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The Secrets of People Who Never Get Sick

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A few months ago my book, "The Secrets of People Who Never Get Sick," was published by Workman. Workman believes in the book tour, so since the book appeared I've been sent to almost twenty cities, from Boston to Los Angeles, Seattle to Miami, with a brief stint in the Grand Cayman Islands as well (South Florida's great independent bookstore, Books and Books, has a branch there. About 15 people showed up for a reading when they could have been on the beach. I suppose if you're on the Grand Caymans, a reading is exotic.

The secrets in the book range from unexpected, such as exercise and vitamin C, to rather unorthodox, such as eating dirt or brewer's yeast (You can see them all at www.secretsofpeople.com.) While touring the country I've found most people know about some of them, no one has said he or she knew about all of them, and a few people didn't know about any of them. However, nearly every one has had a secret of his or her own to share.

Some of these new secrets are ones that I thought about including in the book, but I couldn't find enough medical proof to back them up (every entry in the book is defined by the person who shares it, tips on how the reader can do it, and most importantly, the medical and scientific research that backs up this secret.) For instance, many people have mentioned closing the toilet lid before flushing, and there is a small amount of research backing this up, although there are some contrary reports as well. Others have talked about oil of oregano, which has a multitude of indications, but the science isn't quite there yet. Many people brought up laughter, which is important, but is more or less covered in the book in the chapter on positive attitude, as well as during a discussion of Norman Cousins, the writer who helped create the field of psychoneuroimmunology, or the study of the relationship between the body and the mind.

Many people mentioned colloidal silver to fight off infections: turns out Hippocrates was the first to mention the metal, and it has been in and out of vogue ever since. Likewise, suspensions of liquid gold are now being used to treat rheumatoid arthritis. Others asked about green tea, which is only mentioned in passing in the book, while some recommended warm baths, while in the book the hydro-related entry is about cold showers. Yes, cold showers: proven to increase circulation, bolster the immune system, tighten the skin, and even increase the level of one of the body's natural antioxidants, glutathione (which you can buy at a health food store in tablet form for $40, or just take a quick shower.)

And, of course, many of the secrets to good health mentioned were also, well, odd. But as much as you may want to laugh at some of the more bizarre suggestions people make, you have to be careful. Sometimes it feels as if nothing is too odd in the world of health, because it seems every time the medical community rejects a treatment, it comes roaring back -- such as maggot therapy, used for years to treat infections, then scorned, but now back in use because maggots devour dead tissue from open wounds and eradicate bacteria by excreting a solution similar to ammonia. You just have to deal with the concept of having maggots on your body.

(This isn't to say that all old-fashioned treatments are making a recovery, however. For example, trepanation, or the practice of drilling holes in a patient's head to alleviate illness, has not yet made a comeback).

Still, perhaps the oddest secret was told to me by a woman in Kansas City who had been listening intently to my talk, taking notes and occasionally looking up at me with a quizzical expression. You can generally tell at these readings who is going to talk and who isn't -- the talkers are often unable to contain their need to share a secret, and sometimes blurt it out before being asked. This woman however waited politely until the end of the talk, and then stood up.

"I know the secret to good health," she said.

"Great," I said, "Can you tell us what it is?"

"Sure," she said. "Divorce your husband."