David Zul­berg is the author of best-sell­ing health and behav­ior mod­i­fi­ca­tion diet called The Life-Trans­form­ing Diet (Feld­heim Pub­lish­ers). His lat­est book called 5 Skin­ny Habits, will be pub­lished this fall by Rodale Pub­lish­ers. He is blog­ging here today for Jew­ish Book Coun­cil and MyJew­ish­Learn­ing.

Mai­monides, pop­u­lar­ly known as Ram­bam, was born on March 30, 1135. Mai­monides is best known as a philoso­pher, pro­lif­ic author and jurist: the fore­most intel­lect of Medieval Judaism. Although his chap­ter on health in his Mish­neh Torah’ is still pop­u­lar and stud­ied today, most peo­ple are unaware that Mai­monides actu­al­ly wrote 10 med­ical works. 

His fame as a physi­cian spread rapid­ly in his lat­er years. He became the court physi­cian to the famous Sul­tan Sal­adin, and lat­er to his son Al-Afḍal. In 1477, only a few years after the inven­tion of print­ing, a Latin edi­tion of his Reg­i­men of Health” was pub­lished in Flo­rence. It was the first med­ical book to appear in print there. Prof. Wald­mer Schweise­heimer, a mid-twen­ti­eth cen­tu­ry his­to­ri­an, said of Mai­monides’ med­ical writ­ings: Mai­monides’ med­ical teach­ings are not anti­quat­ed at all. His writ­ings are aston­ish­ing­ly mod­ern in tone and con­tent.” Mr. David Ben-Guri­on, the first Prime Min­is­ter of Israel, and after him Prof. Albert Ein­stein, request­ed that Mai­monides’ med­ical writ­ings be pub­lished. As Sir William Osler so apt­ly put it, Mai­monides was Prince of Physicians.’

My jour­ney began when I researched and wrote a book called The Life-Trans­form­ing Diet, pub­lished by Feld­heim. This book is based on Mai­monides’ nutri­tion­al and psy­cho­log­i­cal advice found in his philo­soph­i­cal and legal works, espe­cial­ly his med­ical writ­ings. The book was well received and is cur­rent­ly in its sev­enth print­ing. It has been trans­lat­ed into Hebrew. The Life-Trans­form­ing Diet has already pro­duced dra­mat­ic life-chang­ing results for thou­sands of peo­ple worldwide.

After the book was pub­lished, I pur­sued my inter­est in the herbal aspect of Rambam’s writ­ings. Besides writ­ing about nutri­tion­al and lifestyle habits, Ram­bam details herbal reme­dies exten­sive­ly in his med­ical works. In fact, he has one ded­i­cat­ed thick vol­ume about drug names and descrip­tions. I was espe­cial­ly fas­ci­nat­ed by Mai­monides’ favorite stress relief for­mu­la, which he describes: This should be tak­en reg­u­lar­ly, at all times. Its effects are that sad­ness and anx­i­eties dis­ap­pear. This is a rem­e­dy of which no equal can be found in glad­den­ing, strength­en­ing and invig­o­rat­ing the psy­che. It should always be found in your pos­ses­sion.” (Mai­monides Med­ical Writings)

At the same time, I researched the best herbal ingre­di­ents for an appetite sup­pres­sant based on Mai­monides’ nutri­tion­al sug­ges­tions and the most cur­rent herbal sci­en­tif­ic research. 

My first con­cern was to ensure that the herbal ingre­di­ents and for­mu­la­tions found in Mai­monides’ works were being trans­lat­ed accu­rate­ly. In gen­er­al, many trans­la­tions of ancient texts are not accu­rate. In fact, some of the bet­ter-known trans­la­tions of Mai­monides’ med­ical works, which were orig­i­nal­ly writ­ten in Ara­bic, are not pre­cise and this becomes an impor­tant issue espe­cial­ly regard­ing locat­ing and defin­ing the exact herbal ingre­di­ents. The first step was to find the most exact trans­la­tion. I uti­lized all three main trans­la­tions of his med­ical works and after months of search­ing, I suc­ceed­ed in com­mu­ni­cat­ing with the most renowned expert in the trans­la­tion of Mai­monides’ works from the orig­i­nal Ara­bic and oth­er man­u­scripts of that era. He is affil­i­at­ed with Brigham Young Uni­ver­si­ty in the USA and pro­fi­cient in clas­si­cal and Semit­ic languages. 

My next step was to actu­al­ly trav­el to India, which I did twice. I went to New Del­hi and Mum­bai in order to meet cur­rent day experts in Unani Med­i­cine. I pro­vid­ed them with the orig­i­nal Ara­bic man­u­scripts and they con­firmed the exact trans­la­tion of the var­i­ous herbal ingredients. 

I want­ed to fur­ther con­firm my find­ings in India and so I got research sci­en­tists and cur­rent day herbal­ists to test and con­firm the ingre­di­ents and formulations. 

The next step was to ensure that the for­mu­la­tions could be made kosher. This was actu­al­ly a much big­ger chal­lenge then it seems. It took two years to make this a pos­si­bil­i­ty. To make the for­mu­la­tions kosher one needs the actu­al ingre­di­ents to be sourced kosher and the actu­al encap­su­la­tion needs to be supervised.

I trav­eled to Chi­na to the CPHI con­fer­ence, which hosts 2,200 exhibitors and 29,000 atten­dees from over 133 coun­tries. It is the mar­ket leader for the glob­al phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal ingre­di­ents indus­try. I also vis­it­ed var­i­ous facil­i­ties in Shang­hai and India — New Del­hi, Mum­bai and Ahmedabad. 

After much research, I con­clud­ed that the best loca­tion for ensur­ing qual­i­ty and strict kosher super­vi­sion of the pro­duc­tion line was to have the prod­ucts made in the USA. Since all prod­ucts are also Kosher Star K cer­ti­fied, there is addi­tion­al assur­ance of qual­i­ty and third par­ty sub­stan­ti­a­tion of includ­ed ingre­di­ents and encapsulation.

David Zul­berg is an ACE-cer­ti­fied fit­ness spe­cial­ist and health coach, and M.S. grad­u­ate of Colum­bia Uni­ver­si­ty in NYC. Author of best-sell­ing health and behav­ior mod­i­fi­ca­tion diet called The Life Trans­form­ing Diet (Feld­heim Pub­lish­ers). His lat­est book called 5 Skin­ny Habits, will be pub­lished this fall by Rodale Pub­lish­ers. Zul­berg is also founder and pres­i­dent of Bio Herbal Tech, a dynam­ic orga­ni­za­tion pro­vid­ing pro­pri­ety herbal sci­en­tif­ic for­mu­la­tions. David has appeared on PIX11, CBS and ABC. Read more about him here.

David Zul­berg is a cer­ti­fied fit­ness spe­cial­ist, health coach, and schol­ar of the health writ­ings of Mai­monides and the Mas­ter Physi­cians. David holds a Mas­ter’s degree from Colum­bia Uni­ver­si­ty in NYC. He is a cer­ti­fied ACE health coach and fit­ness spe­cial­ist. He has been fea­tured on nation­al tele­vi­sion net­works includ­ing ABC, CBS, and PIX11. He lives in New York City.

David Zul­berg is avail­able to be booked for speak­ing engage­ments through Read On. Click here for more information.