Friday, January 26, 2007

Lindlahr's Nature Cure- A review

I’ve long been a believer that Nature can heal us both on a physical and spiritual level. I began my fascination with nature as a child, and have since found myself turning to the wilds to nurse my wounds. I use my wild herbs to heal physical ailments, and hours spent among rocks, trees and streams to cure broken heart and emotional distress. I was excited to read about a coherent system of using Nature to cure and improve our health. But Lindlahr goes further than just herbs and long, ambling walks in nature, he expounds upon a useful system of healing that is long since lost from modern society’s repertoire of healing practices. The healing techniques and ideas in Nature Cure by Henry Lindlahr are what the world today desperately needs in order to return to health.

Lindlahr says that disease is the result of not living in accordance with the laws of Nature, which results in lowered vitality, abnormal composition of the body’s tissues, and accumulation of waste and toxins. Living outside Nature’s laws is rampant in today’s society. We eat food that is not nourishing to our bodies, or is downright poisoned. I think of the white bread and sugar that is found in all processed foods, and the commercially grown fruit covered in pesticides. From this we suffer malnutrition and build of up to toxins in our bodies. We do not move enough as a society, we take cars, planes and buses to and from our sedentary jobs that overwork us. We no longer use the power of our own body to propel us forward, and often our minds stagnate in jobs that do not serve us, that bore us to death, literally. But not only do we do this to our own bodies, but we have taken our lawlessness so far as to have done the same to our environment. The cancer of development and urban sprawl is rampant, and cancer is rampant in our bodies. We poison our water and our soil with the same pesticides with which we that we poison our food. As it is within, so it is without. Our society has forgotten the laws of Nature and it is plainly reflected in our own health and the health of our environment. Many lives are on the verge of collapse, as is our environment. Lindlahr’s recommendations to live according to Nature’s laws would serve us well as a society, and individuals.

The simple remedies of the Nature Cure are the most oft overlooked and most needed in modern health. A nourishing diet and daily exercise are the basis for any health program, though I’ve noticed in clients, friends and customers that it is usually the last thing they want or think to do for themselves. First we turn to drugs to solve the problem or suppress the symptoms. But as Lindlahr states, we should first go to the simplest of remedies, a healthful diet, daily exercise, fresh air, hydrotherapy, deep breathing and relaxation and a positive mental atmosphere. He elaborates on how poisonous negative thoughts, fear and stress are to our bodies, likening the positive mind to a courageous and successful army general, who directs his army (our immune system, cells and vitality) with a firm hand to overcome the enemy. Anyone can implement these remedies in their lifestyle. Even herbs, natural as they are, are a step removed from most people’s daily choices. But everyone can make the proper decision on what to eat, and how to think. We can also use the relaxation and water therapies with a small amount of education. I think healing needs to be returned to the people, and not rest solely with the “doctors” and pharmaceutical companies, the practices used in the Nature Cure ARE accessible to all and of utmost benefit. These are things we need most in our malnourished and stress filled lifestyle.

Along with bringing back to our attention the simple and healthful routines and remedies that can be used on a daily basis to regain or maintain health, Lindlahr does not neglect to remind us of the importance of personal responsibility and accountability in the practice of Nature Cure. This is something sorely lacking in most of today’s illnesses. People do not choose to believe that their choices everyday make a difference in their health. Most live believing that disease is a misfortune that befalls us by chance. But in order for Nature Cure to be of help to us, as individuals, one must take responsibility for your choices on a daily basis. I have seen over and over again in clients and customers the blind acceptance of what a doctor, or even I suggest, without a question or second thought. It has been a rare client who comes back with questions on herbs I’ve suggested, or even given me reasons they DON’T choose to use what I’ve suggested. Though that can be frustrating, I’d much rather see someone take the responsibility about what they put in their body, or how they choose to live their life. The decisions we need to make about our diets, and lifestyles are not always easy. Lindlahr puts it simply, “Life is a school for personal effort.” It isn’t always easy or convenient to live according to Nature’s laws or keep a positive attitude when dealing with health problems. Nature demands that we put forth personal effort into our healing.

I’ve seen an almost fanatical desire for “cleansing” by untold quantities of customers or clients. Inevitably they ask me if there will be a “healing crisis” while they are cleansing. I’ve never been a huge fan of the hundreds of different natural “cleanses” that are for sale, promising improved health and vitality. And have recently scoffed at the idea of a “healing crisis.” To me it was another faddy term associated with the “cleansing” craze. Though I do believing cleansing has been taken a bit too far by the supplement industry, by reading Nature Cure, I can see where the impulse begins. Perhaps people inherently know that their bodies are in a toxic, malnourished state, and have been told that cleansing will help. According to Nature Cure, a cleansing is a part of the process, but should be undertaken very carefully, after thorough preparation by right diet, hydrotherapy, exercise and relaxation. One must have the vital energy to undergo a “cleanse” and a subsequent “healing crisis.” In the Nature Cure model, healing crises make sense. The body will use all its resources to remove toxins once given the energy and time to do so, and one will certainly experience symptoms of that natural detoxification process. But as it stands, the commercial cleanse and healing crisis that pervades the health/supplement industry is a gross misconstruction of the use of cleansing and healing in the Nature Cure. Most people will “cleanse” several times a year, experience diarrhea and headaches (possibly from harsh laxatives and dehydration while undergoing the “cleanse,”) and then go back to the way they lived pre-cleanse, with toxic food, excess stress and little or no exercise or fresh air. It isn’t a productive process, in my opinion. But now I understand where those therapies MIGHT be useful, and how one could undertake and undergo a cleansing and healing crisis in a safe and Life supporting fashion.

I also see how the healing crisis is a natural process in nature, or in spiritual development. Most shamanic practioners of any worth undergo a “shamanic death,” in which their old self is destroyed and they are rebuilt anew in order to serve their community. A forest will naturally have a forest fire every decade or so to clear out decaying matter and make room for new growth. Most people see a forest fire as a “crisis” and so suppress the symptom (the fire), which leads to accumulation of waste, and a disease crisis in the form of a massive, rampaging fire which kills even the older trees built to withstand the smaller, regular fire “healing crisis.” I liken in my mind a fever in the ecology of the body with a forest fire. To suppress the “fire” in the body will lead to a further build up of toxins, and will precipitate later a chronic disease and ultimately failing health.

Nature Cure and Lindlahr’s practices for building vitality and healing are a wise, and time tested tradition that we sorely need today. None of the ideas suggested are new. They’ve been in practice for thousands of years in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine, and probably by most village grandmothers since the beginning of civilization, or perhaps even before, when the “savages” lived closer to Mother Earth and in accordance with Nature’s laws. (I have a big beef with his statement on page 296. I completely disagree with Lindlahr’s old fashioned idea that the savages never progressed because they didn’t use the faculty of mind bestowed upon all humans. We were never that stupid, else we would never have left the stone age. Humans have always used their mental gifts, stone tools or computers. Grrrr…)


jim mcdonald said...

> I also see how the healing crisis is a natural process in
> nature, or in spiritual development.

so... instead of dark night of the soul we have dark night of the colon?

heh... funny.

Super good to see your posts, darcey. blessings to ya...

Shamana Flora said...

Thanks Jim. I've been reinspired to share herbal wanderings since I got to Boulder and started learning from Paul B. PLus there are so many new plants to learn here in the ROCKIES. I can't wait for spring!!

Anonymous said...

I have some time this summer to rekindle my interest in herbs and wild plants. I'm really enjoying your information and opinions, most of which I always kind of thought myself (ei using local plants and about cleansing, etc)
It's nice to see someone put it in writing as well as you are able to do. I look forward to enjoying your next offerings.

"The mother of us all, the oldest of us all, Hard, splendid as rock, Let the beauty you love, be what you do. There are a thousand ways to kneel and kiss the earth"~ Rumi ~