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Andrew Weil

This article is about the integrative medicine proponent. For the two similarly named mathematicians, see Andrew Wiles, or André Weil.

Andrew Thomas Weil (/wl/; born June 8, 1942) is an American medical doctor, teacher, and best-selling author on holistic health.[1] He is founder, professor, and director of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona. He received a B.S. in Biology and a M.D. from Harvard University in 1968.[2] Weil is widely known for establishing the field of integrative medicine, which aims to combine alternative and conventional medicine. Weil suggests that patients take the Western medicine prescribed to them by physicians and then incorporate alternative therapies, such as omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, herbal remedies, meditation, as well as other “spiritual” strategies, into their treatment plans.[3] Some mainstream medical professionals, however, 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 has sold over 10 million copies. Some titles of such books Spontaneous Healing, 8 Weeks to Optimum Health, and Healthy Aging. Weil has been a frequent guest on Larry King Live, Oprah, and the Today Show.[4]


Weil was born in Philadelphia, the only child of secular Jewish parents who operated a millinery store. When he was seventeen he was awarded a scholarship from the American Association for the United Nations, giving him the opportunity go abroad for a year, living with families in India, Thailand and Greece. From this experience he became convinced that in many ways American culture and science was insular and unaware of non-American practices. He began hearing that mescaline enhanced creativity and produced visionary experiences, and finding little information on the subject, he discovered The Doors of Perception by Aldous Huxley.[5]:24–25 Weil entered Harvard University in 1960 and served as an editor of the Harvard Crimson.[5]:86 His undergraduate thesis, entitled "The Use of Nutmeg as a Psychotropic Agent" on the narcotic properties of nutmeg[6] was inspired by a class with David McClelland. Through his interest in psychoactive drugs, he met psychologist Timothy Leary and joined the circle around Leary which included Richard Alpert. In 1964 he graduated with a B.A. in ethnobotany and received a medical degree from Harvard Medical School in 1968.[7]

In 1968 Weil moved to San Francisco for a year to complete his medical residency at Mount Zion Hospital, volunteered at the Haight-Ashbury Free Clinic and also was granted official federal support for studying marijuana. The same year Weil received legal permission for him to obtain research-grade marijuana for use in his research.[5]

From 1971 to 1974, Weil traveled throughout South America as a fellow for the Institute of Current World Affairs.[8] 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.[9] Weil has been open about his own experimental and recreational use of drugs including narcotics and mind-altering substances.[10]

In 1994, Weil founded the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine at the University Medical Center in Tucson, where he serves as its director. He is a Clinical Professor of Medicine, 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 named him one of the 25 most influential Americans in 1997 and one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2005.[11] Weil was honored by the New York Open Center[12] 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." Forbes went on to list his Web site in their Best of the Web Directory, in the "Alternative Medicine" category,[13] and characterized it as one of the three "Best of the Web" picks in such category.[14]

Philosophy on health

Weil has acknowledged that many individuals have influenced his philosophical ideas, spiritual ideas, and techniques regarding 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.[15][16] Weil has further stated that he respects the work of psychologist Martin Seligman, who pioneered the field of positive psychology and now directs the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania. Weil has also professed admiration for the work of Stephen Ilardi, professor of psychology at the University of Kansas, and author of The Depression Cure.[17]

Weil's general view, regarding medicine, 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 physicians and subsequently extend the biomedical model to incorporate alternative therapies, such as omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, herbal remedies, meditation, and other “spiritual” strategies. Proper Nutrition, exercise and stress reduction are also emphasized by Weil.[3] Weil is a proponent of diets that are rich in organic fruits, organic vegetables, and fish. He has also been a vocal 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, regarding treatment strategies, their side effects, and their efficacy, advocates for the use of whole plants as a less problematic approach in comparison to synthetic pharmaceuticals. Weil is an advocate of incorporating specific medicinal mushrooms into one's daily diet.[18][self-published source?]. Weil has further expressed opposition to the war on drugs, citing the benefits of many banned plants.

Books and publications

While Weil's early books and publications primarily explored altered states of consciousness, he has since expanded the scope of his work 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. In his book Healthy Aging, Weil looks at the process of growing older from a physical, social, and cross-cultural perspective. His book Why our Health Matters is focused on health care reform.

Weil has been tasked with writing forewords for books by Paul Stamets, Lewis Mehl-Madrona, Tolly Burkan, and Wade Davis, among others. Weil also occasionally writes articles for Time magazine and the Huffington Post[19][20] and appears in the documentary Escape Fire: The Fight to Rescue American Healthcare.


There have been questions about his promotion of certain products, as well as the money he makes from them, saying the money goes to the Program in Integrative Medicine, which he heads, and to his foundation. A reporter found such statements inaccurate or evasive. For example, she found food in his house containing refined sugar and a "slash of chocolate" and other foods incongruent with his stances on health. And contrary to the message of his new book at the time Healthy Aging: A Lifelong Guide to Your Physical and Spiritual Well-Being, that advises that aging should be accepted as a natural stage in life, a brand of skin care products sold at Macy's was advertised "To optimize skin's defense against aging" along with a large picture of Weil in the store.[21]

Some medical professionals have criticized Weil for promoting unverified beliefs. Weil's rejection of some aspects of evidence-based medicine, along with his 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".[22] Weil has also been criticized for the promotion of some of his food products, such as fruit and nut bars, as he combined his personal brand with Arran Stephens' Nature's Path brand.[23]

The late Dr. Barry Beyerstein [1947-2007], PhD at Simon Fraser University, had further criticized Weil and various 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.'" Beyerstein later went on to state that, "By denigrating science, these detractors have enlarged the potential following for magical and pseudoscientific health product."[24] Simon Singh further echoes Beyerstein's criticism by saying that while Weil promotes some good things, like exercise and less smoking, "much of his advice is nonsense".[25]

Dr. Steven Knope of Tucson, Arizona, criticized Weil in a debate televised on public television affiliate KUAT-TV. Knope chastised Weil for what he considered irresponsible advocacy of untested treatments.[26]

As to a piece of journalism that Weil wrote in Time magazine, the Center for Science in the Public Interest pointed out Weil touts the benefits of fish oil supplements but fails to disclose that Weil sells his own brand of fish oil supplements on his Web site."[27]

In 2009, the US Food and Drug Administration went so far as to send a warning letter to a company associated with Weil, Weil Lifestyle LLC, as part of an "urgent measure" to protect consumers from products that lacked approval or authorization by the FDA but claimed to diagnose, mitigate, prevent, treat, or cure H1N1 flu virus. The FDA was primarily concerned with several implicit claims, in Weil Lifestyle LLC's marketing literature, that certain products could help ward off such virus.[28]


  • 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. PMID 12846118. doi:10.1525/maq.2003.17.2.233.  edit
  2. 2.0 2.1 Andrew Weil Biography - Academy of Achievement.
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Non-fiction review: Spontaneous Happiness". Publishers Weekly. August 22, 2011. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 "Dr Andrew Weil". The Huffington Post. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Lattin, Don (2010). The Harvard Psychedelic Club (Paperback ed.). New York: HarperCollins Publishers. pp. 145–146. ISBN 978-0-06-165594-4. 
  6. Andrew Weil Interview - page 1- 7 - Academy of Achievement
  7. Lasswell, Mark (25 September 1995). "Mind Opener". People 45 (13). Retrieved 23 November 2014. 
  8. Institute of Current World Affairs - Former Fellows Map
  9. "Interview: Dr. Andrew Weil". High Times. Archived from the original on August 2, 2007. 
  10. 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. 
  11. "Andrew Weil - The 2005 TIME 100". Time. April 18, 2005. Archived from the original on October 20, 2013. Retrieved January 30, 2014. 
  13. "Forbes Best of the Web: Alternative Medicine category". 
  14. "Ask Dr. Weil listed as a "Forbes Best of the Web" pick". Archived from the original on May 8, 2001. 
  15. Huba, S. (April 2, 1997). "Holistic healing's new role". The Cincinnati Post. 
  16. 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. 
  17. "Andrew Weil's Spontaneous Happiness: Our Nature-Deficit Disorder". The Daily Beast. Newsweek. October 30, 2011. 
  18. "Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Food Pyramid". Archived from the original on September 8, 2008. Retrieved September 16, 2012. 
  19. "Andrew Weil, M.D.". Time. December 11, 2006. Archived from the original on January 14, 2009. Retrieved June 5, 2013. 
  20. "Dr. Andrew Weil". Huffington Post. 
  21. Wadler, Joyce (20 October 2005). "What Goes With Gray?". The New York Times. Retrieved 23 November 2014. 
  22. Arnold S. Relman (14 December 1998). "A Trip to Stonesville: Some Notes on Andrew Weil". <span />The New Republic<span />. Archived from the original on April 8, 2002. 
  23. "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. 
  24. Beyerstein, B. L. (2001). "Alternative Medicine and Common Errors of Reasoning". Academic Medicine 76 (3): 230–237. PMID 11242572. doi:10.1097/00001888-200103000-00009. Archived from the original on August 11, 2011. 
  25. 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. 
  26. "Dr. Steven Knope debates Andrew Weil on the merits of Integrative Medicine (Part I)". YouTube. July 30, 2008. Retrieved September 16, 2012. 
  27. "Time Runs Andrew Weil Advertorial". CSPI. June 19, 2006. Archived from the original on September 26, 2006. 
  28. 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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