Common Naturopathic Techniques
Aromatherapy works on the basic premise that smells can directly stimulate the nervous system through the effect of aromatic chemicals on the limbic system of the brain and other endocrine glands such as the pituitary. The limbic system is regarded as the emotional control centre of the brain and includes the hypothalamus, amygdala, hippocampus and other structures. The aromas of certain essential oils have been shown to stimulate the release of various neurochemicals from these structures, thus influencing mood and bodily function in a stimulating or sedating manner.
The essential oils are extracted directly from plants and contain the extremely concentrated aromatic essence of the plants. These oils can be used directly on the skin in some cases as part of a massage oil blend, in baths or for inhalation. The use of essential oils in this manner is closely aligned with herbalism. Oils are not generally used internally as they are far too concentrated. Their effect should never be underestimated.
Nonetheless, the oils have many wonderful benefits for children, first aid (such as lavender oil for burns) and relaxation.
You can order my favourite aromatherapy book here.
Ayurveda is literally translated to mean “Science of Life” and was received in India some 5000 years ago through the Sages of that time. The five elements (ether, air, fire, water and earth) each have a ruling intelligence and combine into 3 basic constitutional body types or doshas: vata, pitta and kapha. Only 5% of people will be single doshic or tri-doshic, the majority of people being a combination of two predominant doshas.
One is said to be born with a constitution that never varies through life, although imbalances can occur that result in disease and various forms of disharmony.
The cycles of nature, the seasons, times of day and stages of life are broken down into phases that correspond with and are governed by each dosha at different times. For example, when the sun is high - lunchtime and during summer - the fire element is at its strongest and has its biggest influence upon the fires of the body and so these times are referred to as the pitta time. This will be a very good time for someone who has very little pitta intelligence in their body but over stimulating for a highly pitta person.
Foods, lifestyles, herbs and therapeutic approaches are all tailored to individuals based on their constitutional type and imbalance with the idea that balance must be restored.
With regard to the concepts of healing crisis, regeneration and Body Electronics, which deal with the deliberate act of moving the body out of balance at certain times, as described elsewhere on this site, Ayurveda's long track record of success must be nonetheless considered valid. If the desire is to work towards balance there are few systems of healing that can rival Ayurveda in its precision and completeness, yet with the realisation that the all-consuming aim of producing constitutional balance in the body produces a comfort zone that sustains that constitution. While any comfort zone brings its own limitations, by definition, it is literally a God-send in its proper time and place.
Dr Edward Bach was an inspired Englishman who identified a subtle influence that water infused with the energetic essence of certain flowers (38 in all) would have on the emotions. He identified a personality type that correlated with each flower remedy and believed that absolutely all possible combinations of emotional response could be addressed using a small number of flower remedies unique to that person at that time.
One combination in particular, Rescue Remedy, deserves a place in everyone’s first aid kit for use in cases of emergency, shock or trauma. Although the trauma and the suppression of it will need to be re-experienced eventually from a Body Electronics perspective, in the short term Rescue Remedy may be the order of the day.
The effect of all the remedies is subtle yet profound and they make a useful adjunct to almost any form of treatment or situation due to the almost ubiquitous coincidence of emotional factors with any physical problem.
You can order Dr Edward Bach's books here.
In the late 1800’s Dr Schuessler from Germany analysed the ashes of various body tissues and thus discovered that the human body contains 12 basic mineral salts that he believed were essential for proper health. An imbalance of these salts could cause illness; rectifying a deficiency could promote the return to health. He formulated the salts into weak homeopathic doses for rapid assimilation and correlated a great number of health problems with cell salt deficiencies.
As a homeopathic there is very little actual mineral content in a dose of cell salts and so they cannot be used to achieve nutrient saturation or support pointholding. However the body can be stimulated into certain cleansing or healing processes through their use on an energetic level and it may be that the cell salts help the body re-establish mineral balance through their subtle influence.
Nonetheless, cell salts also form a useful adjunct to many treatment methods and are of particular value for infants, children and first aid.
These proprietary blends of minerals are based on the findings of Schuessler but were redeveloped by Blackmore to be optimally absorbable at a cellular level. While not appropriate for use for maintaining nutrient saturation, they appear to have a similar ability to Cell Salts in being able to restore the mineral intelligence of the body and can be well used for strategic purposes by a trained professional.
The field of herbal medicine is somewhat vast, spanning every continent in modern history and for over 5000 years. The use of herbs was widespread throughout the ancient Ayurvedic (Indian) and Chinese traditions, and used by the ancient Greeks, having a renaissance in Europe following the Middle Ages. Native cultures around the world such as the North American Indians, NZ Maori, Hawaiian Kahunas, Tongans and Fijians also have rich heritages of herbal knowledge, each culture having a deep spiritual connection with the land and its flora.
Although the vast majority of herbal knowledge is supported by thousands of years of experience and track record, scientific methods such as spectrographic photometry in the latter part of the 20th century have made it possible to identify the exact chemical constituents of hundreds of herbs and identify the typical specific action of each isolated constituent. Indeed, synthesised versions of many of these isolated constituents form the basis of modern pharmaceutical drugs.
The amount of science and double-blind studies on the effects of herbal medicine is now so comprehensive as to satisfy the most scientifically-minded (if they would but listen) and would fill a great many volumes. Unfortunately there is also a lot of uninformed media commentary on herbs from the medical profession, their schools and the pharmaceutical industry, which is nothing less than propaganda in the face of this body of scientifically substantiated knowledge. Claims that herbal medicine is “hit and miss”, untested, dangerous, unrepeatable, ineffective, etc. are clearly unfounded.
To the contrary, herbal medicine has a track record of safety and efficacy extending for thousands of years across numerous generations, a track record that medical science is still yet to achieve. The scientific knowledge possessed by many Herbalists today has merely verified what has been known for centuries through simple observation of nature and patients and in many cases, what could only be called divine inspiration.
In my opinion, it is not the science of herbalism that should be highlighted, but nevertheless, all is there for inspection by the person who needs to see the proof in black-and-white. The heart and soul of herbalism is not in modern science, but in spiritual inspiration, direct communication with plants, intuition, thoughtful and prayerful observation, the Doctrine of Signatures, and good old-fashioned experience.
The Hawaiian Kahunas, for example, recognised that no two plants are alike. Even two specimens of the same plant would be subtly different by virtue of differing soil composition, sunlight exposure, rainfall, temperature, geomagnetic influences, leaf size and shape, and the intelligence within the plant itself.
Thus, in selecting a herbal remedy a routine “this herb for that condition” approach was not used. Instead, the Kahuna would feel the energy of the patient and then walk through his garden to select the exact plants that cumulatively carried the composite energy required for the individual. A selection of the same species of plants gathered elsewhere (or in the same place at a different time) would not have the required energy.
Herbs are not drugs. They are complex living plants containing all sorts of co-factors, active constituents, synergists, and protective agents, unlike drugs, which are typically isolated active constituents synthesised in a lab to crudely approximate and “improve” upon nature.
However, it is the subtle energy and intelligence of the plant and its very nature that is utilised by herbalists to produce subtle, nourishing, supportive, and revitalising benefits, rather than the “ brickbat” approach of pharmaceuticals.
Developed in NZ, homeobotanicals are a mutually compatible system of dilute and potentised herbal formulae. Their main actions are to support assimilation, drainage and therapeutic restoration to help achieve optimal healing.
Homeobotanical remedies are safe for people of all ages including pregnant or lactating women because of the extremely low doses used (near homeopathic levels) but also highly efficacious.
The basic principle propounded by Samuel Hahnemann is that “like cures like”. Homeopathic remedies are formulated through a combination of successive extreme dilutions, to the point where no physical substance remains, and succussion (energising the remedy with bodily energies by tapping against the palm of the hand); in this manner, the more the dilution, the stronger the remedy.
Apart from a few remedies that have a place in everyone’s home first aid kit (such as Apis for insect stings, or Arnica for bruising and trauma, etc), homeopathy is largely the realm of highly specialised practitioners, as in classical homeopathy it is believed that there is one unique remedy that fits the unique symptom picture of a unique individual, which requires a great deal of skill and experience.
You can order Samuel Hahnemann's Organon of Medicine here.
Dr Sir John Whitman Ray often stated, "People are in a hurry to get well so they can get back to doing what made them sick in the first place." Herein lies the quandary; if we have no intention of changing how we live, the environment, toxins, negative thought and behaviour we expose ourselves to, no intention of treating others or ourselves differently, how do we expect to produce a lasting change in our lives?
Here also the quandary for the naturopath and indeed any practitioner; a person can be relieved of much suffering and even returned to a comparatively healthy state, but has this done the greatest service to the person?
The wise practitioner will only set a person upon the path of change they are able to be successful in. Often, what a person is "willing" to do is not the same as what they are "able" to do, thus the practitioner's job is to find out what motivates a person to change and through education, find the best changes the person is willing to undertake in the long term now.
Massage is generally a highly beneficial adjunct to any therapy, depending on the manner and depth to which it is applied. In general, massage increases circulation into the muscles and surrounding tissues, helps move out stagnant waste-laden fluids and can break up adhesions and scar tissue in muscles and fascia to promote greater flexibility and range of motion, all of which can dramatically enhance the body’s healing potential. Massage can be used to promote relaxation as well as for therapeutic purposes for acute muscular injuries or chronic situations.
"You are what you eat," is a familiar, if somewhat misunderstood statement. On one hand, eating carrots will clearly not turn you into a carrot, but on the other hand, if you put mineral-deficient, toxin-laden foods into your body, then there should be no surprise that your body will become mineral deficient and toxin-laden eventually. Unfortunately, with most modern farming practices, this is exactly what even a person on a "healthy diet" is getting.
"Convenience" seems to be a primary driver in the modern person's diet but this often suggests food choices diametrically opposed to strengthening the body and keeping it clean and energised. Foods with long shelf lives, accelerated cooking times, available out of season, all in the name of convenience are frequently also incompatible with healthy bodies.
Nutrition, from a naturopathic perspective, looks at the foods best suited to an individual, based on their constitution, stage of life and other special needs. It recognises that different people require different diets and there is no single universal "healthy diet" that will work for all people.
The move towards health through diet is typically started by reducing intake of "instant" or refined foods that have been stripped of the vitamins, minerals and fibre that nature gave them, moving to whole, unrefined, unprocessed foods.
Or, you can order my favourite nutrition book here.
These methods are derived from acupuncture, a very ancient art developed by the Chinese (although some claim this knowledge was stolen from Tibet) and documented at least as early as the 5th century BC. They seek to produce a balance between the forces of yin and yang as they flow through the 14 unseen energy meridians or channels of the body. Instead of using needles, as in acupuncture, finger pressure is used at one or more of the thousands of acupuncture points along these meridians in order to arouse or sedate yin or yang in that meridian, as appropriate, in order to remove various blockages to that energy flow.
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