This article was written by Dr. Jared Zeff in 2001. It is reprinted here with permission.
NATURE CURE AND THE PROCESS OF HEALING
Jared L. Zeff, N.D., L.Ac.
According to Herodotus, the ancient Greek historian, the Egyptians were among the healthiest people in the ancient world because, “they purge themselves every month, three days in succession, seeking to preserve health…for they suppose that all diseases to which men are subject proceed from the food they use.” (Garrison, History of Medicine, Fourth Edition, Saunders, 1929.)
Even a cursory examination of Classic Chinese medicine, Ayurvedic medicine, Native American Medicine, the ancient medicine of Persia and Greece, and even the monastic medicine of old Europe will demonstrate an emphasis on diet, digestion and life style as the fundamental preservers of health, with the use of botanicals, hydrotherapy, acupuncture, and prayer as mainstays of therapeutic intervention. Upon analysis, one can see a common understanding of the causes of illness and the restoration of health. This understanding developed from the observation of nature, and particularly from observing the natural progress of illness and recovery.
The nature cure movement began as such in 19th century Europe, partly influenced by the writings of the French philosopher, Rousseau, with his cry of “Return to Nature!”, as the source of truth and inspiration, health and healing. The formal medicine of Europe at that time was dominated by the misinterpretation of Hippocratic and Galenic medicine of nearly two millennia earlier, which surrogated bleeding, purging and dieresis (usually induced through the use of poisons such as arsenic and mercury) for the natural elimination of disease-causing toxins. There was a common understanding that physicians were the lowest professionals, causing more harm than good. In reaction to this, a medical movement began, not so much as a challenge to orthodoxy, but simply in search of an alternative approach to healing which was truly health giving. This came to be called “nature cure”.
THE FOUNDATION OF NATURE CURE
The foundation of nature cure is based upon the observation that it is the nature of things to heal themselves. We can see this in a piece of land, which has been disturbed by earthquake, fire, or human intervention. We see this in a hillside, for example, where, after a disturbing factor disrupts the ground, first the thistles come in. Not only do they begin the process of reestablishing a stabilizing root system, but also their thorns set up a barrier to those who might further disturb the soil. As the thistles grow for a few years, and lay down an organic mat, they begin to be replaced by other plants, until the stable ecosystem, which was once there, is reestablished.
So it is with human beings as well. A disturbing factor, or a number of factors, disturbs the stable ecology of the body, and illness occurs as a response or reaction. The illness goes through a more-or-less predictable process, the intention of which is the reestablishment of the normal functioning of the organism. If the disturbing factors persist, we will see a chronic response by the body.
When confronted with illness, the nature cure physician looks for the factors, which are disturbing the normal health, and seeks to remove or moderate them. The illness is seen much as the thistles in the example above. The solution to illness is not simply to remove the “thistles”, but to understand what had caused this natural response. If the thistles are removed prior to changing the conditions, which stimulated their presence, we should expect them to recur. Furthermore, any interventions employed by the physician must not add further disturbance, but should be based upon that which is capable of reestablishing the healthy “ecology”.
To do this effectively, such a physician must come to understand the nature of health, and both that which establishes it as well as that which disturbs it. This simple understanding creates a set of instructions for the nature cure physician. Nature cure is a system of medicine one can characterize as “the restoration of health” by following a set of simple principles. Beneath these principles is a set of assumptions, based upon the observation of nature, and particularly the observation of disease and healing. The basic assumption is that nature is benign, ordered, intelligent, and wise. Nature can be trusted.
This can be contrasted with the standard medical approach, which has a different set of fundamental assumptions. Standard medicine is not based upon the study of health, but upon the study of disease. If nature cure is based upon the restoration of health, standard medicine is based upon the diagnosis and treatment of disease. The standard physician determines the specific nature and name of the disease process, which ails the patient, and then brings to bear the various tools or weapons which science and experience have provided to eliminate the disease from the body. The fundamental assumptions of standard medicine seem to be these:
1. There are distinct disease entities, which exist separately from the individuality of the patient. Disease entities can be studied. Prognosis is one of the results of this study. Pathologic mechanism is another result. Disease pathology can be studied and understood without reference to the specific person.
2. Disease entities can be identified, thereby understanding the cause of a person’s suffering.
3. Disease entities can be removed from the ill person through treatment, or moderated or ameliorated, thereby restoring them to a state of health, or relative health.
4. Effective treatment is accomplished through evidence-based use of drugs or surgery.
These assumptions are generally unquestioned in the practice of standard medicine. Applied within the context of modern analytical science they form an elegant paradigm, which has proven quite effective in easing suffering and prolonging life in the 20th, and now the 21st,century. However, it has also revealed a significant weakness in the latter part of this period, which is its failure to heal chronic disease as easily as it once obliterated certain serious infections with the introduction of antibiotics. As we consider the paradigm of nature cure, we may understand the basis of this failure.
THE NATURE CURE PARADIGM
Nature cure has a different paradigm, based upon a different set of assumptions. Nature cure is based upon health restoration rather than disease treatment. We can characterize nature cure with two simple graphic models of illness. Acute illness can generally be characterized like this:
The nature cure physician does not do battle with the disease entity. Instead, we rely upon the healing wisdom, vital energies, and intelligence of the organism to restore normal and healthy function. Using this diagram, we can follow this process. If we begin with a state of normal health, we can see that disturbing factors may occur which can disrupt normal function, causing the body to react in an attempt to bring itself back to a state of normal health. One of the assumptions of nature cure is that health is the normal state of the body, given that the elements for healthy existence are present. The body is constantly striving to maintain itself in a normal state of healthy function, and that what we call disease occurs when various factors disturb this state. Disease is the reaction of the body to the disturbing factors. The work of the nature cure physician is to help the patient create the conditions for health to exist within them, and, if necessary, to stimulate, support, or enhance the restorative, self-healing mechanisms, through a system of therapeutic interventions, rationally applied, in the appropriate order.
When normal function is sufficiently disturbed, the body will react in ways to set itself right Inflammation is the most basic of these reaction-states. Four observable aspects characterize inflammation: redness, heat, pain, and swelling. When tissues are injured or irritated, the cells will secrete chemicals such as histamine, trienes, kinens [sic], etc. These chemicals cause local blood vessels to dilate, bringing more blood into a disturbed area. They cause the blood vessels to become more porous so that nutrient-rich blood fluids, oxygen, white blood cells and other immune factors move into the disturbed area. The dilated blood vessels cause the increased redness. The increased blood flow brings more heat. The movement of fluids into the area causes the swelling. Some of these chemicals irritate the local nerves, alerting the consciousness to the presence of the disturbance. Since these phenomenons [sic] are specifically manifested by the body to restore health to disturbed tissues, the inflammation is not the problem, but is the body’s solution to the problem. Using an anti-inflammatory to treat the inflammation contravenes the body’s attempt to heal, replacing it with the physician’s “wisdom”.
Fever is a more generalized reactive state, which brings into play the entire organism’s capacities for self-defense and restoration. In a state of fever, of higher than normal temperature, all of the body’s mechanisms will be operating at a higher or faster rate. White blood cells will be more active. There will be a faster blood flow. All of the enzymatic activity of the body will occur at a faster rate. This is, again, an obvious attempt by the body to activate healing. There may be times when fever is excessive or damaging, but these are rare, and there are ways if necessary to reduce fever in these instances. But under normal circumstances, to disrupt fever with suppressive measures will weaken the body’s ability to heal and restore itself, and should be avoided. Generally, these restorative measures, fever, inflammation, and so forth, are followed by a period of discharge, which resolves the disturbance, removing the products of the process from the body.
This does not mean that the nature cure physician does not treat acute illness. We would seek to treat the illness in such a way that respects the body’s wisdom, using methods, which stimulate the self-healing processes such as hydrotherapy, homeopathy, acupuncture, or non-suppressive botanicals. Certainly, there are times when inflammation presents a significant and immediate problem, when intense intervention is called for, such as in the inflammation of meningitis, or appendicitis. Even in these instances, the nature cure physician will seek to treat the problem in such a way that suppression does not occur, but one always places the safety of the patient first. These kinds of problems can be treated without antibiotics or surgery, but generally these treatments will be reserved to times or places in which antibiotics or surgery are not available.
The best example of this process of acute illness is the common cold. From a healthy state, several factors develop which disturb the body economy, including a viral factor perhaps, and one begins to perceive some degree of disturbed function. First, one doesn’t feel right. Perhaps one feels tired or irritable. Then one begins to develop a sore throat, or other symptoms of inflammation. This is followed by a runny nose or a cough, and mucous is expelled. The usual process takes from seven to ten days, and then the body returns to a state of normalcy. This is why there is no cure for the common cold; the cold is the cure. Suppressing it merely makes it more difficult for the body to process and remove that which is disturbing it. For colds, as for any acute disturbance, the nature cure physician would treat this not by suppressing the reaction, but by enhancing the self healing mechanisms, thorough methods such as constitutional hydrotherapy, which will enhance immune activity, botanicals such as yarrow and elder to enhance the removal of toxins, Hydrastis or Echinacea to enhance immune activity, and so forth.
The natural history of a cold does not begin with a viral exposure. If this were true, then most people would become ill when exposed to the new virus. But this is not what happens. The virus must enter a system in which the economy is already disturbed, usually by such factors as fatigue, accumulated toxins (such as from inappropriate diet or disturbed digestion), the affects [sic] of emotional or other stress and trauma, etc.
Let us examine a list of the kinds of things, which disturb health. At the top of my list would be inappropriate diet, weakened digestion, and lack of sufficient rest, then an excess of devitalizing nourishment, such as coffee, alcohol, and various drugs, including prescription and over-the counter, as well as illegal “recreational” drugs, the presence of certain chronic diseases, such as diabetes, medical interventions either current or historical, lack of sufficient and appropriate exercise, unhappiness, and the difficulties of trying to survive in modern times.
Humans are creatures of families and tribes. Deprived of such support, we tend to feel anxious and insecure. We live in a society increasingly based upon the accumulation of money at the expense of family. It is difficult to generate the money needed to live here, and many of us exist in a constant state of stress over making ends meet. Add to this the increasing danger of modern life. It is no longer prudent to allow one’s children to walk to school, there is too much risk and danger. This may serve as a metaphor for these times. When I was five, I walked a mile to kindergarten. My parents had no fear for my safety, for good reason. But it is different now. Predators exist who would snatch up a five-year-old walking to school. Children kill children in school. We live in stressful times.
So our bodies are bathed in a constant soup of stress moderating chemicals such as cortisol and adrenaline, which negatively impact digestion. Proper digestions can only occur in a parasympathetic environment of relaxation and peace. These sympathetic chemicals cause the blood vessels to the digestive system to constrict, as they increase the flow to the peripheral muscles. The digestion requires a significant blood flow to function, and denied this, maldigestion is fostered. This is an adaptive mechanism to situations of acute stress, but becomes dysfunctional in situations of chronic stress. Add to this a difficult family history, which damages the spirit, including the epidemic of childhood abuse of various kinds, and the various physical and emotional traumas and exposures of everyday life. These factors which disturb health can, inversely, help us understand that which determines health. In the study of health and its causes, the nature cure physician can know what to look for in a situation of disturbed health, and what to do to correct it.
Inappropriate diet or disturbed digestion results in an increase of metabolic toxins generated in the gut. These toxins are absorbed into the blood stream and become a basis of chronic irritation and disturbance of function throughout the body. Add to this the plethora of ingested toxins from the variety of environmental contaminants. Our bodies are increasingly offended by toxic accumulations.
The basis of modern medicine, with all of its miracles, is suppression. Drugs suppress and control the reactions, which are commonly interpreted as disease. The fever and inflammation are treated with suppressive medication as if these states were the problem, rather than the natural solution. The suppression of acute reactive states not only weakens the body’s capacity to mount such reactions, but by doing so allows the disturbing factors and toxic substances to further accumulate, until we exist in chronic reactive states, which we call chronic disease. Then we are given more potent suppressive medication, which further burden the body systems. Though these treatments may preserve life or ease suffering, what this amounts to is that these disease states are “managed” by our doctors, rather than cured.
Chronic disease occurs as the disturbing factors accumulate, and the attempts by the body to get rid of these disturbances are suppressed, allowing the disturbance to penetrate deeper and deeper into the vital structures and functions of the body. We can illustrate this with a second diagram.
In this diagram, we can see how chronic disease is a continuation of the process of disturbance and reaction. We can also see how to bring about cure from chronic disease. Healing is brought about by reducing the presence of disturbing factors, and stimulating, enhancing and supporting the self-healing reactions. This can return the system to an acute, enhanced reactive state, followed by discharge and return to normalcy.
To accomplish this, in general, one begins at the beginning. First, identify disturbing factors. Again, this is usually found most dramatically in diet. One need not make absolute or perfect improvements in the diet; incremental improvements will prove effective. Make positive changes, with a focus upon three things. First, insure dietary adequacy: insure that all the necessary nutrients for health and healing are present in the diet, that there is enough of everything. Second, insure a more healthful balance of nutrients, that there is not too much of something. Third, identify and remove reactive foods if they are present.
Then identify the stressful elements in the person’s life and advise the person about their moderation, or act to reduce the effects of stress upon the body. This includes the suppressive effects of drugs and other medical interventions, toxic and traumatic exposures, as well as what might be called toxic relationships, and the whole host of that which we have identified as potentially disturbing factors.
Simultaneously, one can begin to stimulate the self-healing mechanisms, by means which are not in themselves suppressive or weakening. First, one should apply general stimulation to the healing processes. The single best way to do this is through constitutional hydrotherapy. Such a treatment is non-suppressive, counteracts the effects of stress upon the digestive system, aids in detoxification of the blood by pumping more blood through the liver and the kidneys, as well as the stomach and intestines, is relaxing and tonifying at the same time. It isa profoundly healing treatment. It is used to treat all manner of acute and chronic disease, from infection to cancer. This treatment is used with infants and old people alike.
In my experience, appropriate dietary change, coupled with a simple stomach tonic and constitutional hydrotherapy will generate improvement in almost any disease condition. In many cases, this alone will bring about cure. To facilitate healing in any particular case, however, one might want to add specific stimulation of the healing potential. Whereas constitutional hydrotherapy is done the same way in all cases, and provides a general stimulation, homeopathy and acupuncture are applied specifically and differently in any case.
Neither hydrotherapy, homeopathy, nor acupuncture adds anything of substance to a person. All they can do is stimulate what is intrinsically there, the innate healing potential.
The next task is to evaluate the functional status of the various systems and organs, and, if necessary, to support their specific recovery. This is the area where I find the greatest use for botanicals. One can identify botanical medicines, which will improve function in any system of the body. I most commonly use the following:
One can add to these a variety of other botanicals for more specific purposes. There are, of course, many hundreds of botanicals which can be combined in many ways to effect specific changes in any system of the body.
It is important to contrast two ways to prescribe these medicines. The method I refer to here is primarily one of enhancing function, through increased blood flow, stimulation of secretion, or in some other way to “tonify” or nourish function or structure. One can also use botanicals suppressively, in the same way that most drugs are used, such as using the salicylate content of Salix to suppress a fever. In general, I would avoid the use of botanicals as drugs in favor of their use to enhance function, as an adjunct to the process of removing disturbance.
A THERAPEUTIC ORDER
A key concept in nature cure is the order of intervention. The first order of intervention is to identify and moderate the causative factors, which disturb function, and to help create amore healthful regimen. Secondly, to stimulate the self healing mechanisms. Third, to use the botanicals or other substances to support tissue function or repair. Fourth, to work to correct structural integrity. Fifth, one may need to specifically address pathology. Sixth, it may be necessary to suppress pathology with drugs or surgery. The greatest mistake commonly made in this medicine is to intervene at a lower level, principally to use botanicals or nutritional factors to treat specific tissues or lesions without attention to the first and second order tasks. If these first steps are not done, improvement is usually incomplete or transitory. I cannot over-emphasize this problem.
It is this problem which confounds the attempts by standard research to validate these methods. The application of single botanicals or nutrients to double blinded studies focused against pathology, without the comprehensive approach described above, will often not demonstrate the true effectiveness of this approach to healing. If you give the stomach tonics without first correcting dietary errors, and dietary elements are causative problems, you will not see profound or permanent improvement. Similarly, if you apply hydrotherapy or other stimulating treatments into a system, which has not been prepared by removing causative factors, you will see a heightened reaction to the disturbing elements without the possibility of a resolution.
This is somewhat like removing the thistles from the disturbed ground. If one does not repair the ground, the thistles will just grow back. The analogy is not perfect, but if you apply second or third order healing activity without preparing the body, removing the disturbing factors, the disease process will recur. A better example is the treatment of ear infections with antibiotics. The ear infections will tend to recur as long as the susceptibility of the body remains the same. Treatment of the ear infections with botanicals or homeopathic methods will similarly clear up the acute infection, but the infections will tend to recur unless the dietary causes are also eliminated.
When one is in a chronic or degenerated state, and this methodology is followed, I expect to see improvement. By removing or moderating disturbing factors, stimulating the self-healing mechanisms, and tonifying or supporting the normal functions of body, one can only improve. But one is in a chronic state because of accumulated disturbance or the suppression of the body’s healing reactions. As one becomes increasingly healthy, suppressed reactions will often reappear. The reappearance of previous illness is fascinating to witness. When this occurs, we can treat these recurrences with non suppressive methods.
As one improves, and the body become [sic] stronger, one will at some point reenter an acute reactive state. This is usually characterized by fever and a discharge. The arrival of an acute febrile state means that the body is mounting a curative reaction. This is referred to as a healing crisis or healing reaction. As one moves through this, and healing is completed with a discharge, ultimate cure is attained. The patient must be prepared for these events, or they will assume that the treatment is not working or things are getting worse, and often return to suppressive medication, defeating the possibility of healing. One can apply many non-suppressive treatments if needed to moderate the discomfort of a healing reaction. This is apart of the honoring of the wisdom of the body.
These are the principles of nature cure methodology. In their application, I expect to see rapid, gentle, and permanent restoration of health. There is no perfect system of healing, but what we have in this method is a set of instructions based upon the observation of how healing occurs in nature. It is an earth based system of medicine, making use of the simple remedies presented by nature. It is a comprehensive system, which honors the wisdom of the body.
copyright: Jared L. Zeff, ND 2001
what about fever???
Do not fear a fever!!! The body’s ability to mount a fever is a sign of good vitality.
Factors which influence body temperature: (Excerpts from: https://nccmed.com/normal-body-temperature-ranges-in-children-and-adults/)
The hypothalamus is a part of the brain that is responsible for controlling body temperature. When the body temperature climbs over or falls below the 98.6°F (37°C) level, the hypothalamus is activated, allowing the temperature to be regulated. When the body becomes too cold, the hypothalamus sends signals to the body, causing it to shiver, which helps to warm the body. When the body becomes overheated, it sends signals to the brain to begin sweating, which allows heat to escape the body.
The majority of fevers are caused by infections. An illness causes a fever, which is the body’s natural way of responding to and battling the infection.
Researchers discovered that some medical disorders may have an impact on a person’s body temperature. People with an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism), for example, tended to have lower temperatures, but people with cancer tended to have higher temperatures.
This table lists the typical body temperature ranges for adults and children, according to, the manufacturer of the thermometer used in the particular study (Obermeyer Z, Samra J K, Mullainathan S. Individual differences in normal body temperature: longitudinal big data analysis of patient records BMJ 2017; 359 :j5468 doi:10.1136/bmj.j5468):
Type of temperature reading:
(0-2 years) (3-10 years) (11-65 years) (Over 65 years)
95.9–99.5°F (35.5–37.5°C) 95.9–99.5°F (35.5–37.5°C) 97.6–99.6°F (36.4–37.6°C) 96.4–98.5°F (35.8–36.9°C)
97.9–100.4°F (36.6–38°C) 97.9–100.4°F (36.6–38°C) 98.6–100.6°F (37.0–38.1°C) 97.1–99.2°F (36.2–37.3°C)
94.5–99.1°F (34.7–37.3°C) 96.6–98.0°F (35.9–36.7°C) 95.3–98.4°F (35.2–36.9°C) 96.0–97.4°F (35.6–36.3°C)
97.5–100.4°F (36.4–38°C) 97.0–100.0°F (36.1–37.8°C) 96.6–99.7°F (35.9–37.6°C) 96.4–99.5°F (35.8–37.5°C)
Infant and baby temperatures and newborns
Infants aged 0–2 years have a normal body temperature that ranges between 97.9 and 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit when measured rectally. When a baby is teething, his or her body temperature may rise a little.
When compared to their body weight, a baby has a bigger surface area on which to radiate heat, which raises their temperature. Their bodies are also more metabolically active, which results in an increase in heat production.
The bodies of babies do not regulate their temperature as well as the bodies of adults. When it is warm, they sweat less, which means that their bodies retain more heat. A fever might also make cooling down more difficult for those who are suffering from it.
The average body temperature of a newborn is 99.5°F. If a child under the age of three months has a rectal temperature of 100.4°F or above, seek emergency medical assistance immediately. A small temperature in a very young baby can indicate the presence of a dangerous infection.
Myths and facts about fever: (Excerpts from: https://www.seattlechildrens.org/conditions/a-z/fever-myths-versus-facts/)
MYTH. My child feels warm, so he/she has a fever.
FACT. Children can feel warm for many reasons. Examples are playing hard, crying, getting out of a warm bed or hot weather. They are "giving off heat". Their skin temperature should return to normal in 10 to 20 minutes. About 80% of children who act sick and feel warm do have a fever.
If you want to be sure, take the temperature. These are the cutoffs for fever using different types of thermometers:
Rectal, ear or forehead temperature: 100.4° F (38.0° C) or higher
Oral mouth temperature: 100° F (37.8° C) or higher
Under the arm Armpit temperature: 99° F (37.2° C) or higher
MYTH. All fevers are bad for children.
FACT. Fevers turn on the body's immune system. They help the body fight infection. Normal fevers between 100° and 104° F (37.8° 40°C) are good for sick children.
MYTH. Fevers above 104° F (40° C) are dangerous. They can cause brain damage.
FACT. Fevers with infections don't cause brain damage. Only temperatures above 108° F (42° C) can cause brain damage. It's very rare for the body temperature to climb this high. It only happens if the air temperature is very high. An example is a child left in a closed car during hot weather.
MYTH. Anyone can have a seizure triggered by fever.
FACT. Only 4% of children can have a seizure with fever.
MYTH. Seizures with fever are harmful.
FACT. These seizures are scary to watch, but they stop within 5 minutes. They don't cause any permanent harm. They don't increase the risk for speech delays, learning problems, or seizures without fever.
MYTH. Without treatment, fevers will keep going higher.
FACT. Wrong, because the brain has a thermostat. Most fevers from infection don't go above 103° or 104° F (39.5°40°C). They rarely go to 105° or 106° F (40.6° or 41.1° C). While these are "high" fevers, they also are harmless ones.
MYTH. If you can't "break the fever", the cause is serious.
FACT. Fevers that don't come down to normal can be caused by viruses or bacteria. The response to fever medicines tells us nothing about the cause of the infection.
MYTH. Once the fever comes down with medicines, it should stay down.
FACT. It's normal for fevers with most viral infections to last for 2 or 3 days (note: or even longer in some cases). When the fever medicine wears off, the fever will come back. It may need to be treated again. The fever will go away and not return once the body overpowers the virus. Most often, this is day 3 or 4. (note: when medicines interfere with the body’s natural healing processes, the body has to work extra hard to overcome the interference so it can get on with the natural healing process.)
MYTH. If the fever is high, the cause is serious.
FACT. If the fever is high, the cause may or may not be serious. If your child looks very sick, the cause is more likely to be serious.
MYTH. The exact number of the temperature is very important.
FACT. How your child looks (and acts) is what's important, not the exact temperature number.
MYTH. Oral temperatures between 98.7° and 100° F (37.1° to 37.8° C) are low-grade fevers.
FACT. These temperatures are normal. The body's normal temperature changes throughout the day. It peaks in the late afternoon and evening. A true low-grade fever is 100° F to 102° F (37.8° 39°C).
SUMMARY. Keep in mind that fever is fighting off (you or) your child's infection. Fever is one of the good guys.
So where do all these aches and pains come from? (Excerpt from a forum response found at http://www.madsci.org/posts/archives/2001-07/994526623.Im.r.html)
… ” Here is a basic summary of what causes the symptoms encountered during the flu.
Common flu symptoms include fever, sore throat, muscle aches, shivers and cold sweats, etc. These symptoms are not caused by the virus itself but rather by our bodies' response to the virus. (underlined by the author of this article). The immune system mounts a two-fold response to the virus. The humoral response (antibody- mediated) produces antibodies that bind to influenza receptors, preventing further infection of uninfected cells. This is the primary means by which the influenza infection is arrested. The cellular response acts by destroying viral infected cells. This is where the nasty symptoms come from. T cells and macrophages attack mucosal cells that have been altered by the virus and destroy them. The cells produce chemicals known as cytokines and interleukins that either destroy the abnormal cell or recruit other immune cells into the area that is infected.” …
What would a vitalistic naturopathic doctor do???
They would set fear aside and trust the body’s inherent wisdom which is designed to defend, heal, and repair the body. A vitalistic naturopathic doctor would support the body in its efforts and not fight against or suppress those efforts. Here are some things a vitalistic naturopathic doctor would do (or not do):
1. Stop Eating. Whenever a fever is present, fast on water only. NO FOOD or DRINK OTHER THAN PURE WATER.
(all comments entered and italicized in this article, or underlines in any of the text were made by the author):
Prepared 27 September 2021
Greetings in these unprecedented times. Firstly, I would like to explain my silence for the past several months. Hoosier Naturopath has been in the midst of a financial as well as leadership crisis for the past many months. We are in need of additional like-minded board members who are totally aligned with our statement of faith and vision so that we are equipped to move forward with our actionable plans. Though we have not yet emerged from either crisis, I have not been idle. I have been busy behind the scenes; continuing to learn, reaching out with invitations to join with us, broadening existing networks, developing relationships with national leaders in naturopathic medicine (both online and in person, thanks to my sister's generosity in funding trips), strategizing, and most of all praying and studying the Word to make certain our foundation is sure and solid.
My silence since this crisis began was from prudence. I and the HN board of directors have been praying for clarity - vertically and horizontally speaking. I was waiting for professional direction from our national association (the AANP) and to see what my U.S. and Canadian peers (many in the Seattle area and several who practice overseas) were experiencing in their clinics and their community work, what directives they were receiving from their regulatory bodies, etc. I now have spent hours in our professional Facebook groups and in phone calls and chats, and have attended several webinars (with more on the near horizon) which have offered my profession clear direction that will keep us out of legal trouble, yet allow us to offer assistance in this time of great need. The time is now. I will no longer be sitting on my hands. Carpe diem.
During this crisis, when the medical establishment is in overwhelm with limited tools, the vast majority of sufferers are being told to do "home care"; i.e. isolate yourself, clean everything in sight, and monitor your symptoms. And I encourage all of you to do just that - you can download a pdf of the Home Care instructions from the Indiana State Dept. of Health (ISDH) here. The rest of us in Indiana are under a stay at home directive.
But home care (in either case) can be so much more than the ISDH offers! On our website, I am/will be posting things you can do at home for yourselves and your families. This is supportive care for staying well, as well as symptomatic care for symptoms you may be suffering. These are simple but powerful offerings.
Let me be clear: this is neither prevention nor treatment of COVID-19. I am not offering advice nor am I recommending anything - I am educating you - and it is solely up to you to decide for yourself and your family what you choose to do or not do. Medical freedom.
Your body speaks to you by expressing symptoms. The naturopathic physician would say it is wise to listen to your body and to support it in its efforts to deal with its discomfort (translating to your discomfort!) without telling it to "shut up", so to speak, as would be done if you took a strong pharmaceutical drug (even over-the-counter drugs) to suppress the symptom. With supportive care, when the symptom is relieved it is because the cause of that symptom has been successfully dealt with by your body and not because the symptom was artificially and forcefully suppressed.
There is a time for suppression when loss of life is imminent. In our present situation, that time would not normally occur for those under ISDH home care instructions.
If you believe that now is the time to rally all the available medical troops to help in this pandemic situation, please read this official statement by the AANP and contact your legislators immediately.
Here is a post I made to comments during Governor Holcomb's Updates on COVID-19 Press Conference yesterday (live on Facebook):
NATUROPATHIC DOCTORS living IN INDIANA but HOLDING LICENSES IN OTHER STATES would be able to assist those under Home Care via Telemedicine. WILL YOU PLEASE LET US HELP?
--> You could post the same thing, replacing "US" with "THEM" every day that he does these live updates... I included the AANP link I gave you above.
I have posted some Home Care ideas under "Resources"; more are to come. May I suggest you begin with "Belly Breathing"?
Prayers and Blessings in the time of Pandemic,
Gail Littell, ND, LMT
(812) 755-6179 tel
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Bringing Naturopathy to rural Hoosiers in service to God, nature, and man.
"...a simple agent such as water, which is cheap and easily available, is often neglected for a complicated system of therapy which is not so effective."
- J.S. Coulter
After using them, young children have lovingly dubbed these socks, “Magic Socks”, as have some adults I know! The traditional name of this home therapy, however, is “Warming Socks”. Now, before you envision your piggly wigglies being snuggled into nice toasty socks which were pre-warmed in your electric clothes dryer, oven or microwave, please allow me to wipe that image from your mind's eye. This is a therapy involving socks that are warm; however, the name can be a bit confusing because the socks are actually applied cold. The warming part of the therapy (hence the name) relies on utilizing a warming process supplied by your very own body.
Warming socks are useful in cases of colds, flu, sore throat, ear infection, headache, migraine, nasal congestion, coughs, sinus infection or in any inflammation/infection of the throat. The socks work best when they are used for three nights in a row - and at the first sign(s) of illness.
Here is the How-To:
* The warming socks duet (wet cotton covered by dry wool) will not result in your bed becoming wet.
Why the "warming socks" are useful:
This is how they work -
The cold causes an initial vasoconstriction (narrowing of blood vessels which slows blood flow). The body senses the cold and its effect so internal signals are triggered which initiate vasodilation (relaxation and widening of blood vessels) to increase blood flow to the feet to warm them. The heat begins to build up from the influx of blood and because the feet are insulated within the socks, but because the cotton socks are still wet, evaporative cooling begins to take place, bringing back the initial cold phase.
Thus the cold/vasoconstriction and warm/vasodilation phases continue to cycle back and forth until the cotton socks are completely dry. This is a beneficial cycle; it is a constant, gentle, self-modulating treatment with tonic effects on the body. This vacillation between the cool and warm temperatures is what leads to increased circulation (blood flow) to the feet and to a decrease of blood in the congested areas (the upper respiratory passages, head, and throat). It is a reflexive action by the body - an involuntary response to a stimulus. This increase in circulation, as well as the decrease in congestion, also allows the body to better deliver fighting members of its immune system army to the sites where they are most needed.
Reference: Wade Boyle, N.D. and Andre Saine, N.D. Lectures in Naturopathic Hydrotherapy. Eclectic Medical Publications. Sandy, Oregon 97055. Copyright 1988, Fourth printing 1995.
I’ve had the life-long habit of taking steps two at a time. I do it without even thinking. And I tend to walk fast as well; I’m so focused on my destination that I unconsciously lengthen my stride to eat up the intervening distance. These traits are not without their hazards. In trying my best to appear professional by upgrading my normal rustic attire, I have, more times than I care to admit, found myself mid-stride coming up short and having to pause momentarily to assess the situation (dang those straight skirts!) before continuing up the steps – hopefully in a more dignified manner.
My midwife friend tells me that expectant ladies purposely take steps two at a time in order to open the pelvis. You’re welcome for that random little tip – feel free to pass it on.
In my observations in life, I see people doing this all the time, this skipping steps. But more often than not, they are skipping not 1 or 2; they are skipping 3 or 4 or even 5 steps at a time – and we all know the face-planting disaster that can lead to. You may be wondering what on earth I am talking about when I say taking the steps 3, 4, even 5 at a time - and how is that even possible! Bear with me.
In naturopathic medicine, we have something called 'The Therapeutic Order’. Here is one pictorial that is in circulation amongst our naturopathic community:
“The therapeutic order is a natural hierarchy of therapeutic intervention, based on or dictated by observations of the nature of the healing process, from ancient times through the present. It is a natural ordering of the modalities of naturopathic medicine and their application. The concept is somewhat plastic in that one must evaluate the unique needs, and even the unique healing requirements, of the specific patient or situation, but in general the nature of healing dictates a general approach to treatment.” [61. Hippocrates. The genuine works of Hippocrates. Adams F, trans. Baltimore: Williams & Wilkins, 1939. 62. Zeff J, Snyder P. Course syllabus: NM51 71, Naturopathic clinical theory. Seattle: Bastyr University, 1997-2005.]
Zeff J., Snider P., Myers S. P. A Hierarchy of Healing: The Therapeutic Order. ResearchGate. December 2005. Available at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/43328689_A_Hierarchy_of_Healing_The_Therapeutic_Order. Accessed April 22, 2019.
Now then, getting back to steps. My friend Christie Fleetwood, ND, RPh, likes to present The Therapeutic Order to her patients using stair steps. I liked that idea, a lot. So I made my own version:
The first step is 1. When you're out of sorts, where does your healing journey usually begin? Do you start at the bottom? Have you been skipping steps without thinking, as most of us do or have done?
Dr. Fleetwood's original stair steps version of The Therapeutic Order adds another dimension of thought. Here is what she hands to her new patients:
When we look at Dr. Fleetwood's version, we can see clearly that there are two ways of approaching treatment of disease…could there be two ways of thinking about disease - and health? What if there were basically two kinds of medicine...
Written while a student at naturopathic school...circa 2010
My Philosophy of Nature Cure
"If it had been a snake it would have bitten you!" How often have I heard this saying, especially from the lips of elderly friends and family members near my southern Indiana home, when something I was looking for had been right in front of me the whole time. So it often is with the simplicity of Nature Cure. Common elements are available to anyone who bothers to notice and put them to practical use. Kirchfeld and Boyd (1994) tell of the European healers who used water, loam, nourishing simple food, fasting, sun and air baths, rest in peaceful natural settings, herbs and physical gymnastics to facilitate healing. In America, manual manipulation of the body and homeopathy were united with these and naturopathy was born. The underlying theme in it all was simplification; turning away from suppressive drugs and ridding the body of excesses, both from external sources and internal ones. Henry Lindlahr, in his book, Philosophy of Natural Therapeutics, wrote:
Thus, the simple pioneers of Nature Cure laid the foundation...They...applied common sense reasoning to the solution of the problems of health, disease, and cure. They went for inspiration to field and forest...They studied the whole and not only the parts; causes as well as effects and symptoms...
Common sense reasoning is something I plan to use in my naturopathic practice. I haven't seen it used often in the medical world; for the sake of brevity, I will give but one example. An acquaintance related that a portion of one of her clavicles had been removed because the doctors had deemed it too long and therefore the cause of her musculoskeletal complaint, which incidentally was not subsequently relieved. How sad that a condition I regularly treated in my massage practice by simple stretching of the pectoral muscles had been so misconstrued by a team of medical professionals. Simple observation of the body in the whole would have provided guidance as to the nature of the problem.
Yet simple observation takes time and an eye practiced at looking at the whole. My aim is to be a country doctor; one who is not hurried. My desire is to use my background of mothering, massage therapy and farming as a springboard for attaining that practiced eye and applying common sense to my interactions with my patients. I learned from my experience as a farmer the value of using subtlety in working with animals. One cannot force or hurry them along. They must go at their own pace else they become nervous, tense, and unpredictable in behavior. But if one understands the creature's motivation and uses subtlety to manipulate surrounding conditions, one can get the animal to cooperate. There is a parallel, I believe, with the healing process of the human body.
Addressing attendees of the 2006 AANP Conference, Leon Chaitow, N.D., D.O. stressed the importance of not going too fast for the body when applying bodywork modalities. In my own work as a massage therapist, I have learned that a soft and gentle hand is allowed deeper access to the body's tissues than is a firm strong hand. If "hurried along" the body will inevitably stiffen its musculature into a protective armor, disallowing any meaningful therapy. As Dr. Chaitow noted, the practitioner should be observant and sensitive to the possibility that the body is neither ready nor capable of handling the release of certain tissues. In that case, a gently mobilization of the entire body, such as a nurturing general massage, is in order rather than a manipulation.
He also noted that Positional Release, where the therapist aids the patient in putting the constricted body part into a position of ease, will facilitate the release of the constriction and is something the patient can do at home. This teaching, this enabling of the patient to increase body awareness and facilitate their own restoration, is also a means to healing that I hope to utilize; for, as Henry Lindlahr noted in his book Nature Cure (1913), moving from illness to health requires effort on the part of the patient.
Yet the underlying premise of my practice will be, I hope, to help my patient reduce his overall efforts and simplify. At the AANP 11th Annual Convention, Walter Crinnion, N.D. (1996), on a humorous yet emphatic note, related that Dr. Harold Dick used to quip, "Supplements just plug 'em up!" I agree. Why add one more thing for the body to deal with when it is already heavily burdened with the toxic load of modern life or is suffering from a profound debilitated state? I certainly found this to be true in my personal healing journey. Simpler was better. The Nature Cure strategy will be the underpinning of my clinical approach. It is my observation that many people are ready for the process, or should I say de-processing! During my years in organic farming I saw a renewed interest in all things natural among the public, and in the latter years of my massage practice I saw a growing desire in patients to leave behind their drugs and cultivate their body-awareness. This is an encouraging trend for a future nature doctor.
I conclude my essay with the story of a desperate modern woman who turned to Nature Cure. Her first lupus attack ran uncontrolled for 18 months. Methotrexate to control the worst symptoms, as well as morphine for the debilitating pain, had been the 45 year old woman's medical treatment for years - until she hit the brick wall of cervical cancer. After a confirming second opinion on her cervical biopsy, the woman's oncologist told her she would die if she didn't have surgery; her other doctors told her that her body's immune response was so suppressed, she would die if she did. In relating the story, Paul Bergner, N.D. (1996) stated, "Meet the new American patient. Damned if you do and damned if you don't!"
What did the poor woman do? She prayed, received guidance to visit her local library (Houston, Texas) and subsequently read every book on herbs in that establishment. When those books were exhausted, she pursued the avenue of inter-library loans. Thus she continued for about 6 months until she had figured out a plan of action. She took herself off of her drugs - all of her drugs - and started taking high doses of carefully chosen non-suppressive herbs. She eliminated sensitive foods from her diet and had managed to cure herself of the cervical cancer by the time she consulted with Dr. Bergner. Long-distance, he helped her fine-tune her strategy. The woman soon entered a healing crisis of about 2 weeks duration, at the end of which she was able to reduce by 75% the herbs she was taking to manage her lupus symptoms. This is Nature Cure in the modern world; enable the patient (in this case the patient was self-enabled by desperation and guidance from her answered prayer), remove suppressive drugs, improve the diet, utilize herbs - simplify and heal.
Bergner, P. (1996). AANP 11th Annual Convention [recorded by Tree Farm Cassettes] Nature cure in the 1990's: Paul Bergner, ND, Moderator [Audiocassette]. (Sept. 4-8, 1996).
Chaitow, L. (2006). OAND 2006 Annual Convention held in Collingwood, ON, Canada What's wrong with naturopathic physical medicine? [CD] Toronto, ON, Canada (Oct. 21-22, 2006).
Crinnion, W. (1996) AANP 11th Annual Convention [recorded by Tree Farm Cassettes] Nature cure in the 1990's: Paul Bergner, ND, Moderator [Audiocassette]. (Sept. 4-8, 1996).
Kirchfeld, F., & Boyle, W. (2005). Nature Doctors: Pioneers in Naturopathic Medicine (2nd ed.). Portland, OR: NCNM Press.
Lindlahr, H. (1913) Nature Cure: Philosophy and Practice Based on the Unity of Disease and Cure. Chicago: Nature Cure Publishing Co. Retrieved Oct. 10, 2009 from http://www.soilandhealth.org/02/0201hyglibcat/0202hyglibcat.html
--> as of July 24, 2019 it is no longer available in html format. It can be accessed in pdf format here:
Lindlahr, H., & Proby, J.C.P. (Ed.)(1975). Philosophy of Natural Therapeutics (repr. 1993). Saffron Walden, Essex, England: The C.W. Daniel Co. Ltd.
Yes, you can make yogurt without a thermometer. How do I know? Because I've been doing it for over 40 years. And I'll tell you here, in a little while, how I've been doing it. It's true that yogurt "recipes" call for heating the milk to 180 degrees F, cooling it down to 110 degrees F, adding the starter culture and then maintaining a steady temperature while it incubates. And it's true that if the milk is too hot when you add the starter culture then you will be killing all those lovely bacteria that you had hoped would start reproducing. But have you ever wondered what the yogurt-making folks of times past did prior to the invention of cooking thermometers or even electricity? If you get to pondering the history of yogurt you may end up not feeling intimidated at all about NOT following a yogurt "recipe" to the T.
On their website, The Dairy Farmers of Canada state the following:
Yogurt is the most popular fermented milk in the world (1).The word yogurt or yoghurt or yoghourt is Turkish in origin. It is a tart, custard-like food made from milk that has first been heated and then inoculated with a bacterial culture; the bacterial action then curdles the milk (2).
There are benefits to fermenting milk. During the fermentation process the milk protein casein is broken down, which allows many people with milk intolerance to freely enjoy milk in the form of yogurt. Additionally, the active bacterial cultures, while turning the milk into yogurt, are producing lactase, the enzyme which allows us to digest the lactose (milk sugar) in milk (3,4). And did you know that during the fermentation process both the vitamin B and the vitamin C content of milk increase (3)? How cool is that? Yogurt is simply good food. The beneficial bacteria in yogurt, as well as the by-products they produce, such as lactic acid (from the breakdown of the milk sugar lactose), aid our bodies in the fullest possible digestion of the foods we eat plus protect us from infection-causing bacteria, including those that cause "traveler's diarrhea" (3). So you can see that our gastrointestinal (GI) system really benefits when we eat yogurt, which is great since our GI system contains nearly 70% of our entire immune system (5)!
So, on to the business of making yogurt. I won't be explaining the why, just the how. The KISS principle.
Types of milk easily obtainable in southern Indiana:
Here are the general directions of how I make my yogurt (yes, without a thermometer):
You can ferment your yogurt anywhere from 4-24 hours. It will usually coagulate within 3-4 hours, resembling the texture of custard. The shorter the fermentation time, the milder the yogurt and the fewer beneficial bacteria it contains. You might be interested to know that commercial yogurt is fermented for relatively short periods of time.
Why do I ferment my yogurt for 24 hours? Well, it gives the bacteria time to consume 100% of the lactose while they are reproducing. And reproduce they do - into incredibly high numbers. Yogurt made this way contains 3 billion cfu/ml so that in just 1 cup (236 ml) you'll get over 708 Billion beneficial bacteria; this is about 50 times as much as the typical 15 Billion in one capsule of a commercial probiotic (6). As you can see, 24 hour yogurt is a low-cost source of probiotic. Plus it is easy to digest, lactose-free, nutritious AND it tastes sooooo good!
Want a great yogurt maker?
If you'd like to make the 24 hour yogurt then you might like a yogurt maker like mine. I have been using a Yogourmet Electric Yogurt Maker for several years now (I purchased mine while I was in Canada for school). I love it and highly recommend it, especially if you are making the 24 hour SCD yogurt. Though the Yogourmet came with a thermometer, old habits die hard and the thermometer had been sitting unused in the drawer until I felt the need to verify temperatures for this article.
MAKING YOGURT WITHOUT AN ELECTRIC YOGURT MAKER OR A THERMOMETER
Since you may want or need to make yogurt without an electric yogurt maker, I'll explain what I have done over the past 40 years and sometimes still do. I've only owned my Yogourmet since about 2008 so when I say these are tried and true methods, I mean it ;>). Read on -
2 more ways to keep your yogurt cozy during the fermentation process:
1) In a gas oven with only the pilot light on; this is pretty straight forward. Just place your prepared milk with the starter culture into containers (wide-mouth quart canning jars work well as containers; don't fill them too full) and then into the oven with only the pilot light on. Just don't forget you are making yogurt and accidentally preheat the oven for a pot roast - oh my!
2) In a Styrofoam cooler (I use the thick-walled ones); I bring water to a boil and fill 1 or more quart canning jars (depending on the time of year), screw on the lids and place the jars inside the cooler along with the glass canning jar(s) of future yogurt. Again, don't fill your milk jars too full; you are fermenting, remember. Then I tuck wool sweaters or old towels around the jars in the cooler and replace the lid. If fermenting for a few hours or overnight, this should be sufficient, but if you are making 24 hour yogurt then you will have to renew the hot water in the jar(s) in the morning. I have my own system pretty much down pat since I heat with an indoor woodstove and the room temperature fluctuates quite a bit throughout the day and night. You will need to experiment with how many jars of hot water work best for your particular situation; with practice you'll get the hang of this method.
There is more of an art to using a Styrofoam cooler (or even a well-insulated cardboard box) versus a gas oven's pilot light. Too much heat will speed up the fermentation process and you may open your cooler to find a jar of separated curds and whey (don't ask me how I know this). No worries - it's still edible. Open the jars very carefully since it is likely that fermentation gases and some pressure has built up if the yogurt is "overdone" (again, personal experience). Pour off the whey and either drink it (rich in minerals), use it in cooking or use it as starter to make your own lactic acid fermented vegetables. Sprinkle a little Celtic Sea Salt on the curds and enjoy. With too little heat your yogurt won't "make"; i.e. it will look like the regular runny milk you started with instead of custard. Give it to the cat or your neighborhood possum and try again with a new batch of milk OR turn it into acid curdled cheese (ricotta) and other goodies. Check out this article (7).
Enjoy your yogurt!
1) Sandor Ellix Katz. "Yogurt, an excerpt from 'The Art of Fermentation'". http://www.splendidtable.org/story/yogurt-an-excerpt-from-the-art-of-fermentation. 5 April 2016.
2) Random House Webster's College Dictionary. Random House, Inc. 1991.
3) Sally Fallon with Mary G. Enig, PhD. Nourishing Traditions. New Trends Publishing- second revised edition, 2001.
4) Dairy Farmers of Canada. "Yogurt". https://www.dairygoodness.ca/yogurt/ n.d. 3 April 2016.
5) G Vighi, F Marcucci, L Sensi, G Di Cara and F Frati. Allergy and the gastrointestinal system. Clin Exp Immunol. 2008, Sept;153 (Suppl 1):3-6.
6) "Yogurt - Why SCD Yogurt is so important".
http://www.breakingtheviciouscycle.info/knowledge_base/detail/yoghurt-why-scd-yogurt-is-so-important/ n.d. 4 April 2016.
7) Pappas, Stephanie Loomis. Bon Appetit. Cooking. "Your 'Expired Milk' Still Has So Much More to Give: Make the most of your funky friend". https://www.bonappetit.com/story/sour-milk-tips. 17 September 2020. Accessed 17 July 2023.