Monday, January 30, 2012

Anti-Aging Cures: Life Changing Secrets to Reverse the Effects of Aging

By Dr. James Forsythe
New York, Vanguard Press, 2011
283 pages   Non-Fiction
The Shortlist

No one welcomes the aging process; hardly anyone knows what to do about it. Dr. James Forsythe has become an expert in the use of human growth hormone (HGH) for those who would like to age without the aches, pains, and diseases often linked to growing older. His book, Anti-Aging Cures focuses on the use of several variations of HGH including oral biostimulators as well as injectable HGH. 

The book is divided into four parts: Create Your Anti-Aging Lifestyle; Use an Anti-Aging Silver Bullet; Enjoy your Anti-Aging Benefits; and Protect Your Anti-Aging Rights. There is a lot of good general advice in each section, but in each section, he returns to the subject of HGH—its use and benefits. Sometimes, the book preaches; the term miraculous and revolutionary appears multiple times in the text, but the argument for the use of HGH appears compelling and gives an older person fodder for discussion the next time he/she goes to the doctor.

Forsythe presents a well-researched, well-conceived plan for homeopathic anti-aging treatment. The documentation at the end of the book is extensive; he also presents his thesis that the dispensation of HGH has been thwarted by the FDA and linked unfairly with steroids and other uses of HGH for physical enhancement. 

My husband has been doing a lot of research on HGH and really wants to try it. The cost of the injections is prohibitive at this point for people on fixed incomes. However, when he checked with Medicare and his physician, he learned that the biostimulator, Secretrophin, does fall under Medicare and is available with a prescription. He also learned that his doctor has prescribed Secretrophin for his own father who has been taking it for a couple of years. I believe that my husband is going to give it a try; I am reserving judgment because I am a reluctant pill taker of any sort.

I received this book from the publicist and would recommend it to those who are interested in knowing more about HGH. The book is very readable and convincing. 

Website for Dr. James Forsythe:
Below you will find an article by Dr. Forsythe about organic superfoods.
Nutrition Helps to Keep You Youthful
By Dr. James Forsythe,
Author of Anti-Aging Cures: Life Changing Secrets to Reverse the Effects of Aging
Remember that as we mature, our ability to appear and feel young involves more than human growth hormone replacement therapy, though that can certainly be an essential key. Exercise, proper sleep, food selections, minerals and vitamins all combine in a synergy to play integral roles in this process. People who employ a balance of these factors position themselves for healthy, quality-filled aging -- while lessening the possibility of chronic degenerative diseases like cancer.
Whether you are young or advanced in age, a nutritious diet is indispensable to maintaining exceptional health and a longer life, with or without the use of injectable HGH and its natural precursors.
That's why I put so much emphasis on your absorption of healthy nutrients. Nutrition literally defines what you are made of because it is the foundation for every living cell and organ in your body. Nutrition in the blood supplies the body with the very fuel for existence. It supplies strength, energy and vitality, while empowering the body to fight disease and illness.
Hunger is more than just a reason to consume food. This vital craving serves as your body's essential communication, conveying a basic need for important nutrients. When you consume natural, nutrient-dense foods, you satisfy your body's need for high quality fuel and that empowers your immune system to combat illness and disease.
Want to know more about the most nutrient rich foods on earth? Here is a list of Nature's Superfoods:
Nine Groups of Organic Superfoods You Need In Your Diet
  • Super Greens such as kale, spinach, broccoli, beet tops and all dark green leafy vegetables in both whole and juice form; also nopal cactus, nettle leaf, and cabbages.
  • Maca root from the Andes and maca root juice.
  • Mushrooms, in particular these: reishi, cordyceps, maitake, chaga, mesima, lion's mane, turkey tail, shitake.
  • Spirulina and chlorella: these include Klamath Lake Blue-Green Algae.
  • Herbs and spices like garlic, dandelion leaf, nettle and parsley: the most potent spice is curcumin from the turmeric plant, a staple in Indian cuisine.
  • Bee pollen and royal jelly.
  • Dark red and purple fruits and berries: these include blueberries and raspberries. Also, goji berry juice and hawthorne berry.
  • Kelp and sea plants
  • Taro root, orange tomatoes, carrots, and orange vegetables
Other additions to the Superfoods list include: cacao (raw chocolate), sweet mesquite pod, and sprouted flax.
I also urge our patients to consume healthy smoothies that they prepare at home on a regular basis. Most of these recipes include soy milk, non-fat yogurt, berries such as blueberries, blackberries or strawberries, bananas and a raw egg, plus a couple tablespoons of flaxseed oil and whey protein. Many patients consider such smoothies delicious, and they're also good for digestion.
Two Reasons to Always Eat ORGANIC Superfoods
  1. Wise consumers will want to avoid the residues of pesticides, herbicides and other synthetic chemicals applied to plants and fruits. Washing the produce with water will not remove all of the residues. These chemicals can cause health problems in humans, including neurodegenerative disorders like Parkinson's disease.
2.      Organically (non-chemically) grown Superfoods contain higher levels of phytochemicals. These nutrients have been documented in thousands of medical science studies as being important to good health and a long life. Phytochemicals are produced by plants in response to stress and to protect against insects and disease. When pesticides and other chemicals are applied during the growing process, plants produce lower levels of these important phytochemical nutrients.
Make Your Food Selections a First Level of Defense
Adopting a proper food selection or diet program should be your primary first step in any serious anti-aging program.
While maintaining a trim, ideal weight might sound merely vane or narcissistic, various medical studies through the years strongly indicate that excessive or unnecessary weight contributes to cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes mellitus. Maintaining an ideal body weight can go a long way toward preventing or at least lowering the probability of such negative health factors.
Read more about what foods to avoid and ones that prevent cancer in my book;, "Anti-Aging Cures".
Copyright © 2012 Dr. James Forsythe, author of Anti-Aging Cures: Life Changing Secrets to Reverse the Effects of Aging

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Rambam's Ladder: A Meditation on Generosity and Why It Is Necessary to Give

By Julie Salamon 
New York, Workman, 2003
183 pages     Spiritual

Maimonides was a twelfth-century rabbi, physician, philosopher, and scholar, who in the words of author Julie Salamon tried to reconcile faith and reason. He is often known as Rambam. He wrote about charity a great deal and developed an eight step plan for charitable giving. Salaman has created a meditation on each step or rung on this ladder of giving in her eloquent little book, Rambam’s Ladder.

This is what she says of the steps:
“I call the first of the eight steps on the ladder Reluctance: To give begrudgingly. At this level Maimonides says the person gives with a frowning countenance.
The second step is Proportion: To give less to the poor than is proper, but to do so cheerfully.
The third step is Solicitation: To hand money to the poor after being asked.
The fourth is Shame: To hand money to the poor before being asked, but risk making the recipient feel shame.
The fifth is Boundaries: To give to someone you don't know, but allow your name to be known.
The sixth is Corruption: To give to someone you know, but who doesn't know from whom he is receiving help.
The seventh is Anonymity: To give to someone you don't know, and to do so anonymously.
And the eighth and final step is Responsibility: The gift of self-reliance. To hand someone a gift or a loan, or to enter into a partnership with him, or to find work for him, so that he will never have to beg again.”

Salamon talks about how charity and philanthropy intertwine and are personalized by the individuals doing the giving. “You could say that charity addresses an immediate need and philanthropy addresses the problem that causes the need.”

Throughout Rambam’s Ladder, we are reminded again and again of the paradoxes that guide our giving and our receiving. She says that this ladder of giving is “subtle and complicated—like goodness itself.”  I was intrigued by research she identified that studied the giving habits of a group of people. The subjects were asked to keep track of every act of giving they did over a span of a year. The researchers called it “caring behavior.” It included all the usual things, gifts to religious organizations and other causes. But it also went far beyond common financial giving; it included giving help to family and friends, donating blood, participating in walk-a-thons, volunteering, helping a neighbor. The expanded notion of giving also included emotional support offered to family, friends, and others in need. It included things like walking a neighbor's dog or taking in their mail. The researchers concluded that “far from being a negligent society, America is an intensely caring commonwealth.” If you look at your personal giving from that expanded perspective, the amount of giving is phenomenal.

At the same time, she cites occasions when she personally felt ambiguous about giving, or when those around her expressed reluctance about giving, or put parameters around their giving.  Woven throughout her discussion are her reflections on her relationship with a homeless man who spends his time in her neighborhood. Her developing relationship with him mirrors her personal feelings about helping him. As she discusses each step on the ladder of giving, readers can find where their giving fits, what moves them to give, and why they sometimes choose not to give, even if they are able. 

The book was written shortly after the World Trade Center attacks, and examples of giving that came as an outgrowth of that horrific event are interspersed throughout the book. Salamon says: “If I’d learned anything from my excursion up and down Rambam’s Ladder, it was that empathy couldn’t be mandated, and that charity shouldn’t be thought of as a sacrifice. Goodness can’t be willed into being. . .But it can be instilled.”

The two women who clean my house call upon me for help on occasion; they take small loans from me against future work. I am happy to do this for them because I know that they have very little and a $20 advance will make their lives much better. Carl, who lives with them, has never borrowed money from me, but last week, he called me and said that he had some trouble and could he borrow $20 until he got his social security. I said, “Of course,” and he walked over to our house to get the money. Yesterday when I delivered the women home after cleaning my house, he came out of their apartment to return my money. By allowing him to pay me back, I was fulfilling one of the steps of Rambam’s Ladder, the maintenance of dignity.

At Christmas time, I was amused and touched when they brought me a gift of onions and potatoes—food that they had received at a holiday food giveaway. I am sure that my receiving that gift was not in the plans of the charity who handed out the food, but I knew it was important to my friends that I receive a gift from them. I accepted it graciously. They also brought a hand-knit cap and a pair of mittens from another charity give-away. It was a gift for my baby granddaughter. Charity is a two-way street. We give and we receive.

In the Beautitudes (Matthew 5: 3-12) it says, “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” Rambam’s Ladder expands upon that notion of mercy and helps the reader discern at what rung on the ladder of mercy they find their greatest satisfaction. It also explains why sometimes our charitable nature takes us to the top, and why other times we are on the bottom rung. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


 By Tina Fey
New York, Little, Brown, 2011
277 pages     Memoir

My husband thinks that the best part of the Sarah Palin nomination as Vice President was Tina Fey’s portrayal of her on Saturday Night Live.  If you, like he, had no idea who Tina Fey was before those sketches, you certainly knew who she was afterwards. As I was reading Bossypants, Fey’s memoir, he  kept asking me if I had gotten to the part about Sarah Palin yet.

Bossypants is a very funny book, but it is also very human, filled with self-deprecating humor. You have got to like Tina Fey. She is a woman who has risen through the ranks of comedy—admittedly a male-dominated business and succeeded beyond even her wildest expectations.

Tina was a good girl who grew up in a nice suburban home. She makes no bones about her physical attributes and how they compare with what society expects. She writes about her social awkwardness as a kid and how theatre saved her. I found myself nodding all the way through the section about the community theatre she worked at in the summers she was at college. My daughter had similar experiences. Fey says, “We should all strive to make our society more like Summer Showtime: Mostly a meritocracy, despite some vicious backstabbing. Everyone gets a spot in the chorus. Bring white shorts from home.”

Following college she toured with Second City, met and married her husband Jeff before moving to New York to write for Saturday Night Live, eventually becoming head writer. After several years, she became writer, producer and actor in her own series, 30 Rock which is in its 6th season. By all means, she is a tough lady, but mostly in Bossypants she comes across as a stressed-out mother, wife, and executive just trying to get through the days. She admits that doing all these things are hard work and she probably couldn’t do it without her supportive husband and the nanny. (She has a hard time calling her the nanny. It seems too upper-class for her.) The chapter about the introduction of the Sarah Palin character is counterbalanced by shooting an episode of 30 Rock with Oprah Winfrey and buying napkins and plates for her daughter’s third birthday party. 

Laced throughout the book are discussions about modern womanhood—breastfeeding, maxipads, being skinny as opposed to being overweight, and being intimidated by the babysitter (oops—nanny). One reviewer says that Tina Fey “has carved out a rare position as a satirical authority on contemporary ladyhood.”

The best part of Tina Fey is that she doesn’t take herself too seriously. Life is funny; life is ironic; life is better with Photoshop. The reader only has to look at the endorsements on the back cover, including “Totally worth it.”—Trees” and “I Hope that’s not really the cover. That’s really going to hurt sales.”—Don Fey, Father of Tina Fey.”

Additionally, she doesn’t work too hard to relate with her reader—the relationship just comes naturally. Nearly everything is light, enjoyable and fun because Tina Fey is very real and very much like the rest of us—only funnier. My favorite chapter is about her daughter Alice bringing home a library book about My Working Mom, in which the Mom is a witch. “I told her that I didn’t like it that the mommy in the book was a witch. That it hurt my feelings. And she looked at me matter-of-factly and said, ‘Mommy, I can’t read. I thought it was a Halloween book.’” It is easy to see why Bossypants was at the top of the best seller lists: Every working mother in America can read that and relate.

The book’s title was Fey’s husband’ s idea. “At first it was just ‘Bossy’ with an exclamation mark, because of my musical theater background,” he says. She fleshed out the phrase ‘bossypants.’ “You wanted to own it,” he says, turning to her and adding: “Bossy! It’s a good thing.”

Here are a couple of good reviews:

Friday, January 13, 2012

The Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President

By Candice Millard
New York, Doubleday, 2011
352 pages   Non-Fiction

James Garfield was the last president to be born in a log cabin, and the president to serve the second shortest term in office, only 200 days. (The shortest term in office having been served by William Henry Harrison, who only served 31 days.) He was one of the only presidents to go directly from the House of Representatives to the presidency, and probably the only president who didn’t seek nomination nor did he want to be president. 

In The Destiny of the Republic,Candice Millard recounts Garfield’s unlikely rise to the presidency from a farm in Ohio to his death in September of 1881, at the hand of an assassin. Garfield was a brilliant man, a college president at the age of 26, and a congressman from Ohio for 9 terms. At the contentious 1880 Republican convention in Chicago, he rose to nominate another politician, and the delegates suddenly latched onto him as a potential candidate. He begged to have his name removed from consideration, but the delegates would have none of it and he was nominated on the thirty-sixth ballot. 

President James Garfield
Garfield was a good man and likely a good choice. His place in history, however, is primarily marked by his assassination. He worked hard to eliminate cronyism from federal office, fought for equal rights for freed slaves, and created opportunities for the restoration of the South. In the days before personal safety precautions for Presidents, Garfield had open office hours and spent what he felt was an inordinate amount of time interviewing office seekers. One of the people he saw frequently among the office seekers turned out to be his assassin, Charles Guiteau.

Charles Guiteau
Millard also tells the story of Guiteau and his quest to become the Counsel General to France, a job he felt he was owed because he had made a speech in support of Garfield during the election campaign. His story is equally as fascinating as Garfield’s, and Millard paints a picture of a man who probably was bright enough but had no sense of reality and never took responsibility for the act that caused the President’s death. A reviewer recapitulates this part of the narrative: “Guiteau, whose story has also been much overlooked, made no secret of his plotting. In a letter explaining his plans to the American people, he reasoned: ‘It will be no worse for Mrs. Garfield, to part with her husband this way, than by natural death. He is liable to go at any time anyway.’ He scouted jails, deciding where he wanted to be incarcerated. He left instructions (“please order out your troops”) for Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman, who would be marshalling troops for Guiteau. They protected the assassin from being killed by a mob before he could go to trial.” 

Guiteau’s story is bizarre, to say the least. I happened to be reading the chapters about how he plotted the assassination while the US was commemorating the one year anniversary of the attempt on Congresswoman Gifford’s life. When you look at that would-be assassin’s face, you get a feel for how Guiteau must have looked and acted. I remember reading about Guiteau in Sarah Vowell’s delightfully ironic book, Assassination Vacation. He also plays a prominent role in Steven Sondheim’s musical Assassins

The two most tragic aspects of Garfield’s assassination, both described vividly in The Destiny of the Republic are: 1) that Garfield did not die from the attempt but by medical malpractice, and 2) that the death accomplished nothing. Millard writes: “In no man’s mind save the assassin’s had the shooting achieved anything. It had not been carried out in the name of personal or political freedom, national unity, or even war. It had addressed no wrong, been the consequence of no injustice.”

The description of the day of the assassination is particularly compelling. Millard plots the day like a battle scene, each character moving forward until the fatal moment. I couldn’t put the book down. The scenes at the White House as Garfield lay in pain, slowly dying, attended by a totally incompetent and ego maniacal physician make the reader want to scream, “Wash your hands!!! Don’t you know you are killing him?”
 Equally fascinating is the description of Alexander Graham Bell attempting to invent a metal detector to find the bullet lodged in Garfield’s body. And then—the reader’s heart breaks as Garfield is transported by special train to the beach, so that he can die gazing at the sea.

This book is a gripping look at a little-remembered part of American history. I wondered about what Garfield’s impact might have been on the national psyche if he had lived and had continued to work for equal rights and against political chicanery.

Millard is also the author of a book about a forgotten moment in Theodore Roosevelt’s life, The River of Doubt. I am so enthralled with this wonderful new way of writing non-fiction in a narrative fashion, bringing in all the historical elements at play. The Destiny of the Republic is an excellent example of the genre. I highly recommend it. The book has also been recommended on many lists of the best non-fiction books of 2011.

Two excellent reviews in The New York Times:
Candice Millard’s website: