Heart Disease — Defeating a Modern Plague with Ancient Wisdom, July 2007
Reviewer: Martin Zucker

“Clearly, modern medicine has not lived up to its promise to eliminate heart disease. The conventional approach treats you as a collection of tubes and valves...and focuses on fixing or replacing the ‘parts’...instead of reversing the imbalances at the root of the disease. Total heart health is possible only when the influences that affect your mind, body, and environment are considered together, and all in terms of connecting back to your body’s inner healer.”

A heart book based on ancient Ayurveda and modern Quantum physics? Sounds like a stretch, but not so. Cardiologist Schneider, assisted by medical researcher Fields, bridges the healing eons in a totally comprehensive, inviting, and refreshing way. You will like this book even if you know nothing about Ayurveda, the thousands of years’ old healing tradition from India, and regard Quantum physics as something you couldn’t possibly understand. That’s because this self-help text is super practical, easy-to-understand, and totally relevant for both clinicians and health-minded folks at large.

A person could spend 24/7 following all the recommendations in the book — there are so many. But you can choose from a brimming selection of ideas and methods that time and temperament allow and, in the process, make your heart and all the arterial tributaries that flow into it much healthier in the process. There’s a lot of stuff in here as well that will upgrade the rest of your body. Among its many recommendations, the book shows you how to influence the health of your heart (and Whole) with your own inner intelligence, literally spice up your diet to balance the energy forces in your body, and even how to realign your living quarters and work desk in a cardiac-friendly direction.

The book represents a cardiovascular slice of unique knowledge inspired by the comprehensive approach to chronic illness advanced by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the world-famous Indian Vedic scholar who popularized Transcendental Meditation (TM) and Ayurveda in the West. For decades, Maharishi has sparked research to validate these healing methods in order to help rescue a sick, stressed world. To date, hundreds of studies have been generated and published in major scientific journals around the world.

Schneider, a physician-researcher associated with Maharishi’s Institute for Natural Medicine and Prevention, taps deeply into this base of knowledge to address the specific issue of heart health. He starts with TM as a primary weapon against the modern-day stresses gnawing away at the foundations of cardiovascular health. Drawing on charts, multiple studies, and the experiences of millions, he shows how twenty minutes, twice a day, of a simple, effortless meditation technique lowers blood pressure, reduces cortisol, and increases the lumen of plaque-crusted arteries. In this discourse, Schneider explains the healing trajectory of a typical meditating practitioner’s awareness, from the excitation of daily living to a field of pure consciousness, beyond thought, that appears to have all the attributes of Quantum physics’ unified field at the basis of subjective and objective existence. Each exposure to this primordial dimension reverberates through the body and holistically nudges our inner mechanisms in the direction of health and coherence and away from disease and incoherence — sounds abstract but with concrete enough results to evoke ongoing hypertension funding from the US National Institutes of Health. In numerous studies, Schneider and his colleagues have documented how TM significantly reduces hypertension and improves cardiovascular health among populations — such as African Americans — at high risk for high blood pressure.

If I sound effusive about this work, it’s because I relate to it directly. Many years ago, a doctor wanted to put me on medication for high blood pressure. Wary of side effects, I looked for something natural and, by chance, found Transcendental Meditation. Within a month or two, my pressure normalized and has stayed normal for 30 years with continued regular meditation. At a recent checkup, my blood pressure read 120/60. Not bad for a kid, let alone a 69 year old.

The book covers Ayurveda’s timeless diet, detox, and daily routine recommendations as they apply to cardiovascular health. In Sanskrit, Ayurveda means “science of lifespan,” and its various modalities are designed to extend longevity and quality of life. Ayurveda sees illness as a disruption of natural ongoing processes and intelligence throughout the body and lays primary blame on the “mistake of the intellect.” By wrong eating and lifestyle habits, by not obtaining enough rest, by driving ourselves obsessively in the pursuit of ambition and wealth, we weaken the link between the natural guiding intelligence of life within us. We accelerate the onset of cardiovascular disease (among other illnesses) and aging.

Schneider presents a wide range of Ayurvedic prescriptions for restoring physiologic balance to the body and heart:

Body typing

We are all different, made up of particular combinations of psychophysiological principles (vata, pitta, kapha) governing the different functions of mind and body. The book explains them in detail and shows you how to determine your body type and correct your individual body type imbalances.


The techniques include panchakarma, a comprehensive top-to-bottom cleansing and rejuvenation program done at Ayurvedic clinics, but also a simple daily oil massage you can do on your own.


Schneider lays out the appropriate body type foods to favor or avoid, and emphasizes the key Ayurvedic principle of “digestive fire” (your ability to digest and absorb the food you eat) so that you prevent the creation of artery-clogging impurities.


Ayurveda has developed a vast, documented treasury of herbal applications. The book shows you how to combine specific heart-healthy ingredients, including common kitchen spices, to pacify and enhance your body type.


Certain Indian music, played at appropriate times, and certain recitations from India’s Vedic sounds literature have healing effects on different aspects of the physiology.


Schneider introduces readers to Vastu, the Indian version of Feng Shui, that recommends how we build our homes and situate our workplaces. East trumps all other directions, in this ancient concept. East gives you the healing energy of the rising sun and, according to modern research, orients the thalamus deep inside your brain in the most auspicious direction for health, creativity, and success. The big no-no is living in a south-facing house. One Southern California cardiologist, who uses Ayurveda in his practice, did an informal study of 100 patients and found that fully half of them lived in houses facing south! So remarkable was his finding that he is planning a larger study with 3,000 patients.

In summary, the concepts presented are galaxies beyond today’s limited visions of statinized, decholesterolized hearts. In this angioplastic age, Total Heart Health provides a relevant transfusion of healing knowledge that fully lives up to its title claim.

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