The wholeness of self healing

Stephanie Coburn
Conservation Council of New Brunswick
February 2006


Les éléments de la guérison

La médecine conventionnelle nous a bien servit pour mieux comprendre, morceau par morceau, toute les parties du casse-tête que représente le corps humain. 

Depuis longtemps, les médecins se spécialisent et analysent seulement une partie de l'anatomie humaine. À la fois très utile, cette pratique nous empêche de mieux comprendre le fonctionnement du corps humain dans son ensemble. Il nous est donc quasi impossible d'identifier les vraies causes de nos maladies. 

Au courant des dernières années, la médecine préventive a fait son apparition et même encore aujourd'hui, malheureusement les docteurs qui la pratiquent sont censurés par leur propre association professionnelle. 

En contraste à ces types de médecine, la médecine naturelle prône la considération du corps humain dans son entier en fonction de son environnement. 

Découvrez ce que vous pouvez faire par le biais de votre alimentation pour de rester en santé !.




Links - Liens


Herbal medecine


As a young woman, I spent 2 years nursing in a hospital setting. During that time, I became discouraged with the lack of interest in health promotion. Instead the focus was on disease mitigation. My interest in health remained and for the last 30 years my family has been using alternative medicine such as chiropractic, homeopathy and herbal. I believe that what we have in Canada is a "Disease Care" system, as opposed to a "Health Care" system. My own experience and reading tell me that we can do a lot for ourselves, we just have to be informed and motivated to be healthy. Conventional medicine and holistic medicine are fundamentally very different and holistic medicine has a lot to offer, particularly in the treatment of chronic illness.

The conventional way

The system of scientific analysis is very important for accumulating information about our health. Over the centuries, we have looked at smaller and smaller bits of the human body, analyzing their parts and figuring out how they work together. Also, in the study of biology, have we looked at the pieces of things. Take trees, for instance. We know how photosynthesis works in leaves to produce sugars for the plant. We have studied the mycorrhizal fungi in and outside the roots which allow the tree to take up minerals from the soil and use them. We know a great deal about trees in this analytical way. But we are only just now learning that we have to put all this information together with air quality, soil quality, temperature, in order to understand the overall health of the tree and how it is living in its ecosystem.

So too with the human body. For a long time, doctors have studied parts of the body in isolation: you can go to a heart specialist or an ear-nose-throat doctor, an ophthalmologist or an orthopedist. You could go see a doctor who sees only people with arthritis, cancer, heart disease, or migraines. These divisions, however useful they are as specialties, prevent the overview which is needed to address chronic illness.

(photo: ac-versailles)

Chronic illness is the result of various factors that need to be seen as a whole. Clean air and water, happiness, genetic predisposition, and above all, the food we eat, contribute to the health of our bodies; just as the lack of those things contribute to illness. And we can't see those effects when we look at pieces of the body as separate entities. We have to synthesize what we know, and look at our body as a whole. We also have to look at it in its ecosystem, which is where clean air and water come in.

The other unfortunate result of looking at only pieces of the puzzle is that cancer, for instance, is considered in isolation. People think of it as a disease that just happens to a person, instead of a disease which has a cause. For too long, the organizations which are dedicated to "winning a war" have looked at weapons such as surgery, chemo, radiation, as the only tools available. But what if we look at cancer as the "result" of something? Can't we then look at "causes", and think about prevention?

(photo: internet)

Only in the last few years has mainstream medicine even begun to look at causes of disease. Preventive medicine is a new discipline, and even now, doctors who practice it by prescribing air filters, diet changes and avoidance of chemical exposure, are being censured by their professional organizations as practicing medicine outside the normal boundaries.

The holistic way 

In contrast to this approach, Natural Medicine has long looked at the human body as a whole, in its surroundings and ecosystem. These various disciplines look at preventing illness by strengthening the body's own resources which fight (there's that metaphor again!) invasion by viruses and bacteria, and by providing the body with the right elements to stay healthy, namely, pure food, water and air. (I guess we have to find the laughter on our own!) A Naturopathic Physician studies homeopathy, herbal medicine, nutrition, aromatherapy, as well as the structure and functions of the human body. He or she uses all that knowledge to figure out on an individual basis what will increase a person's ability to ward off disease. They treat disease by helping the whole body be healthy.

Herbal medicine is one of the gentlest disciplines, and we have the opportunity to collect our herbal medicines ourselves from our own region. Red clover, St.John's wort, alfalfa, comfrey, coltsfoot, yarrow, plantain, are some of the medicinal herbs available to us in the ditches and backyards of our region. Learning the uses of herbs, collecting and drying them, then making tisanes or tinctures: this practice is profoundly grounding in connecting us to the natural world. There are "challenging" herbs, which provoke bodily protective responses; these would include marshmallow and dandelion. There are "normalizers" like hawthorn berries, which raises low blood pressure, but lowers raised pressure, returning the stressed responses to a normal range. There are "eliminators" like bearberry, which helps diuresis. These are all ours for the picking. I would encourage people interested in this practice to find a good book, like David Hoffmann's Herbal Handbook. It contains a wealth of information about holistic health practice with herbal medicine as its centerpiece.

Red clover (photo: NM Essences)

A lesser known practice is "homeopathy". This involves the application of tiny pills which contain the active energies of different remedies, prescribed after very extensive questioning on the part of the practitioner as to physical, mental, environmental and spiritual attributes of the patient. The purpose of the remedies is to help the body return to a healthy state; results take time, as the bodily organs and tissues are gently normalized. Again, the emphasis is not on attacking a disease, but on helping the body achieve balance and heal itself.

Self-help tips

One of the most important things we can do for our health is to eat whole, unprocessed foods. There are many theories about whether to be a vegetarian, fruitarian, vegan, macrobiotic or omnivore, and they all have very convincing arguments on their side. Again, find good books that don't aim to sell you anything-we even should read authors we don't agree with!

There are common factors in any good argument:
1) Eat as locally as possible. This makes environmental sense; corn flakes contain 3 cents worth of corn, the rest is paying for packaging and shipping. When we eat locally we avoid massive transportation impacts and also support local farmers, maintaining rural viability. In New Brunswick we have a local mill which produces a wide variety of nutritious organic whole cereals which take minimal prep time. We have farmers raising beef, chicken, lamb and pork right in our counties, and doing it in animal-friendly ways, without growth-promoters or protein supplements. We have an increasing number of organic vegetable farmers, making healthy local produce available through farmers' markets and local natural food stores.

2) If you must go to a supermarket, eat foods from around the outside walls of the store. These are the vegetables, fruits, and meat that are not processed until you take them home to cook. Processed foods have their vitamins, minerals, and fiber removed, then replaced in some small degree. Those are the packaged foods on the shelves in the middle. They are the food choices that support huge vertically integrated multinational companies.

(photo: progressive urban)

3) Learn to cook! Again, find a good book, attend a cooking class, ask someone's mom. There are varied approaches: the macrobiotic recommendation is to lightly steam everything, to break down the cell walls and make digestion and absorption easier. Others recommend eating live foods, to benefit from the enzymes which are destroyed by heat.

At home, we eat two meals a day, which include a piece of meat, at least 3 veggies, and a salad. This is the diet that makes us feel best and takes advantage of our large garden throughout the year.

To summarize, the point of natural healing is to stimulate the body in its innate ability to maintain health, instead of waiting for disease to happen and have to work harder to regain a healthy state. This healthy state can be achieved and maintained through access to clean air, clean water, organic food, homeopathic preparations, massage, reiki, tai chi, yoga, meditation, herbal teas, and consultation with your local naturopathic physician. Plan ahead and be healthy!

And don't forget to laugh several times a day at the ridiculous and lovable world we live in.