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By Ilya Sandra Perlingieri
|Review by: Barbara Bamberger Scott||
Written by a scholar, this book is yet another warning shot in the battle that women join when trying to make sane choices about their bodies. Diagnosed with endometriosis and determined to find a cure other than surgery, Ilya Sandra Perlingieri, PhD, began her exploration of alternative medicines for women through her own pain and fear.
As a post-menopausal, healthy woman, I am quick to say that menopause was the only truly unhappy phase of my life. I was never so confused and sad, angry and unbalanced, as during the five years or more when I was pronounced to be menopausal. All women are troubled by the tug-of-war between their fears and torments and the siren call of standard medicine which holds out such seductively easy palliatives as HRT.
Then of course, standard medicine just as easily renounces its prior favorite nostrums, as has happened so many times, leaving us feeling low and abandoned. As Perlingieri states, " The medical mystique of the physician prescribing drugs that would supposedly cure has a long and grim history."
Sometimes, as in Perlingieri's own case, there are allopathic physicians willing to stay the course with a patient who insists on trying herbal and other non-standard methods of dealing with "hysteria" - the rebellion of the womb. Others, in desperation, take the risks -- breast cancer primary among them -- of undergoing the mainstream solution. Others just suffer in silence, as their mothers and mothers' mothers did.
But Perlingieri is no ordinary female. Having researched deeply into the Rennaisance and written about it (Sofonisba Anguissola, The First Great Woman Artist of the Rennaisance) she has also made a study of herbalism, and was able to concoct many of her own cures or alleviating mixtures for menopausal and female ailments. These recipes she lists in the final portion of the book. Naturally, she recommends an organic, vegetarian diet.
The book broadens to a diatribe against chemical poisons and other scourges of our times, and though it's obvious that the author saw this as necessary to underpin her specific case regarding women's struggles with the medical establishment, this reviewer would have been just as happy to focus in on the individual "uterine crisis" -- as Perlingieri has done so well -- without the larger implications. Global warming, the infestation of water systems by chemical contaminants -- these are subjects for another book.
Additionally, finding out that ordinary foods such as dairy products and white flour make all our health problems worse may simply scare an otherwise hopeful woman off the trail. Most sensible females, the probable readership of this well organized and well researched book, will have thought this through for themselves and only the briefest of reminders should be needed. In short, the author may go too far afield in trying to educate her readers, to the possible detriment of the material.
Perlingieri sells herbs from her organic garden via a website which is cited (with others) as a source for obtaining the ingredients for her concoctions. Though this in no way detracts from the credibility of her information, it could raise questions as to conflict of interest.
Women genuinely seeking health solutions for the dilemmas arising from simply being women, wanting to go further than the offerings of conventional medicine, wanting to understand in greater depth some of the wherefores and historical precedents for how we've gotten where we are, will certainly want to read this book as one of the more educated presentations of the subject. Many may wish to keep it as a reference for its recipes and health advice.