Andrew Weil y Alice Park Americans are embracing a more nature-based lifestyle these days, and for that they can thank Andrew Weil. The Harvard-trained physician with the Santa Claus beard has been a passionate advocate, for more than three decades, of integrative medicinean approach to healing and disease prevention that incorporates into medical care relatively simple, natural remedies.
When Weil, 65, began adopting this more holistic perspective to healing, however, he was dubbed a charlatan for supporting therapies that had not been proved in rigorous, scientific studies. He persevered, educating people through his best-selling books. Now, with health-care costs soaring, doctors are starting to listen. Researchers are beginning to test, in controlled clinical trials, whether inexpensive, nature-based products can help patients handle everything from pain to the side effects of cancer chemotherapy.
"It's extremely satisfying," Weil says of the shift in focus toward integrative medicine. To maintain the momentum, he is constantly trying to reach consumers in innovative ways. He offers a line of natural skin-care products through Origins, and has launched toxin-free cookware. All after-tax proceeds are donated to the nonprofit Weil Foundation, which supports integrative-medicine education in medical schools. He recently introduced to the U.S. turmeric tea made from the tangy herb packed with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents; Weil believes more cancer patients and those suffering from arthritis or bursitis should incorporate it into their diet.
"There has been a strong consumer demand for [integrative medicine] for a long time," he says. "But increasingly this is the kind of medicine that more doctors say they would like to practice."
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