The Extraordinary Healing Power of Ordinary Things

By Larry Dossey, MD  (Three Rivers Press, 2007)

As Mark Hyman, MD, recently reported in these pages (“Real Healthcare Reform,” October 2008), medical errors and hospital infections cause some 700,000 deaths in the United States annually, more than either heart disease or cancer. This makes unconventional treatments appealing, but even more useful (and often free) are the healing treasures “hidden in plain sight” that Larry Dossey, MD, describes in this book. His 14 “ordinary things” include dirt, bugs, music, optimism, unhappiness, plants and more — all of which have been shown by reputable research to have startling healing powers. One study, for instance, found that humming raises a chemical in the bloodstream that helps eliminate sinus infections. Other studies suggest that periodic unhappiness turns out to be healthier than aggressive attempts to abolish it, exposure to dirt and microbes helps kids develop stronger immune systems, and dealing with uncertainty (in something as simple as a crossword puzzle) can prolong our mental acuity. Dossey is a seasoned doctor and a wonderful essayist who  mixes great stories with solid research, and his counsel here is invaluable for anyone interested in more self-reliant visions of health and healing.

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