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The Complete Self-Care Guide to Holistic Medicine: Treating Our Most Common Ailments

The Complete Self-Care Guide to Holistic Medicine: Treating Our Most Common Ailments

by Robert S. Ivker
From the author of the 250,000-copy bestseller Sinus Survival, here is a complete guide to using holistic medicine to treat our most common illnesses.

The Complete Self-Care Guide to Holistic Medicine is the most comprehensive mainstream guidebook available on holistic healing. Unlike any other health guide, it presents alternative and mainstream


From the author of the 250,000-copy bestseller Sinus Survival, here is a complete guide to using holistic medicine to treat our most common illnesses.

The Complete Self-Care Guide to Holistic Medicine is the most comprehensive mainstream guidebook available on holistic healing. Unlike any other health guide, it presents alternative and mainstream therapies side by side, providing full treatment programs for more than sixty-five illnesses and health problems --ranging from backaches to migraines, from arthritis to common colds. The book features an easy-to-follow wellness program and covers every possible range of illness that can be treated from home.

Robert Ivker, D.O., is currently designing some of the first accredited courses in holistic medicine at our nation's medical schools. Ivker and his coauthors, Robert A. Anderson, M.D., one of the founding pioneers of board-certified holistic medicine in America, and medical writer Larry Trivieri, Jr., senior editor of Alternative Medicine, have crafted an essential guide that belongs in every home. Index. Bibliography.

Robert Ivker, D.O., is a clinical instructor in the departments of family medicine and otolaryngology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and is president of the American Holistic Medical Association (AHMA). The author of Sinus Survival and the monthly column "Ask Dr. Ivker" in Natural Health magazine, he is one of the nation's most visible spokesmen for alternative medicine. He lives in Colorado.

An award-winning physician and instructor, Robert A. Anderson, M.D., is the author of Stress Power! and Wellness Medicine and has taught at numerous universities. He lives in Wenatchee, Washington.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This dense volume attempts to provide a comprehensive picture of holistic alternatives--which include some of the world's oldest and most subtle medical traditions--as well as a review of major physical complaints. Ivker (Sinus Survival), Anderson (Stress Power!) and Trivieri, a journalist with a specialty in holistic medicine, open with a sweeping definition of good health, in which they include such advantages as financial well-being. They provide a whirlwind tour of ideas for healing body, mind and spirit, including prayer, sex, laughter, meditation and affirmations. The bulk of the book consists of individual summaries of both conventional and holistic treatment options for common problems, from acne to diabetes. In their attempts to cover such vast territory, the authors are forced to give important issues short shrift. Cancer, for instance, receives only 18 pages; explanations of key alternative therapies from chiropractic to Ayurveda are relegated to the appendix and handled in one paragraph each. The book is carefully and intelligently written and serves well as a useful brief reference. However, its broad scope may force readers needing help with complex health issues to seek out more specialized volumes. (Oct.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Ivker, president of the American Holistic Medical Association and a clinical instructor at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, and his coauthors, both holistic writers, provide a well-written, nicely designed guide to holistic healthcare. The first part of their book gives readers a self-test for assessing their well-being, while following chapters cover the fundamental tenets of holistic health--the integration of the body, mind, and spirit. In the second section, therapeutic options for treating over 60 common disease conditions are grouped in 16 categories. Nearly all disease entries include prevalence, anatomy and physiology, symptoms and diagnosis, risk factors and causes, conventional medical treatments, and holistic medical treatments. Especially useful are comparisons among similar ailments, such as colds, sinusitis, and allergies. Unlike many books on alternative or holistic medicine, this work does not aim to denigrate conventional medicine but takes a truly integrative approach, presenting the best of conventional and holistic therapies. Highly recommended.--Valeria Long, Amberg Health Sciences Lib., Spectrum Health, Grand Rapids, MI Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

Product Details

Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
7.82(w) x 9.46(h) x 1.62(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

How Healthy Are You?

The Wellness Self-Test

The only thing I know that truly heals people is unconditional love. ELISABETH KÜBLER-ROSS, M.D.

Are you healthy?

    Your answer to this question is most likely based on whether you suffer from symptoms of disease or have a chronic ailment or nagging condition that never quite goes away. If you don't, then you may automatically assume you are healthy, since the conditioning that the majority of us have grown up with has taught us to define health as the absence of illness. Yet the words health, heal, and holy are all derived from the same Anglo-Saxon word haelen, which means to make whole. Viewed from this perspective, two questions that more directly and accurately address the issue of health are: "Do you love your life?" and "Are you happy to be alive?" For health is far more than simply a matter of not feeling ill. It is the daily experience of wholeness and balance—a state of being fully alive in body, mind, and spirit. Such a condition could also be called optimal, or holistic, health. Helping you to achieve this state of total well-being is the primary objective of this book.


Optimal health results from harmony and balance in the physical, environmental, mental, emotional, spiritual, and social aspects of our lives. When this harmonious balance is present, we experience the unlimited and unimpeded free flow of life force energy throughout our body, mind, andspirit. Around the world, this energy is known by many names. The Chinese call it qi ("chee"), the Japanese refer to it as ki, in India it is known as prana, and in Hebrew it is chai. But in the Western world, the phrase that comes closest to capturing the feeling generated by this energy is unconditional love, regarded by holistic physicians as our most powerful medicine.

    Though each of us has the capacity to nurture and to heal ourselves, most of us have yet to tap into this infinite wellspring of loving life energy. Yet there is no one who can better administer this life-enhancing elixir to you than yourself.

    By committing to caring for yourself in the manner recommended in the following pages, you will in essence be learning how to better give and receive love—to yourself and others. As a result, you will be enhancing the flow of life force energy throughout every aspect of your life. This holistic healing process will also provide you with the opportunity to safely and effectively treat any physical, mental, or spiritual conditions that may be restricting the flow of healing energy.

    Living a holistically healthy lifestyle can facilitate the realization of your ideal life vision in accordance with both your personal and professional goals. But since the majority of us are only aware of health as a condition of not being sick, a mental image of what living holistically means is usually needed in order to achieve it. Briefly, let's examine this state of optimal well-being to give you a glimpse of what it looks and feels like.

    A list of the six components of health follows; the first italicized item in each category encompasses the essence of that component. For example, physical health can be simply described as a condition of high energy and vitality, while mental health is a state of peace of mind and contentment. The italicized items can also serve as a health gauge you can use to measure your progress in each area.

Physical Health

High energy and vitality

Freedom from, or high adaptability to, pain, dysfunction, and disability

A strong immune system

A body that feels light, balanced, strong, flexible, and has good aerobic capacity

Ability to meet physical challenges

Full capacity of all five senses and a healthy libido

Environmental Health

Harmony with your environment (neither harming nor being harmed)

Awareness of your connectedness with nature

Feeling grounded

Respect and appreciation for the Earth and all of her inhabitants

Contact with the earth; breathing healthy air; drinking pure water; eating uncontaminated food; exposure to the sun, fire, or candlelight; immersion in warm water (all on a daily basis).

Mental Health

Peace of mind and contentment

A job that you love doing


A sense of humor

Financial well-being

Living your life vision.

Emotional Health

Self-acceptance and high self-esteem

Capacity to identify, express, experience, and accept all of your feelings, both painful and joyful

Awareness of the intimate connection between your physical and emotional bodies

Confronting your greatest fears

Fulfilling your capacity to play

Peak experiences on a regular basis

Spiritual Health

Experience of unconditional love/absence of fear

Soul awareness and a personal relationship with God or Spirit

Trust in your intuition and an openness to change


Creating a sacred space on a regular basis through prayer, meditation, walking in nature, observing a Sabbath day, or other rituals

Sense of purpose

Being present in every moment

Social Health

Depth of commitment and ability to forgive

Intimacy with a spouse or partner, family, and close friends

Sense of belonging to a support group or community

Touch and/or physical intimacy on a daily basis

Selflessness and altruism


Now that you understand the six categories that comprise optimal health, it's time to measure how close you are to thriving in each area. The following questionnaire is designed to provide you with a much clearer idea of the status of your health in all six areas. You can use the results of the test to guide you through this book, and it can become a blueprint for restructuring your life. You can also measure your progress by taking the test again every two or three months.

    Answer the questions in each section and total your score. Each response will be a number from zero to five. Please refer to the frequency described within the parentheses (e.g., "2 to 3x/week") when answering questions about an activity, for example, "Do you maintain a healthy diet?" However, when the question refers to an attitude or an emotion (most of the mind and spirit questions), for example, "Do you have a sense of humor?" the response is more subjective, less exact, and refers to the terms describing frequency, such as "often" or "daily," but not to the numbered frequences in parentheses.

0 = Never or almost never (once a year or less)

1 = Seldom (2 to 12x/year)

2 = Occasionally (2 to 4x/month)

3 = Often (2 to 3x/week)

4 = Regularly (4 to 6x/week)

5 = Daily

BODY: Physical and Environmental Health

__ 1. Do you maintain a healthy diet (low fat, low sugar, fresh fruits, grains and vegetables)?

__ 2. Is your water intake adequate (at least one-half ounce per pound of body weight; 160 pounds = 80 ounces)?

__ 3. Are you within 20 percent of your ideal body weight?

__ 4. Do you feel physically attractive?

__ 5. Do you fall asleep easily and sleep soundly?

__ 6. Do you awaken in the morning feeling well rested?

__ 7. Do you have more than enough energy to meet your daily responsibilities?

__ 8. Are your five senses acute?

__ 9. Do you take time to experience sensual pleasure?

__ 10. Do you schedule regular massage or deep-tissue body work?

__ 11. Does your sexual relationship feel gratifying?

__ 12. Do you engage in regular physical workouts (lasting at least 20 minutes)?

__ 13. Do you have good endurance or aerobic capacity?

__ 14. Do you breathe abdominally for at least a few minutes?

__ 15. Do you maintain physically challenging goals?

__ 16. Are you physically strong?

__ 17. Do you do some stretching exercises?

__ 18. Are you free of chronic aches, pains, ailments, and diseases?

__ 19. Do you have regular effortless bowel movements?

__ 20. Do you understand the causes of your chronic physical problems?

__ 21. Are you free of any drug or alcohol dependency?

__ 22. Do you live and work in a healthy environment with respect to clean air, water, and indoor pollution?

__ 23. Do you feel energized or empowered by nature?

__ 24. Do you feel a strong connection with and appreciation for your body, your home, and your environment?

__ 25. Do you have an awareness of life force energy or qi?

Total BODY Score: __

MIND: Mental and Emotional Health

__ 1. Do you have specific goals in your personal and professional life?

__ 2. Do you have the ability to concentrate for extended periods of time?

__ 3. Do you use visualization or mental imagery to help you attain your goals or enhance your performance?

__ 4. Do you believe it is possible to change?

__ 5. Can you meet your financial needs and desires?

__ 6. Is your outlook basically optimistic?

__ 7. Do you give yourself more supportive messages than critical messages?

__ 8. Does your job utilize all of your greatest talents?

__ 9. Is your job enjoyable and fulfilling?

__ 10. Are you willing to take risks or make mistakes in order to succeed?

__ 11. Are you able to adjust beliefs and attitudes as a result of learning from painful experiences?

__ 12. Do you have a sense of humor?

__ 13. Do you maintain peace of mind and tranquillity?

__ 14. Are you free from a strong need for control or the need to be right?

__ 15. Are you able to fully experience (feel) your painful feelings such as fear, anger, sadness, and hopelessness?

__ 16. Are you aware of and able to safely express fear?

__ 17. Are you aware of and able to safely express anger?

__ 18. Are you aware of and able to safely express sadness or cry?

__ 19. Are you accepting of all your feelings?

__ 20. Do you engage in meditation, contemplation, or psychotherapy to better understand your feelings?

__ 21. Is your sleep free from disturbing dreams?

__ 22. Do you explore the symbolism and emotional content of your dreams?

__ 23. Do you take the time to let down and relax, or make time for activities that constitute the abandon or absorption of play?

__ 24. Do you experience feelings of exhilaration?

__ 25. Do you enjoy high self-esteem?

Total MIND Score:

SPIRIT: Spiritual and Social Health

__ 1. Do you actively commit time to your spiritual life?

__ 2. Do you take time for prayer, meditation, or reflection?

__ 3. Do you listen to and act on your intuition?

__ 4. Are creative activities a part of your work or leisure time?

__ 5. Do you take risks?

__ 6. Do you have faith in a God, spirit guides, or angels?

__ 7. Are you free from anger toward God?

__ 8. Are you grateful for the blessings in your life?

__ 9. Do you take walks, garden, or have contact with nature?

__ 10. Are you able to let go of your attachment to specific outcomes and embrace uncertainty?

__ 11. Do you observe a day of rest completely away from work, dedicated to nurturing yourself and your family?

__ 12. Can you let go of self-interest in deciding the best course of action for a given situation?

__ 13. Do you make time to connect with young children, either your own or someone else's?

__ 14. Are playfulness and humor important to you in your daily life?

__ 15. Do you have the ability to forgive yourself and others?

__ 16. Have you demonstrated the willingness to commit to a marriage or comparable long-term relationship?

__ 17. Do you experience intimacy, besides sex, in your committed relationships?

__ 18. Do you confide in or speak openly with one or more close friends?

__ 19. Do you or did you feel close to your parents?

__ 20. Do you feel close to your children?

__ 21. If you have experienced the loss of a loved one, have you fully grieved that loss?

__ 22. Has your experience of pain enabled you to grow spiritually?

__ 23. Do you go out of your way or give your time to help others?

__ 24. Do you feel a sense of belonging to a group or community?

__ 25. Do you experience unconditional love?

Total SPIRIT Score: __

Total BODY, MIND, SPIRIT Score: __

Health Scale:
325-375  Optimal Health: THRIVING
275-324  Excellent Health
225-274  Good Health
175-224  Fair Health
125-174  Below Average Health
75-124  Poor Health
Less than 75  Extremely Unhealthy: SURVIVING

    Once you have completed this questionnaire, pay attention to which categories you need to make the most improvements in, and start to implement the tools and suggestions that are outlined in chapters 2, 3, and 4. Chapter 2 gives you a blueprint for improving your physical and environmental health; chapter 3 outlines similar approaches for mental and emotional health; chapter 4 will help you enhance your spiritual and social health. Begin where you are most comfortable and take your time. You are committing to a life-changing process, one that requires patience and dedication, so proceed at your own pace. Remember, too, that everyone is unique and no two of us will follow the exact same healing path. While the science of holistic medicine provides a universal foundation and structure, its art lies in the writing of your own personal prescription for optimal health, so feel free to adapt the techniques in the pages ahead to tailor-make the holistic self-care program that is most ideally suited for you. Your heart will be your primary guide on this odyssey of realizing your full potential as a human being.

What People are Saying About This

Gladys Taylor McGarey
From Gladys Taylor McGarey, M.D. (H), author The Physician Within You

Comprehensive and easy to use ... this book should be in every home.

Christine Northrup
The Complete Self-Care Guide to Holistic Medicine, written by colleagues I've known for many years, is a treasure trove of practical information that can help everyone address their symptoms effectively while helping on all levels: physical, emotional, and spiritual. I highly recommend this guide to tomorrow's medicine today!
Bernie Siegel
A very helpful guide containing useful and easy-to-read information for those who care about and want to participate in their own state of health.
Gabriel Cousens
From Gabriel Cousens, M.D. (H), author of Conscious Eating

This is the most comprehensive, holistic, clear, well-documented self-help book I have seen in my 27 years in the field. It is an outstanding contribution and gift to the holistic health public.

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