Weil began his medical career receiving training in conventional medicine at one of the most respected medical schools in the nation, Harvard. Soon thereafter, he began exploring the world of alternative medicine and he liked what he saw. Weil has worked for the National Institute of Mental Health and was a research assistant in ethnopharmacology at the Harvard Botanical Museum. He traveled the world extensively collecting information about the medical properties of plants, altered states of consciousness, and healing. When the book was written, he was the 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 practiced natural and preventive medicine.
Chapter two, Right in My Own Backyard, describes Weil's return from his South American travels in 1973, and his settlment near Tucson, Arizona, where he lives to this day. This chapter is easily one of the most interesting, providing insight into Weil's beliefs. In this chapter, we meet kindly Dr. Robert Fulford, an unusual osteopathic physician who believes in "cranial therapy." At this time, Weil says he was prejudiced about osteopaths, and with the usual prejudices of medical doctors, considered them second-rate M.D's who "dabbled in the kind of manipulation of the body more frequently done by chiropractors." This chapter details Fulford's medical practices and how Weil was eventually won over by his techniques. At the end of the chapter, Weil states, "Dr. Fulford did not succeed with everyone, but he had a higher percentage of successful outcomes than any other practitioner I have met."
Although Weil provides detailed information supporting various types of alternative medicine, it seems the conventional medical community would not receive this book with open arms. However, Weil offers a credible look at alternative therapy that is worthwhile reading for any medical professional. For those who already support alternative medicine, the book provides valuable insight into both alternative and conventional worlds of treatment.
In various chapters Weil discusses, "Medical Pessimism," "The Healing System," "The Role of the Mind in Healing," "The Tao of Healing," "Optimizing Your Healing System," "A Healing Diet," "Protecting Yourself from Toxins," "Using Tonics," "Activity and Rest," and "Mind and Spirit." He ends the book with his "Eight Week Program for Optimal Healing Power." Here, Weil outlines his program for wellness and healing.
Some readers might be skeptical of alternative medicine, but this easy-to-read book provides solid evidence for considering alternative practices. Those who believe in alternative medicine will also find the book helpful and informative.