Folk Remedies And Alternative Medicine Books

I’ve never written or published a book about either health or alternative medicine, but I’ve read too many. Like many people, I read them when my health was deteriorating back in my 20’s. I know now that the disease was unhappiness, but then I was ready to blame any external cause that came to mind. I spent a year as a vegetarian, and like chicken soup, if it didn’t help, it probably didn’t hurt. I tried meditation (Jewish and traditional), and read a big mix of pop psychology books and suicide studies. Short of happiness, I found the best cure to be exercise, and for many years I became a running addict. Oddly enough, I only remember reading one book that advocated running for health and I don’t have it in front of me, but it was by a running doctor on the subject of dealing with runner’s injuries.

These past three years, chronic calf muscle cramps and tendon injuries have limited my usual 5 miles of cross country every day to a few months worth in the summer or fall, with plenty of limping in between. While I haven’t been to see a doctor in well over a decade, coincidentally about the same length of time I’ve been writing, I’ve been bothered enough to start looking in books for answers. Today, in a book titled "Arthritis and Folk Remedies" by D.C. Jarvis MD, I found the answer. Two teaspoons of apple cider vinegar and two teaspoons of honey every day, or with every meal if necessary. I’m not kidding. According to Jarvis, apple cider vinegar is the tonic of life (my words), in every chapter of the book he comes back around to it. The book went through at least eight printings in the 1960’s, so I’m sure you can find a copy and confirm this. Did I find Doctor Jarvis’s presentation believable or the book compelling? Absolutely not, but it doesn’t mean the folk remedy he suggests is necessarily worthless, and it’s certainly won’t hurt to try.

The collection where I found this book, a private collection donated to the National Library here, is one I discovered maybe five years ago, with a friend of mine who is known as a macrobiotics guru. Don’t send me any macrobiotics questions, I’m not one of the faithful or even a fellow traveler, but I did attend three winters worth of a friend’s weekly dinner lectures. He was a very good speaker who would prepare notes along a theme, with a pun in the title and an anecdote or two as supporting evidence. Anecdotes are a common thread in alternative medicine books and lectures, because the lack of consensus regarding accepted scientific evidence is what make alternative medicine "alternative." Repetition is also very common, both in lectures and published books, because the number of anecdotes an author can come up with from real life are necessarily limited, if the author if honest.

I believe that both folk remedies and alternative medicine can sometimes provide useful outcomes for people with health problems, but I get offended when the practitioners use scare tactics to attract followers. Anybody who believes that drinking milk makes a person cow-like hasn’t seen very much of life, and insisting on causal links between universally consumed foods and rare diseases and mental conditions is a game for the faithful. I’ve read alternative medicine books that led me to try something new, but I’ve never read one that persuaded me the author had any real understanding of cause and effect. Like folk remedies, there’s no reason that received knowledge should be immediately dismissed as voodoo. Sometimes the old folks did the right things for the wrong reasons. But, if you’re interested in publishing a book for a reader like myself, stay away from the pseudo-science.

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