Michael Murray is on a mission. A prominent naturopath, professor, and coauthor of the hugely popular Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine, he's been teaching people for over 20 years to "harness the power of nature and achieve the highest level of health possible." In his Total Body Tune-Up, Murray outlines a plan to adjust the major organs of the body on a cellular level, using nutrition, vitamins, minerals, amino acids, herbs--and the body's natural drive to heal itself. "Most cells in the body reproduce many times during your lifespan," he writes. "By tuning up, you can make sure that each new generation of cells is as fit and robust as its ancestors."
Murray opens each chapter with a symptom checklist, so readers can prioritize the needs of the various body systems--digestive, cardiovascular, reproductive, and so on--as high, medium, or low. He then explains how each system works when healthy, inspiring an odd affection for all the organs needing nutritional support, from the brain to the thymus. ("If the entire absorptive area of the small intestine were laid flat, it would be the size of a tennis court.") Because naturopaths practice holistic medicine, he covers stress, humor, and optimism, and gives dosages and brand names for hundreds of supplement regimens. Murray's book is so full of useful nutrition information, the occasional missing piece is forgivable. (Most Americans adults, he writes, eat 100 pounds of sugar and at least 40 pounds of "other sweeteners" a year--yet he fails to detail the health hazards of what's inside those ubiquitous blue and pink packets.)
The book's title notwithstanding--the body as car needing a tune-up is a bit rusty--Murray writes with a knack for metaphor. (Phase II detoxification in the liver is "like handcuffing the toxin so it can be escorted out of the body by the biological equivalent of security guards.") Citations for the clinical research articles he pulls from would have been useful for readers seeking more information. Still, this is a must-have reference for anyone who wants to move toward the promise of well-being, whether readers have a medical condition or want to prevent health problems. --Rebecca Taylor