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|Types of Nature Cure
Nature has provided all the five elements with great curative properties. Among these, water has been used for centuries to cleanse and soothe the body. More than sixty per cent of our body weight is water. Each one of the 100 trillion cells in the body is filled and bathed with it. We cannot live more than a few days without water. It is the basis of all body fluids. It is also an extremely important nutrient and fundamental to health and fitness. It checks the viscosity (thickness) of the blood, equalizes circulation, aids digestion and nutrition, tones up activity of the respiratory gland, eliminates damaged cells and flushes out toxin from the body.|
It is a fluid replacer as well as natural diuretic and is central to various metabolisms. It cleans out both the kidneys and the bowels. A teaspoonful each of honey and lemon juice in 2-3 glasses of lukewarm water in the morning is one of the best health tonics against chronic constipation and many other diseases On an average, we need one glass of water for every 200 calories we expend. For 2500 calories a day to keep the body moving, one needs at least 12 glasses of water.
Recent research has scientifically established the healing value of water. Diseases like headache, hypertension, obesity, arthritis, diabetes, rheumatism, sinusitis, bronchitis, asthma, acidity, constipation, dysentery, urological problems and menstrual disorders can be cured by water therapy. Five glasses of pure water in the morning in 15 minutes cleans the system thoroughly and forms new and fresh blood. No food or beverage should be taken after it for 45 minutes. The effect of this practice can be felt in two days.
Water is a miracle fluid. It cradles the body, relaxes and caresses it with force of waves, backwash and fluid resistance. It gives an unique freedom and flexibility to the body. That is why swimming is considered one of the best exercises. In water, muscles can be stretched and extended and joints are mobilized without strain.
Water therapy, a free gift of nature, is becoming popular. Athletes exercise in water pools for Olympics, pregnant women attend aquatic classes, elderly people, the handicapped and the injured are cured by water based physiotherapy. All one needs for water or hydrotherapy is a bucket and a basin or bathtub at home and a large jug on the desk, always full of pure drinking water for the day.
The other therapeutic uses of water are enema, cold compress, hot compress, cold and hot hip baths, spinal bath, full wet sheet pack, hot foot baths, steam bath, etc. Mineral and hot water or sulphur springs have cured more diseases than modern medicines.
Naturopaths lay great stress on the curative properties of earth. Application of pure clay acts as a natural bandage for wounds and injuries. Sleeping or lying on earth vitalizes the body. Walking barefoot on grass in the morning gives energy and strength to the system. Mud packs and mud baths are two popular methods in nature cure for successful treatment of a number of diseases. For a variety of ailments, sprains, boils and wounds, fever, measles, kidney or liver disorders, rheumatism, chronic inflammations, a mud pack is highly effective.
The wetness in the mud pack opens the pores of the skin, draws blood to the surface, relieves tumour constriction and pain, promotes heat radiation and eliminates morbid matter.
For preparing mud pack, clay is collected 10 cm below the ground level. The clay should not have impurities, composts or pebbles. The clay is then made into a smooth paste in warm water, and after cooling, spread on a piece of cloth. This pack is applied on abdomen or other parts of the body according to the nature of ailments for 10-30 minutes.
Mud or clay bath is another form of treatment. It is prepared in the same way as mud pack but is applied all over the body. It has a great curative effect on various types of skin disorders. It relieves pain in the joints and other parts of the body. The duration of mud bath is normally 30 minutes to one hour after which the body should be cleaned with warm water.
The body can live without food for long days, and without water for a few days, but cannot survive without air for even five minutes. We go on inhaling and exhaling air continuously and indefinitely. The air we inhale is known as prana or life force. The system of Pranayam is based on this. Fresh, open air is an important factor for health. It imparts strength and vitality to the body. Like water or mud bath, air bath is life-giving. Walking in the shade or greenery with white loose cotton on for half an hour in the morning does a world of good to the body. Deep breathing and air bath strengthen and freshen all the nerve endings in the skin and improve blood circulation.
Fire and Heat Cure
This element is manifest through the sun, the source of all power. It gives energy to plants as well as animals. It prepares and processes food in the plants for our use. It gives colour to the skin and vigour to the body. Human body gets vitamin D mainly from the sun through the skin. Infra red rays of the sun benefit the circulatory system and the muscle. Adequate sunlight is needed for the growth of bones and prevention of rinklets. Like air bath, sun bath increases immunity of the body. The best period for such bath is in the morning hours when the sun is young. But remaining in the sun for long hours is detrimental to health. It destroys the elastic fibers that are responsible for youthful appearance.
While sunbathing one should always have the back towards the sun and take a glass of water before and after the sunbath. The heat generated by fire or sunlight opens up blood vessels in the skin. Oxygen in superficial capillaries increases and blood gets diluted with more plasma. Red blood cells increase.
Steam baths and hot fomentation have a beneficial effect on joints. Hot compress relieves pain. Hot baths reduce abdominal pain, flatulence, spasm of colon, muscles and joints. Hot spring baths eliminate skin problems, rheumatoid arthritis and dermatitis.
Fruit, root and vegetable juices are considered very effective food-medicines provided by nature. Full of vital enzymes, nutrients, organic chemicals and trace elements, juices serve as the tonic of life. Most fruit juices are absorbed by the system within fifteen minutes. As the enzymes in the juices are pre-digested, they provide instant energy to the body. That is why, a fast should always be broken with a glass of fruit juice.
Fruit juice is also a great cleanser. It purifies the blood, expels accumulated toxins from the cells and revitalizes the body. On the other hand, vegetable juices are prime generators and help in many chronic diseases, strengthen the nerves, promote glandular activity and, most importantly, restore acid-alkaline balance in the body.
Broadly juices are divided into six types:
1. Juice from sweet fruits like custard apple and grapes;
2. Sub-acid fruits like apple;
3. Acid fruits like orange;
4. Vegetable fruits like tomato, cucumber;
5. Green, leafy vegetables like cabbage and spinach, and
6. Root vegetables like carrot, beet root, potato, radish, etc.
Juice therapy needs proper planning. Two litres of juice mixed with a litre of pure water taken one glass full at two hourly intervals every day helps the patients expel toxins and regenerate the system. For this, the right kind of fruits, roots or vegetables are to be selected as each and every fruit or vegetable has its own unique blend of vitamins and minerals.
For instance, orange offers vitamin C, fibre and folic acid. Lemon and lime are powerful anti-oxidants with cancer fighting and anti-ageing properties. Juices from dark fruits like grapes, cherry and berries are beneficial to people with low blood pressure, heart and kidney problems. Amla juice is highly beneficial to people with liver problems and low blood sugar. Apple juice contains cancer-fighting anthrocyanins, fights high cholesterol and prevents colon cancer. Tomato juice, high in carotenoid lycopene, lowers the risk of prostate cancer. Mango juice contains vitamin Bg essential for healthy blood.
Juices from lentils stave off high "blood pressure. Bitter gourd juice destroys disease-causing bacteria and viruses and is very effective in diabetes. Cabbage and carrot juice are very effective in cleansing the intestines and help in controlling anaemia, liver troubles, acidosis, blood poisoning, circulatory disorders, ulcers, gall stones and gout.
Juice of pineapple and grape enhances immunity. Wheat grass juice is a known fighter against blood cancer. Spinach juice furnishes vital missing nutrients in the roots of the hair and has a great anti-clogging effect, guarding against heart disease. Citrus juice therapy is effective for cough and cold.
Sugarcane, beet and radish juices are quick healers of jaundice, hepatitis and other liver diseases. Grapes, spinach, lettuce and beet root juices are of great help in correcting menstrual disorders. Cucumber and papaya juice help control constipation and colitis. Arthritis is treated with juices from sour cherry, sour apple, cucumber, lemon and carrot. Lemon, grape fruit, cabbage and lettuce juice are very useful in treating obesity.
Withdrawal from juice therapy should be gradual. To begin with, it should be replaced by milk and fruit and then by a light balanced diet. Juice therapy can be continued for four weeks without any problem under the expert guidance of a naturopath. However, it is imperative that the patient is able to take adequate rest during this period to consolidate the benefits from the therapy.
Fasting: The first medicine
In Naturopathy, fasting is observed as a method of self-purification. It is also practised in many religions. Muslims, Hindus, Jains, Buddhists and Christians, all observe fasting as a spiritual practice. It is natures most effective and least expensive medicine for treatment. Charak, Susruta, Hypocrates, Galen, Paracelsus and many great authorities on medicine have regarded it as a very dependable and curative method. It is a common knowledge that even when animals and birds fall ill, they withdraw from food, and therefore, recover faster.
The modern lifestyle, irregular eating habits, overeating and consumption of junk food, repeated use of drugs, sedentary living and lack of exercise generate lot of toxins and morbid matters in the body. These impurities affect the digestive and assimilative organs. They derange the system and clog the internal cleansing process.
As an unclean drain spreads infection, an impure organism invites diseases. Fasting, by depriving the body of food for some time helps the bowels, kidney, lungs, and liver expel disease-causing toxins and impurities. Additionally, it gives the needed rest to critical organs in the body. According to Dr Ranger Berg, an international authority on nutrition: "During fasting, the body burns up and excrete huge amount of accumulated wastes
Types and Methods of Fasting
There are three types of fasts:
1. Water fast
2. Juice fast
3. Mono-Diet fast.
Traditionally, pure water fast was practiced but fasting on juice is considered more beneficial. For certain diseases mono or single fruit or vegetable diet like bitter gourd, papaya, wheat grass juice, grapes. cucumber, etc., is prescribed because of their curative properties. Fasting on alkaline juice eliminates uric and other inorganic acids. Vitamins, minerals, enzymes and trace elements in fresh fruit and vegetable juices restore bodys balance and revive its vitality.
The juice should be diluted in pure water and one glass should be taken every 2-3 hours. During fasting, enema should be taken every alternate day. The total liquid intake should not be less than 10-12 glassfuls in a day. Physical rest and mental relaxation is essential during fasting. Simple exercises like short walks may be taken followed by a lukewarm water bath in the morning.
To start with, fasting may be done once in a week or a fortnight for a day or two. For certain chronic or critical diseases the duration varies from one to four weeks under strict guidance of a qualified naturopath. Breaking of fast must be gradual with a light and liquid diet for 1 or 2 days before resuming the normal diet. Over-eating after fasting defeats the very purpose of fasting.
During fasting the body decomposes, burns and destroys diseased cells and tissues. The eliminative organs like lungs, liver, kidney and skin are revitalized. Accumulated wastes and toxins are expelled. The process of digestion is improved. The body engine is overhauled, cleansed, serviced and fine-tuned. Fasting, dieting and moderate exercises bring about rapid reduction in weight of the obese people. Long-term fasts should be under proper guidance.
Touch Therapy: Massage
A natural way of reviving the body is the healing power of touch. We instinctively touch our forehead, temples, eyebrow when we feel tired or pained. Touch gives security and comfort to the young as well as old. It heals mind and body together. The benefits of massage or touch therapy are we documented in ancient medical texts of China, India, Egypt, Persia and Japan. The earliest surviving text mentioning massage as medicine is the Chinese Nei Ching written 3001 years ago.
Ayurveda text from around 1800 BC mentions self-massage with oil as a way of releasing the physical energy Hippocrates, father of modern medicine, was so convinced with the healthy effects of massage that he wanted all doctors to be trained in this skill. Galen, a famous Roman physician (1st century AD), has written 16 books on massage and exercise.
After a phase of neglect, massage therapy returned to Europe in the 19th century in the form of Swedish massage. In 1994 and 1995 two research studies at Middlesex Hospital and Royal Marsden Hospital in England reestablished the therapeutic value of massage as a relaxing, stress-buster and pain reliever.
Fiona Harrold, the popular author of Massage Manual, has scientifically described how massage boosts blood circulation, balances blood pressure, helps digestion, soothes muscles, stimulates the lymphatic system, speeds up disposal of toxins from the body, generates a feeling of well being and triggers the release of endorphins-the pain- relieving hormones in the body.It is considered very effective in stress-related problems such as insomnia, headache, high blood pressure, depression and anxiety. It is also used to banish constipation, boost the immune system and relieve pain in sciatica and arthritis. Massage is also a highly popular, passive exercise.
Practitioners use a variety of techniques. However, the type most suitable for a person depends on the nature o the problem. Broadly there are five basic modes of massage. These are:
4. Percussion or tapping, and
5. Vibrating or shaking.
Stroking increases blood circulation, soothes the nerves and is helpful in atrophied skin condition. Rubbing or friction warms up and relaxes the joints, tendons and muscles, reduces swelling and inflammation.
Percussion relieves muscle atrophy, increases blood supply and soothes nerves. Vibration is beneficial in neuritis, neuralgia, glandular problems and bowel disorders. Kneading invigorates muscles, relieves intestinal congestion, and respiration problems.
Body massage is much beneficial in the morning sun. The duration may vary from 15 to 45 minutes. Mustard oil, cotton seed oil and red oil are used for the body, and butter for cheek and neck. Massage should be avoided in serious inflammatory cases, infectious diseases, umbilical hernia, lung infection and after meals.
Colours as support therapy It is an age old therapy which was used in ancient Egypt, India and China. It uses solar rays, lights and colours for treating various ailments. The therapy gained scientific acceptance when the bactericidal action of solar ultra-violet energy was first discovered in 1877.
Subsequently, psychologists found out the healing effects of coloured lights on body and mind. Blue light was found to have a calming effect, red light having energizing effect, orange stimulated blood supply, violet helped reduce nervous and emotional disturbances, yellow gave joy and happiness and green was a mild sedative. Solar bath itself is highly beneficial to the body.
In colour therapy, light is applied on the affected parts of the body through various coloured glasses or transparent coloured papers. Sun-charged water in coloured bottles is also used internally and externally. In case of glasses, sunlight is allowed to pass through, and is directed to the body. Such glasses could be placed conveniently at places from where sunlight could pass through and fall on the body for at least 30 minutes.
For sun-charged water therapy, a coloured bottle filled three-fourths with pure water and corked is placed in bright sunlight for eight hours. It can be applied on body or taken as a drink. As supportive treatment, a diet containing natural foods of similar colour should be taken. For instance, beets, tomatoes, water melon for red, lemon, grapes, pumpkin for yellow, carrot, mango, orange, ripe papaya for orange and green vegetables like spinach, chaulai, lettuce, etc., for green may constitute such a diet.
Healing Power of Colours
1. Green For treatment of liver disorders, cold, fever, malaria, ulcers, eye problems, cancer.
2. Blue Beneficial in asthma, respiratory disorders, high blood pressure, skin problems, insomnia.
3. Red Low blood pressure, rheumatic disorders, paralysis, tuberculosis.
4. Orange Kidney and gall stones, hernia, appendicitis.
5. Yellow Diabetes, abdominal disorders, constipation, throat infections.
6. Violet Nervous disorders, arthritis, insomnia.
This is a special form of massage in which fingers or finger-like simple wooden instruments are pressed on certain points of the body to minimize aches, pains, fatigue, tension, stress and various other symptoms of disease. Unlike acupuncture, in which sharp needlets are pierced into the points in the skin, Acupressure is non-invasive, safe and simple. In fact, it is a very natural form of physiotherapy, which follows anatomical guides and motor points, stimulation of which relieves various disabilities.
The motor points in the body are not difficult to identify. However, it is always good to initially obtain a proper and professional guidance.There are small nerves often embedded in or near muscles attached to bones. These are hooked up to various acupressure sites in the human nervous system. Stimulating these often helps the healing process. Each acupressure site is a cycle about one centimetre in diameter. Pressure is to be applied exactly on this anatomical part for effective results. The finger or knuckle is to be rotated in a narrow circle over this site while maintaining firm pressure.
The Chinese texts on acupuncture have identified over one thousand points or sites on fourteen meridians (or lines) going up and down the body. Acupressure has reduced these to about 60-70 important motor points. It is not necessary to apply pressure or rotational massage on all these points as they are related to various parts of the body and ailments.
Acupressure therapy is useful in pains related to arthritis, elbow, shoulder, neck, back, wrist, knee, ankle and foot ailments, impotence, headache including migraine, sinus troubles, tooth-ache, menstrual problems, insomnia and anxiety, abdominal, chest, urinary, hypertension and constipatory problems. Acupressure cures more effectively in combination with a natural diet and practices.