Ten Natural Remedies: That Can Save Your Life


Walk into any health-food store and you'll find shelf after shelf filled with jars and bottles of pills, powders, and liquids. From familiar vitamins and minerals to mysterious herbs and extracts, the world of natural remedies and supplements can be a confusing one. We're all cautious about wasting money on ineffective remedies or about being harmed by potent ones, and in an industry subject to little regulation, a knowledgeable guide is essential. James Balch, coauthor of the immensely popular Prescription for ...
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Walk into any health-food store and you'll find shelf after shelf filled with jars and bottles of pills, powders, and liquids. From familiar vitamins and minerals to mysterious herbs and extracts, the world of natural remedies and supplements can be a confusing one. We're all cautious about wasting money on ineffective remedies or about being harmed by potent ones, and in an industry subject to little regulation, a knowledgeable guide is essential. James Balch, coauthor of the immensely popular Prescription for Nutritional Healing , has spent his medical career helping patients learn to take control of their own health and well-being, and in his new book, he simplifies the overwhelming world of natural remedies into a clear guide to ten essential therapies that have the potential profoundly affect health and longevity.

The first three essentials Balch covers in 10 Natural Remedies That Can Save Your Life form the foundation for health: light, water, and air. Many of us overlook the importance of these life-sustaining elements, but Balch contends it's impossible to be truly healthy without a pure source and adequate supply of each, and each also has applications as a therapy. He discusses melatonin supplements and full-spectrum light bulbs; different types of purified, spring, and filtered water; and bio-oxidative therapies. Balch then moves on to essential nutritional therapies, including green foods like barley grass that supply nutrients in high concentrations impossible to find in more familiar vegetables; garlic, gingko, and ginseng (and how to use them for maximum effectiveness); and vitamin C and E supplements. Balch also covers detoxifying chelation therapyand natural hormone maintenance. Throughout 10 Natural Remedies That Can Save Your Life , Balch stresses the importance of tuning in to your own systems — of learning to pay attention to your body's signals and learning what makes you feel good, whether it's a walk outside or time spent with your kids, and what causes you to feel bad, from skipping a meal to drinking more alcohol than you're accustomed to. Instead of ignoring health until specific problems crop up, Balch helps the reader learn how to foster wellness and to learn how it feels.

"By exploring a variety of natural remedies for treating everything from arthritis to impotence, the author allows readers to take a pro-active approach to health manintenance and disease/illness treatment."

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780385493499
  • Publisher: Random House, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 4/20/1999
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 5.75 (w) x 8.43 (h) x 0.91 (d)

Meet the Author

James F. Balch, M.D., is a graduate of the School of Medicine at Indiana University. He is the coauthor of Prescription for Nutritional Healing: A to Z Guide to Supplements--which has sold over 3.5 million copies to date. His other books include Prescription for Dietary Wellness and The Super Antioxidants. In his private practice as a urologist and in his well-respected newsletter, "Prescriptions for Healthy Living," Dr. Balch has always searched for ways to help patients assume responsibility for their own well-being. Dr. Balch lives in Texas.
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Read an Excerpt

Garlic is natural aspirin, not because it contains salicylic acid, which was first identified in willow bark tea as a substance to ease headaches and reduce joint inflammation, but because it can help to prevent red blood cells from clumping together. Other qualities of garlic, so different from aspirin that they present no risk, dissolve clots and lengthen clotting time. This natural thinning of the blood helps every aspect of blood flow within your body. It is the safest source of prevention of heart attacks and strokes. Keeping that aspirin bottle tucked in with emergency medical supplies is still a good idea, but the regular consumption of Kyolic will almost certainly preclude the need for more drastic measures.

We know that garlic provides a benefit for the cardiovascular system. Perhaps you or someone you know has a little difficulty in walking. It doesn't seem serious, but maybe it's reached the point where you just don't want to walk any more than you have to. You find that your legs feel weak, or you have a certain amount of leg pain. And when you stop walking to pause for a rest or sit down, the discomfort goes away.

That discomfort is caused by poor blood circulation in your legs. The technical term for the problem is intermittent claudication. Since it is known that garlic improves circulation to the body's peripheries, studies were conducted with patients experiencing this problem. The regular use of garlic lengthened the distance they could walk without weakness or discomfort. And as a side benefit, their cholesterol levels were lowered, and their blood pressure dropped to a healthy level.

This is what happens when garlic becomes part of the dietand supplement program of those with heart problems. In these cases, we know that individuals who, by all rights of family history, should be experiencing problems with their hearts are not having problems. They are doing better than their ancestors. In longer-term studies, they have outlived everyone simply by adding garlic in one form or another.

Are these individuals genetically unique? Possibly, but it is doubtful. Instead, it is safe to assume that the garlic made the difference. Yet this is not scientific methodology. It is just common sense, which, when it comes to the use of garlic to counter genetics, makes for good medicine.

Where scientific methods can be applied, as with antibacterial factors, garlic has been repeatedly proven safe and effective. Probably every woman and most men have heard of "yeast infection" (a.k.a. yeast syndrome or chronic candidiasis), a term defined mostly through symptoms. Blood tests or stool cultures can reveal the infection. But usually it is determined through a careful, complete physical history that reveals such problems as depression, irritability, vaginal yeast infections, frequent bladder infections, chronic fatigue, lack of energy, reduced sex drive, inability to concentrate, and other distresses. Any one of these is a concern; several in combination generally indicate the presence of chronic candidiasis.

Because yeast infections, along with fungus problems and viral infections, are not usually life-threatening, double-blind studies have been carried out on garlic as a treatment. The findings from these studies have repeatedly shown the value of garlic, in some cases used alone, and in others administered in combination with other natural therapeutics.

Note: Be certain not to self-medicate with garlic in response to the problems mentioned above. With candidiasis, for example, there may be several other concerns. You must eliminate from your diet alcohol, high-sugar foods, and other substances with a high-yeast or mold content. Your digestion must be improved. Detoxification of the liver must be pursued and the immune system strengthened. Then you must coordinate your efforts with your doctor's for continued treatment, because yeast infections can lie dormant and suddenly return if you fail to continue your care after the immediate flare-up.

Garlic is also excellent in the handling of body fat. This does not mean that you can eat garlic instead of getting exercise. You might be able to scare a vampire, but sloth, indolence, and overindulgence have no fear of garlic. Garlic, however, is acknowledged as one of the most effective means of reducing fat in conjunction with a healthy diet and exercise program.

This is not to say that you can eat all you want, using garlic as a magic pill. What you eat and how much you eat determine one source of fat, perhaps the most controllable source of fat in your body. The younger you are, the easier it is to burn the fat you take in through diet. As you get older, the ability to burn fat decreases. You may be as active at forty as you were at twenty, but you will find that a diet that left you with a flat stomach and slim hips in your youth is now forcing you to go to a larger size of clothing. This is natural and not unhealthy, but excess fat is never a good situation.

Note: Recent reports of long-term studies on body weight and health show that excess weight alone is not the danger it was once believed to be. The more excess fat you carry, the greater the stress on your body, but repeated dieting causes even greater stress. An important factor is your volume of exercise. An overweight person whose weight is stable, who is physically active, and who eats a healthy diet, including the appropriate supplements, will be far better off than the "hard body" whose diet and exercise habits are wrong. To be fat is not necessarily to be unhealthy. It is simply the most visible sign of a potentially dangerous condition that may manifest itself if you do not respect all the other factors that insure good health.

The fat we scold for clinging to our bodies as we age comes from two sources. One fat stays there because our bodies fail to break it down and eliminate it. The other fat is made by our bodies, a process known as endogenous lipogenesis. Both may be products of our lifestyle as much as our age and eating habits.

For example, do you drink? I don't mean to excess. I mean a beer after work or some wine with dinner. Nothing to worry about. Nothing excessive.

What you probably don't realize is that the alcohol you consume interferes with the breakdown of dietary fats and stimulates endogenous lipogenesis. In other words, alcohol triggers the body's fat-producing mechanism and inhibits the body's ability to break down and eliminate fat.

Taking garlic is not an excuse to drink. I don't want to see you spending your happy hour sipping margaritas and downing quantities of Kyolic. However, garlic does slow or stop our body's production of fat by breaking down the lipids and enhancing the elimination of various by-products. Garlic also moves lipids from tissue to the bloodstream for eventual removal. Garlic can dramatically reduce the bad consequences of a multitude of dietary "sins." It truly is a good thing.

Perhaps one of the most promising findings of research on the use of garlic has come in the field of cancer. The Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York has found that garlic inhibits the growth of cancer cells in the laboratory. And in a study of colon cancer conducted at the M. D. Anderson Hospital in Houston, Dr. Michael Wargovich determined that diallyl sulfide, a major component of garlic, reduced the growth of colon cancer in mice. A related experiment showed that diallyl sulfide may prevent cancer of the esophagus and help in preventing prostate cancer in some individuals.

The experiments have been thorough and the results encouraging. Garlic is gradually proving to be an effective treatment for cancer as well as a preventive, and is now being tried, in conjunction with other treatments, on immune-system disorders like AIDS. Laboratory results are consistently positive, and trials on humans show similar findings, though they are not yet far enough along for garlic to be stipulated as a treatment. However, as I said at the start of this chapter, if I had to take just one supplement for my health, it would be Kyolic garlic.

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Table of Contents

Introduction 1
Ch. 1 Listening to your Body 17
Ch. 2 The Basics: Light, Water, and Air 36
Ch. 3 A Brief Word About the Use of Natural Remedies and Your Body 82
Ch. 4 Green Foods 88
Ch. 5 Garlic, Ginseng, and Ginkgo Biloba 99
Ch. 6 Chelation Therapy 122
Ch. 7 Natural Hormone Maintenance 133
Ch. 8 Vitamins C and E 160
Ch. 9 Putting it all Together 186
Appendix A 243
Index 249
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Interviews & Essays

On Friday, April 30th, barnesandnoble.com welcomed James F. Balch to discuss 10 NATURAL REMEDIES THAT CAN SAVE YOUR LIFE.

Moderator: Good afternoon, and welcome to the Auditorium, James F. Balch! We're so glad you could join us to chat about 10 NATURAL REMEDIES THAT CAN SAVE YOUR LIFE. How are you today?

James F. Balch: Well, I'm very fine. This is quite a new experience, and I'm excited about it!

Elke from Philadelphia, PA: What do you think are some of the most common things people do or consume every day that are detrimental to their health?

James F. Balch: Oh, my.... Very encompassing question. I would say probably eating man-made foods rather than live, whole foods. Man-made foods lack the nutrients that we so desperately need. And I think, separately, we drink the wrong things, too. And the most important thing that we can consume in terms of what we drink is good-quality water. First of all, we don't drink enough of it, and when I say enough water I mean a six- to eight-ounce glass of good water every hour while we're awake would be a good amount. In terms of what kind of water, there's some discussion about it. My feeling is that steamed, distilled water is the best kind. The next would be some filtered water system. Probably the best would be a reverse-osmosis system. The worst water you can drink would be from your tap, so there must be some sort of selected tap in the house with some sort of carbon filter on it, if the only water you can drink is from your tap. And the third thing I think is important is the reduction of animal products in your diet. That does not mean to become a vegetarian, but to be very selective in terms of animal products, including dairy products. These are very problematic, especially for children, because they are filled with hormone residues, antibiotic residues, herbicide and pesticide residues, all of which are dangerous to us. And probably the final thing would be to supplement your diet with the appropriate things, which I think we will talk about as we get further along into the program.

Bill from Greenwich, CT: A friend of mine goes on what he calls a "fast" once a year, where for one week, he eats nothing but fruits, juices, and steamed vegetables. Sometimes, he'll even just do a "juice fast," and he says it cleanses the system, and you actually get all the impurities out of your system this way. Is this true? Is it healthy to do? Can you recommend any healthy approaches to this kind of cleansing?

James F. Balch: There's no question that fasting has great benefit. Fasting is designed to help the body rest and become detoxified, implying that the body is constantly being intoxicated with the foods and the drinks that we take in. I personally like the idea of fasting with juices. The concentrated juices allow us to let the juices get into the system very readily, without taxing the body.... They often come out through the skin and the urinary and gastrointestinal tracts, of course. I personally like the idea of a three-day fast with juices once every three months rather than some long, extended fast. It's a little tough for people to do that extended fast. Most important about the fast is not the fast itself, but how you prepare yourself to begin the fast. In other words, you don't want to have a hamburger and French fries the night before you start your fast. Vegetables, a less heavy diet is very important. And the same on the other end, when you come off the fast. Do it in a similar fashion. In other words, don't break the fast with French fries and a cheeseburger. Most people [who are fasting] may have headaches, may feel nauseous, may get feverish. These are all signs that you are detoxifying and are a good sign rather than a bad one. My advice to someone who has never fasted before is that it probably would be wise to at least discuss the fast with someone who is an expert in that area or at least read a good book on fasting. I've written a book called PRESCRIPTION FOR NUTRITIONAL HEALING. Remember, fasting is not starvation. Fasting is designed to help your body get rid of the poisons that have accumulated in it and is a good thing, in my opinion.

Daniele from New Orleans: I suffer from frequent headaches, and I end up taking lots of aspirin and other over-the-counter pain relievers. Can you suggest some natural remedies for headaches? I have heard that St. John's wort may be effective.

James F. Balch: I would start out and say in general, headaches are not normal and indicate an allergy to something. Probably what you are eating. By keeping a careful diary of your foods, and I mean careful, for at least a week, you will begin to recognize that there are patterns in your eating that may lead to the headaches. In fact, the most frequently consumed foods may be the culprit. Secondly, as a female, it could be linked to hormones that you are taking or that you are not taking. "The Pill" is notorious as an agent that could cause nonspecific headaches. So I would look at your hormone situation and your eating habits. In terms of relief for your headache, consider willow bark, which is much akin to aspirin. Consider MSM, a capsule that you can take to relieve the pain. But look at the food that you are eating and the hormones; that's the key, in my opinion. And consider progesterone cream as a substitute for any other hormones that you might be taking, rather than synthetic estrogen or the pill. Progesterones are very important for most women.

Jen from NYC: I live in NYC, and I worry about the quality of the air I'm breathing. Since air is so important, can you recommend anything to help ensure my health in the face of pollution?

James F. Balch: Well, you're very wise to consider the idea that the air is polluted where you live, and that's a fact in most major cities. I would be just as concerned about the air inside the workplace, though, in most "air-conditioned" buildings that recycle air. The same holds for people whose jobs require long-distance air travel -- that includes the pilots and the flight attendants. Now, since you can't do a lot about that situation, you have to protect yourself with the appropriate antioxidants. They protect against the free radicals that are in the polluted air that you're so concerned about. Now, there are a lot of antioxidants, and we discuss a lot of them in 10 NATURAL REMEDIES THAT CAN SAVE YOUR LIFE. We talk about vitamin C in combination with vitamin E, and the alphalypoic acid (or lypoic acid) that enhances the function of both C and E and should be used in conjunction with both those antioxidants. Lypoic acid is a potent antioxidant itself, and I would say, in my opinion, the dose of these antioxidants should be: natural vitamin C, 2,000 mg daily; vitamin E, 800 IU's daily; and lypoic acid, 50 mg daily. These doses might be higher or lower, considering the situation you're in as far as the air pollution is in your area.

Henrietta from NYC: It's amazing to me how easily we forget the essentials you mention in your book -- light, water, and air. I think many people take better care of their pets than they do of themselves! Why are these three essentials so crucial to us, and what happens if we neglect them?

James F. Balch: Well, let's first talk about light. Our bodies require natural light -- now, that doesn't mean direct sunlight, but it means we can't remain in the dark all the time. It's important that we at least get outside daily, and I recommend that we do some walking outside, because the light tends to trigger certain mechanisms within the body. The most important of these mechanisms has to do with the pineal gland, located in the brain, attached near the optic nerves and linked to the important pituitary gland. Now, light tends to make the pineal gland secrete melatonin, and we've discovered that melatonin is a very, very important hormone in the onboard immune system and acts as a powerful antioxidant itself and probably controls all the other antioxidant systems in the immune system in the body. Additionally, melatonin is known to act as a controller of the circadian, or day and night, rhythms of the body. In other words, it can be used as a sleep aid. But more important is the fact that as we age, the melatonin levels drop off to the point where in the aging process, the lower melatonin levels are linked to the problems that we run into in later life. I personally take two to five mg of melatonin approximately an hour before I go to bed. That ought to be enough. Now, we talked about water already. We might say again that water is essential to our health, because we are 80-some percent made up of water, and we are typically dehydrated, and that is particularly so as we age -- we don't drink enough water. We mentioned earlier that steamed, distilled water, or at least some filtered water, is best. We're obviously air breathers or -- better put -- oxygen breathers. And that means that we require oxygen for life. Unfortunately, the oxygen levels on earth, especially in major cities, continue to drop in a dangerous fashion. There's a paradox here, however. And that is that oxygen's by-products -- those things that result from the metabolism of oxygen in our bodies normally -- produce free radicals, which are extremely dangerous to the body. There are a number of ways that you can increase the oxygen level in the body without releasing these damaging free radicals. The one that intrigues me the most, and which I have been using for the past few weeks, is using a special type of oxygen called ozone. And while ozone may be considered to be dangerous, if used properly, it can be very effective in raising the oxygen levels in the body. There are a number ways to do that. They're described in some detail in 10 NATURAL REMEDIES. The technique that I have used personally is what we call "bagging," and in the particular technique that I have been using, I sit in a cabinet that is sealed up to my neck. The cabinet temperature is then raised to about 120 degrees Fahrenheit. This causes me to sweat and makes my pores come open. Then a special ozone mixture is piped into the cabinet and ultimately is absorbed through my skin. I have discovered that after the treatment, which lasts about 10 to 15 minutes, the sweat that comes from me is filled with debris -- toxins that have accumulated inside my body -- and at the same time, my energy level and my general feeling of well-being have improved dramatically. I'm going to persist in having periodic ozone treatments. Now, not to change the subject, but talking again about the importance of antioxidants. As we mentioned before, there are many antioxidants: vitamin A and its precursor, beta carotene, vitamin C, vitamin E, the trace mineral selenium, the mineral zinc, and many natural herbs such as garlic, gingko biloba, and grapeseed extract. I'd also recommend green foods, such as green barley, which is discussed at length in 10 NATURAL REMEDIES. But basically these are all important antioxidants to protect us against the bad-guy free radicals.

Jon from Park Slope, Brooklyn, NY: I know there are supposedly natural aphrodisiacs -- can you recommend any? Also, is there a natural substitute for Viagra?

James F. Balch: Yes! Very definitely! And I have written extensively on the dangers of Viagra in my newsletter, "Prescriptions for Healthy Living." The number is 800-453-9670. It's monthly, and we had one of our editions talking about nothing but Viagra and natural aphrodisiacs, if you will. In my opinion, the safest technique, at least using herbal products, is using the herb saw palmetto. This has been used in Europe for many, many years, and in my personal practice as a urologist, I found it very effective and very safe. It's commonly used for prostate disorders, and it may very well prevent both benign enlargement of the prostate and prostate cancer and should be a part of any prostate support formula that a man past the age of 50 might use. There are two products that I personally have designed. One is from Now Natural Foods; it's called Dr. Balch's Prostate Support Formula. It has saw palmetto and a number of good substances for good prostate health. The other is called Prosta Logic. The intriguing thing about Prosta Logic is that it contains kyolic garlic, which is aged garlic extract, an odorless garlic product that has powerful antioxidant potential. Both of these products contain lycopene itself, which is known to be a potent antioxidant and very beneficial in both the prevention and treatment of prostate cancer. Saw palmetto, in my opinion, is the safest aphrodisiac, although there are many Chinese herbal products that might be even more effective.

Jane from Houston, TX: How much is physical health related to mental illness such as chronic depression, bipolar disorder, et cetera? Do you have any natural recommendations for dealing with these disorders?

James F. Balch: Well, you're on the right track here, realizing that physical inactivity is definitely linked to depression. We talk at length in 10 NATURAL REMEDIES about the importance of walking, or at least moderate exercise on a consistent basis, and the importance of natural light in those activities. To get outside in the natural light and at least do some walking. Exercise and depression are naturally linked. Absence of natural light is also linked to depression. In addition, the evidence is overwhelming that St. John's wort is very beneficial, effective, and safe in treating mild to even moderate depression, but be careful: If you are going to use St. John's wort in treatment of depression, Prozac and other antidepressants must be decreased accordingly.

Tom from Louisiana: Can you recommend any natural remedies that are effective in fighting cancer?

James F. Balch: Well, in my opinion, cancer is an immune deficiency syndrome. The common denominator in all cancers is that the immune system is not functioning properly. There are many things that can enhance and make the immune system work properly -- we have talked about whole foods, soy products, the cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, and rutabaga, et cetera. Lycopene is another example. It's the red pigment in the tomato, a powerful antioxidant. R In recent studies from Detroit, a group of 30 prostate cancer patients were shown to be greatly helped by supplemental lycopene, even after the fact of prostate cancer. It's been shown in the laboratory model that aged garlic extract prevents the multiplication of the prostate and breast cancer cells. In 10 NATURAL REMEDIES, we talk about the green foods -- green barley, for example -- that have powerful antioxidant effects against certain cancers. The answer to the question is that there are many things, mostly antioxidants, that are discussed at length in 10 NATURAL REMEDIES, which help not only to prevent cancer but also to treat cancer. But in my opinion, just as important, these same antioxidants help prevent and treat the other major killer that we deal with, which is hardening of the arteries -- arteriosclerosis.

Joanne from Bangor, ME: Hi, Dr. Balch. I'm glad to be online with you; I love your books. What are some of your favorite healthy cookbooks?

James F. Balch: Well, I'm partial to one, because my former wife and I wrote it. It's called PRESCRIPTION FOR DIETARY WELLNESS. It has been recently revised and is available in all your health stores. It is an extremely good cookbook. It all came about because of a health restaurant that we had in our health store, The Good Things Naturally, in Greenfield, Indiana. There are a number of others, but I'm partial to that one.

John from East Village, NYC: I am always eager to learn more natural or sometimes Eastern remedies for common ailments, although I still remain attached to Western medicine. Is it possible to find a physician with a balance between the two? How do you recommend doing so?

James F. Balch: Yes, it's possible. More and more doctors are realizing that they're going to have to rethink their single orthodox position, because there are just other options for treating or preventing disease. Unfortunately, I can't give you any names, although I believe Dr. Atkins in New York City is one of the great leaders in this new integrative medicine of the 21st century. You might inquire of his office. He's in downtown New York.

Joshua from Albany: I'm always so confused when I go into a health food store to pick up echinacea or goldenseal -- I have no idea what to look for in terms of what brands are good and what brands are bogus. Am I looking for extract? Should I double-check the ingredients? Any sort of rule of thumb would really be helpful. Thanks.

James F. Balch: Excellent question. Just in the last day or so, there has been some contrary study that came out on echinacea. In my opinion, they are bogus, and echinacea remains an excellent product. In combination with goldenseal, echinacea remains one of the best things you can do for yourself at the first sign of a cold or flu. The best form of echinacea or goldenseal is in a liquid, alcohol-free extract. A few drops under the tongue, held there for 30 seconds or so, allowing for the absorption through the oral mucosa, is the most effective thing you can do at the first sign of a cold. This should be repeated every 30 minutes, until you feel the cold has waned. The goldenseal must be limited in how long you take it -- probably no longer than 24 to 48 hours at a time. At the same time, at the first sign of a cold or flu, vitamin C impregnated with the mineral zinc in a lozenge in the mouth is also a effective cold preventive.

Moderator: Thank you so much for joining us this afternoon, James F. Balch. This has been a fascinating chat. Before you go, do you have any last words of advice for the online audience?

James F. Balch: Most important, it's time to become more active -- proactive, if you will -- in your own health care. In addition to 10 NATURAL REMEDIES THAT CAN SAVE YOUR LIFE, there is an audiotape that in the opinion of many who have listened to it is a very effective way to bring across these remedies that we have discussed in this book. In closing, I'd say that this has been most enjoyable. My first experience, and I hope not my last. And the questions were remarkable and excellent -- thank you!

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