Healing from the Heart: A Leading Heart Surgeon Explores the Power of Complementary Medicine

Healing from the Heart

By Mehmet Oz, with Ron Arias and Lisa Oz
New York: Dutton (Penguin Putnam), 1998, Hardcover, xvi + 202 pages.

Healing from the Heart is a frank, sometimes unsettling foray into the world of modern medicine. Mehmet Oz, cardiothoracic surgeon and medical director of Columbia-Presbyterian's Complementary Care Center, weaves an intensely human story. Disease and dying, health and healing are all universal and deeply personal happenings. Healing is in part the story of Mehmet Oz, how the surgeon-scientist comes to bridge the healing ways of West and East. It is the drama of desperately ill heart patients, loved ones, and professional caregivers, who affirm the place and power of integrative medicine. Healing from the Heart is no less a universal story, the play of conflict and change in human affairs, both disturbing and reassuring. As doctor Dean Ornish notes, here is "a glimpse into what the future of medicine is likely to be-if we're lucky."

Conventional (allopathic) Western medicine is based on drugs, surgery, and high technology. Allopathic doctors are expert at treating life-threatening illnesses and managing symptoms of chronic disease. Patients typically expect their doctor to "fix" serious problems and to keep them symptom-free. Traditional, or "complementary" medicine, such as nutrition, acupuncture, yoga, massage, and self-hypnosis, aims at strengthening the whole person. Traditional therapists often require people to change their lifestyle and take responsibility for themselves. Though such therapies are increasingly used by people on their own, conventional doctors discount them as unproven. Mehmet Oz calls for a synthesis of the two approaches, a dual system that is "one universal healing endeavor." He demonstrates why this integration must happen now and how it can be done.

Healing from the Heart is a wake-up call for healthcare workers. It will be a powerful read for people dealing with heart disease. Mehmet Oz is a keen observer and vivid storyteller who tells about things he knows well. Here is the challenge of heart failure, the rigors of openheart surgery, the struggle for stability during recovery, failures to thrive despite superior technical support. His suffering patients compel Dr. Oz to search for therapies that empower them for self-healing.