A handy introduction to readily available nostrums, although web-savvy readers may find most, if not all, of this...

Folk Remedies for the Modern Age

A debut collection of health-based folk remedies using natural items.

“I love simple answers,” writes Canelo, the manager of a holistic healing center in Montclair, N.J., as he introduces this book of ancient and modern remedies. His slim collection proves this assertion with an appealingly brief account of  mixtures, methods and practices dedicated to healing without prescription drugs or conventional treatments. According to the author, vinegar, baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, sea salt, raw bee products, olive oil, colloidal silver, castor oil and activated charcoal, among other items, form the building blocks for health. However, he also reminds readers “with any serious health problem” to consider his suggestions only after they consult with their “regular health care practitioner and/or medical doctor.” The discoveries here aren’t new; for example, D. C. Jarvis’ Folk Medicine: A Vermont Doctor's Guide to Good Health espoused the cure-all properties of apple cider vinegar mixed with honey back in 1958. Readers can easily find the identical text and pictures in “Six Air Purifying House Plants” on numerous blogs and Pinterest boards online. Readers may also wonder if the cures proposed here come from the placebo effects or the actual treatments; Canelo supplies little supporting evidence, other than his own testimony. Nonetheless, readers may wish to try his “Sleepy Time Tonic” of apple cider vinegar mixed with freshly boiled water, bee pollen, and lemon juice, or drape a simple black scarf over the face to enhance sleep. It’s true that baking soda and salt clean almost anything, and that using natural ingredients found around the house saves money. Readers may find these natural healing mixtures appealing compared with commercial chemical products; after all, olive oil does wonders for skin and digestion.

A handy introduction to readily available nostrums, although web-savvy readers may find most, if not all, of this information online.

Pub Date: May 9, 2013

ISBN: 978-1482618648

Page Count: 74

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: June 13, 2013

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Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and...

THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS

A dense, absorbing investigation into the medical community's exploitation of a dying woman and her family's struggle to salvage truth and dignity decades later.

In a well-paced, vibrant narrative, Popular Science contributor and Culture Dish blogger Skloot (Creative Writing/Univ. of Memphis) demonstrates that for every human cell put under a microscope, a complex life story is inexorably attached, to which doctors, researchers and laboratories have often been woefully insensitive and unaccountable. In 1951, Henrietta Lacks, an African-American mother of five, was diagnosed with what proved to be a fatal form of cervical cancer. At Johns Hopkins, the doctors harvested cells from her cervix without her permission and distributed them to labs around the globe, where they were multiplied and used for a diverse array of treatments. Known as HeLa cells, they became one of the world's most ubiquitous sources for medical research of everything from hormones, steroids and vitamins to gene mapping, in vitro fertilization, even the polio vaccine—all without the knowledge, must less consent, of the Lacks family. Skloot spent a decade interviewing every relative of Lacks she could find, excavating difficult memories and long-simmering outrage that had lay dormant since their loved one's sorrowful demise. Equal parts intimate biography and brutal clinical reportage, Skloot's graceful narrative adeptly navigates the wrenching Lack family recollections and the sobering, overarching realities of poverty and pre–civil-rights racism. The author's style is matched by a methodical scientific rigor and manifest expertise in the field.

Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and Petri dish politics.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4000-5217-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2010

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An absorbing, wide-ranging story of humans’ relationship with the water.

WHY WE SWIM

A study of swimming as sport, survival method, basis for community, and route to physical and mental well-being.

For Bay Area writer Tsui (American Chinatown: A People's History of Five Neighborhoods, 2009), swimming is in her blood. As she recounts, her parents met in a Hong Kong swimming pool, and she often visited the beach as a child and competed on a swim team in high school. Midway through the engaging narrative, the author explains how she rejoined the team at age 40, just as her 6-year-old was signing up for the first time. Chronicling her interviews with scientists and swimmers alike, Tsui notes the many health benefits of swimming, some of which are mental. Swimmers often achieve the “flow” state and get their best ideas while in the water. Her travels took her from the California coast, where she dove for abalone and swam from Alcatraz back to San Francisco, to Tokyo, where she heard about the “samurai swimming” martial arts tradition. In Iceland, she met Guðlaugur Friðþórsson, a local celebrity who, in 1984, survived six hours in a winter sea after his fishing vessel capsized, earning him the nickname “the human seal.” Although humans are generally adapted to life on land, the author discovered that some have extra advantages in the water. The Bajau people of Indonesia, for instance, can do 10-minute free dives while hunting because their spleens are 50% larger than average. For most, though, it’s simply a matter of practice. Tsui discussed swimming with Dara Torres, who became the oldest Olympic swimmer at age 41, and swam with Kim Chambers, one of the few people to complete the daunting Oceans Seven marathon swim challenge. Drawing on personal experience, history, biology, and social science, the author conveys the appeal of “an unflinching giving-over to an element” and makes a convincing case for broader access to swimming education (372,000 people still drown annually).

An absorbing, wide-ranging story of humans’ relationship with the water.

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-61620-786-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Algonquin

Review Posted Online: Jan. 5, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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