Naturopathy: Healing of Body and Soul


By Sandeep Dahiya (LMB)

There has always been a focus on Alternative methods of healing the human body and soul. But lately this focus has increased as more and more people are becoming aware of the fact that Allopathic method of treatment is quick and easy but it is more corrective than preventive. Also, most of the times it is more of treating the symptoms rather than finding root cause and healing the body. Indian ancient scriptures all filled with the natural methods of healing of the human body and soul. The system has gained importance by the name of Naturopathy in modern times.

Naturopathy is a system of human building a harmony with the constructive principles of Nature on physical, mental, moral and spiritual planes of living. It has great health promotive, disease preventive and curative as well as restorative potential.

Naturopathy recognizes the existence of the vital curative force within the body. It therefore, advocates aiding human system to remove the cause of disease i.e. toxins by expelling the unwanted and unused matters from human body for curing diseases.

The main features of Naturopathy are as under:

The principles on which the Naturopathy is based are following:

  • All diseases, their causes and treatment are one. Except for traumatic and environmental conditions, the cause of all diseases is one i.e. accumulation of morbid matter in the body. The treatment of all diseases is elimination of morbid matter from the body.
  • Acute diseases are self-healing efforts of the body. Hence, they are our friends, not the enemy. Chronic diseases are outcome of wrong treatment and suppression of the acute diseases.
  • Nature is the greatest healer. The human body itself has the healing power to prevent itself from disease and regain health if unhealthy.
  • In Nature Cure it is not the disease but the entire body of the patient which is caused and is renewed.
  • In Nature Cure the suppressed diseases are brought to surface and are removed permanently.
  • Naturopathy treats all the aspects like physical, mental, social and spiritual at the same time.
  • Naturopathy treats the body as a whole.
  • According to Naturopathy, “Food is only the Medicine”, no external medications are used.
  • Performing prayer according to one’s spiritual faith is an important part of treatment.

The naturopathy is combination of various therapies. These are used as single way of healing sometimes and in combinations most of the times. These therapies of naturopathy are way of healing in themselves. When combined together they make great systems of healing of human body and soul without any medications. For the sake of keeping this article short, some of the therapies under the naturopathy are described under.

Diet Therapy

According to this therapy, the food must be taken in natural form. Fresh seasonal fruits, fresh green leafy vegetables and sprouts are excellent. These diets are broadly classified into three types which are as follows:

  • Eliminative Diet: Liquids-Lemon, Citric juices, Tender Coconut water, Vegetable soups, Butter milk, Wheat Grass juices etc.
  • Soothing Diet: Fruits, Salads, Boiled/Steamed Vegetables, Sprouts, Vegetable chutney etc.
  • Constructive Diet: Wholesome flour, Unpolished rice, little pulses, Sprouts, Curd etc.

Being alkaline, these diets help in improving health, purifying the body and rendering it immune to disease. To this end, a proper combination of food is necessary. Our diet should consist of 20% acidic and 80% alkaline food for maintaining health. A balanced food is a must for any individual seeking good health. Food is regarded as Medicine in Naturopathy.

Fasting Therapy

Fasting is primarily the act of willingly abstaining from some or all food, drink, or both, for a period of time. The word id derived from the old English, ‘Feastan’ means to fast, observe, be strict. In Sanskrit ‘ Vrath’ means ‘determination’ and ‘Upavasa’ means ‘ near to God’.A fast may be total or partial concerning that from which one fasts, and may be prolonged or intermittent as to the period of fasting. Fasting is an important treatment modality for health preservation. In fasting, mental preparedness is an essential pre-condition. Prolonged fasting should be done only under the supervision of a competent Naturopath.

The duration of the fast depends upon the age of the patient, the nature of the disease and amount and type of drugs previously used. It is sometimes advisable to undertake a series of short fasts of two or three days and gradually increase the duration of each succeeding fast by a day or so. No harm will accrue to fasting patient provided they take rest and are under proper professional care.

Methods of fasting are water, juices or raw vegetable juices. The best, safest and most effective method is lime juice fasting. During fasting, the body burns up and excretes huge amounts of accumulated wastes. We can help this cleansing process by drinking alkaline juices. Sugars in juices will strengthen the heart, juice fasting is therefore the best form of fasting. All juices should be prepared from fresh fruit immediately before drinking. Canned or frozen juices should not be used. A precautionary measure, which must be observed in all cases of fasting, is the complete emptying of the bowels at the beginning of the fast by enema so that the patient is not bothered by gas or decomposing matter formed from the excrements remaining in the body. Enemas should be used at least every alternate day during the fasting period. The total liquid intake should be approximately six to eight glasses. A lot of energy is spent during the fast in the process of eliminating accumulated poisons and toxic waste materials. It is therefore, of utmost importance that the patient gets as much physical rest and mental relaxation as possible during the fast.

The success of the fast depends largely on how it is broken. The main rules for break in the fast are: do not overeat, eat slowly and chew your food thoroughly and take several days for the gradual change to the normal diet.

Benefits and Physiological effects of Fasting

Physicians of most cultures, throughout history, have recommended extended fasting as therapy for various conditions from ancient to modern. Though earlier observations were studied without scientific methodology or understanding they still point to utilization of fasting as a therapeutic modality. Earlier observations were based on animal behaviour but today they are based on animal physiology. We will try to discern in this article as to how best fasting could be useful in promoting ones health through review of literature that describes physiological and metabolic benefits.

Prominent among the physiological effects conferred by fasting (Calorie Restriction and Intermittent Fasting) are the following: increased insulin sensitivity that results in reduced plasma glucose and insulin concentrations and improved glucose tolerance, reduced levels of oxidative stress as indicated by decreased oxidative damage to proteins, lipids and DNA, increased resistance to various types of stress including heat, oxidative and metabolic stresses and enhanced immune function.

Both gross and cellular physiology is profoundly affected by caloric restriction (CR) or intermittent fasting (IF) regimes. With respect to gross physiology there is of course a significant reduction of body fat and mass, which supports a healthy cardiovascular system and reduces incidents of myocardial infarction. In addition to cardioprotection a greater tolerance to stress is induced in the liver, the nutrient core of homo sapiens. The presence of alternative energy stores such as ketone bodies (e.g. β-hydroxybutyrate) enable homo sapiens to survive additional stresses of life. Excessive and deleterious blood glucose is curtailed by an enhanced sensitivity to insulin (Ins) and glucose and its utilization as an energy source.

Mud Therapy

Mud therapy is very simple and effective treatment modality. The mud used for this should be clean and taken from 3 to 4 ft. depth from the surface of the ground. There should be no contamination of stone pieces or chemical manures etc. in the mud.

Mud is one of five elements of nature having immense impact on the body both in health and sickness. Advantages of using mud:

Its black color absorbs all the colors of the Sun and conveys them to the body.

Mud retains moisture for a long time, when applied over the body part it causes cooling.

Its shape and consistency can be changed easily by adding water.

It is cheap and easily available.

Before using, mud should be dried, powdered and sieved to separate stones, grass particles and other impurities

Mud Pack-Local Application

Keeping soaked mud in a thin, wet muslin cloth and making it into a thin flat brick depending on the size of the patient’s abdomen, apply it. The duration of the mud pack application is 20 to 30 minutes. When applied in cold weather, place a blanket over the mud pack and cover the body as well.

Benefits

When applied to abdomen it relieves all forms of indigestion. It is effective in decreasing intestinal heat and stimulates peristalsis.

A thick mud pack applied to head in congestive headache, relieves the pain immediately. Hence this is recommended whenever there is necessity for a prolonged cold application.

Application of the pack over the eyes is useful in cases of conjunctivitis, hemorrhages in the eyeball, itching, allergy, errors of refraction like short sight and long sight and especially useful in glaucoma where it helps to reduce eyeball tension.

Mud Pack for Face

Soaked mud is applied on the face and allowed to dry for 30 minutes. This is helpful in improving the complexion of the skin and removing pimples and open skin pores which in turn facilitate elimination. This also is helpful in eliminating dark circles around the eyes. After 30 minutes, face should be washed thoroughly with cold water.

Mud Bath

Mud may be applied to the patient in sitting or lying position. This helps to improve the skin condition by increasing the circulation and energizing the skin tissues. Care should be taken to avoid catching cold during the bath. Afterwards, the patient must be thoroughly washed with cold water jet spray. If the patient feels chill, warm water should be used. The patient is, then, dried quickly and transferred to a warm bed. The duration of mud bath may be 45 to 60 minutes.

Benefits:

  • The effects of mud are refreshing, invigorating, and vitalizing.
  • For wounds and skin diseases, application of mud is the only true bandage.
  • Mud therapy is used for giving coolness to body.
  • It dilutes and absorbs the toxic substances of body and ultimately eliminates them from body.
  • Mud is used successfully in different diseases like constipation, headache due to tension, high blood pressure, skin diseases etc.

Hydrotherapy

Hydrotherapy is a branch of Nature Cure. It is the treatment of disorders using different forms of water. These forms of water application are in practice since age-old days. Hydrothermal therapy additionally uses its temperature effects, as in hot & cold baths, saunas, wraps, etc and in all its forms-solid, fluid, vapour, ice and steam, internally and externally. Water is without doubt the most ancient of all remedial agents for disease. This great healing agent has now been systematized and made into a science.

Effects & uses of Water:

Taking bath properly with clean cold water is an excellent form of Hydrotherapy. Such baths open up all the pores of the skin and make the body light and fresh. In the cold bath all systems and muscles of body get activated and the blood circulation improves after bath. The old tradition of taking bath in rivers, ponds or waterfalls on specific occasions is virtually a natural form of Hydrotherapy only.

It is the most flexible medium for producing the thermic and mechanical effects desired and can be applied to a limited area or to the whole body surface.

It is capable of absorbing heat and also gives out heat with great readiness. It can, therefore, be used either for abstracting heat from the body or communicating heat to it. Though cold water is chiefly used, the purpose is not to take away or reduce the bodily heat, but to increase the vital power to generate more heat than what is lost.

Being a universal solvent, its use internally, in the form of Enema or Colonic Irrigation or Water drinking aid greatly in the elimination of uric acid, urea, salts, excessive sugar, and many other blood and food chemicals that are waste products.

In should also be noted that the successful use of these methods needs a certain level of vital power. Where that power is too low, these are useless. As in acute conditions there is a higher degree of vital power, and hence there is a certainty of vital reaction. In chronic cases, where the vital power is lower, these baths are less useful, but in such cases the packs are useful because they are milder in their application.

Water is used in many forms in treatment. The various forms of treatments are:-

Compresses and Fomentation:

Cold Compress: Abdominal Cold Compress.

Heating Compress: Chest pack, abdominal pack, wet girdle pack, throat pack, Knee pack, and full wet sheet pack. Hot and Cold Compresses: Head, Lung, Kidney, Gastro-Hepatic, pelvic & Abdominal hot and cold compresses.

Fomentation

Baths:

Hip Bath- Cold, Neutral, Hot, Stiz Bath and alternative hip bath.

Spinal Bath & Spinal Spray:-Cold, Neutral, Hot

Foot and Arm Bath: Cold, Hot Foot Bath, Arm Bath, Hot Foot and Arm bath Combined, Contrast Arm Bath and Contrast Foot Bath.

Steam Inhalation & Steam Bath

Sauna Bath

Sponge Bath

Jet spray massages:

Cold, Neutral, Hot, Alternate, Circular jet Spray massage

Affusion Baths: Cold Affusions, Neutral Affusions, Hot Affusions, Hot and Cold Affusions

Cold Shower

Trauma

Immersion Baths:

Cold Immersion Bath, Cold Immersion with Friction, Neutral Immersion Bath, Hot Immersion, Neutral Half Bath, Graduated Immersion Bath with Epsom Salt, Asthma Bath, Whirlpool Bath, under water massage.

Enema:

Graduated Enema, Vaginal Irrigation, Cold Irrigation, Neutral Irrigation, Hot Irrigation.

One of the modalities of Hydro therapy is Colon Therapy.

Colon Hydrotherapy

It is the process of cleansing and flushing out colon or large intestine. The treatment is similar to an enema but is more extensive. It uses clean filtered water under gentle pressure (without pain) to wash out or detoxify colon of stagnated faecal materials. The number of sessions will depend on individual. Most people require a series of 3-6 treatments to receive a thorough cleansing of the colon.

Benefits and Physiological effects of Hydrotherapy:

The recuperative and healing properties of hydrotherapy are based on its mechanical and/or thermal effects. It exploits the body’s reaction to hot and cold stimuli, to the protracted application of heat, to pressure exerted by the water and to the sensation it gives. The nerves carry impulses felt at the skin deeper into the body, where they are instrumental in stimulating the immune system, influencing the production of stress hormones, invigorating the circulation and digestion, encouraging blood flow, and lessening pain sensitivity. Generally, heat quiets and soothes the body, slowing down the activity of internal organs. Cold, in contrast, stimulates and invigorates, increasing internal activity.

Its mechanical action occurs during the bath when the body weight decreases by 50% to 90% when submerged in a bath, a pool, or a whirlpool, experiences a kind of weightlessness. Body is relieved from the constant pull of gravity. Water also has a hydrostatic effect. It has a massage-like feeling as the water gently kneads your body. Water, in motion, stimulates touch receptors on the skin, boosting blood circulation and releasing tight muscles.

Cold Application is defined as the therapeutic application of any substance to the body that removes heat from the body, resulting in decreased tissue temperature. Cold application decreases tissue blood flow by causing vasoconstriction, and reduces tissue metabolism, oxygen utilization, and inflammation and muscle spasm. Topical cold treatment decreases the temperature of the skin and underlying tissues to a depth of 2 to 4 cm, decreasing the activation threshold of tissue nociceptors and the conduction velocity of pain nerve signals. This result in a local anesthetic effect called cold-induced neuropraxia. Thermotherapy is the therapeutic application of any substance to the body that adds heat to the body resulting in increased tissue temperature. Heat therapy is delivered by three mechanisms: conduction, convection, or conversion. Increased blood flow facilitates tissue healing by supplying protein, nutrients, and oxygen at the site of injury. A 1ºC increase in tissue temperature is associated with a 10% to 15% increase in local tissue metabolism. This increase in metabolism aids the healing process by increasing both catabolic and anabolic reactions needed to degrade and remove metabolic by-products of tissue damage and provides the milieu for tissue repair.

Masso Therapy

Massage is an excellent form of passive exercise. The word is derived from the Greek word ‘massier’ which means to kneed, from French “friction of kneading”, or from Arabic massa meaning “to touch, feel or handle” or from Latin massa meaning “mass, dough”. Massage is the practice of soft tissue manipulation with physical (anatomical), functional (physiological), and in some cases psychological purposes and goals. If correctly done on a bare body, it can be highly stimulating and invigorating.

Massage is also a modality of Naturopathy and quite essential for maintaining good health. Massage involves acting on and manipulating the body with pressure – structured, unstructured, stationary, or moving – tension, motion, or vibration, done manually or with mechanical aids. Target tissues may include muscles, tendons, ligaments, skin, joints, or other connective tissue, as well as lymphatic vessels. Massage can be applied with the hands, fingers, elbows, knees, forearm, and feet. There are over eighty different recognized massage modalities. It aims at improving blood circulation and strengthening bodily organs. In winter season, sun bath after massaging the whole body is well known practice of preserving health and strength. It is beneficial to all. It bestows combined benefits of massage and sun rays therapy. In disease conditions, necessary therapeutic effects can be obtained through specific techniques of massage. Massage is a substitute of exercise for those who cannot do the same. The effects of exercise can be derived from massage.

Various oils are used as lubricants like mustard oil, sesame oil, coconut oil, olive oil, aroma oils etc. which also have therapeutic effects.

There are seven fundamental modes of manipulation in massage and these are: Touch, effleurage (stroking), friction (rubbing), petrissage (kneading), tapotement (percussion), vibration (shaking or trembling) and Joint movement. Movements vary according to disease condition and parts applied.

Another form of massage helpful in most ailments are the vibratory massage, Powder massage, Water massage, Dry massage. Powders of neem leaves, rose petals and are also used as lubricants for massage.

Physiological Effects of Massage:

Reflex Effects (responses mediated by the nervous system)

  • Vasodilation of arteries
  • Stimulation of peristalsis (aids in digestion)
  • Increase or decrease in muscle tone
  • Increases activity of the organs in the abdominal cavity
  • Triggers the relaxation response
  • Soothing or stimulating effect on muscles
  • Stimulates the heart, increases strength and rate of contraction
  • Increases efficiency of the immune system

Mechanical Effects (responses resulting from directly applied manual pressure)

  • Increased venous return
  • Increased lymphatic flow, Lymphatic drainage
  • Circulatory efficiency
  • Loosening of mucous (respiratory system)
  • Breakdown of fibrosis/adhesions
  • Stretch to shortened muscles/loosens muscle fibres
  • Increased muscle temperature
  • Increased metabolic rate locally and gaseous exchange
  • Stretches scar tissue
  • Decreased muscle tone/increased muscle tone
  • Increased range of Motion
  • Restoration of proper joint mechanics/biomechanics
  • Elimination of muscle imbalances
  • Strengthen weakened muscles

Chromo Therapy

Seven colours of Sun rays have different therapeutic effects. These colours are-Violet, Indigo, Blue, Green, Yellow, Orange and Red. For being healthy and in treatment of different diseases, these colours work effectively. Water and oil exposed to sun for specified hours in coloured bottles and coloured glasses, are used as devices of Chromo Therapy for treating different disorders. The simple methods of Chromo Therapy help in the process of recovery in a very effective manner.

Air Therapy

Fresh air is most essential for good health. The advantage of air therapy can be achieved by means of Air bath. Everybody should take an air bath daily for 20 minutes or longer if possible. It is more advantageous when combined with morning cold rub and exercises. In this process, one should walk daily after removing the clothes or wearing light clothes at a lonely clean place where adequate fresh air is available. Another alternate method is in a constructed room without roof and surrounded by shutter like walls so as to allow free passage of air but prevent any view of the interior.

In order to react against the chilling effect of cold air or water, the nerve centers, which control the circulation, send the blood to the surface in large quantities, flushing the skin with warm, red, arterial blood. The flow of the blood stream is greatly accelerated and elimination of morbid matter on the surface of the body is correspondingly increased.

Air bath has soothing and tonic effect upon the millions of nerve endings all over the surface of the body. It has good results in cases of nervousness, neurasthenia, rheumatism, skin, mental and various other chronic disorders.

Magnet Therapy

Magnet therapy is a clinical system in which human ailments are treated and cured through the application of magnets to the body of the patients. It is the simplest, cheapest and entirely painless system of treatment with almost no side or after effects. The only tool used is the magnet.

Magnetic treatment is applied directly to the body parts by the therapeutic magnets available in different powers or as general treatment to the body. Also magnetic belts are available for different parts e.g. Abdomen, knee, wrist etc. Magnetic necklaces, glasses and bracelets are also used for treatment.

Benefits:

  • Helps in balancing the energy.
  • Improves circulation to the applied area.
  • Increases the warmth ness in the body.

Naturopathy is vast art and science. Best thing about naturopathy is that it doesn’t cause any harm to body if practiced correctly. Since the focus is on treating the body as a whole with natural means, sometimes this alternative way has successfully treated chronic diseases which advanced Allopathic treatment could not. Naturopathy is also an Indian vedic and ancient heritage. It is great if we rediscover this practice of body and soul healing.

Sources: Ministry of AYUSH website and some knowledge from Dadi Maa

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