Today we have been ingrained into believing that our health depends on doctors, medicines and the healthcare industry; whereas the truth is that our health depends more on our lifestyle, diet, emotions and constitution. If we understand this simple truth, we can learn to restore and maintain our health by our own efforts and, except in extreme cases, we shall not need to consult a doctor. Here you learn how to awaken your own inner doctor.
1. The modern approach in medicine
The modern approach is to classify a disease as a collection of symptoms and then to treat the symptoms with powerful drugs. This method is very useful in treating life-threatening diseases and stubborn infections. However, most of our everyday illnesses are only functional disorders such as respiratory disorders like the common cold and cough; skin disorders like rashes that itch, dandruff and foul odour; pains like headache, stiff-joints and back pains; and digestive disorders like irritable bowels, constipation and flatulence. And for such ailments the modern medical science has no effective remedy. They only try to manage or relieve the symptoms of the disorder so as to provide some temporary relief.
2. What is so wrong with treating symptoms?
When you habitually treat the symptoms of the common functional disorders with drugs, you only modify the symptoms without removing the causes. And when the underlying causes continue, the disease develops further and becomes chronic. It gives rise to annoying symptoms like headaches, stuffed nose, acidity, gas trouble, rheumatic pain, skin rash, respiratory allergy (like asthma, wheezing), blood pressure, etc. Such chronic disorders are less intense in their effects, but they harass more since they last for a long time and recur periodically.
And for such chronic conditions there are ‘no outright cures’ — there are only medications that temporarily manage or relieve the symptoms. Hence, you are never healed; and you may be put on medication that has to be taken for the rest of your life! Further, since the cause continues, newer symptoms keep on arising from time to time and the treatment you get only keeps on suppressing them.
However, in the early stages, a disease is always just a functional disorder. If you choose to suppress the symptoms at this stage, you bypass the healing that should happen at this stage and allow the disease to become internalised. Then it develops further and becomes chronic; and ultimately it becomes degenerative wherein the structures of the organs like the heart, liver, lungs, kidneys, etc. begin to break down. However, it does not bother the advocates of modern medicine since now they can show you the ‘wonders of surgery’. And of course, you have to pay the price.
The basic problem with the modern approach is that they focus only on relieving symptoms (the localised manifestation of the disease) so that they can deal with the ‘end spectrum’ of the disease — where it becomes degenerative, and where it is most profitable for the medical business.
3. Where exactly is the problem?
Medical science has misrepresented the true nature of a disease by considering it to be merely an effect on the body — as something that can be removed by external means like drugs and surgery. As a result the medical science keeps on searching for the remedy in the wrong places; and looks for temporary solutions.
The three big mistakes:
• The symptoms are considered as the disease, whereas the symptoms are only the effects of a diseased state.
• The causes of a disease are sought in external agents like germs and bacteria, whereas the true cause is due to toxaemia — a ‘diseased state’ that arises due to the accumulation of toxins in the body at the cellular level.
• When the treatment focuses on merely relieving symptoms, the cause continues. Then the ailments become chronic or newer disorders continue to arise. Hence, the patient is never really healed.
4. The holistic and the specialised approaches
When symptoms are seen in the context of the whole person, they take on a totally different significance than when they are seen in the context of an ailing part of the body. When you think analytically, you simply reduce the level of the insight from the whole to the part. Then you only see the disorder in the parts, the symptoms, as the disease. As a result your treatment will be directed to suppressing the symptoms or to surgically cut up the part. However, when the underlying cause is elsewhere in the system (as in an eating habit), then you miss it completely. This is precisely what happens when a health problem arises due to a disorder in the functioning of the whole person, as in a faulty lifestyle or a psychosomatic disorder. The disorder simply shows itself as symptoms in the parts. Then, if your treatment aims at curing the part without attending to the deeper causes, you can only provide some temporary relief. The underlying ‘disease factor’ will continue. Then the symptoms will continue to play hide and seek; and you will keep going from one specialist to another, to be cured again and again, and yet again.
From the holistic point of view the solutions that emerge from a fragmented perspective, themselves become problems for the whole! In other words, when you aim to give some temporary relief by suppressing the symptoms, you can in the process create bigger and long-term problems for the person as a whole. Further, when you resort to ‘quick-fix’ cures, you also disturb the natural feedback mechanism that the body uses to heal itself. In this way you create obstacles in the processes of natural healing.
5. A disease in terms of toxaemia and the vital force
In natural healing the primary disease factor in the body is called toxaemia. It is experienced as irritation, pain, restlessness, indigestion or sluggishness. The deeper causes of the toxaemia usually lie inside the person — in his or her lifestyle, diet, emotions and constitution. Let us perceive how this diseased state arises.
Natural healing systems explain healing in terms of the vital force. It is something subtle, like electricity, which circulates in and around the body and the body organs, and keeps them working as ‘a whole’. This vital force regulates all the functions of the body and it has the power to restore the body in illness. When the vital force is abundant this energy flows smoothly and the body functions properly. Then we feel light and alert. When the vital force becomes weak, the flow of this energy is disturbed and the body functions get disordered. Then we experience sluggishness, irritation and an upset feeling. The vital force carries out the functions of digestion, assimilation and elimination in the body. Through digestion, it transforms the food into material that the body can use. Through assimilation, it transforms the digested food into body tissue or oxidises it to generate energy. And through elimination it removes the waste-products. That is, it decomposes the waste — the poisonous and dead materials — so that they can be easily eliminated from the body. All these functions are complementary and are carried out simultaneously or side by side.
Whenever there is some disturbance or excess in our life, the vital force gets depleted. Then it becomes insufficient. Then our digestion, assimilation and elimination also become weak and our system becomes sluggish. That is, our digestion is incomplete; our assimilation is poor; and all this stuff has to be decomposed so that it can be thrown out. The ultimate effect is that there is a gradual build-up of toxins or waste-products in the body at the cellular level. And once the ‘toxin level’ is higher than the body can tolerate, the body’s resistance to the external agents of disease like allergens, germs, etc is lost. And that makes the body susceptible to illness.
6. Aren’t germs and bacteria the causes of disease?
Modern medical science makes you believe that germs, bacteria, microbes, viruses and parasites are the causes of your disease. However, natural healing considers them as only the external agents of the disease and not the true causes. Just as flies breed where you keep your garbage, so also germs breed easily when the body or an organ is loaded with toxins!
Natural healing considers the germs and bacteria as nature’s scavengers that mainly carry out the function of decomposing the waste-products of the body and preparing them so that they can be easily eliminated. (They also assist digestion and perform other functions like synthesizing vitamins.) However, the germs and bacteria are harmless against healthy living cells. They become complicating factors in a disease only after the conditions of disease, the toxaemia, already exists.
Once waste-matter has accumulated, the cells lose their vitality. Then the bacteria can decompose them and feed on them. However, in our healthy condition the cells are not affected by bacteria. Further, the by-products of bacterial decomposition become dangerous only when they accumulate. Hence, so long as our body is able to eliminate the toxins there is nothing to fear from germs and bacteria!
Natural healing systems regard an infection as a subsequent complication that arises when the primary disease factor, the toxaemia, already exists. Thus, the disease is not the result of an attack by germs. The germs only grow when the body or a body organ has become vulnerable. And if that is true, it is more appropriate to focus on building your immunity and resistance to germs and bacteria by detoxifying your system than to focus on destroying all the external agents of disease.
7. The fundamental steps of natural healing
The remedy in natural healing is simple:
a. Reduce the existing ‘toxin level’ in the body. It will reduce your susceptibility to disease. Once the toxin level is lowered, the vital force will be able to perform the function of healing naturally
b. Correct your lifestyle, eating habits, etc. so that toxins are not allowed to accumulate in the body.
So, once toxaemia exists in the body, the work of elimination becomes the most crucial factor for our health. It becomes our bottleneck problem. Then our vital force will use every acute illness to throw out the toxins that have accumulated in the body.
How can we assist this elimination process?
At such times the natural instinct of the body is to rest and abstain from eating. If we eat at such times, the food will remain undigested and become an extra load on our system. Instead, if we provide the condition of total rest — rest from work and rest from digestion, the reserve vital force of the body will take up the task of cleansing our system. Thus, we have to only conserve our vitality so that the vital force can complete the task of elimination. However, if we suppress the symptoms with drugs during this process, we disturb the natural feedback mechanism the body uses to guide the vital force.
8. If natural healing is so simple, why isn’t everyone doing it?
We can explain it in two ways:
a. Most people do not know what they need to do to restore their health. So perhaps it is more appropriate to ask: Why has natural healing not been popularised? Natural healing is not something new. It has been around for centuries. However, its message has got lost in our times since the modern medical business is not interested in finding a solution from which there is no money to be made.
b. Some people understand the message of natural healing, but still they do not pursue it. That happens because they lack the will-power that is necessary to change their lifestyle, diet and emotional habits. So they come for advice, but they are actually looking for a quick fix. These people don’t want to accept the responsibility for their health. So, they prefer to take the pill and settle for some temporary relief.
9. How to detoxify the body
Naturopathy uses many methods for reducing the toxins in the body, such as fasting; water cure; baths; packs; elimination diets, etc. Here we discuss the simple method of elimination diet.
The diet is to simply eat only fruits for breakfast.
The diet has two considerations:
a. You give the body a long period of rest from digestion on a daily basis. Then the body will use the extra vitality that becomes available to eliminate the toxins.
b. Next, you eat fruits that have good cleansing properties for breakfast. They assist in eliminating the toxins.
The best fruits are black grapes, pomegranate, guava and papaya. Other good fruits are apples, figs, prunes, jambu, orange, mango, peach, pears, grapefruit, chiku, and dates. All these fruits have cleansing properties and require very little effort of digestion.
The correct way to eat fruits: when you use fruits to detoxify your body, do not eat them along with other foods that require a lot of digestion. When you mix fruits with other food, the mixture stays in stomach for a long time and ferments (turns to acid). Then you experience acidity or gas.
We suggest that after every acute ailment you should undertake the elimination diet for a month.
10. How to avoid generating toxins
Rule-1: eat less, and take only easy-to-digest food.
When you eat less food, you do not waste your vital energy on processing the excess food. Further, when you can digest all the food you eat, you become more energetic and produce fewer toxins.
Rule-2: when food remains undigested in the body, it ferments, accumulates and creates toxins in the body. Hence, you should value the food items according to your ability to digest and assimilate them, and not according to their nutrient content! Simply avoid eating food that is hard to digest or has toxic additives.
• Avoid fried food, soybean preparations, sweets, chocolates, refined flour preparations and food containing preservatives.
• Avoid consuming food that is highly processed, highly sweetened or salted; or foods that carry health claims (don’t encourage deceivers). Food is processed to increase its shelf-life (not your life) and the processing makes it more indigestible in your body.
• Further, some foods are processed to make them tasty (deep-fried or addictive ingredients are added). It increases their consumption. However, that is better for the seller’s business and not for your body.
• Avoid consuming ‘concentrated’ foodstuff. Don’t be deceived by the label of extra nutrient value. They will be harder to digest. Instead, eat the food with lower nutritional value that comes with a lot of roughage and fibre. The fibre and roughage make it easier for the body to digest and assimilate the food, and the waste-products that are generated will also be easier to eliminate.
• Avoid consuming diet-supplements and micro-nutrients unless you have a specific deficiency. Otherwise by taking them you serve the interests of the pharmaceutical companies, and not your interest. If you have a specific deficiency, take the supplement (preferably from a natural source) only until the deficiency is overcome. Do not continue to consume it thereafter. Otherwise it creates dependencies and generates imbalance in the body.
11. Some good eating habits
The main purpose of eating is to feed the body. Hence, do not combine other purposes, like parties and thrills with the act of eating.
While eating, try to become conscious of what you eat, and how much you eat. When you maintain this discipline, the natural instinct of the body will awaken and allow you to sense the quality of the food you eat.
Eat only two main meals in the day. Establish your meal-time and adhere to it. Avoid eating between meals. If you eat at odd times, you will not be hungry at the meal-time! Further, if you don’t get the hunger sensation at meal-time, don’t eat.
Drinking water: you need about 9 glasses of water a day. Try to drink ‘fresh stream’ or mountain water; and avoid drinking tap water or recycled water. Further, drinking water is not the same thing as drinking beverages.
The time factor: the morning is naturally suited to the function of elimination. Hence, at this time avoid eating food, and drink a lot of water. The digestion is strongest around midday. Hence, lunch should be your main meal. Take rest after eating a big meal. The digestive fire becomes weak on overcast days and in the rainy season. Hence, eat less on such days and in the corresponding season.
12. Why have other causes like stress, emotions and karma not been discussed?
All these causes affect the body by disturbing the vital force. And the weakness in the vital force ultimately increases the toxaemia in the body. Hence, instead of complicating the issues, we have kept it simple. Our primary focus is to induce healing by reducing the toxaemia. We want you to experience some benefit by doing this practice. Then you can go further and uncover the complexity of the situation.
Prashant S. Shah
Prashant S. Shah is an author, healer, spiritual guide and counsellor from Vadodara, India. He has a website at http://spiritual-living.in .