that people can make in their lives to reduce stress, strengthen their immune system, and avoid illness."

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Weil (Spontaneous Healing), a Harvard-trained physician attuned to alternative healing, delivers a concrete and convincing program in this holistic health guide. In a low-key but earnest tone, supporting his positions with reports of his own experience and those of others who have followed the program, Weil eases people into adopting new, beneficial habits (e.g., better breathing techniques) and the relinquishing of old, unhealthful ones (e.g., drinking coffee) in small steps. Thus, Week One introduces brief walks and some simple dietary changes such as eliminating saturated fats and adding broccoli, salmon and vitamin C. Gradually, the walks grow longer, the antioxidant supplements increase and further dietary changes occur, with green tea being introduced in Week Two, soy products in Week Three and herbal tonics and one-day fasts by Week Eight. To ease the process, a half-dozen or so recipes are included each week. What makes this program unique is Weil's emphasis on avoiding environmental toxins and the attention he pays to the mental and spiritual aspects of health. Whole grains, organic produce and use of sunblocks are essential elements of his approach, as are "news fasts," listening to music, buying flowers and performing service work. Specific guidelines for special cases-pregnant women, children, travelers, the elderly-are included, as are sources for some hard-to-find products, all of which adds to the persuasive authority of Weil's approach. BOMC selection.
Library Journal
Weil (Spontaneous Healing, LJ 5/15/95) has designed an easy, step-by-step program for wellness. The book's audience is the over-40 crowd. Weil's philosophy is that "most bodies come with warranties for eighty years of productive...trouble-free service, if basic requirements for preventive maintenance are followed." This book is meant as a guide to such maintenance. Its strength lies in its design, which uses small, easy steps to achieve big changes. For instance, Weil suggests eating broccoli just twice in Week 1, then builds on this to create a complete change of diet by Week 8. Recipes reinforce the message and make it palatable in every sense. Weil also stresses the importance of the holistic approach and includes a simple mental/spiritual component in each week's program. As a physician, Weil is careful to substantiate every claim, and he debunks some of today's more extreme alternative health theories. He also includes chapters outlining the special needs of seniors, children, and people at risk for cancer or cardiovascular disease. Sure to be a winner; libraries should stock many copies. BOMC selection. -Elizabeth Braaksma, Thunder Bay P.L., Ontario
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780783882390
  • Publisher: Cengage Gale
  • Publication date: 8/1/1997
  • Product dimensions: 6.16 (w) x 9.18 (h) x 1.13 (d)

Meet the Author

Andrew  Weil
Andrew Weil, M.D., has worked for the National Institute of Mental Health and for fifteen years was a Research Associate in Ethnopharmacology at the Harvard Botanical Museum. He has traveled extensively throughout the world collecting information about the medicinal properties of plants, altered states of consciousness, and healing. He has written for the New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker, Nature, The New England Journal of Medicine and other national publications. He is under constant demand to lecture and appear on radio and television. He is currently Associate Director of the Division of Social Perspectives in Medicine, and Director of the Program in Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona in Tucson, where he practices natural and preventive medicine. Eight Weeks to Optimum Health is his seventh book.
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    1. Hometown:
      Tucson, Arizona
    1. Date of Birth:
      June 8, 1942
    2. Place of Birth:
      Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
    1. Education:
      B.A. in Biology, Harvard University, 1964; M.D., Harvard Medical School, 1968
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt

From Chapter One:

You have in your hands a tool for changing your life, an Eight-Week Program for improving your health and gaining access to the power of spontaneous healing in your body. I will guide you through this program step by step, explaining the changes I will ask you to make in how you eat, how you exercise, how you breathe, and how you use your mind. I will recommend vitamins, minerals, and herbs you can use to protect your body's healing system, and I will give you ideas about how you can change long-standing patterns of behavior that impair optimal health.

The Eight-Week Program consists of small steps that build on each other until, but the time you complete it, you have laid the foundation for healthy living. You can then decide how much of the program you want to maintain on a permanent basis. I assume that you want to make changes in your life -- otherwise you wouldn't be reading this book. I see my job as pointing you in the right direction. I have no doubt that you can change, because I know from my own experience that people can do so if they really want to.

In moving files recently, I came across a yellowed clipping from The New York Times of August 12, 1971, with the headline: "Meat-Eating 230-Pound Doctor Is Now 175-Pound Vegetarian." The story concerns a twenty-nine-year old physician in rural Virginia who gave up animal foods except for dairy products, with a resultant increase in energy, well-being, and overall health. There is a photograph of the doctor in his kitchen preparing fresh corn. He has a full black beard, is wearing blue jeans and a work shirt, and looks content. Next to the picture is his recipe for a rich cornsoup containing milk and butter, and another recipe for a barley-and-vegetable casserole that calls for a quarter-cup of peanut oil. According to the article, the doctor's interest in consciousness led him to experiment with yoga and meditation, and "since yoga calls for a vegetarian diet, he gave up meat 'in order to really do it right.' He has been a vegetarian ever since, to the amazement of his friends, who remember him as a voracious meat eater and a fat person while at Harvard ... In one year on his new diet he has reduced from 230 to 175 pounds. His recurring colds and allergies have vanished..."

My beard is no longer black, and I have not been able to maintain my weight at 175-pounds. I am still mostly vegetarian (I have eaten fish for the past 10 years), though now I don't make rich soups with milk and butter , use oil in such quantities, or ever cook with peanut oil. I think I am wiser with age and in general feel much happier now than I did when I was twenty-nine.

I will try to accomplish three things in the pages that follow. First, I want to try to share with you my vision of the body's healing system and encourage you to rely on it in all matters concerning your health. Second, I want to convince you of the importance of developing a healthy lifestyle and the possibility of doing so quickly and easily. Third, I want to give you very specific suggestions about those aspects of lifestyle I consider most important to health and healing. I know that I cannot motivate you to undertake the Eight-Week Program -- you must do that yourself -- but since you have read this far, I believe you are already interested in moving forward, and I will assume that you now want to know what moving forward entails and how to do it.
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Interviews & Essays

On September 21, 1998, barnesandnoble@aol was pleased to welcome Dr. Andrew Weil to our Authors@aol series. Andrew Weil, M.D., is director of the program in integrative medicine at the University of Arizona in Tucson. He has traveled the world studying altered states of consciousness, medicinal plants, and healing processes. His latest book is 8 WEEKS TO OPTIMUM HEALTH.

JainBN: Welcome! Andrew Weil, we are delighted that the doctor is in.

Andrew Weil: I am delighted to be here. I look forward to talking with all of you.

Jessekay: May we start with a stunning news article I read recently? It was about Saint-John's-wort and said the dosages were not as advertised and were very irregular. Does this industry need policing?

Andrew Weil: Absolutely. But it has to be done by sympathetic authorities. I have long suggested that the FDA set up a division of natural therapeutics to regulate herbs, vitamins, and minerals. The quality of supplements leaves much to be desired. This is a big problem that scares many doctors off from recommending natural treatments.

Jessekay: The FDA response?

Andrew Weil: The FDA continues to have its head in the sand in this area.

Jessekay: Why not a proactive solution?

Andrew Weil: All for it. There are several groups that lobby the FDA.

Jessekay: How about a Dr. Weil brand of vitamins?

Andrew Weil: I'm afraid that having a brand would hurt my relations with doctors. My main work is changing medicine. I don't want to do anything that hurts that.

Jessekay: You have written about "news fasts" -- staying away from media -- as a way of keeping yourself healthy. Are you doing that this week?

Andrew Weil: Yes. I let in a little NPR news over the weekend. But I haven't read any newspapers and I don't own a TV. And yet I consider myself informed.

Jessekay: Are you the only doctor with a media following who doesn't have a prescription for Bill Clinton?

Andrew Weil: My main prescription would be for the media to drop some of this and let Clinton get on with his job.

Jessekay: We have 20 great audience questions. Let's get to them now.

Question: To what extent do you believe neuroscience and biochemistry can explain the healing effects of certain mental or psychological dispositions? If such an explanation did exist, would it undermine the supposed spiritual component of healing?

Andrew Weil: Good question! I think there's a big body of research indicating mechanisms for mind-body interactions, including the role of neuropeptides. I don't think identification of these mechanisms is inconsistent with belief in a nonphysical aspect.

Question: You endorse the use of placebos, whose effectiveness is contingent upon the patient's belief that it is a real drug. Don't you think that if placebos were administered on a widespread basis, they would lose their effectiveness by undermining that very assumption?

Andrew Weil: In my book HEALTH AND HEALING, I go into detail about the placebo response, making a distinction between sugar pills and active placebos. Whenever we give treatment, there is a placebo response in addition to the medicine's effect. The art of medicine is to maximize that effect. As long as doctor and patient genuinely believe in the efficacy of a treatment, that response will be preserved.

Question: Did you read the article in The New Yorker two weeks ago about the psychological origins of epidemic back pains? Does this bear any relation to your theories?

Andrew Weil: I did not read it. But I am familiar with the literature. I discuss it in SPONTANEOUS HEALING. I feel all back and neck pain should be assumed to have a strong psychological component until proven otherwise. Mind-body treatment can be helpful.

Question: Dr. Weil, what do you think of the Ornish program? Is it for real?

Andrew Weil: It certainly is! I think its major indication is for people with established heart disease. As a general recommendation, I find it restrictive. You might get the same results with a palatable level of fat in the diet, as long as the fats are healthy ones.

Question: I have been a nurse for 24 years -- 6 of the last 24 have been in hospice -- and also in alternative medicine for the past 4 years. One of the things that I have found remarkable are the effects of magnets, and I would like to hear what you know about them.

Andrew Weil: I think magnet therapy is interesting and unresearched. Some recent research supports the positive use of magnets in muscular/skeletal pain. I recommend this therapy to people with foot pain, neck pain, and other problems. I look forward to seeing more research.

Question: There is much stated about health food stores and vitamins not being "supervised." What do you suggest in order to be able to purchase the "overseen" vitamins that you recommend in your books?

Andrew Weil: This is an area where consumers must beware. You must go by reliable information. Buy established brands that can give you information on processes.

Question: I suffer from Morton's neuroma in the feet and was told some of the feeling sensations that I experience are due from being hypothyroid. Can you recommend a treatment to help relieve the pain?

Andrew Weil: I would try magnet therapy. And acupuncture.

Jessekay: Dr. Weil, I have been reading the AOL message boards, and have been somewhat concerned by people who write in describing really serious problems like, "I'm very depressed. I think about death all the time." Then they look for other AOL members, and now you, to diagnose and heal them. Could you sound a cautionary note here?

Andrew Weil: The first step of taking greater responsibility for health is knowing your limits of competence. I've seen many people get the help they need from the Internet. But if you have serious symptoms, I think it is always wise to consult with a health professional.

Question: Do you recommend omega-3 fatty acids for maintenance of the heart?

Andrew Weil: Absolutely! They are generally deficient in the American diet. Everyone should think about where they are getting these acids. We should eat salmon, sardines, walnuts, or flax seeds.

Jessekay: I am a devoted reader of your books, and I have followed your advice for some years now. As a result, I find myself taking a mouthful of pills each day. What's the limit? And also, what's new?

Andrew Weil: I myself just take the basic antioxidant formula -- four pills -- plus one B-complex and CoQ10. That's not a mouthful of pills.

Jessekay: But then there's echinacea. And ginkgo. And saw palmetto. You don't take these?

Andrew Weil: Herbs should not be taken just because they're there. Echinacea is for colds. Ginkgo is for blood circulation. Palmetto for enlarged prostates. I'd save them for when they're needed.

Question: How do you feel about alcohol? How about one glass of wine a night with dinner? What harm can it do?

Andrew Weil: In some women, that amount of wine might raise the risk of breast cancer. But I do not oppose moderate regular intake of alcohol.

Question: Would you subscribe to the notion that many Americans' ailments stem from the social isolation and existential detachment that modern life entails? Do you think that such a notion is at all useful in approaching the problem?

Andrew Weil: I certainly would. I have written about "disconnection syndrome" in my books. I think this problem has increased in America in recent times. It is a significant root of illness.

Question: I would like to know how to get myself and my family to eat a healthier diet. My husband and daughter are very picky eaters and give me a fuss when I fix dark-green leafy veggies, legumes, or anything healthy.

Andrew Weil: I think the trick is to show them that healthy food and fun food are not opposite. Experiment until you find recipes they like that are healthy. You might start with the recipes in 8 WEEKS TO OPTIMUM HEALTH. I designed them to be both healthful and delicious.

Question: Anything for a strong sweets craving?

Andrew Weil: One possibility: Try to direct those cravings into healthier food, like fruit, natural preserves, dried fruit, sorbet, and so forth.

Jessekay: What kinds of foods have nonrefined sugar?

Andrew Weil: Fruits and all products made from fruits that don't have added sugar.

Question: How does this apply to children? Can they be healed in the same manner?

Andrew Weil: Definitely! In fact younger people have higher healing potential than older people. Mind-body methods often work very well with children.

Jessekay: You have written about dying in perfect health. What does that mean?

Andrew Weil: I talk about dying in a healed state. I think it's possible to complete the business of life and feel at physical and mental peace even though the body is dying. I just reviewed the case of a woman dying of lung cancer who exemplified this for me.

Question: Dr. Weil, any help for asthma?

Andrew Weil: Yes. I would try traditional Chinese medicine. I'd try dietary manipulation -- cutting out milk. And osteopathic manipulation. You'll find more on this in NATURAL HEALTH, NATURAL MEDICINE, and on my web site.

Jessekay: It's allergy season. Any suggestions?

Andrew Weil: Get a good air filtration system for the home. Try freeze-dried stinging nettles in capsules as symptomatic treatment.

Question: I have fibromyalgia and I exercise regularly and do my best to eat well. I really would like some non-narcotic relief.

Andrew Weil: Try supplements of malic acid, as well as the herb Boswellia. Also, work to improve sleep patterns.

Question: Were you a fan of Dr. Fulford? How does one find an osteopath like him? What kinds of questions should one ask?

Andrew Weil: You want a practitioner of cranial therapy. Contact the Cranial Academy in Indianapolis. Ask how much time the practitioner devotes to cranial osteopathy. And there is no substitute for a good recommendation from people you trust.

Question: Dr. Weil, I know you have addressed the safety of mercury amalgam in dentistry. What is your opinion of root canals in light of the book ROOT CANAL COVER-UP? Do you feel they are safe if they are truly needed?

Andrew Weil: I think they are safe if truly needed.

Jessekay: One last question. What one thing can each of us do that is simple and effective and would make us healthier and happier?

Andrew Weil: Learn to breathe better. You'll find information on this subject in all my books. That seems like a good one to close on.

Jessekay: We exhale in gratitude. Thank you.

Andrew Weil: A pleasure. I enjoyed.

JainBN: Thank you, Dr. Weil and Jesse. Please come again.
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