Like A Natural Woman: The Black Woman's Guide to Alternative Healing

Like A Natural Woman: The Black Woman's Guide to Alternative Healing

by Ziba Kashef

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Library Journal
African Americans are at higher risk of hypertension, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease than other ethnic groups. Black women, who traditionally serve as caregivers, have the added stress of working both inside and outside of the home and coping with racism and sexism. It is no wonder that they may neglect their own health. These two books address the special health needs of African American women from different perspectives. Haitian physician Alcena has written a traditional health book with a political agenda and a dry, academic, and somewhat condescending voice. An introduction discussing the politics of illness and healthcare in poor minority communities leads into chapters written in question-and-answer format that address individual diseases and conditions. Hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, cancer, obesity, diabetes, and gynecological problems are among the topics covered. Although Alcena discusses the differences in disease processes and treatments for black patients, she adds a political component when she states that the stress of being black is a cause of all illness. She is also very repetitive, offers some erroneous information (e.g., that the Pap smear is useful for detecting ovarian cancer), and fails to note important facts (e.g., that H. Pylori is a major cause of gastrointestinal ulcers). Body and Soul: The Black Women's Guide to Physical Health and Well-Being (HarperCollins, 1994) and a general source such as the Harvard Guide to Women's Health (LJ 4/15/96), which includes information about African American women, are better choices than this marginal purchase. Like a Natural Woman, written by an editor at Essence magazine, stresses the importance of achieving balance within the self by meeting emotional, mental, spiritual, and physical needs. Kashef discusses a healthy lifestyle, nutrition, the use of dietary supplements and herbs, mind-body therapies, and diseases and conditions. Each chapter begins with a personal story about a woman with a specific condition and how she used natural medicine to help cope with it. There is a resource list at the end of each chapter. Unlike Alcena, Kashef addresses her readers as colleagues, encouraging them to consult healthcare practitioners and use both traditional and natural therapies to promote health. She empowers women, stressing the African American heritage of natural healing. Her book is recommended for public libraries and women's and consumer health collections. Barbara M. Bibel, Oakland P.L., CA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

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6.10(w) x 8.92(h) x 0.85(d)

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