The Beginner's Guide to Natural Living
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Natural Medicine
Help Your Body Heal Itself

Part 1: Natural Medicine vs Allopathic Medicine
Part 2: Suppression of Natural Medicine
Part 3: Natural Medicine Systems
Part 4: Natural Remedies

Natural Remedies
There are many natural remedies, found in natural food stores, that you can use. In addition to homeopathic remedies, which are discussed in detail earlier in this chapter, the three primary natural healing remedies you’ll find in natural foods stores are: 1) flower remedies, 2) essential oils (aromatherapy), and 3) herbs/herbal combinations. Of course there are others, but these are the main categories (as opposed to “supplements,” which are discussed in Chapter 6). For emotional issues, trauma and personality challenges, look into homeopathy, flower essences and aromatherapy.

For overall well being, consider herbs or aromatherapy. For ailments, try homeopathy and herbs, then flower essences and aromatherapy.

Flower Remedies
Flower remedies are carefully prepared diluted essences of plants and flowers that work on what’s known as the subtle energy body as well as on the emotional body. This means they work with the body on an energetic and emotional level rather than a directly physical level. Dr. Edward Bach (1897-1936) developed the first system of flower remedies, called the Bach Flower Remedies. He believed that physical problems were manifestations of emotional problems, and that if the emotional problems could be healed, that the physical problems would also be healed.

Bach discovered that certain flowers and plants stimulated the body’s natural healing systems and helped to stabilize emotional problems. Whereas Homeopathic remedies stimulate a polar opposite response in the subtle energies, Flower Essences do the reverse and “pull” the subtle energies into the direction of healing (wholeness).

In an interview with Better Nutrition, David Vennells, author of Bach Flower Remedies for Beginners, Vennells  explains that flower remedies are a safe and gentle practice. “Flower essences can be used by anyone,” he writes. “They are generally prescribed according to our personality type or the prevailing state of mind during a particular illness.”

“Dr. Bach found a way to harness the healing energy contained within certain plants and trees,” said Vermeils. He explains how flower essences work: “All living things possess life force energy. In the East this is sometimes called chi or prana. It is a subtle type of life-giving energy. Some plants and trees carry a particular type of life force energy which can have a healing effect on the body and mind. Flower essences capture and hold this healing life force energy until it is needed.” To help treat an illness, the appropriate flower remedy is prescribed by considering mental and emotional symptoms, rather than physical ones.


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According to Vennells, flower essences help patients regain good health or manage difficulties with a more positive attitude. He stressed, however, that you don't need to be sick to reap the benefits of flower essences. “You don't have to be ill,” he said. “They can just make life a lot more meaningful. Although we may generally feel physically and mentally okay, we might also occasionally feel something is missing from our life, some meaning or purpose. This subtle feeling is a gentle wake-up call.”

Essential Oil Aromatherapy
Ever smell a flower and feel better? You just experienced Aromatherapy! “Aroma,” of course, means “smell or fragrance” and “therapy” means “treatment.” Unlike the senses of sight, hearing and taste, our olfactory (sense of smell) nerves are connected directly to the brain. The sense of smell registers in the hypothalamus gland, which regulates many important activities, including those of the endocrine system, which controls hormones that affect growth and autonomic processes such as heart rate, breathing, digestion and body temperature. Aromatherapy uses pure, non-synthetic essential oils extracted from many parts of a plant (flower, leaf, resin, bark, root, seed, berry, etc.) to relax, balance and rejuvenate the body, mind and spirit.

In Aromatherapy, the essential oil is often diffused into the air or placed directly onto the body in a diluted base of oil or water. Most natural food and herb stores carry essential oils. Organic oils are the best. This safe and effective natural remedy helps to stimulate emotional balance in a delightful way!

Herbs
The use of healing herbs dates back tens of thousands of years. When used properly and with care, they are generally quite safe, while side effects, if any, are mild. (Specifically, I’m referring to pre-packaged medicinal herbs that include directions for their use; I’m not referring to the use of un-packaged bulk herbs used by the novice.) Medicinal herbs have the ability to work on specific systems of the body. Dozens of herbs and herbal combinations (called formulas) are available today to help facilitate healing in almost any area of the body. Choosing organically grown, wild-crafted herbs is always preferred. Purists believe that using the whole herb—not just a standardized extract from an herb—will give the best results.

Some herbs are considered tonics: nourishing specific cells, tissues and organs, and are often used for long periods of time. Tonics are very gentle, slow stimulants, and they provide nutrients that the body can use, such as vitamins, minerals, and many other properties, like plant pigments such as anthocyanins or flavonoids. 

Other herbs are called specifics, because they have a specific job to do for a limited time (up to three 10-day cycles is common). They fine-tune biochemical processes, enhance the flow of chi and regulate energy in the bioenergetic channels (removing stagnancy and redistributing excess energy). They generally work by stimulating a process; one of the best examples is Echinacea, which stimulates immune cell function, heightening resistance to infections.

Still other herbs are called “heroics” (forcing remedies), as they blast through energy blocks and dramatically move or inhibit energy in the bioenergetic channels. They can be helpful when someone with a generally sound constitution suffers from severely imbalanced energies, and they should be used only by professional practitioners with knowledge of the herb’s action and its contraindications.

Herbs are sometimes manufactured into tinctures, teas or capsules. Tinctures are either alcohol- based or glycerin (sugar) based. Tinctures are especially useful because they separate the active ingredients of the herb for easy assimilation and can be stored for long periods of time. Tinctures are stronger than teas and are frequently diluted in water. Teas work because when the herbs are heated, the active ingredients are released into the tea water. Some herbs work better as a tincture, others as a tea; still others are best raw (capsules). I suggest you always buy organic herbs, because in addition to being free of herbicides and irradiation, they will be more potent.

Vitamins & Minerals
Although vitamins and minerals can be considered  natural remedies, I consider them to be supplements, since these nutrients ought to be part of your regular diet. If a deficiency is suspected, I suggest avoiding synthetic vitamins and minerals that are packaged as isolated units. Instead, take whole food supplements such as wheat grass juice or some of the other supplements I suggested earlier (see Chapter 6). Some herbs are high in specific minerals or vitamins, and that would be a good choice as well. Be as natural and as close to a living plant as possible. Isolated vitamins and minerals, even if found in a natural foods store, have been manufactured in a lab and should be used only if a better choice is unavailable.

Reference Books for Natural Remedies
If you desire to learn which natural remedies can help overcome specific ailments, I highly recommend the following books:

1. Prescription for Nutritional Healing by James F. Balch, M.D. & Phyllis A. Balch, C.N.C. Well-researched and very detailed, this best-selling book is an excellent resource which gives numerous natural treatment protocols for ailments from A to Z and is available in most natural food stores.

2. Encyclopedia of Nutritional Supplements by Michael Murray, N.D. Mr. Murray does a superb job of describing the various nutrients we require and why, and what happens when we don’t get adequate amounts. He provides information on a number of natural remedies, as well as treatment plans for ailments. His work is very detailed and well researched.

>>> Continue to Chapter 11: Holistic Dentistry