I’ve recommended body care products, supplements, books and more on this blog and in my private practice. Now, for convenience, I’ve consolidated the most popular items on this page. These are goodies I recommend that can add to your knowledge, skills, and well-being.
Most of the links are to Amazon.com. Prices change; please consider these ballpark figures.
Body Care Products and Books
Adissage Athletic Sandal. $30-40, depending on size. 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.
CranioCradle Home Therapy System. $35. I have one in my bodywork office that I’ve lent to clients to try, and they always end up buying one for themselves. This is a foam device that you can use in a variety of ways: to support your neck or head when reclining, to support your sacrum or low back when reclining, or to support both your head and sacrum when reclining, using two. Relieves tension, pain, fatigue, and discomfort in those areas and encourages whole body relaxation. May relieve headaches, migraines, and TMJ disorder symptoms. Works in 2-5 minutes.
Sacro Wedgy. $40-54. Have you ever had a bodyworker slide their hand under your sacrum and just let your pelvis rest there? Did you feel a sense of relief? Here’s how to get that relief at home. Slide a Sacro Wedgy under your sacrum when reclining, and it provides instant relief from low back or hip pain, sciatica, tension, and fatigue. Until you experience it, it can be difficult to understand how hard this part of the body works and how welcome relief is. Used regularly over time, it works with gravity to help your muscles rebalance, correcting poor posture. Two versions exist, because male and female sacrums are shaped differently: get blue for males and pink for females. Very tall women with a narrow torso may find the blue version works better.
Listen to Your Pain: The Active Person’s Guide to Understanding, Identifying, and Treating Pain and Injury by Ben Benjamin, 2007. $15. This book explains how to identify exactly which tissue is injured, with recommendations for self-treatment as well as advice on when to seek expert help. Is it tennis elbow or golfer’s elbow? Good for ankle strains, frozen shoulder, knee pain, and many more conditions. Images of body parts with arrows pointing where specific conditions occur help you identify the tissues involved. Every home with active people needs this reference book. I keep one in my office to help identify and treat muscle injuries and have lent it to clients with pain from multiple injuries.
ProKinetics Natural Body Balance Insoles. $60. Costs less than a one-hour massage. 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. These insoles keep your feet from pronating each time your foot rolls forward as you walk. My experience is that it may not bother you much when you’re young, but as the decades pass, this issue can create postural problems and pain, and it’s a fairly inexpensive and simple solution. 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 get some relief. Google “Morton’s foot” to learn more about it.
Therapeutica Sleeping Pillow. $82-110, depending on size. Designed by a chiropractor and an ergonomic designer, this pillow works if you sleep on your left side and/or right side and your back. It keeps your neck vertebrae aligned properly with your thoracic vertebrae, relieving and preventing problems that can accrue over time from poor sleeping positions. Also helps with TMJ pain. I know it’s expensive, but in terms of improving the quality of your sleep over the years, it’s worth it, and it comes with a 5-year-warranty, so divide the total cost by 5 and ask yourself if you are willing to pay that per year for better sleep and less pain. Be sure to measure your shoulder width before ordering — it’s available in 5 sizes.
The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook: Your Self-Treatment Guide for Pain Relief, 3rd edition, by Clair Davies and Amber Davies, 2013. $15. 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.) How do you know you have trigger points? When you hurt in one place, and massaging that place doesn’t result in less or no pain. The problem is actually elsewhere, and finding and treating that “elsewhere” is key to pain relief. Not sure you have trigger points? Drag your fingers with a lot of pressure across the bony sides of your neck. Press hard. If you feel pain in your arm or back, congratulations! You just found a trigger point in your scalenes! (These are inactive trigger points; some trigger points cause constant pain.) For ease of use, you can take this book to a print shop and have it coil-bound for about $5 so it will lie open and flat while you’re using it. (Wish it was sold that way.) 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.
Backnobber. $30. 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! The S shape and different size knobs on each end make it easy to use. Just hook one end of the S around your body and with the other end in front of you, push with your arms to dig the ball into your backside.
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.). Collagen is a protein building block for the connective tissue in our skin, hair, nails, joints, tendons, cartilage, and bones (and it probably also 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 dissolve easily in cold water. 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.). 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 got great results when I began taking 1 scoop (5 grams = 5,000 mg) every morning. It was a lifesaver when I had leaky gut syndrome. Buying L-Glutamine powder in bulk makes sense.
Blue Ice Royal Butter Oil/Fermented Cod Liver Oil from Green Pastures. $53-56 with shipping for 120 capsules. 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 (natto, brie, Gouda cheese). 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. 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 — found in collagen peptides — and glutamate, precursor in L-glutamine — see above) 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. 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, or chronic fatigue syndrome, or have exhausted your adrenal glands for any reason, take as directed.
Siberian eleuthero root from Nature’s Way. $11. 180 caps, 425 mg. Eleuthera root enhances physical and mental vitality and endurance, calms, and lifts mood. It’s a form of ginseng, which like rhodiola is an adaptogen, normalizing your body after stress. 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 and get back to feeling good. It’s worked for me.
Diet and Food
Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Weston A. Price, 2009 (8th edition, 23rd printing). $24. 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). 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 much, 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). 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 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 use her recipe 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. 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.
Nourishing Broth: An Old-Fashioned Remedy for the Modern World by Sally Fallon Morell and Kaayla T. Daniel, 2014. $15. 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.
Stainless Steel Drinking Straws from SipWell. $7. Have you had it with ugly plastic trash everywhere in our environment? Concerned about the possible ill effects on human health of the proximity of the food we eat to plastic packaging, plastic containers, and plastic utensils? Here’s one simple switch you can make: get and use a set of four stainless steel drinking straws with a cleaning brush. (You could also not use straws, period, but they are convenient.) This size is recommended for cups holding less than 30 ounces; for 30 ounces or more, get the extra-long version.
Books for Well-Being
Altered Traits: Science Reveals How Meditation Changes Your Mind, Brain, and Body by Daniel Goleman and Richard J. Davidson, 2017, $15 (hardcover). Goleman and Davidson are old friends who went to graduate school at Harvard together, traveled in India in the 1970s meeting teachers and going on meditation retreats, and have collaborated through the years as well as worked separately. Goleman is the author of the groundbreaking best-selling book Emotional Intelligence and has written for the New York Times. Davidson runs the Center for Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, investigating the brains of Tibetan monks (at the request of the Dalai Lama) as well as ordinary meditators. They followed their intuition that meditation was transformative in the days when psychology was focused on behavior, and they contributed to and elevated the science of studying the effects of meditation. They posit here that even a little meditation results in positive changes, and that long-term meditation turns those altered states into altered traits such as having more equanimity and compassion and being able to be more present. I found this book inspiring to increase my practice hours.
The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel van der Kolk, MD, 2015, $14. Dr. van der Kolk is a professor of psychiatry, founder and medical director of a trauma clinic, and director of a trauma treatment network. Arguing that trauma is an urgent public health issue, he draws on stories from his 30 years of experience working with people who have been traumatized, learning how trauma affects us, and finding what is most helpful. (He learned a lot from bodyworkers.) This isn’t a dry, technical psychology book. As one Amazon reviewer wrote, this book has become the bible for anyone affected by trauma or who works in the field.
In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction by Gabor Maté, MD, 2010. $10. With a foreword by pre-eminent trauma researcher Peter Levine, this book explores addiction with a holistic, compassionate approach. Dr. Maté declares addiction to be one of the most misunderstood phenomena in modern society, stating that it occurs not just from personal choice or medical conditions but that public policy plays a major role. He says almost anything can become addictive, and that it’s an attempt to ease one’s own suffering, i.e., to feel good. We all want that, right? He shares anecdotes from his own traumatic history as well as from his medical experience working with skid-row addicts. The “hungry ghosts” in the title come from Buddhist mythology: beings with tiny mouths, scrawny necks, and huge bellies that can never be filled.
Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom by Rick Hanson, 2009. $12. 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 you can take for optimal brain health.
Life Prints: Deciphering Your Life Purpose From Your Fingerprints by Rich Unger, 2007. $14 new. This hand analysis expert helps you discover your life purpose through analyzing the patterns on your fingerprints. Do you know what you’re here on earth for? Do you have a mission to fulfill? Could your life purpose be providing service to others? (Mine is.) Could it be 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 through your fingerprints and includes readings for Albert Einstein, John F. Kennedy, Walt Disney, Martin Luther King Jr., and others.
Starfish on the Beach by Tom and Lindy Schneider, 2012. $5 used, $9 new. 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.
In an Unspoken Voice: How the Body Releases Trauma and Restores Goodness, by Peter A. Levine, 2010. $12. The latest book from the renowned trauma recovery pioneer whose first book was the groundbreaking Waking the Tiger, which changed the understanding of trauma, locating it in the body as well as the mind. 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. $14. 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. 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.