Healing with Whole Foods: Asian Traditions and Modern Nutrition by Paul Pitchford (North Atlantic Books) is one of those reference tomes every holistic healing practitioner will want to have in the personal library. I’ll be reviewing the Third Edition published in 2002. It was first released in 1993 and since then, over 500,000 copies have been sold and no wonder.
Healing is well-organized, which is a prerequisite for any reference book. He begins where every holistic healer using traditional Chinese medicine would begin: covering Qi vitality and the binary of yin and yang, which he then expands on to cover hot/cold temperaments; interior/exterior physical conditions; and diagnosing for excess versus deficiency.
Then traditional Chinese medicine is tempered with modern nutritional science in Part II of Healing. Categories such as “Oils and Fats,” “Sweeteners,” “Green Food Products,” “Vitamins and Supplements,” etc. are covered in detail. All facets of diet and spiritual practices around food and diet are covered, such as Fasting. Even facets such as one-pot meals and the art of food presentation are given close attention.
How the Wu Xing is used to guide our understanding of food, nutrition, and holistic healing is then covered in Part III. Part IV covers dietary treatments for various diseases, such as blood sugar imbalances (diabetes, hypoglycemia, etc.), stomach issues, blood disorders, degenerative disorders (arthritis, rheumatism, asthma, skin diseases, and so much more). Then some wonderful recipes are provided in Part V, which piqued my interest immensely. The final two appendices will also be of great interest. “Parasite Purge Program” and “The Effect of Root Canals on Health.”
The breadth and scope of Healing means this book will be a lifelong companion. It’s not one of those books you read and then forget. You read, trying desperately to retain as much information in your head as possible, go on a highlighting frenzy through the pages, and then revisit time and time again.
Here is a random collection of cool info I gleaned from the book:
- Alfalfa can promote weight loss. Bitter herbs, such as dandelion root, chamomile, green tea, etc. are generally beneficial for weight loss.
- Each animal is associated with certain positive and negative character traits and when you eat these animals, you are also absorbing their consciousness.
- When pregnant or nursing, you need an abundance of Vitamin B12 in your system to build immunity and promote healthy growth. B12 deficiency is one of the most common issues among pregnant women and new mothers, so be sure to load up on the B12.
- Herring (as in the fish) has an anodyne effect, which can help relieve pain, detoxify the body, and treat general deficiencies. However, excess might cause skin eruptions.
- Eating beef helps to strengthen the spleen, pancreas, and stomach. It builds the blood and increases your Qi vitality.
- Acidic marinades help improve the digestibility of meats. Marinate meats in apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, wine, tomato juice, or beer for at least 30 minutes prior to cooking. When cooking meat soups and stews, cook with ginger root or marjoram to help the body get rid of toxins from the meat.
- Pairing meats with dark green leafy vegetables will help with the digestion of meat proteins and fats. Also, vegetables such as cabbage, broccoli, and onion help as well.
- The more salt you eat, the stronger your desire to also eat fats. Reduce your intake of salt and you’ll reduce your cravings for fatty foods.
- Asthma is the result of disharmony in (1) the digestive center, (2) kidneys-adrenals or liver, and/or (3) the heart and lungs. To correct the imbalance, eat a diet primarily consisting of grains, vegetables, seaweed, legumes, sprouts, a lot of omega-3, and reduce the use of heavy or strong spices. Also add wheat-grass juice to the diet and routinely incorporate vegetable soup into your diet. Avoid ice cream and cow’s milk.
- If you suffer from eczema, apply raw honey, fresh papaya, and/or a poultice of grated daikon radish and raw potato to the affected area on the skin. Wash that area with the juice of the radish or potato. Also, rubbing slices of cold, fresh cucumber on the affect area and dabbing with apple cider vinegar will help.
- Amaranth is awesome and helps fulfill protein and calcium requirements. Great for pregnant women and children or those who engage in heavy physical labor. Consider incorporating amaranth into your regular diet.
- Congee (a typical Chinese rice porridge dish) is awesome and helps to tonify the blood and Qi energy. Those who are ill or chronically ill should be fed congee. Certain types of vegetables and herbs should be added to the congee to promote various forms of healing. Check out pages 477-479 in the book.
- Both pumpkin pie and apple pie are considered healing foods. (Nice!) Check out recipes for these two desserts on pages 626 and 627.
That is just a tiny sampling of what you will learn from Healing.
The dedicated student can follow the order of chapters and read this book cover to cover. Every holistic health practitioner, health and nutrition consultant, and those interested in healing the body through natural means are going to treasure this book. One of the endorsements for Healing comes from Yoga Journal–“This book has the feel of a life’s work.” I second that sentiment.
Coming in just under $20, you have no excuse for skipping out on this book. Not only is it worth getting, it’s worth dedicating a long weekend to studying. Get out a notebook and pen, sticky tabs, and highlighter, and get to work. Pitchford’s Healing with Whole Foods has become one of those go-to items that I’ll give as gifts to friends and family. Even if you don’t follow every point of the book–and you most likely won’t–just having such a wealth of nutritional knowledge at your fingertips makes it worth obtaining a copy of this book. I’m telling you– it’s better than having a Chinese grandmother on call. Not that I’m dogging on Chinese grandmothers, but, you know, their do’s and don’ts rarely come backed with science. Pitchford does his best to back the traditional principles of holistic healing with nutritional science. He has married the ancient with the modern into an incredibly insightful and easy-to-read manual.
By the way, I love how right after the title page, Pitchford dedicates his book first to us, the readers, and then to Kuan Yin.
FTC Disclosure: In accordance with Title 16 of the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations Part 255, “Guides Concerning Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising,” I received the book Healing with Whole Foods from the publisher, North Atlantic Books, for prospective review. Everything I’ve said here is sincere and accurately reflects my opinion of the deck and book set.