Dr. Andrew Weil is a highly respected advocate of integrative medicine. According to National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine at the National Institutes of Health, integrative medicine is a combination of complementary and alternative medicines (CAM) that have been shown scientifically to be safe and effective with mainstream medical treatments.
An article by Brad Lemley on DrWeil.com defined integrative medicine as "healing-oriented medicine that takes account of the whole person (body, mind, and spirit), including all aspects of lifestyle."
One of Weil's focuses is the prevention of illness by making basic lifestyle choices. He has outlined five essential moves to increase wellbeing.
Weil first recommends iodine because it controls all the necessary metabolic functions of the body, like blood cell production, body heat, hormones and muscle function.
When you lack sufficient iodine, you may experience fatigue, cold intolerance and weight gain. You may deal with gastrointestinal issues, abnormalities of the skin, and neurological problems.
Weil said that millions of women are affected because the standard American diet lacks iodine. If you are deficient in iodine, your thyroid gland may become enlarged. This can result in hypothyroidism symptoms, such as brittle hair and nails, dry skin, exhaustion and puffiness of the eyes.
According to the National Institutes of Health, adults should get 150 mcg of iodine every day. If you need more iodine, eat more seafood such as lobster, sardines, shellfish and tuna, as well as more dairy products. Kelp is a particularly rich source of iodine, containing 2500 mcg of iodine in every gram.
Weil's second recommendation is adding pistachios and an herbal licorice product called deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL). These items can improve digestion, heartburn, IBS and stomach pain.
Pistachios have prebiotic qualities, enhancing good bacteria levels in your digestive system. DGL can ease heartburn, indigestion and GERD symptoms as it enhances the mucous coating of the intestinal tract, lower esophagus and stomach.
DGL can be found in health food stores. It comes in tablet and powder forms. If you have diabetes, hypertension or a history of heart disease, though, you should avoid DGL.
Weil's third recommendation is palm reflexology, based on traditional Chinese medicine, as well as something called the 4-7-8 breathing technique. Palm reflexology involves pressure on certain points to activate meridians (channels) which decrease tension and increase energy and blood flow.
To perform the 4-7-8 breathing technique, inhale through your nose with a closed mouth for four seconds. Hold your breath for a count of seven, then breathe out through your mouth with a whoosh for a count of eight. This is said to relax the nervous system.
Weil's fourth recommendation is knowing what foods to eat raw. Some foods are best raw, and some lose flavor and texture, not to mention minerals and vitamins when eaten in that state.
Carrots and tomatoes offer up more carotenoids when cooked. On the other hand, aragula, watercress and other leafy green vegetables are best raw, as are asparagus and garlic.
Asparagus has plenty of antioxidants, eliminating free radicals. It has high levels of folate to increase brain health in conjunction with vitamin B12. Folate content is decreased upon cooking.
Weil calls garlic a superfood. It enhances immunity and blood circulation. The sulfur compound allicin acts like an antibiotic and inhibits germ growth when garlic is bruised, chewed or chopped.
One clove on a garlic bulb contains 1 mg of allicin, the equivalent of 15 standard units of penicillin. Allicin decreases when garlic has been cooked.
Weil's fifth recommendation is supplementation of CoQ10. It lessens oxidative stress upon the brain and heart. Our natural production of CoQ10 lessens as we get older, and as a result of some diseases and medications. Eating foods such as beef, peanuts and sardines will increase your intake of CoQ10.
Weil says though that a supplemental pill of 120 mg each day is more effective. For fullest effect, it should be taken in a 60 mg soft gel capsule, twice a day, combined with a meal containing fat.
Weil offers some other suggestions for improved health.
Asian mushrooms such as shiitake and maitake oyster mushrooms are said to enhance your ability to resist stress and live a longer, healthier life.
Probiotics can restore good bacteria in your GI tract, aiding proper digestion.
To reduce fatigue and increase wellbeing, Weil encourages the use of natural remedies recommended by a colleague Dr. Tieraona Low Dog.
These remedies are:
- Golden root (also called rhodiola or arctic root) for enhanced mental concentration and physical endurance, as well as fatigue reduction
- Prickly pear for high levels of magnesium and vitamin C, as well as decreased insulin sensitivity and fatigue
- Siberian ginseng has long been used by the military and by athletes
Balanced Living: What is Integrative Medicine? DrWeil.com. Retrieved May 20, 2013.
Dr. Andrew Weil’s 5 Health Essentials. DoctorOz.com. Retrieved May 20, 2013.
Reviewed May 22, 2013
by MIchele Blacksberg RN