I’ve recommended body care products, supplements, food and nutrition books, and more on this blog and in my private practice. Now, for convenience, I’ve consolidated my best-sellers on this page. These are goodies I recommend that can add to your knowledge, skills, and overall well-being.
Most of the links are to Amazon.com. The number of stars and prices may change; please consider these ballpark figures.
Scroll down to view these categories:
- Body Care Products and Books
- Food and Nutrition Books
- General Books for Well-Being
I’m enjoying the free smart phone app Insight Timer, using it daily. The app has 5 pages:
- Home shows how many people world-wide are meditating right now with this app. You can see which of your friends is meditating and who’s meditating near you.
- Guided offers over 5,000 guided meditations and music. If you’re getting started, I recommend Michelle Zarrin’s 20/20 Meditate for Peace Introduction, where you start with one minute the first day and add a minute until you reach 20. Search for “zarrin”.
- Timer is for unguided meditation, yoga, Tai Chi, breathing, chanting, prayer, or healing: you can set various lengths, save presets, and more.
- Click Groups to join groups for women, lucid dreaming, insight, vipassana, Rumi, teachers such as Thich Nhat Hanh, local groups, and more.
- Profile is where you create your profile and view your activity and stats. I’m MaryAnn in Austin, Texas, with a photo of a deer.
Body Care Products and Books
Inner Balance Sensor. $129-$159. This sensor (either using Bluetooth or plug) clips to your earlobe and to your smart phone (Android or iOS). The sensor measures your heart rate variability, an indicator of well-being, when connected to the free Inner Balance app on your smart phone. You can use the sensor and app to train yourself into a more balanced nervous system and more positive emotions, using visual feedback and data that you can compare over time. There are 4 levels of progression. Very fun and informative. I can see how “thinking” immediately changes my sense of well-being.
Gravity Pal. $379, 5 stars. I tried this low-angle inversion table and loved it. Just one minute lying on the table and another minute resting on my side afterwards were enough to relieve tension and induce relaxation. Great for pain due to compressed spinal nerves. It’s much easier to get on and off than inversion tables or gravity boots, with similar benefits.
Adissage Athletic Sandal. $25-36, 4.3 stars. These sandals are the bomb for getting a foot massage with each step. Tiny nubs do the job, providing you with easy-on, easy-off treats for the feet. Non-slip, contoured for arch support. Adjustable foot strap closes with velcro to fit your foot width. Available for men, women, and children; sizing may run large (if you wear 7.5, order 7). Some reviewers claim they relieve their foot pain and plantar fasciitis.
Arnica. $6.88 for 2.6 oz. gel, $13.97 for 3 tubes. 4.5 stars on Amazon. Arnica montana is a European herb that relieves muscle pain, stiffness, and swelling and prevents bruises. Comes as a cream or gel you apply directly on sore muscles and bruises. Very little smell and no cooling/heating feeling like some muscle rubs, and absorbs quickly.
Arnica pellets come in a tube and are handy for when you’re sore all over. You take it before you do strenuous work to prevent or lessen muscle pain. Arnica is sold in health-oriented grocery stores and in compounding pharmacies. I’ve never seen an ad for it — people learn about arnica via word of mouth. I use it myself, and I keep it in my office to use on my clients. I recommend they keep it on hand at home because muscle pain is such a common occurrence and it works really well.
Backnobber. $29.95, 4.7 stars on Amazon. This S-shaped tool is recommended in The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook listed below. Use it to find and release those painful, hard-to-reach trigger points, especially on the back of your body. You can really dig in with this tool!
Caldera Back, Rib, and Abdomen Therapy Wrap. $30, 4.2 stars. Closes with velcro and can hold heat or ice packs (comes with 2 gel packs). Use it as a sacroiliac belt to keep the ligaments connecting the sacrum to the rest of the pelvis tight. Wear while sleeping and when doing physical work, including twisting, turning, and lifting. You might want to order two of these so you’ll have one to wear when the other is in the wash.
Still Point Inducer. $19, 3.8 stars. Inducing a still point is a craniosacral therapy technique. This device is intended to encourage still points on your own by placing pressure on the back of your head as you lie down. It can increase relaxation, release tension and anxiety, lower fevers, relieve headaches and neck/back pain, and reduce congestion, among other benefits. Made of solid foam. Comes with a CD of music designed to relax you. This and other YouTube videos may assist you with placement.
CranioCradle. $35, 4.4 stars. Place it under your head, neck, shoulders or back — position to induce relaxation and provide profound renewal for body and spirit. Comes with links to online videos showing you a variety of ways to use it. Use it to traction tight neck muscles and vertebrae for headache relief. 2-5 minutes at a time recommended.
Epsom salt. $15-55, depending on size, 4.9 stars. Epsom salt is magnesium sulfate, and although it can also be used as a laxative and a plant fertilizer, I recommend it to people for muscle soreness and stress (I use it myself). Put two cups of epsom salt into a tub of hot water and soak for 12-20 minutes. You can add your favorite essential oils if you like. Or add 1 cup to a gallon of water to soak feet. Makes water feel silky and softens your skin. Magnesium is a mineral that an estimated 80% of people are deficient in. It is easily absorbed through the skin without giving you diarrhea. It calms the nervous system and helps you sleep better.
The Gaiam Pressure Point Massager. $10, 4.6 stars. This tool, shaped like a rolling pin with three spiky roller balls, does things to the body that I cannot do with my hands. (I think it interrupts the nervous system messages that keep muscles tense and in pain.) Every workplace could benefit from people using this tool on each other, and if you come home with tight shoulders, get someone to roll your shoulders (and then reciprocate). Best used over clothing, not over bare skin. I use it mostly when I do chair massage. Must be felt to be believed!
Listen to Your Pain: The Active Person’s Guide to Understanding, Identifying, and Treating Pain and Injury by Ben Benjamin, 2007. $4-18 (used or new), 4.9 stars. This book explains how to identify which tissue is injured with recommendations for self-treatment as well as advice on when to seek expert help. Good for tennis elbow, golfer’s elbow, ankle strains, frozen shoulder, and many more conditions. Every home with active people needs this reference book. I keep one in my office to help identify and treat muscle injuries.
ProKinetics Natural Body Balance Insoles. $60, 4.0 stars. Costs less than a one-hour massage in most places. For people with Morton’s foot (a common condition where the second metatarsal is longer than the first metatarsal, which can cause postural issues over time). Keeps your feet from pronating each time your foot rolls forward. When I first started wearing these in my shoes, I quickly felt more stable. If you have this foot condition and you have musculoskeletal issues, it’s well worth your while to try these to see if you can get some relief. Google Morton’s foot to learn more about it.
SacroWedgy. $35, 3.6 stars. For people with low back and/or hip pain, pelvic girdle tension, or pain or numbness radiating down the legs, try the SacroWedgy. Place it under your sacrum while lying on your back, and rest for 20 minutes. You’ll feel relief from tension you probably didn’t even know you had. Reading the comments on Amazon shows it doesn’t help with all low back/hip issues, but about 60% of those who tried it gave it 4 or 5 stars. Smaller women and women with narrow hips may find the male version fits better.
The Spine Aligner. 5 stars on Amazon. This tool does wonders for backs that feel twinge-y, stiff, or tender. Place it under your spine when lying on a bed so that the two inner knobs straddle the spaces between two vertebrae at the bottom of your shoulder blades. Lying on it lets gravity do the work as it presses into your back. When the first area feels relieved, roll it down the next pair of vertebrae, working down to your sacrum.
The Stick. $34 with shipping, 5 stars. Fantastic for rolling out your own tight calf muscles! Can also be used on forearms on a flat solid surface with a partner doing the rolling. Also: use it on your quadriceps, hamstrings, IT band, gluteals, upper traps, and more. Much more portable than a foam roller and does a super job.
Therapeutica Sleeping Pillow. $74-109, comes in 5 sizes, 4.1 stars. Designed by a chiropractor and an ergonomic designer, this pillow works if you sleep on your left side, right side, and/or back. It keeps your neck vertebrae aligned with your thoracic vertebrae, relieving and preventing problems that can accrue over time from poor sleeping positions. Also can relieve TMJ pain. Measure shoulder width before ordering! 5-year warranty.
The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook: Your Self-Treatment Guide for Pain Relief, 3rd edition, by Clair Davies and Amber Davies, 2013. $15, 4.7 stars. Written for lay people to use when chronic pain that doesn’t respond to regular massage is caused by trigger points. (Also, many massage therapists use and value this book.) For ease of use, you can take it to a print shop and have it coil-bound for about $5 so it will lie open and flat while you’re using it. Be sure to get the 3rd edition as it’s significantly easier to use than previous versions. You may also want to purchase a backnobber (see second item in this section).
I prefer buying supplements that I know have gone through some quality control process. A lot remains to be done in the area of testing, labeling, and quality control in the supplement world, but this is the system we have now. These brands are sold in Whole Foods, which employs supplement buyers to ensure they sell high-quality supplements from reputable brands. I also recommend reading reviews on Amazon.
Collagen Peptides, from Vital Proteins. $43 for a 20-ounce container (most economical size, $2.15 per oz.), 4.5 stars on Amazon. Collagen is a protein building block for the connective tissue in our skin, hair, nails, joints, tendons, cartilage, and bones (and probably helps with teeth remineralization). This form of collagen, peptides, is small enough to be easily absorbed and used by the body. I’ve taken either gelatin or collagen daily for some time now. I can’t say I don’t have any wrinkles at age 64, but my skin is healthy, and I can say I don’t have any joint pain. Vital Proteins’ collagen peptides dissolves easily in cold water, so I can easily stir a scoopful into my daily glass of organic raw apple cider vinegar and L-glutamine in water. That trio rules! Vital Proteins’ Collagen Peptides are sourced from grass-fed, pasture-raised cows, so I know I’m putting a clean product into my body.
L-Glutamine Powder from Now Foods. $41 ($1.16 per oz.), 4.7 stars. This container holds 2.2 lbs. If you have leaky gut, digestive or bowel issues, need to boost your immune system, are under stress, have muscle soreness, and/or experience sugar or alcohol cravings, L-glutamine can be helpful. I started out taking capsules (750-1,000 mg) but only noticed great results from mixing 1 scoop (5 grams = 5,000 mg) every morning in water. Hence buying L-Glutamine powder in bulk makes sense.
Bone Strength Take Care slim tabs from New Chapter. $31.95 for 120 count (3 per day recommended), free Prime shipping, 4.4 stars. Three slim tabs per day are easy to swallow, and I take them between dinner and bedtime. Contains calcium, magnesium, vitamin D3, vitamins K1 and K2, and 70+ trace minerals. The calcium is plant-sourced from whole foods rather than from limestone rock for better digestion and absorption. Helps with bone, joint, and heart health. And teeth remineralization!
Blue Ice Royal Butter Oil/Fermented Cod Liver Oil from Green Pastures. $53-56 with shipping for 120 capsules, 4.3 stars. If you are trying to remineralize your teeth, it’s worth taking this supplement, especially if you don’t eat foods high in vitamin K2. This product contains a superfood discovered by dentist Weston A. Price in the 1930s that he named “the X factor,” now understood to be Vitamin K2. K2 helps your body get calcium into the right places — out of your arteries and into your bones and teeth, preventing both cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis. The butter oil and cod liver oil work synergistically to provide an optimal ratio of the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. Helps with skin bumps, acne, dry eyes, hair, nails, energy, tooth decay, bone density, and more. Do not take if you have a fish allergy.
N-A-C (N-acetyl-L-cysteine) from Jarrow Formulas. $10, 4.5 stars. 100 caps, 500 mg. N-A-C by itself detoxifies, disinfects, heals infections, increases immunity, speeds recovery, and more. Cysteine is one of the three precursors (along with glycine — in collagen peptides — and glutamate, precursor in L-glutamine) of glutathione, the mother of all anti-oxidants. The human body does not absorb glutathione well from supplements, so you need to consume its precursors to ensure your body has the raw materials to make its own glutathione. Glutathione helps with the absorption of various nutrients, amplifies the effectiveness of other antioxidants, helps eliminate heavy metals like mercury and lead, and aids in liver cleansing.
Rhodiola rosea from Jarrow Formulas. $16, 4.3 stars. 60 caps, 500 mg. Rhodiola is an adaptogenic herb (it exerts a normalizing process on the body after stress) that boosts energy and reduces fatigue by recharging your adrenal glands, producers of cortisol, the stress hormone. If you have been under stress, suffer from trauma or PTSD, have low energy from thyroid issues, Lyme disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, or have adrenal exhaustion for any reason, take as directed.
Siberian eleuthero root from Nature’s Way. $11, 4.8 stars. 180 caps, 425 mg. Eleuthera root enhances physical and mental vitality and endurance, calms, and lifts mood. It’s a form of ginseng, which is also an adaptogen. Take as directed for stress, trauma, and adrenal exhaustion.
Taken together, rhodiola and Siberian eleuthera help you recover more quickly from stress of any kind (emotional, physical, mental, existential) and get back to feeling good.
Nutrition and Cookbooks and Aids
Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Weston A. Price, 2009 (8th edition, 23rd printing). $24, 4.7 stars. Weston A. Price (“the Charles Darwin of nutrition”) was an American dentist and researcher who traveled the world in the 1930s studying the relationship between diet and health. He identified groups eating traditional diets in which nearly every member of the group enjoyed superb health, compared to members of the same group eating a modern Western diet consisting largely of industrially-processed foods, who suffered from rotten teeth, infectious diseases, infertility, and degenerative illnesses. He observed that the Western diet of refined carbohydrates and denatured fats and oils, as well as the lack of fermented foods and nourishing bone broths, led to poor health. Weston A. Price is credited for discovering much that has become the basis for eating a Paleo diet and for recovering from autoimmune diseases.
Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook That Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats by Sally Fallon, 2001. $9 (used paperback), $48 (new hardcover), 4.6 stars. The first comprehensive cookbook containing recipes and outlining dietary principles based on the research of Dr. Weston A. Price, written by Sally Fallon, now head of the Weston A. Price Foundation. Dispels the myths of the low-fat diet way before it was considered cool. This book is a textbook as well as a cookbook. Even if you don’t cook, you’ll learn a lot about nutrition and how to improve your health through dietary changes.
The Nourished Kitchen: Farm-to-Table Recipes for the Traditional Foods Lifestyle by Jennifer McGruther, 2014. $9 (used) to $48 (new hardcover), 4.6 stars. Recipes for the traditional foods lifestyle. Jennifer McGruther teaches you how to cook with animal fats, avoid using refined sugar in sweets, make bread with ancient grains and to leaven with sourdough, make your own butter (and buttermilk), cook wild game like rabbit and elk, ferment food and beverages, and much more. Her recipe for roast chicken gets many kudos, and you can learn to make your own sour cream and olive oil mayonnaise. Includes many photographs. This cookbook is a must-have for Paleo/Weston A. Price Foundation diet cooks.
Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Culture Foods by Sandor Ellix Katz, second edition, 2016. $30, 4.6 stars. Sandor Katz, a James Beard Award winner and Craig Claiborne lifetime achievement award winner, is one of the world’s foremost experts in how to ferment foods. Michael Pollan calls him the “Johnny Appleseed of fermentation”. This new edition includes color photos throughout and many new recipes. The book includes nearly 100 recipes for fermenting vegetables (such as sauerkraut — “the gateway ferment”, kim chi, and pickles), beans (miso, tempeh), dairy (yogurt, kefir, cheese, and vegan alternatives), grains (sourdough bread and more), and alcohol (beer and wine, cider and champagne), as well as vinegar-making.
The Art of Fermentation: An In-Depth Exploration of Essential Concepts and Processes from Around the World by Sandor Ellix Katz, 2012. $22 (used) to $28 (new), 4.6 stars. A New York Times bestseller, this book by Sandor Ellix Katz is a practical guide to fermenting foods safely and preserving them. Focusing more on exploring the concepts and processes of fermentation from various cultures around the world, it makes an excellent companion to the recipe-laden Wild Fermentation. Includes information on fermenting fish, meat, and eggs, growing molds, and the roles fermentation plays in different cultures.
The Body Ecology Diet: Recovering Your Health and Rebuilding Your Immunity by Donna Gates, 2011. 4.3 stars. This nutrition/cookbook was originally published in 1994 and is now in its third edition. Donna Gates was helping people restore their gut health and immune systems long before all the recent research on the gut microbiome started making the news and before the emergence of the Paleo/Primal way of eating. The 2nd edition was the first book I bought and read to overcome candida overgrowth back in 2007, and it helped me kick candida’s ass, which resulted in revelatory new experiences of well-being, energy, and mental clarity. If you have candida overgrowth, leaky gut symptoms, or an autoimmune issue, this book is a must-read that teaches you how to get your gut microbiome back in balance.
Nourishing Broth: An Old-Fashioned Remedy for the Modern World by Sally Fallon Morell and Kaayla T. Daniel, 2014. $15, 4.7 stars. Sally Fallon Morell is the president of the Weston A. Price Foundation and the author of Nourishing Traditions, described above. This is a follow-up, focusing on the science and benefits of homemade bone broth, a staple of the Weston A. Price diet, as well as including techniques and recipes for making broth. This reference guide and cookbook answers every question and shows you how to make broths, consommes, and stocks. Divided into three sections: the science of broth, how it heals, and recipes.
Brodo: A Bone Broth Cookbook by Marco Canora, 2015. Hardcover is $9 used, $12.50 new, 4.7 stars. Written by a New York City chef, restaurateur, and cookbook author who revitalized his own health through making and consuming bone broths, Marco Canora began to sell his broths by the cupful out of a “to-go” window to warm and nourish New York City residents, selling out from the beginning. Here are his recipes for making delicious chicken, beef, fish, vegetable, mushroom, seaweed, mixed-bone, and more broths. With tips for buying bones, tools to use, adding flavor, and making broth weekly for daily consumption.
Real Salt from Redmond. $10 for 26 ounces, 4.7 stars. Okay, it’s not a book but something you use every day. Mined in Utah from deep salt deposits dating back to prehistoric times when North America was covered by a sea, Real Salt is a natural salt, unrefined, with no additives or heat processing, containing at least 60 natural trace minerals, which our bodies need but which are absent in processed food and refined salts. This pouch is great for when you need a quantity or your salt shakers need refilling. This is my main cooking salt. Compare the taste to any other salt to see why it’s such a favorite. Note: If you are trying to remineralize your tooth enamel, this is a must.
Six Quart Cook and Carry Programmable Slow Cooker by Crock-Pot. $49, 4.2 stars. (A manual version, not programmable, is available for $30.) Fabulous for making bone broths. I feel comfortable leaving the house while a big batch of broth simmers away in this slow cooker. It’s so much safer than leaving with a gas burner on! You can program it to simmer for up to 20 hours, and then it automatically switches to warm. (Just reset if you want to simmer longer.) Also great for soups, chili, and roasts. I bought it more for the size than for the portability, but there’s that, too, if you want to make a big batch of something and carry it somewhere. The lid locks for easier portability, and the oval stoneware insert looks presentable on your dining table.
General Books for Well-Being
The Five Minute Journal: A Happier You in 5 Minutes a Day. $23. Increase your well-being by cultivating gratitude, anticipation, affirmation, reflection, and improvement. A couple of minutes early in the day and before you go to bed increases happiness using the science of positive psychology. Consistent daily use retrains your emotions. Recommended by megapodcaster and best-selling author Tim Ferriss, I can attest to the positive change in mindset.
Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom by Rick Hanson, 2009. $4 used, $12 new, 4.5 stars. Change your brain, change your life. Describes how the flow of your thoughts actually sculpts your brain and includes neuroscience breakthroughs as well as ancient wisdom. Written in easily-understandable language, contains guided meditations and mindfulness exercises. Contains an appendix by the author’s acupuncturist wife on nutrition and supplements for brain health.
Life Prints: Deciphering Your Life Purpose From Your Fingerprints by Rich Unger, 2007. $4 used, $14 new, paperback, 4.6 stars. This hand analysis expert helps you discover your life purpose through analyzing the patterns on your fingerprints. Is your life purpose being of service to others? (Mine is.) Is it exploring relationships? Or something else? Read it and find out! Based on 25 years of research, the book explains how to determine your own life purpose and includes readings for Albert Einstein, John F. Kennedy, Walt Disney, Martin Luther King Jr., and others.
Shaking Medicine: The Healing Power of Ecstatic Movement by Bradford Keeney. $4 used, $10-17 new, 4.4 stars. This book explores the value of shaking: It’s not just for trauma release, it’s also for ecstasy, balancing energy, surrender, deep healing, trance induction, therapeutic benefit, and spiritual attunement. Describes how the Shakers and the Quakers got their names and explores the role of ecstatic shaking in cultures as disparate as the Japanese and the Kalahari Bushmen. Includes a 40-minute CD of ecstatic drumming to facilitate your own shaking practice.
Starfish on the Beach by Tom and Lindy Schneider, 2012. $5 used, $9 new, 5.0 stars. A children’s version of the starfish story in book form, with beautiful illustrations. The lesson in this story reminds me of Mr. Rogers relating that when a tragedy occurred, his mother told him to “look to the helpers.” This story helps teach children that they can be helpers, and that helping will make a difference, and that doing something is better than doing nothing. This book is often given as a gift.
Trauma Recovery Books and a Video
Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma by Peter A. Levine, 1997. $3 used, $8-10 new, 4.5 stars. The original book that tells of Peter A. Levine’s ground-breaking discoveries that trauma resides in the body and that recovery and healing must include physical release. Reading this book changed my life, helping me release the grip of a trauma I’d held in my body for decades. To me, this book was worth reading 10 other books on trauma to understand Levine’s then-novel approach to recovery, after he spent years studying how attacked prey animals in the wild that escaped their predators then rejoined the herd and shook off the trauma. Explores how to tap into resilience after experiencing a trauma.
In an Unspoken Voice: How the Body Releases Trauma and Restores Goodness, by Peter A. Levine, 2010. $10 used, $12 new, 4.6 stars. The latest book from the renowned trauma recovery pioneer. Trauma is an injury that can be healed through learning how to self-regulate intense experiences. The part I found most valuable was Levine’s recounting of being a pedestrian who was hit by a car. His subjective, moment-by-moment experience of the trauma, which included feeling a wide range of intense emotions and unusual, unexpected physiological reactions, concluding with his realization that he was going to be okay, is affirming. He describes the reactions of different witnesses and helpers, noting which were helpful and which were not. Provides a template for how to process a trauma and for how witnesses/bystanders/helpers can behave to facilitate a victim’s healing process so that they recover from the trauma.
The Revolutionary Trauma Release Process: Transcend Your Toughest Times by David Berceli, 2008. $8 used, $14 new, 4.6 stars. David Berceli, a Catholic relief worker who worked in places torn and exhausted by war and disaster, after much personal experience, psychotherapy, and extensive research, developed these exercises to help people recover from trauma especially where psychotherapy is not available by releasing it from their bodies. Berceli studied bioenergetics, yoga, martial arts, and more to develop the exercises. The book includes photos and instructions for doing the exercises that help release the debilitating, depleting effects of trauma.
The Trauma Releasing Exercises, video instruction with demonstrations by David Berceli, 2008. $28, 3.8 stars. These exercises are helpful for those who’ve experienced trauma (especially when there’s no other help) as well as for those living with prolonged stress. The exercises help the body “shake off” the trauma and return the nervous system to equilibrium. If you learn better from viewing a video, get this video instead of, or in addition to, the book.