School of Natural Healing by Dr Christopher Review
Herbal Manual Review
This herbal manual is quite well known to almost everyone seriously interested in herbalism itself. While it's lauded for its extensive knowledge base and comprehensive coverage of the herbs listed within, the flaws inherent in this famous herbal manual are frequently overlooked.
To begin with, this large manual is difficult to get relevant information from. The internal structure does not lend itself to easy reading. In fact, the herbs themselves are categorized by overall function. If you don't know what a diaphoretic is, you're kind of up a creek. The herbs aren't categorized either alphabetically or by common health problem. The index isn't a lot of help either as it's quite difficult to scan easily. It's written as what it is, a textbook, not a quick look-up manual, and so proves quite discouraging for the novice reader. Browsing or a serious system of ongoing study are the best ways to get information out of it. While it does provide a fairly broad base to the novice herbalist, I'd only suggest it for those who intend to really be herbalists, not a newbie who wants help for a current problem, and certainly not as the only book in one's herbal library.
In addition to the difficult, overly academic classification system, the book suffers from a distinct lack of scientific evidence and an over-reliance on anecdotal experience. You'll only find the stories related to the author's purported experience, much of which is unbelievable to say the least. The book doesn't even provide the grace of historically validated empirical evidence, which most herbals emphatically rely on. Rather, the introduction only provides some "miraculous" herbal stories that are impossible to verify. Either the original author was delusional or there were factors at play within these stories we are not aware of. The examples given were of cancer cured, whole fingers grown back from amputation, and third degree burns healing without scars. These are not standard responses to herbal therapy by any stretch of the imagination. I am an herbalist, and I do believe that herbs offer healing properties unavailable in allopathic (traditional prescription) medication, but the outrageous testimonials presented in the introduction of the book don't do anything but hurt herbalism's reputation.
I would hope that the herbal's real value in classification and preparation instruction would not be discounted due to the stories of near-divine powers ascribed to herbs in the introduction. Make no mistake, the herbal provides a good overall introduction. However, it also desperately needs to be updated with the last fifteen years worth of clinical herb trial information, as the original author learned his trade in the middle of the last century.
Last, the dietary recommendations given as "the most healthful for humanity" are absolutely out-of-bounds. While this diet may appeal to people seeking a "purer" lifestyle, it does not resemble a safe, balanced diet in any particular. While I understand that some choose to be vegans for personal, health or philosophical reasons, humanity as a whole evolved to be omnivorous. Animal protein itself is perfectly healthy, it's the additives you have to watch out for. Dr. Christopher advocates a "mucusless" diet that most people today could not afford and cannot profitably live on. Eating breakfast is a good idea. Eating protein at breakfast staves off an energy slump at around 10 am. Eating a mono-diet isn't healthy for anyone. Please, consult with a doctor before adopting all of these dietary suggestions that are based on the writings of the Mormon church instead of anything resembling scientific research. Can we get more whole grains in our diets? Yes, and we should. Can we get more fruits and vegetables in our diets? Yes, and most of us emphatically should. Should we attempt to eat only fruits, vegetables and whole grains? Oh, heck no. If it worked for Dr. Christopher on his self-admitted health problems, wonderful. However, you don't give a healthy human antibiotics as a preventative measure, and you don't eat this extreme a diet without a good reason.
Overall, I found the concrete herbal information itself to be quite complete and comprehensive. The instructions on how to make preparations such as infusions and decoctions are pleasantly detailed. The glossary of terminology is reasonably complete, at least enough for anyone beginning the wide study of herbalism. All in all, it's a good foundation piece for a novice's library. Just ignore all the religiously motivated stuff.