We all have books at home. There are the buy-read-forget books, there are the ones we keep, but never read again, the ones we like to return to time and time again, and then there are the ones we keep on our bedside table, because this is where they belong – right with us for every time we need the wisdom they contain. This book, or rather, the Estonian version of this book, has been one of the keepers for me. There is something comforting in knowing that such an abundance of health-related knowledge is always at my arm’s length, every time a question arises.
Sadly, in our time there seems to be a tendency towards finding quick pharmaceutical solutions to every health problem we have. And, in many cases, the drugs or invasive actions are indeed the answer. We cannot glue broken bones by eating more garlic or restore seriously damaged organs by giving up milk. But there is something we can do to prevent the extreme measures from becoming a necessity – we can take care of ourselves the same way every complex organism and mechanism needs to be taken care of to function properly. In that regard, we are no different from our cars – while every vehicle deteriorates with time, much like a human body, it can be kept in the best shape possible by taking certain steps. With cars we achieve it by choosing the best gasoline and oil, checking for any changes in performance, and not overexerting the engine. It makes sense to us with cars, but we seem to have developed a certain blindness as far as our own “vehicles” are concerned. Rather than putting our trust in common sense and popular wisdom, that has been the primary measure of disease prevention through millennia, and taking responsibility for ourselves, we look at our bodies like something that has nothing to do with us and needs to be taken to a “shop” every time something breaks or fails. We forget that, similarly to our vehicles, to keep our bodies functioning, we need to supply them with good quality fuel, we have to pay attention the messages it’s sending, and keep a healthy balance between activities and rest.
Now, as you may have guessed – the paradigm I am speaking from was not intrinsically mine. I went through the learning curve much like anybody else. Driven by the desire for success combined with insatiable curiosity, I learned and climbed the professional ladder, forgetting about everything that did not seem of immediate importance at that time. And, even though I suffered the effects of neglect, it wasn’t my own health that triggered the initial interest in natural remedies, it was my Mom’s. Not that nature and its bounty were strangers to my Mother whose childhood passed in wartime Estonia and the difficult years that followed. She was on very friendly terms with herbs, plants and all sorts of homey concoctions, and even though she worked as a nurse in a nearby hospital, my cold cures consisted mainly of her own remedies, including vodka socks and mustard plasters. I don’t ever remember taking tablets or being in a hospital, but I do remember many a cup of hot milk with honey and turpentine vapor-baths my Mum swore by. But then came a time when the enemy my Mother had to battle with was not ready to be subdued with milk and honey. Cancer. The illness most of us have had encounters with, either directly or indirectly, and – I don’t think I am exaggerating with this generalization – all of us dread. Suffice it to say, this is an enemy that cannot be taken lightly and who has the power to shake the ones among us not suffering from it into clarity – if we don’t like the idea of battling this monster, we must do all we can to prevent it from ever overtaking us. My Mother’s leukaemia was the wake-up call for me. Concern for her health lead me to researching the subject with passion, and coming away with wealth of knowledge, most of which, as was to be expected, was aimed at prevention, not cure. While I gleaned a lot of wisdom for myself, the help we needed for my Mother was not easy to find. But, as time has shown to most of us – once you formulate the question, the answer will present itself. For me it came in a form of a request to translate cancer-related materials for RemedyWay. I found the subject incredibly relevant to my Mother and her disease, and, by a different token, to myself. While Mum was left with the necessity to fight the battle, I had a chance to take steps to bypass it altogether. And this is where our journey started, a journey of self-discovery. My darling Mother gained years that her oncologist called “an unexpected and unbelievable gift”, and I gained the conviction that any malady is better prevented than fought. It is one thing to read about this statement somewhere on a flier promoting disease-prevention, and completely another to know it, based on your own experiences. Of course, typically to any learner, I have stepped on a few rakes (exhausting my reserves being number one for me), but following the advice found in this book, and suggestions and pointers so freely given by the author, Virgo Mihkelsoo, I am now, at 48, in better health than I have ever been before. While I don’t see any reason to climb on my soapbox and claim eternal health, I do see a reason to underline the fact that to operate any machine, be it metal or human, we need to KNOW them – what they need, what they want, and what they do.
The book you’re holding in your hand is a detailed maintenance and care manual for your body. It teaches you how to feed it, how to care for it, how to learn to hear the distress signals, and how to keep it at a e. It does not give you a shortcut we are in a habit of expecting in our era of “I need an answer and I need it now!”. Instead, it gives you knowledge and wisdom necessary for understanding this amazing apparatus, and – if you are anything like me – endows you with a radical sense of awe: This miracle of microcosm with all its secrets and mysteries is our HOME. Let’s keep it safe and sound.
Giia Weigel, the proofreader of this book, is a medical translator with an educational background from Tartu Medical School in Estonia, who has worked with pharmaceutical products and devices since the last millennium. She is currently living in Surfside, FL, working as a freelancer, with primary focus on projects generated by the European Medicines Agency and IQVIA. She donates her free time to Translators without Borders.