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— updated 1999-01-19


Recommended reading in health and alternative medicine

A list of books recommended for people taking a serious interest in alternative medicine and health, compiled by the Rocky Mountain Herbal Institute. Topics include common health concerns, environmental health, diet, nutrition, herbs, and health politics. Reviewers comments may be included between brackets. Certain books present controversial information with which we may not necessarily agree, but thought important to include.

Subtopics on this page…

Copyright ©1995 by RMH-Publications Trust; all rights reserved.


For professional references in Chinese herbology, see:


Health hazards and specific illnesses

Chemical sensitivity, health effects of chemical pollution

  • Wilson, Cynthia; Chemical Exposure and Human Health: A Reference to 314 Chemicals with a Guide to Symptoms and a Directory of Organizations; McFarland and Co., Jefferson NC; c1993. [jln] [rww: An extensive cross-referenced index of symptoms and chemicals that cause these symptoms. Organized alphabetically by symptom and by chemical name. Useful as a first step in tracking down possible chemicals that may be responsible for "mystery" symptoms. Also a good basic reference for the most common symptoms on exposure to each chemical, both chronic and acute. Does not go into explanations.]
  • Matthews, Bonnye L; Chemical Sensitivity: A Guide to Coping with Hypersensitivity Syndrome, Sick Building Syndrome, and Other Environmental Illnesses; McFarland and Co., Jefferson NC; c1992. [jln] [rww: An excellent and thorough description of the various phases of normal immune system response to toxic chemicals, hypersensitivity reactions, organic brain syndrome, the link between intoxication and addiction to toxic chemicals; social and legal support networks and resources for dealing with chemical sensitivity; common sources of chemical sensitivity problems in households, institutions, and workplaces.]
  • Wilson, Cynthia; Chemical Injury Information Network; PO Box 301, White Sulphur Springs, MT 59645. Newsletter. [rww] [jnl]
  • Dadd, Debra Lynn; The Nontoxic Home; Jeremy P. Tarcher, Inc., c19XXX. Especially useful for helping people with chemical sensitivity problems to plan and construct their own home. [jnl]
  • Dadd, Debra Lynn; Nontoxic, Natural, and Earthwise; Jeremy P. Tarcher, Inc., c19XXX. Especially useful for people with chemical sensitivity problems who need to eliminate common household chemicals from their environment. [jln]
  • Quayle, Steven, and Long, Duncan; Breathe No Evil, Tactical Guide to Biological and Chemical Terrorism; Farrar, Straus, Giroux, c1995. [rww: Full of practical guidelines for preparing to survive a biological or chemical attack or accident. Discusses filters, decontamination, symptoms of various toxic agents.]
  • Casdorph, Richard and Walker, Morton; Toxic Metal Syndrome: How Metal Poisonings Can Affect Your Brain; Avery City Publishing, Garden City, NY, c1995.

Electromagnetic pollution

  • Becker, Robert O.; Cross Currents; Tarcher/Putnam; 200 Madison Ave.; New York NY 10016; c1990. [rww: A fascinating presentation of the interactions between electrical and magnetic fields with the body and their health effects. Acupuncture, the electrical control system, and cancer; magnetic fields and biological cycles; observations on homeopathy; electrical and magnetic therapy and their risks and benefits; magnetic fields and behavior; ELF and altered consciousness; relationship between EM radiation exposure and illness.]
  • Manning, Jeane and Begich, Nick; Angels Don't Play This HAARP; Earthpulse Press; PO Box 201393; Anchorage AK 99520. [rww: A description of a military project in Alaska that would likely alter the earth's stratosphere and negatively affect all life on the planet, based on many of the principles described in Becker's Cross Currents. Some of the effects discussed: disruption of human mental processes; jamming of communications networks world-wide; alteration of weather and climate patterns; induction of many new diseases.]

Vaccines and safety

  • Miller, Neil Z.; Vaccines: Are They Really Safe and Effective?; New Atlantean Press; c1994. [rww] [ram: Raises numerous questions about the standard use of vaccines].


  • Garrett, Laurie; The Coming Plague: Newly Emerging Diseases in a World Out of Balance; Farrar, Straus, Giroux, c1995. [jln] [rww: Readable and informative descriptions of epidemics around the world, vivid symptom-sign descriptions, and the political and human repercussions of these epidemics. The only deficiency is a tendency to gloss over explaining Koch's postulates, which are crucial for proving the link between microbe and a specific infectious illness.]


  • Ellison, Bryan J. and Duesberg, Peter H.; Why We Will Never Win the War on AIDS; Inside Story Communications; 190 El Cerrito Plaza, Ste 201; El Cerrito CA 94530; c1994. [rww: An alternative view of the AIDS crisis. Duesberg, a UC-Berkeley virology researcher, believes that HIV is a relatively harmless virus, and that the AIDS epidemic is due to other factors, including immune-system breakdown from use of both prescription and street drugs. A well documented book, presenting the thesis that the HIV virus does not satisfy the criteria of Koch's postulates for being a cause of AIDS.]
  • Duesberg, Peter H. and Yiamouyiannis, John; AIDS: The good news is HIV doesn't cause it, the bads news is "recreational drugs and medical treatments like Azt do".; Health Action Press, 6439 Taggart Road, Delaware, Ohio 43015; c1995. [rww: An alternative view of the AIDS crisis. Similar in message to Why We Will Never Win the War on AIDS, but less technical and easier for lay people to understand.]

Addictions, overcoming them

  • Phelps, Janice Keller and Nourse, Alan E.; Hidden Addiction and How To Get Free; c19XXX. [jnl: Helpful advice for people with alcohol or drug addictions and their families.]

Specific health issues and illnesses

  • Gerson, Max; A Cancer Therapy; The Gerson Institute; PO Box430; Bonita, CA 91908. [rww: Describes the basic dietary and nutritional, supplements used by Dr. Gerson to obtain his reputedly high success rate. While these diets may need to be tailored to individual constitutions, there are enough good ideas here to make this book required reading by all health practitioners who see people with cancer. In addition he recommends raw liver extract, and pure, fresh sources may be hard to obtain; most livers available in the U.S. are not fit for consumption by even healthy people.].
  • Austin, Steve and Hitchcock, Cathy; Phelps, Janice Keller and Nourse, Alan E.; Hidden Addiction and How To Get Free; Breast Cancer: What You Should Know (But may Not Be Told) About Prevention, Diagnosis, and Treatment; Prima Publishing; c1994. [ram: Well-written, nutritional and dietary approach integrated with allopathic medicine. Very good preparation for dealing with oncologists.]
  • Ornish, Dean; Dr. Dean Ornish's Program for Reversing Heart Disease; Random House; c1990. [ram: Well written account of program of diet, exercise, and inner work showing scientifically verified reversal of heart disease. With recipes.]
  • Gaby, Alan R.; Preventing and Reversing Osteoporosis; Prima Publishing; c1994. [ram: A nutritional, biochemical approach to dealing with osteoporosis.]
  • Scott, Julian; Natural Medicine for Children; Avon Books; c1990. [ram: Includes a variety of therapeutics for children with discussion of constitutional patterns. Includes diet, herbs, homeopathy, and massage.]

General medical reference

  • Current Medical Diagnosis and Treatment; Krupp and Chatton, eds.; Lange Medical Publications, Los Altos, CA; c1984. [rww: Up-to-date versions are published periodically. A standard medical reference used by physicians that contains concise descriptions of most common diseases, diagnostic tests, current standards of treatment and medication.]

Healthy food and food preparation

Nutrition and diet

  • Haas, Elson; Staying Healthy With the Seasons; Celestial Arts, Millbrae, CA; c1981. [jnl] [rww:Provides a good start toward common sense diet recommendations, compatible with what TCM herbalists know about proper diet. Some of the recommendations are a bit simplistic; an individual's constitution must be considered before trying some of his recommendations.]
  • Ballentine, Rudolph; Diet and Nutrition: A Holistic Approach; Himalayan International Institute, Honesdale PA; c1978. [jnl] [rww: Good general advice about diet and how to recognize and avoid inferior and dangerous foods and additives. Emphasis is Ayurvedic, and tends to recommend dairy products more than other nutritional systems, which is a point of controversy.]
  • Pitchford, Paul; Healing With Whole Foods: Oriental Traditions and Modern Nutrition; North Atlantic Press; c1993. [jln: Good dietary advice, except recommends heavy vitamin and mineral supplementation.] [ram: Covers a wide range of topics with emphasis on pattern diagnosis to some extent.]
  • Werbach, Melvyn; Nutritional Influences on Illness; Keats Publishing, Inc.; c1988. [ram: Source book of clinical nutrition research organized by chapters on specific diseases.]
  • Kirschmann, John D. and Dunne, Lavon J.; Nutrition Almanac; McGraw-Hill; c1984. [ram: Basic descriptions of specific nutrients and their function and therapeutic usage].
  • Campbell, Colin, ed.; Nutrition Advocate; Nutrition Advocate, 95 Brown Road, PO Box 4716, Ithaca NY 14852. [jnl: A newsletter with up-to-date information on the relationship between specific diets and foods, health, and disease.]

Healthy cookbooks

  • Colbin, Annamarie; The Natural Gourmet; Ballentine Books; c1989. [ram: Low fat, whole foods recipes. A bit austere but useful for those who must simplify their diets.]
  • Somerville, Annie; Fields of Greens; Bantam; c1993. [ram: Vegetarian cookbook from a Zen restaurant in California. Many nice sounding recipes. Includes dairy, however.]

Herbal traditions

Professional references in Chinese herbology

Naturopathic medicine

  • Murray, Michael and Pizzorno, Joseph; Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine; Prima Publishing; c1990. [ram: Good presentation of modern naturopathic medicine with discussion of basic principles and chapters on specific diseases. Mainly nutritional, dietary and individual botanicals.]
  • Weil, Andrew; Natural Health, Natural Medicine; Houghton Mifflin, Co.; c1990. [ram: Good presentation of basic principles of nutrition, diet, and healing with a section of brief suggestions for specific conditions.]
  • Thrash, Agatha and Thrash, Calvin; Home Remedies; Thrash Publications; c1981. [ram: Hydrotherapy, massage, charcoal, and other simple treatments.]

Western herbalism

  • Mabey, Richard; The New Age Herbalist; MacMillan Publishing; c1988. [ram: Beautiful photos of Western herbs with good descriptions of both traditional uses and some scientific research.]
  • Hoffman, David; The Holistic Herbal; Findhorn Press; c1985XXX. [ram: User-friendly guide to Western herbalism.]

Politics, culture, and health

Healthy education

  • Healy, Jame M.; Endangered Minds; Simon and Schuster, New York; c1990. [rww: Neural plasticity and its implications for education; learning disabilities; the problem of television and other forms of passive learning.]
  • Llewellyn, Grace; The Teenage Liberation Handbook; Lowry House, Eugene OR; c1991. [rww: A practical guide for breaking out of school and getting a real education by learning on one's own. Homeschooling; how to learn on your own by reading and talking with knowledgeable adults; work experiences and apprenticeships; how to prepare oneself for college by homeschooling. This book is enjoyable to read and does a great job of providing practical advice and emotional support for teenagers frustrated with conventional schooling. It is refreshingly geared to the modern viewpoints of non-religious fundamentalists.

Corruption and controversy in the medical industry

  • Walker, Martin J.; Dirty Medicine; Slingshot Publications, BM Box 8314, London WC1N 3XX England; c1993. [rww: An expose of the incredibly incestuous relationship between science establishment and the medical industry to promote disease for profit. Reveals details and organizations, and explains why and how alternative medical breakthroughs are quashed. Thorough, eyeopening, well-documented, and necessary reading for all alternative health practitioners.]
  • Lanctot, Guylaine; The Medical Mafia; Heres the Key Inc., PO Box 223, Morgan VT 05853; c1995. [rww: A good introduction to lay people to a lot of ideas known among holistic practitioners. Politics of health care, AIDS, cancer, current theories of health circulating among alternative health circles. The book is often more of an outline than a text, minimally footnoted and documented, but is a good summary of many of the most important current ideas in alternative health care, and even experienced practitioners may find a few new ideas in here worth pursuing further.]
  • Culbert, Michael L.; Medical Armageddon, vol. 1 and 2; Medical Armageddon, vol. 3 and 4; C and C Communications, San Diego, Calif.; c1994. [rww: A history of the rise of allopathic medicine in America and the consequent corruption and deterioration of medical care. History of AMA, FDA, and the pharmaceutical cartels. Describes various schemes developed by the medical industry to make billions of dollars off of sick people by creating and prolonging illness and by milking government-funded programs.]

Larger perspectives: health politics, planetary health

  • Goldsmith, James; The Trap; Wadebridge Ecological Centre Bookservice, Worthyvale Manor, Camelford, Cornwall PL32TT England; c19XXX. How what we eat is affecting the trend toward one world government. A bestseller in France, but not available in the U.S. at last report. [jln]
  • Gussow, Joan; Chicken Little and Tomato Soup; c19XXX. How what we eat is affecting the trend toward one world government. [jln]
  • Icke, David; The Robots' Rebellion; Gateway Books, The Hollies, Wellow, Bath BA28QJ England; c1994. [rww: The use of religion and science to manipulate and control human populations throughout history; how to break free; sane economic, political, and spiritual alternatives. This book is a blockbuster, and even if you don't folow the somewhat New Agey perspective, its broad overview of how the New World Order and its secret brotherhoods operate is invaluable for readers new to these ideas. Clearly written and inspiring. We are the robots, and it's time to become our own masters.]
  • Fox, Matthew; The Coming of the Cosmic Christ; Harper and Row, San Francisco; c1988. [rww: For an overview of healing on a planetary scale, this book is good for putting things in perspective. A thoughtful critique of how Christianity lost its spiritual foundations, leading up to widespread environmental and social destruction. It's lack of attention to scholarly detail and loose interpretations of religious and philosophical literature may dismay some, but the ideas presented are worth considering. An exploration of what needs to happen to the Christian Church to prevent the human race from "rotting its mind from a slowly deteriorating religion", and save this planet in the process.]