Lady Cilento, probably Australia’s best known medical practitioner, carried on what she called “this wonderful correspondence”, for more than fifty years, with readers of The Courier Mail. Her articles began in 1930, when, as one of the few women doctors practicing in Australia, she was introduced as “Hygeia”. She quickly won a following, which not only remained loyal, but increased with years. For almost as long as she wrote her columns, readers have been asking for them in “book form”. As “Hygeia”, “Mother MD”, “The Counsellor”, and for many years, “Medical Mother”, she wrote forthrightly, frequently controversial articles, on every aspect of general health. Women, babies and children were her enduring concern and vitamin therapy, which she believed in implicitly, her most challenged.
Modern medicine has caught up with natural childbirth, which she pioneered. Education has caught up with teaching mothercraft in schools, which she championed. Hospitals are bowing to the rights of fathers to be present at births of their babies, which she was among the first to urge.For more than sixty years, Lady Cilento wrote about health and health issues, providing generations of Australians with not only a sensible guide to nutrition, but invaluable information for a healthy and fulfilling lifestyle. Her contributions have been controversial but widely acknowledged as providing an important community service, which continued throughout her life. Better Health is more than a thoroughly researched collection of articles covering diet, health and answers to modern problems. It is a handbook for living. Medicine of tomorrow will eventually catch up with her theories on vitamin therapy. “I’ll be proved right, you’ll see”, said this leading woman medical pioneer of Australia. And she is.