No parent wants to see their child in pain or discomfort. When our kids come to us with a skinned knee, we do our best to clean it up and administer the requisite therapeutic kiss. And when a child is down with a virus or a pesky cough, we want to help there too. The impulse to rifle through the medicine cabinet or race to the drugstore for a quick fix is powerful, even if the only real solution might be a cup of honey tea and comforting hug.

That is part of the message in a new book, Mind Over Meds, by Dr. Andrew Weil, who points out that prescription medications have skyrocketed over the past several decades to the detriment of public health. Weil, a pioneer in the integrative medicine movement, explores the evolution of prescription and over-the-counter drug use with real science as to why conventional therapies aren’t always the best ones (and often lead to problems all their own).

That’s all interesting stuff, but it’s not why I’m so smitten with Mind Over Meds.  I appreciate that each chapter does a deep dive into  a different group of medications, from antibiotics to treatments for the common cold. Weill offers insight into how and when these medications should be used and the problem with overuse.  Even better, though, is that he offers science-based, integrative-medicine alternatives for treating common ailments, from back pain to depression.

Example: I suffer from pretty serious seasonal allergies (this spring has been a real bear). I typically pop Claritin like Tic Tacs, never sure how much it helps. Having read Weil’s chapter on antihistamines, I learned the downsides to these medications as well as some very practical, affordable, and safer solutions. I took Weil’s advice and started regularly using a neti-pot. I also swapped out my Claritin for capsules of stinging nettles, an alternative therapy backed by research. The result? Thus far, it’s keeping my allergies at bay.

Certainly Weil isn’t the first to write a book about integrative medicine, but he is someone I trust.  I like that he doesn’t discount the role of conventional medicine in keeping us all healthy. He just provides a broader set of solutions, so that the next time one of my girls is downed by a virus or pesky cough, I have a few tools in my arsenal that don’t involve a trip to the drug counter.

mind over meds andrew weil