Global Resilience Solutions > Category:alternative medicine

Putting it All Together!

In the coming weeks, we’ll be reintroducing the Resilient Life Code, a course that will bring together all the aspects of personal resilience we’ve talked about.  It’s easy to spend your life reading up on health, mindset, spirituality, energy work and so forth without finding any coherent body of information that will show you how they all fit together.  Finally you’ll have access to that indispensable information.

 

Dualism- How We Forgot

One thing that all ancient traditions have in common is the unity of all of these elements within their spiritual disciplines, elements which we far too often treat as isolated areas of concern.  In my opinion, this traces back to Western culture’s fundamental dualism- the mind and the body are placed in fundamental opposition.

One symptom of this trend historically has been the complete misunderstanding within Western Christianity of its own “external” practices- fasting, use of images, genuflection, holy water, holy oil, incense, all of the elements that Protestantism discarded as meaningless ritual- which it had, in fact, largely become.  If you grew up in a Protestant country, chances are you’ve absorbed some of Protestantism’s disgust for these “primitive,” “superstitious” practices in one form or another.

People like to make rules to replace authentic traditions- following rules, after all, is easier than struggling to transform the human person- and the “externals” are easy fodder for this sort of thing, as I am painfully aware from my own church background.  But the fundamental superstition here is not that the externals affect us internally, but that they don’t.  The body and the mind are one organism, and you simply can’t make progress in personal resilience without using each to change the state of the other.

 

The Full Picture

I cannot think of a single authentic tradition that does not control diet, for example, in one form or another.  From Buddhist vegetarianism to the extensive corpus of Taoist dietary advice to the fasting practiced by many faiths globally, the question is not how to alter the diet, but in what way.  This was certainly the approach of early Christianity.  They had no question that fasting could help them to put their body-mind organism in a state more receptive to the presence of God.  The only question was what it would look like.  We have the evidence to show the vastly different dietary practices they experimented with, some of which still coexist today.  The distortion occurs when this becomes an external rule or a mortification of the flesh rather than an activity with an internal purpose.

The struggle to develop our full potential as human beings is aided or hindered by the full picture of our daily life.  What is the first thing you do in the morning?  What do you think about during the day?  How do you feel?  What is your body’s physical condition?  What do you see, hear, smell, taste, touch in the course of your day?  What energetic input are you getting from the people around you?  What material are you feeding your mind with, and how does it affect you on a deeper level?  How do you respond to conflict, to stress?  All of these questions become critically important to create the conditions in which you will find it easier to flourish in the long term.

 

Full Immersion

Ancient traditions understood this, and that’s why so many of them embraced the most radical of solutions.  The seeker leaves his old life behind, all the possessions, friends and family, career prospects, expectations that he has ever known.  In short, he breaks every old habit, every old input except what is in his head.  Perhaps more importantly, he gives himself no alternative but total belief.  He finds a master to teach him, and slowly, he begins to rebuild himself in a new setting.  His diet, exercise, work, reading, acquaintances, surroundings are all deliberate.  His inner life begins to change as he is taught to face his own inner obstacles and transmute them.  His physical body begins to change, and his consciousness with it.

This is hardly possible for everyone, and such an approach can be quite dangerous if you don’t know what to look for.  But it is important for us, living in a disjointed and materialistic society, to understand why things were done in this holistic way.

Imagine, for a moment, a nation somewhere in the world that had dedicated itself to finding the best possible way for every human being to reach their own unique potential in everything they do, everything they are, and to realize the divine imprint within their being.  Imagine that for centuries, this nation had absorbed seekers from all nations with all of their many gifts and perspectives, considered many ways of life, and from these tried to create, not a consensus, but a way of life that reflected and facilitated that common endeavor in every facet of this society, that gave everyone scope and encouragement to find and develop their own unique talent and potential.

What might such a society look like?  We can’t know, but that’s the point- it doesn’t exist.  The next best thing for us is to become more conscious in how we live our own lives, to reclaim control of our inner state one piece at a time by understanding what affects that state.  Our purpose going forward with the Resilient Life Code is to bring together all the pieces of the puzzle in a synergistic way, to show how they intersect and how to put it all together.

More on this is coming your way very soon…

~ Dr. Symeon Rodger


A Global Resilience Attack on Asthma and Diabetes

Over the next few months, we will bring you a few quick breakdowns of alternative approaches for building your personal RESILIENCE in the face of  common health problems that millions of people are suffering from.  In this first edition, we emphasize the role of herbal medicine, showing where it fits in with other treatment approaches.  First, let’s review some of the fundamentals of building health and immunity.

 

Immunity and its Components

Herbal medicine is a subset of a subset of a total immune boosting regimen, and while it can affect and support each of the other levels by changing the chemical environment in your body, it cannot do the job alone, and is not supposed to.  The three levels of health and immunity are as follows:

 

Physical

This level includes “healthy living” as the Western world thinks of it, especially exercise and diet.  By exercising three to four times a week, you can promote cell and tissue repair mechanisms in your body, as well as increasing production of compounds that protect the nervous system as well as other critical compounds that support your immune system.   Improving your cardiovascular function, of course, is crucial.

 

Nutrition is the other aspect, and this means adjusting the building blocks and fuel your body takes in to support optimal health and the immune system.  This is where herbal medicine properly begins, as a subset of healthy diet, supporting your immune system prophylactically.

 

Psychological

As we wrote last week, psychoneural causes are at the root of a great deal of chronic disease.  If your emotional life is not in order, your immune system will begin to break down in the face of that unhealthy stress.

 

Energetic

We’ve written extensively on this one – human beings generate and maintain electromagnetic fields and transmit coherent, low-level light.  We can prove the energy system’s role in communicating between parts of the body – many actions that we can perform are done faster than nerve impulses can travel.  We also know that the energy system can be exercised and strengthened through Qigong, Haragei and other traditional methods.  It may also need to be cleared out – the energy system tends to accumulate blockages from trauma and emotional disorders.

 

 

Dietary and Herbal Immune Boosters

Hippocrates said, “Let your food be your medicine and let your medicine be your food.”  One of the best ways to prevent disease is to adjust the fuel your body lives on, and the best herbs for routine immune-boosting are ones that you can easily add as a component of a healthy diet.  Remember, the molecules you take in are the molecules that your body has to work with in maintaining optimal health, and that is where alternative medicine begins – in your kitchen.

 

We’ve written before (http://globalresiliencesolutions.com/vanquish-colds-and-flus-by-making-your-body-stronger, http://globalresiliencesolutions.com/category/alzheimers ) about diets that support the immune system, but to recap briefly:

–          Reduce animal products, especially the non-organic, non-hormone/antibiotic free kind

–          Eliminate crap – fructose, refined sugar, corn syrup (added to many foods), trans fats, high-sodium foods, processed and packaged foods

–          Balance Omega 3 and Omega 6 fat intakes – Omega 3 is the one you need more of

–          Eat high-quality fats from sources like avocados, butter, coconut oil, olives, olive oil, nuts and eggs

–          Reduce grain intake and eat only whole grains

–          Eat more raw fruits and vegetables to increase your vitamin and antioxidant intake

 

Herbs and spices used for centuries by herbal traditions which can be easily added to your diet or taken as supplements include:

 

Cinnamon– Used as an immune booster by many herbal traditions, and by Traditional Chinese Medicine to warm the body and improve blood and energy circulation

Turmeric–  Studies have shown that turmeric supports the body in fighting many diseases, including cancer, heart and lung diseases, neurological and autoimmune disorders.  It has beneficial effects on the signalling molecules your body uses for communication.  It is a good antifungal and antiparasitic and is used as a blood cleanser in Ayurvedic medicine.

Green Tea– Contains powerful antioxidants called polyphenols and regulates blood sugar.

Garlic– Garlic is an antibacterial (as Louis Pasteur discovered) and antifungal, and the compounds it carries are effective in lowering blood pressure, blood sugar and serum cholesterol.  Together with onion and ginger, it is the basis for all Ayurvedic healing recipes.  Garlic is also a tonic for the endocrine system, which helps to regulate immune responses.

Licorice root– In Traditional Chinese Medicine, licorice is used to support other herbal remedies.  It also increases energy, helps to detoxify the liver, supports the adrenal glands and is good for the lungs and throat- hence its traditional use in fighting colds.  Like many of these herbs, it comprises many active compounds with different effects.

Ginger– Ginger is the king of digestion-supporting herbs, an immunostimulant, anti-inflammatory, and improves circulation in the joints.

Chilies– Chili peppers, and particularly cayenne, contain capsaicin, an anti-viral, as well as other useful compounds and Vitamin C.

Reishi and Shiitake Mushrooms– Key antivirals and immune boosters from the Asian pharmacopoeia.  Lentinin in Shiitake mushrooms stimulates T-cell production and effectiveness.

Astragalus– A powerful antiviral and immune booster used in Chinese medicine, can be bought in capsule form.

 

If you recognize many of these from the post on colds and flus, there’s a reason.  The beauty of herbal medicine is that immune-boosting herbs are good for many different applications.

 

Herbal and Alternative Approaches used for Specific Conditions

Here are two examples of common chronic conditions that have dramatically increased in incidence over the past few decades, the approaches taken to them in alternative medicine, and the herbs that can be used to support natural healing.

 

 

Asthma

There are a couple of alternative takes on asthma.  One is that it stems from primarily emotional causes.  It’s long been known that stress can trigger asthma attacks, but many alternative practitioners have begun to suspect that the cause may be emotional as well in many cases, particularly relating to feelings of emotional constriction.  The Emotional Freedom Technique, which draws on acupuncture knowledge to clear emotional blockages, has been reported to provide relief within moments to about 80% of asthma patients treated.

Vitamin D deficiency has also been strongly linked to asthma, and raising your vitamin D levels is an important part of treatment.

Equally important is relief from the chemical environment that may be causing allergic reactions- whether that’s the things in your house, ambient pollution or other factors.

Asthma has been treated successfully with acupuncture for centuries, and can be relieved by acupressure- tapping or holding pressure on the points.  The Benefit Asthma Point, a half-inch on either side of the prominent vertebra at the base of your neck, is particularly helpful.

Herbal approaches vary.  Ephedra, from whence ephedrine was derived, remains effective, and ginkgo biloba has been used by TCM to treat asthma for thousands of years.  Licorice supports the action of ephedra, regulates the adrenal glands, reduces inflammation and lubricates lung tissue.  Mullein has been used in Europe for centuries to support the lungs and respiratory system.  Lobelia is a Native North American treatment for asthma, taken in tea at the beginning of an attack to prevent the attack from escalating.

All of these herbs are used mainly to manage asthma; to alleviate the condition long-term, Traditional Chinese medicine claims that its “patent remedies”, notably Ping Chuan pills, can reduce or remove the symptoms of asthma over a course of treatment.

Vitamin C in whatever form is a natural antihistamine, and Vitamin E, Vitamin B, Selenium and Magnesium have all been used as dietary supplements for asthma.

 

 

 

Type 2 Diabetes

One in four Americans are either diabetic or pre-diabetic, and this disease massively exacerbates other health problems.  While the rarer Type 1 diabetes occurs when the body’s ability to produce insulin is destroyed, Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body becomes resistant to insulin and leptin, a signalling hormone which helps to regulate insulin production and other aspects of your energy intake and processing.

What you may not know is that dietary fructose is a major culprit.  Unlike glucose, which our bodies are designed to use for energy, fructose, which enters our diet through refined sugar and corn syrup added to many foods, breaks down into a number of toxins and does not stimulate the hormones that tell you that you’ve eaten enough or inhibit the hormones that tell you you’re still hungry.  It raises your insulin levels to the point where the body no longer responds to insulin, and chemically tricks the brain into starvation mode.

Unfortunately, most conventional treatments focus on reducing blood sugar, by boosting insulin or restoring insulin sensitivity, without addressing the root problems.  Exercise, a grain-free and fructose free, high-fibre diet, and restoring your intestinal flora with fermented foods are recommended by alternative practitioners to get your system back to its normal chemical state.  Counter-intuitively, a major key to this approach is including enough high-quality (especially Omega 3) fats in your diet.  If you’re burning fat for energy, your hunger will actually decrease, as will sugar cravings.

Herbal supports include green and black tea, which have been shown to reduce blood sugar and stimulate insulin production.  Guar gum and other fibre supplements soak up glucose molecules, causing sugar to be released more slowly into the bloodstream.  Goat’s rue and devil’s club are key herbs for managing blood sugar levels.  Ginko helps to address the circulatory problems of diabetes, while dandelion root supports digestion as well as the liver and pancreas.  Chinese patent remedies are also available to support the system and deal with secondary symptoms of diabetes.

Diabetics are often Vitamin C deficient, so this is another important supplement.  Everything we’ve said about immune boosting goes double for diabetics, who have a much lower resistance to other diseases.

You’ll also notice here that the same measures that you can use to treat a particular condition will also prevent you from getting it in the first place – not surprising!  Taking back control of your health is not rocket science; merely a combination of correct information and decisive action.

~ Dr. Symeon Rodger


Vanquish Colds and Flus- by making your body stronger

If you’re one of the millions of people who enter the colder half of the year with the depressing certainty that you’ll have to live through the tedious misery of colds or flus, then this is the post for you.  Cold and flu season is a bonanza for anyone peddling remedies, and as you’ve probably noticed, very few of them do more than take the edge off of the worst symptoms for a few minutes to a few hours.

There is no magic pill, but the combination of ancient herbal and nutritional knowledge from traditions around the world can put a potent arsenal at your fingertips to defend the integrity of your immune system- and your first stop will be the grocery store, not the pharmacist.  We’ll walk you through immune-boosting first responses that will kill a cold or flu before it gets a grip on you, and what to do about the symptoms.

 

First Response

We cold sufferers all know the feeling, that first inkling that something is off inside.  Maybe it’s the beginnings of a sore throat, or a dripping nose, or chills, or just a general feeling of untimely fatigue.  Pay attention, because this is your body telling you that it needs help, and the sooner you shore up your immune system, the better off you’ll be.

General Immune Boosting- Herbs and Foods

The first line of attack when your immune system starts complaining is to boost it directly.

Garlic contains allicin, a natural antibiotic, and has immunostimulant properties.  This is the herb of first resort for many people when a cold comes on, usually paired with ginger, an immune system and respiratory system tonic.  Cinnamon  is a powerful immune booster, especially paired with honey.  Whenever I feel a hint of a cold, cinnamon tea is usually enough to knock it out  (you can buy cinnamon tea in bags, or make your own from cinnamon sticks- powdered cinnamon makes an unpalatable sludge).  Cloves are another helpful ingredient used with cinnamon in Ayurvedic medicine.

Echinecea, though well-known, is not a particularly powerful immune stimulant.  Astragalus is the best herb you can add to this array.  It is a powerful antiviral and immune booster used in Chinese medicine, usually paired with woad (isatidis), the plant used to make blue dyes in Europe for centuries.  Astragalus also helps the liver, which has work to do in any viral infection.  Astragalus is fine in tea, but woad is rather bitter and is better ingested in capsule form.  Reishi and Shiitake mushrooms are also key parts of the Asian antiviral and immune-boosting repertoire.

Next, you have to give your immune system all the support it needs by taking in micronutrients.  A number of herbs used in traditional medicine worldwide to treat colds and flus act by boosting Vitamin C and other micronutrients and thereby fortifying the immune system.  Citrus fruits, rosehip tea, quince tea, sea buckthorn juice and even white pine needle tea have been used this way.  Rosehips are also helpful for sinus conditions.  Closer to spring, birch sap is a traditional option.

Whenever immune-boosting foods are discussed, grapefruit gets mentioned.  It is a powerful support to the immune system and natural blood cleanser, but do not mix it with any pharmaceutical medication, and even be careful with some of the herbs listed here, as it magnifies the effect of many medications, often to the point of causing damage to the liver and kidneys.

One straightforward way of dealing with a cold is to make a soup that is as spicy as you can possibly stand.  Spices are your friend in cold season (notably cayenne pepper and the rest of the chilies, which all have immune-boosting properties).   Robyn Landis suggests a soup containing astragalus, a bulb of garlic, a large onion, a quarter cup of ginger, cayenne pepper, antioxidant vegetables such as broccoli, carrots, beets and shiitake mushrooms.  Believe me, no hostile living organism will survive the onslaught of this broth, and the moment you drink some, you’ll know why 🙂

Nutritional Habits

The moment you feel something coming on, stop eating junk.  As we’ve discussed in previous posts, when your immune system complains, get it off everything that’s harming it, especially refined sugar, unhelpful fats, processed foods and anything with the harmful chemical additives we’ve discussed before.  For colds, cutting dairy intake to zero early on is a very good idea, as it stimulates mucus production.  Reduce heavy foods like meat and cereals, and try to eat more fruits and vegetables.  The old saying “feed a cold, starve a fever” shouldn’t be taken literally- starve the cold too.  If you can fast totally, even just for a day, go ahead (this advice doesn’t apply if you’re the kind of person who undereats).  If not, reduce your food intake and focus on fruits and vegetables.

Above all, no alcohol, no sugar drinks, and especially none of that energy drink crap.  Yes, caffeine can relieve some cold symptoms temporarily, but in those doses, caffeine and other stimulants will devastate your immune system.  We have created a society that wants to extract every ounce of productivity from us 48 hours a day, but in this season above all, tell it to get stuffed and drink some nice green tea.  Drink plenty of tea and water to flush out your system.

Lifestyle

Stress is a big contributing factor in immune system breakdown.  A cold may be your body’s way of telling you to get some rest and relax.  Make time for it.  More to the point, if you’re under great mental stress, you’re practically inviting colds and flus.

Here’s a great video primer on how herbs can help you, by Dr. Robyn Benson:

Nuking the Symptoms by Supporting the Body

So, your cold or flu is already setting in.  If you’ve applied the first response techniques and they haven’t worked, it’s likely that you’ve either been taking poor care of your body for an extended period before that, or that your stress level is just too high.  In any case, now is the time to approach your symptoms systematically, which is largely done by supporting the parts of the body involved.  If you are a frequent sufferer of bad colds, get to know your typical symptoms and jump on them before they can take hold-  if you know that you’re going to start with a sore throat and that symptoms seem to migrate from there, start supporting your throat when the first symptoms appear.

 
Sinus, Cough, Nasal and Respiratory Symptoms

Ginger, specifically in dried and powdered form, is a useful expectorant for coughs.  Fenugreek, a popular ingredient in Indian cuisine, is another expectorant and an effective soothing agent for mucilaginous tissues.

Nettle leaf tea is a good lung tonic and antihistamine (freeze-dried products only), and no, there are no prickles involved.  Ephedra, used in the treatment of asthma, is a nasal decongenstant and bronchial dilator useful for acute respiratory symptoms, but should be used very conservatively.

Rose hips, as previously mentioned, support irritated sinus tissue, as do watercress and lemon grass.

For acute sinus pain, make a paste of powdered ginger and water or eucalyptus oil, and apply over the location of the pain.

Note that many of these remedies are available at your local grocery store, and others, such as nettles, are food sources that have fallen into disuse.

 Throat

Herbs for a sore throat can be broken down by their purpose.

Licorice and marshmallow were herbal remedies before they were candy, and both help to coat and soothe dry, itchy throats (no, eating the candy won’t help).  Turmeric is used in Ayurvedic medicine as an anti-inflammatory and antibacterial for sore throats.

Bee balm, garlic and ginger function as antimicrobials, attacking the germs- start them early.

Astringent sage and horehound close the mucus membranes against further infection (do not use at the dry stage of a sore throat), while calendula, burdock root and mullein stimulate the lymphatic system to help flush out the area.

For more information on the preparation and use of these herbs, see http://www.methowvalleyherbs.com/2011/10/herbal-remedies-for-sore-throat-part-3.html.

Licorice, marshmallow, burdock root and mullein would have been familiar ingredients to any chemist in the Western world less than a hundred years ago, before the onset of pharmaceutical medicine, while bee balm has been used to fight colds by Native North Americans for centuries.

Stomach

When nausea gets you down, there are a few herbs that can help.

Ginger is the classic for all forms of stomach upset, and Ayurvedic medicine would add cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, cardamom, garlic and onion (and hey, did you really expect Indians to leave out those two?).

Peppermint is also soothing for the stomach and can help with nausea.  Chamomile tea isn’t a bad idea either.

Cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and peppermint are all good digestive aids, and once upon a time, these herbs and spices showed up a great deal in Western European cuisine, at a time when European cuisine was actually rather spicy.  For a variety of reasons, they have become disused, and we’ve been missing this digestive tonic ever since.

Fever

Fever is a symptom that traditional medicine will tend to leave alone, on the grounds that your body is trying to heal itself.  Treatment is usually to induce sweating, to allow the body to flush out toxins.  If the fever lasts particularly long or is particularly high, you should consult a healthcare professional.

Headache

A frequent symptom of the flu, you can treat headaches with turmeric, white willow bark (natural precursor of aspirin) and peppermint oil, but most especially with water, rest and darkness.  There is no substitute for rest, and any attempt to keep working through a flu with the aid of pills simply leaves your immune system weaker when the next thing comes.

 Note on Lozenges and Cough Medicines:

Avoid if at all possible most commercial lozenges and liquids, particularly those with high sugar content.  If you find lozenges a necessity, try to find some with a useful herbal base.  A few local shops in North America will still supply the traditional horehound or licorice lozenges, and there are now a few mass-market herbal lozenges, though of varying usefulness and occasionally with pernicious immunodepressent ingredients such as sugar substitutes.

Cure Yourself at the Grocery Store

 You may have noticed by now that a large proportion of these recommendations have more to do with the grocery store than the pharmacist or even the herbalist.  No doubt there are many brilliant herbalists out there, and consulting one about any course of herbal treatment is a good idea.  But the fact is that colds are relatively easy to deal with, and your best defence is a judiciously-stocked larder and a healthy lifestyle.

~ Dr. Symeon Rodger


Energy Psychology and the Shape of Things to Come

Just blew in the door from presenting at the 12th Annual Energy Psychology Conference (EPC) in Toronto.  And it was a phenomenal experience!  (For me it started out as dinner with friend and EFT expert Carol Look, so it definitely got off on the right foot 😉


Although I certainly enjoyed giving a 2-hour workshop on Hara to about 40 enthusiastic people, the real “ice cream” for me was being able to spend three days with a group of highly intelligent, friendly and open-minded people whose primary focus is healing others.  Their collective dedication to truth, to scientific rigor and their insistence on respecting the scientific method were very inspiring.

As you know all too well, respect for the scientific method is the first casualty of the “ideological orthodoxy” running most any academic field.  You see this in fields as diverse as medicine, history, theology, archeology, and psychology.  In fact, there’s probably no field where this hasn’t happened.  

I’d like to share with you some of the cutting edge information on energy healing presented by Dr. Larry Dossey, a best-selling author who left his very prestigious medical career to write “heretical books” on the effects of spirituality on the healing process and whose keynote address kicked off the conference.  The information he and others shared has enormous implications not only for the future of health care, but for each one of us as we pursue our goal of personal Resilience.

 

So just turn up your speakers and I’ll tell you some of Dr. Dossey’s key points:

~ Dr. Symeon Rodger





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