Feeling unwell? Natural healing is a preventative or health-orientated style of medicine, maintaining the importance of staying in good health – for example through diet and exercise – rather than focusing solely on treating each illness as it occurs.
Over the last decade, the health movement has undergone an enormous transition – leading us to regain power in inherent understanding of our body and its care.
It is motivated by a realisation that a health care system can operate more efficiently if we adopt the goal of putting information and skills into our own hands and take a more active approach to achieving better health.
Simple changes to your diet, lifestyle and the way you think, can have a profound impact on your total well-being. Choosing therapeutic methods, based on what the Earth gives us in the form of locally available herbs, is beneficial in treating ailments from the common cold, to conditions such as PMS, constipation and painful periods – to name a few.
Conventional Western medicine sees disease as being caused by bacteria and viruses. Therefore the approach is focused on combating enemy microbes with chemicals, and interrupting the course of the disease.
On the other hand, the natural healing approach is a holistic one which recognises the emotional, social and environmental factors in disease and which treats the person as a whole being. Moreover, symptoms (disease) are regarded as an expression of the body’s attempts to return to equilibrium. Treatment is seen then as supporting the body to do its work. For example, fasting or eating lightly when you have a fever helps your body by allowing it to focus on ridding itself of toxins already present, and not over-burdening it further.
Natural healing is also a more preventative or health-orientated style of medicine, maintaining the importance of staying in good health – for example through diet and exercise – rather than focusing solely on treating each illness as it occurs.
Unfortunately, a mainstream approach is to suppress symptoms such as painful periods, acne and menopause with synthetic hormones. This approach does not treat the cause, but more creates a layering effect. For example, a woman suffering from Poly Cystic Ovarian Disorder (PCOS) may be prescribed the contraceptive pill to help regulate her periods. This is in essence a good thing, but it can unfortunately have a compounding effect upon weight gain via its impact upon glucose metabolism. This in turn magnifies the PCOS symptoms and so on …
The use of herbs for healing is well documented throughout history. Herbal preparations can take a variety of forms and are readily available. For example infusions (teas) are a gentle yet effective way of keeping in good health. Often people ‘shy away’ using herbs due to a lack of confidence in applying them – if this is the case, a visit to a local naturopath can set you in the right direction.
So where do you start?
1. Fall in love with nature.
The first step to getting started is to fall in love with nature. My love for herbal medicine grew when I was introduced to the herb rosemary at the age of eight. My mother told me the story of rosemary and how it was used in ancient times to improve digestion, memory and sleep. From there I began cultivating my own herbs and, much to my mother’s amazement, grew much of the family green groceries.
2. Identify your path.
To treat yourself, start by observing your strengths, weaknesses and illnesses & work out a plan of action.
3. Design a path of action that supports nurturing lifestyle.
This should motivate you to take control of your health.
4. Explore options that allow you to grow your own herbal remedies and produce.
This can be both rewarding and fulfilling. One obstacle that is often seen as a limit people is the need for space – but don’t let this hold you back – hydroponics is a great option, and how to information on is readily available on the internet.
5. Research information regarding herbal remedies & home cures.
Perhaps chat to your local naturopath regarding different options or resource books at your local library.
Many answers to common ailments lie within nature and they are just waiting for you to discover them! For example, many of the signs and symptoms of PMS, such as mood changes, sugar cravings, constipation and fluid retention, can be improved by drinking a herbal infusion of raspberry, blackcurrant, calendula and chaste tree. Dietary changes such as reducing salt intake and increasing potassium intake (found in grapes, bananas, pears & hazelnuts) are also beneficial. The inclusion of more veggies in your diet not only increases your overall fibre intake, but also supplies nutrient rich foods that support a healthy B6 and vitamin A intake. Deficiencies of these nutrients lead to swollen breasts & fluid retention at the end of your cycle.
Today’s way of living exposes us to a multitude of toxins and chemicals, requiring us to place more emphasis on supporting our liver. Avoid tiring your liver with things such as fried foods, cooked eggs, chocolate and alcohol. Stimulate your gall bladder with artichokes and olives as aperitifs. Eating more of the bitter greens such as endive and collard will also keep your digestive system on track. Most of the veggies mentioned can easily be grown at home with very little effort!
One of the most common complaints that can be easily improved with a helping hand from Mother Nature is sleep disturbance. Herbal tea made of equal parts of lavender flowers, primrose flowers, St Johns wort and fragrant valerian root has proven to be a ‘reliable friend’ to many of my patients over the years.
Probably one of the most important areas currently being challenged in the medical system is the over-prescription & use of antibiotics. Although antibiotics save lives, many people rely upon their use for colds & ‘flus that could easily be treated by applying home-based natural remedies. Of course, if symptoms persist you should always seek medical advice, but often a simple sniffle can be improved by herbs such as olive leaf extract, echinacea and good old fashioned vapour bath using chamomile and eucalyptus.
If we continue to over use antibiotics, the real problem is that frequent and inappropriate use of antibiotics selects for strains of bacteria that can resist treatment. These resistant bacteria require higher doses of medicine or stronger antibiotics to treat. Doctors have even found bacteria that are resistant to some of the most powerful antibiotics available today.
Antibiotic resistance is one of the world’s most pressing public health problems. Bacteria that were once highly responsive to antibiotics have become increasingly resistant. Among those that are becoming harder to treat are pneumococcal infections (which cause pneumonia, ear or sinus infections and meningitis), skin infections, and tuberculosis.
Not only are antibiotics a threat to the health system, they also play havoc with our environment. Making better food choices and supporting organically farmed food sources will also benefit the environment as a whole and most importantly your health.
Your immune system will benefit greatly from adopting a more natural, self-reliant approach to your health. Improving your nutritional intake by eating a balanced, wholesome diet is well known to be the first line of defence in improving immune performance. If you are challenged constantly by colds and flu, try drinking an infusion of ginger, chamomile, sage & nasturtium flowers mixed in equal parts on a daily basis.
An old remedy for colds & flu is to put two tablespoons of ground mustard in a cloth bag and boil in water. Add the decoction to a hot footbath for colds, flu and respiratory problems.
By taking control of your health and embracing positive lifestyle changes, you not only nurture yourself to better health, but, most importantly, you support the future of our precious environment!
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