Eight Weeks to Optimum Health - A Proven Program for Taking Full Advantage of Your Bodyís Natural Healing Power by Andrew Weil, MD. Alfred A Knopf, New York, 1997, 276 pages, $23. Random House Audiobooks, 180 minutes, $16.

Review by Del Meyer, MD

This is Dr Weilís seventh book which is near the top of the best seller charts. After developing the scientific basis for Spontaneous Healing in his previous best seller, this is a manual on "how to do it." He recognizes human natureís resistance to change. Knowledge itself does not usually do it. Just as in smoking cessation programs, every automatic activity has to be changed. Or as a professor discussing how to lose weight said, "It is quite simple, but certainly not easy." Weil has arranged the information in this book on a week-by-week program to help people to change their lifestyle. He feels this can be done over a two month period.

There are five parts to every week. In week one, the project is to go through your pantry and refrigerator and remove all oils other than olive oil including butter, margarine, and all food products made with vegetable shortening and hydrogenated oils. For diet, he recommends start eating fresh broccoli, salmon, sardines, or kippers. If you donít like fish, buy flax seeds, grind them, and sprinkle them over your food. The supplements should include one gram or more of vitamin C with each meal. Start exercising by walking ten minutes a day for five days. For your mental/ spiritual state he recommends thinking about your healing experiences over the previous two years and what you did to speed healing. Practice breath observation for five minute every day. And buy flowers to keep in your home where you can enjoy them.

Weil develops the same five topics each week for eight weeks. I believe the subject of "sex and healing" comes up in week seven. Itís a night to live for. In this book he has actually added a "ninth week and beyond," as well as customized plans for those over fifty, over seventy, under twenty, for men, for women, pregnant women, those living in the city, those traveling frequently - has he got you covered yet?

The book might be important to our own health, and useful in our practice. Much of it wonít be accepted by everyone. In our culture where people would rather take Pravachol than change their diet, this can be an important source of information for our patients and many are reading it. Thereís an audio version for those that canít spare a few hours away from their family or practice. You can also read Dr Weil on a monthly basis now with his health letter. So enjoy broccoli, fish, flax, and soy; exhale deeply; avoid margarine, artificial sweeteners, and barbecued meat; and youíre on the way to optimum health.