Andrew Weil

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Andrew Thomas Weil (June 8, 1942) is an American medical doctor and naturopath, and a teacher and writer on holistic health.[1] He is founder, professor, and director of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona. He received both his medical degree and his undergraduate degree in biology from Harvard University[2] and established the field of integrative medicine which aims to combine alternative and conventional medicine. Weil says that patients should take the Western medicine prescribed by the doctor, and then incorporate alternative therapies such as omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, and herbal remedies, meditation and other “spiritual” strategies.[3] Some mainstream medical professionals have criticized Weil for rejecting aspects of evidence-based medicine and promoting unverified beliefs.

Weil appeared on the cover of Time Magazine in 1997 and again in 2005. He has written many books and a total of 10 million copies have been sold. These books include Spontaneous Healing, 8 Weeks to Optimum Health, and Healthy Aging. He has been a frequent guest on the Larry King Live, Oprah, and the Today Show.[4]

Early life[edit]

Weil was born in Philadelphia, where his parents operated a millinery store. Weil received both his medical degree and his undergraduate AB degree in biology (botany) from Harvard University. He wrote his botany thesis on the narcotic properties of nutmeg,[5] and also served as an editor of the Harvard Crimson and the Harvard Lampoon.[6]

From 1971 to 1974, Weil traveled throughout South America as a fellow for the Institute of Current World Affairs.[7] Weil published his first book, The Natural Mind, in 1972. He has since written or co-written nine books. Weil was a regular contributor to High Times magazine from 1975 to 1983.[8] Weil has been open about his own experimental and recreational use of drugs including narcotics and mind-altering substances.[9]

In 1994 Weil founded the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine at the University Medical Center in Tucson, where he is director. He is also a Clinical Professor of Medicine and Professor of Public Health and the Lovell-Jones Professor of Integrative Rheumatology at the University of Arizona College of Medicine.[4]

Weil appeared on the cover of Time Magazine in 1997 and again in 2005. Time Magazine also named him one of the 25 most influential Americans in 1997 and one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2005.[10] Weil was honored by the New York Open Center [1] in 2004 as having made "extraordinary contributions to public awareness of integrative and complementary medicine." Forbes on-line magazine wrote: "Dr. Weil, a graduate of Harvard Medical School, is one of the most widely known and respected alternative medicine gurus. For five years, he has offered straightforward tips and advice on achieving wellness through natural means and educating the public on alternative therapies" and listed his Web site in their Best of the Web Directory in the "Alternative Medicine" category,[11] listing it as one of the three "Best of the Web" picks in that category.[12]

Weil has been a frequent guest on Larry King Live, Oprah, Doctor Oz and the Today Show.[4]

Philosophy on health[edit]

Weil has acknowledged the influence of many individuals, philosophical and spiritual ideas, and techniques on his approach to medicine. Among the individuals who strongly influenced his professional and personal life is the late osteopath Robert C. Fulford, who specialized in cranial manipulation.[13][14] Weil has said he respects the work of psychologist Martin Seligman, originator of the field of positive psychology and director of the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania. Weil also respects the work of Stephen Ilardi, professor of psychology at the University of Kansas, and author of The Depression Cure.[15]

Weil's general view is that mainstream and alternative medicine are complementary approaches that should be utilized in conjunction with one another (what he terms integrative medicine). He says that patients should take the Western medicine prescribed by their doctors, and then extend the biomedical model to incorporate alternative therapies such as omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, and herbal remedies, meditation and other “spiritual” strategies. Nutrition, exercise and stress reduction are emphasized by Weil.[3] Weil is a proponent of a diet rich in organic fruits and vegetables and regular consumption of fish. He is also a critic of partially hydrogenated oils. In an interview on Larry King Live, Weil claimed that sugar, starch, refined carbohydrates, and trans-fats are more dangerous to the human body than saturated fats. Weil has previously expressed opposition to the war on drugs, citing the benefits of many banned plants. He promotes the medical use of whole plants as a less problematic approach to treatment than synthetic pharmaceuticals. Weil is an advocate of specific medicinal mushrooms in a daily diet.[16][self-published source?]

Weil made an appearance on the 2009 PBS documentary The Botany of Desire, where he explains that humans have always sought altered consciousness and that doing so is a normal human behavior.

Books and publications[edit]

Weil's early works explored altered states of consciousness, but he has since expanded his scope to encompass healthy lifestyles and health care in general. In the last ten years, Weil has focused much of his work on the health concerns of older people. His book, Healthy Aging, looks at growing older from a physical, social and cross-cultural perspective. His book Why our Health Matters is focused on health care reform.

He has written forewords for books by Paul Stamets, Lewis Mehl-Madrona, Tolly Burkan, and Wade Davis, among others.

Weil occasionally writes articles for Time Magazine and Huffington Post.[17][18] He also appears in the award-winning documentary Escape Fire: The Fight to Rescue American Healthcare.


Some mainstream medical professionals have criticized Weil for promoting unverified beliefs. Weil's rejection of some aspects of evidence-based medicine and promotion of alternative medicine practices that are not verifiably efficacious has been criticized by some mainstream physicians such as Arnold S. Relman, editor in chief of The New England Journal of Medicine, in his 1998 article "A Trip to Stonesville: Some Notes on Andrew Weil".[19] Weil has also promoted food products such as fruit and nut bars by combining his personal brand with Arran Stephens' Nature's Path brand.[20] Relman has also said, "There is no doubt that modern medicine as it is now practiced needs to improve its relations with patients, and that some of the criticisms leveled against it by people such as Weil - and by many more within the medical establishment itself - are valid. There also can be no doubt that a few of the "natural" medicines and healing methods now being used by practitioners of alternative medicine will prove, after testing, to be safe and effective... In the best kind of medical practice, all proposed treatments must be tested objectively. In the end, there will only be treatments that pass that test and those that do not, those that are proven worthwhile and those that are not. Can there be any reasonable "alternative"?"[19]

Weil has also been criticized by members of the medical and pharmaceutical establishments[19][21][22] for the potential conflicts of interest this raises in relation to his non-profit foundation business dealings.[20][23]

Barry Beyerstein, PhD at Simon Fraser University, criticizes aspects of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), asserting that "CAM shares the movement's magical world-view. On advocating emotional criteria for truth over criteria based on empirical data and logic, New Age medical gurus such as Andrew Weil and Deepak Chopra have convinced many that 'anything goes,'" later stating that "By denigrating science, these detractors have enlarged the potential following for magical and pseudoscientific health product."[22] Simon Singh echoes this criticism going as far as saying that while Weil promotes some good things like exercise and less smoking that "much of his advice is nonsense".[24]

Dr. Steven Knope of Tucson, Arizona, criticized Weil in a debate televised on public television affiliate KUAT-TV. Knope criticized Weil for what he considered irresponsible advocacy of untested treatments.[25]

Regarding his journalism for Time Magazine, The Center for Science in the Public Interest pointed out that in one Time magazine column by Weil, he touts the benefits of fish oil supplements. The article failed to disclose that Dr. Weil sells his own brand of fish oil supplements on his Web site."[23]

In 2009, the US Food and Drug Administration sent a warning letter to a company associated with Weil (Weil Lifestyle LLC) as a package of urgent measures to protect consumers from products that, without approval or authorization by FDA, claimed to diagnose, mitigate, prevent, treat or cure H1N1 flu virus in people. Weil Lifestyle had made several implicit claims in its marketing literature that certain products could help ward off the virus.[26]


  • The Natural Mind: An Investigation of Drugs and the Higher Consciousness (1972, rev. 2004)
  • Marriage of Sun and Moon: Dispatches from the Frontiers of Consciousness (1980, rev. 2004)
  • Health and Healing (1983, rev. 2004)
  • From Chocolate to Morphine: Everything you need to know about mind-altering drugs with Winifred Rosen (1983, rev. 2004)
  • Spontaneous Healing (1995)
  • Natural Health, Natural Medicine (1995, rev. 2004)
  • 8 Weeks to Optimum Health (1997, rev. 2006)
  • Eating Well for Optimum Health (2000)
  • Breathing: The Master Key to Self Healing, audio CD, Sounds True (2000)
  • The Healthy Kitchen with Rosie Daley (2002)
  • Healthy Aging (2005)
  • Why Our Health Matters (September 2009)
  • Spontaneous Happiness (2011)



  1. ^ Baer, H. A. (2003). "The Work of Andrew Weil and Deepak Chopra - Two Holistic Health / New Age Gurus: A Critique of the Holistic Health / New Age Movements". Medical Anthropology Quarterly 17 (2): 233–250. doi:10.1525/maq.2003.17.2.233. PMID 12846118.  edit
  2. ^ a b Andrew Weil Biography - Academy of Achievement.
  3. ^ a b "Non-fiction review: Spontaneous Happiness". Publisher's Weekly. August 22, 2011. 
  4. ^ a b c "Dr Andrew Weil". The Huffington Post. 
  5. ^ Andrew Weil Interview - page 2 / 7 - Academy of Achievement
  6. ^ "Andrew Weil". [dead link]
  7. ^ Institute of Current World Affairs - Former Fellows Map
  8. ^ "Interview: Dr. Andrew Weil". High Times. Archived from the original on August 2, 2007. 
  9. ^ Jim Parker and Christina Dye (May–June 1983Z). No Bad Drugs: Interview with Dr. Andrew Weil. Newservice. pp. 22–31. Archived from the original on August 23, 2000. 
  10. ^ "Andrew Weil - The 2005 TIME 100". Time Magazine. April 18, 2005. Archived from the original on October 20, 2013. Retrieved January 30, 2014. 
  11. ^ Forbes Best of the Web: Alternative Medicine category. 
  12. ^ Ask Dr. Weil listed as a "Forbes Best of the Web" pick. Archived from the original on May 8, 2001. 
  13. ^ Huba, S. (April 2, 1997). "Holistic healing's new role". The Cincinnati Post. 
  14. ^ Weil, A. (1995). Spontaneous healing: How to discover and enhance your body’s natural ability to maintain and heal itself. New York, NY: Knopf. ISBN 9780679436072. 
  15. ^ "Andrew Weil's Spontaneous Happiness: Our Nature-Deficit Disorder". The Daily Beast. Newsweek. October 30, 2011. 
  16. ^ "Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Food Pyramid". Archived from the original on September 8, 2008. Retrieved September 16, 2012. 
  17. ^ "Andrew Weil, M.D.". Time. December 11, 2006. Archived from the original on January 14, 2009. Retrieved June 5, 2013. 
  18. ^ "Dr. Andrew Weil". Huffington Post. 
  19. ^ a b c Arnold S. Relman (14 December 1998). "A Trip to Stonesville: Some Notes on Andrew Weil". The New Republic. Archived from the original on April 8, 2002. 
  20. ^ a b "Review: Weil By Nature’s Path Organic Chocolada Walnut Pure Fruit And Nut Bar - Evolving Wellness | Holistic Optimal Health". Evolving Wellness. August 21, 2008. Archived from the original on October 19, 2009. Retrieved September 16, 2012. 
  21. ^ Brown, D. (March 17, 2009). "Scientists Speak Out Against Federal Funds for Research on Alternative Medicine". The Washington Post. 
  22. ^ a b Beyerstein, B. L. (2001). "Alternative Medicine and Common Errors of Reasoning". Academic Medicine 76 (3): 230–237. doi:10.1097/00001888-200103000-00009. PMID 11242572. Archived from the original on August 11, 2011. 
  23. ^ a b "Time Runs Andrew Weil Advertorial". CSPI. June 19, 2006. Archived from the original on September 26, 2006. 
  24. ^ Singh, S.; Ernst, E. (2008). Trick or Treatment: The Undeniable Facts About Alternative Medicine. W. W. Norton. p. 256. ISBN 978-0-393-33778-5. 
  25. ^ "Dr. Steven Knope debates Andrew Weil on the merits of Integrative Medicine (Part I)". YouTube. July 30, 2008. Retrieved September 16, 2012. 
  26. ^ Food and Drug Administration (October 15, 2009). "Unapproved/Uncleared/Unauthorized Products Related to the H1N1 Flu Virus and Notice of Potential Illegal Marketing of Products to Prevent, Treat or Cure the H1N1 Virus". Archived from the original on October 19, 2009. 

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