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Yoga Therapy

In Nature Cure and Natural Methods Of Treatment on December 6, 2007 at 5:13 am

The Yoga Therapy or ‘ yoga-chikitsa’ refers to the treatment of diseases by means of yogic exercises which may be physical or mental or both. It is a specialised form of yogic culture. This mode of treatment has been practised in India from very ancient times. Many references to yoga have been made in the Upanishads. It was, however, Maharishi Patanjali who in about the first century B.C. gave a systematic account of the traditional yogic teaching.

The term ‘ Yoga’ is derived from the Sanskrit root ‘yug’ which means “to join” . It signifies union between the individual soul (jivatma) and the universal soul (parmatma). It aims at obtaining relief from pain and suffering. Basically, human evolution takes place on three different planes, namely physical, mental and spiritual. Yoga is a means of attaining perfect health by maintaining harmony and achieving optimum functioning on all three levels through complete self-control.

Yogic kriyas, asanas and pranayama constitute the physical basis ofyoga. The practice of kriyas and asanas leads to excellent circulation. It also energises and stimulates major endocrine glands of the body. Yogic exercises promote inner health and harmony, and their regular practice helps prevent and cure many common ailments. They also help eliminate tensions, be they physical, mental or emotional.

Pranayama slows down the ageing process. In ordinary respiration, one breathes roughly 15 times a minute, taking in approximately 20 cubic inches of air. In pranayama the breathing rate is slowed down to once or twice a minute and the breath inhaled is deep and full, taking nearly 100 cubic inches of air.

All yogic exercises should be performed on a clean mat, a carpet or a blanket covered with a cotton sheet. Clothing should be light and loose-fitting to allow free movement of the limbs. The mind should be kept off all disturbances and tensions. Regularity and punctuality in practicising yogic exercises is essential. Generally, 5 a.m. to 8 a.m. is the ideal time for yoga practices.

Yoga asanas and pranayama should be practised only after mastering the techniques with the help of a competent teacher. Asanas should always be practiced on an empty stomach.

Shavasana should be practiced for a brief period before starting the rest of the exercises as this will create the right mental condition. Asanas should be performed at a leisurely slow-motion pace, maintaining poise and balance.

Herein are described certain yogic kriyas, asanas and pranayama which have specific therapeutic values and are highly beneficial in the maintenance of health and the healing of diseases.

Kriyas

A disease-free system should be the starting ground for yogasanas and pranayama. There are six specific cleansing techniques, known as Shat Kriyas, which eliminate impurities and help cure many ailments. Of these, the following four can be practised safely.

Jalaneti :

Most diseases of the nose and thraot are caused by the accumulation of impurities in the nasal passage. Jalaneti is a process of cleansing the air passage of the nostrils and the throat by washing them with tepid saline water. Take a clean jalaneti pot. Put half a teaspoonful of salt in the pot and fill it with lukewarm drinking water. Stand up and tilt your head slightly to the right. Insert the nozzle of the pot in the left nostril and let the water flow into it. Inhale and exhale through the mouth, allowing the water to flow out through the right nostril. Reverse this process by tilting your head to the left and letting the water flow from the right to the left nostril.

Jalaneti should be practised only in the morning. It will relieve sore throat, cold, cough, sinusitis, migraine, headache and cases of inflammation of the nasal membranes. It keeps the head cool and improves vision.

1. Vamana Dhouti or Kunjal :

This is a process of cleansing the interior of the stomach. Drink four to six glasses of tepid water, with a little salt added to it, early in the morning on an empty stomach. Then stand up, bend forward, insert the middle and index fingers of the right hand into the mouth until they touch the uvulva. Tickle it until you feel a vomiting sensation. The saline water thus ejected will bring up bile and other toxic matter with it. Repeat the process till all the water is vomitted out. This should be done once a week or as and when necessary.

It is beneficial for cleansing the stomach in cases of excessive bile, constipation, and gastric troubles. Persons suffering from hyperacidity should perform kunjal with unsalted water. It gives relief from headaches, nervous weakness, chronic cold, cough and asthma. It should not be practised by those suffering from high blood pressure, ulcers and heart trouble.

2. Kapalbhati :

Kapala means ‘skull’ and bhati means ‘shine’. This is a respiratory exercise for the abdomen and diaphragm. The channels inside the nose and other parts of the respiratory system are purified by this exercise. In the process, the brain is also cleared. Sit in a comfortable position, preferably in padmasana. Exercise the diaphragm by exhaling suddenly and quickly through both nostrils, producing a hissing sound. Inhaling will be automotive and passive. The air should be exhaled from the lungs with a sudden, vigorous inward stroke of the front abdominal muscles. The abdominal stroke should be complete and the breath should be expelled fully. While inhaling, no willful expansion is necessary and the abdominal muscles should be relaxed. This exercise should be done in three phases, each consisting of 20 to 30 strokes a minute. A little rest can be taken in between . Throughout, the throacic muscles should be kept contracted.

Kapalbhati enables the inhalation of a good amount of oxygen which purifies the blood and strengthens the nerve and brain centres. This kriya provides relief in many lung, throat and chest diseases like chronic bronchitis, asthma, pleurisy and tuberculosis.

3. Trataka :

In yoga, four exercises have been prescribed for strengthening weak eye muscles, relieving eye strain and curing of eye disease. They are known as ‘ Trataka ‘ ,which in sanskrit means ‘ Winkles gaze at a particular point.” or looking at an object with awareness. The four tratakas are : Dakshinay jatru trataka in which, with face forwards, the eyes are fixed on the tip of the right shoulder ; Vamajatru trataka, in which the eyes are fixed on the tip of the left shoulder ; Namikagra trataka, in which the eyes are focussed on the tip of the nose, and Bhrumadhya trataka, in which the eyes are focused on the space between the eyebrows. These exercises should be practiced from a meditative position like padmasana or vajrasana. The gaze should be maintained for as long as you are comfortable, gradually increasing the period from 10 to 20 and then to 30 seconds. The eyes should be closed and rested after each exercise. Persons with acute myopia should perform the tratakas wit h their eyes closed.

4. Asanas Shavasana ( Dead body pose ) :

Lie flat on your back, feet comfortably part, arms and hands extended about six inches from the body, palms upwards and fingers half-folded. Close your eyes. Begin by consciously and gradually relaxing every part and each muscle of the body ; feet, legs, calves, knees, thighs, abdomen, hips, back, hands, arms, chest,shoulders, neck, head and face. Relax yourself completely feeling as if your whole body is lifeless. Now concentrate your mind on breathing rhythmically as slowly and effortlessly as possible.

This creates a state of complete relaxation. Remain motionless in this position, relinquishing all responsibilities and worries for 10 to 15 minutes. Discontinue the exercise when your legs grow numb.

This asana helps bring down high blood pressure, and relieves the mind, particularly for those who are engaged in excessive mental activity. This exercise should be done both at the beginning and at the end of the daily round of yogic asanas. During a fast, shavasana

soothes the nervous system.

1. Padmasana ( Lotus pose ) :

Sit erect and stretch your legs out in front of you. Bend one leg to place the foot on the thigh of the other, the sole facing upwards. Similarly, bend the other leg too, so that the heels are opposite each other and placed in such a way that they press down on the other side of the groin. Keep your neck, head and spine straight. Place your palms one upon the other, both turned upward and cupped, and rest them on the upturned heels a little below the navel.

Padmasana is a good pose for doing pranayama and meditation. It helps in the treatment of many heart and lung diseases and digestive disorders. It also calms and refreshes the mind.

2. Yogamudra :

Sit erect in padmasana. Fold your hands behind your back, holding your left wrist with the right hand. Take a deep breath. While exhaling, bend forward slowly keeping your hands on your back. Bring your face downwards until your nose and forehead touch the floor. While inhaling , slowly rise back to the upright position. The practice of this asana tones up the nervous system, builds up powerful abdominal muscles and strengthens the pelvic organs. It helps pep up digestion, boosts the appetite and removes constipation. It tones up and relaxes the nerves of the head and face. It also strengthens the sex glands.

3. Vajrasana ( Pelvic pose ) :

Sit erect and stretch out your legs. Fold your legs back, placing the feet on the sides of the buttocks with the soles facing back and upwards. Rest your buttocks on the floor between your heels. The toes of both feet should touch. Now, place your hands on your knees and keep the spine, neck and head straight. Vajrasana can be performed even after meals. It improves the digestion and is beneficial in cases of dyspepsia, constipation, colitis, seminal weakness and stiffness of the legs. It strengthens the hips, thighs, knees, calves, ankles and toes.

4. Shirshasana ( Topsyturvy pose ) :

Shirsha means ‘ head ‘ . In this asana, one stands on one’s head. Kneel on the ground, interlocking the fingers of both hands. Place the ‘ fingerlock ‘ on the ground in front of you, keeping the elbows apart. Support your head on the fingerlock. Start raising your knees one at a time, to chest level. Then raise your feet slowly so that the calf muscles touch the thighs. Breathe normally. This is the first stage which should be done perfectly as the balance of the final posture depends mainly on this stage. Next, raise your knees first and then slowly raise the feet so that the whole body is straight, like a pillar. This is the final pose. Return to the original position by reversing the order, step by step. This asana should not be done jerkily. The important factor in shirshasana is mastering the balance, which comes through gradual practice. For proper balance, elbows should be placed firmly on the ground, alongside the fingerlock. Initially the asana should be done for 60 seconds only. The duration may be gradually increased by a further 10 seconds each week.

Regular practice of shirshasana will benefit the nervous, circulatory, respiratory, digestive, excretory and endocrine systems. This asana helps cases of dyspepsia, seminal weakness, varicose veins, arteriosclerosis, jaundice, renal colic and congested liver.

Those suffering from oozing from the ears, iritis, high blood pressure or a weak heart should not practice this asana.

5. Viparitakarani ( Inverted action pose ) :

Lie flat on your back, with your feet together and arms by your side. Press your palms down, raising your legs to a perpendicular position without bending the knees. Your palms should touch the waist. Then straighten your legs. The trunk should not make a right angle with the ground but simply an upward slanting position. The chest should not press against the chin but be kept a little away. To return to the ground, bring your legs down slowly, evenly balancing your weight.

Through this asana, the muscles of the neck become stronger and blood circulation is improved. The functioning of the cervical nerves, ganglia and the thyroid also gets improved.

Sarvagasana ( Shoulder stand pose ) :

In Sanskrit ‘sarva’ means whole and ‘anga’ means limb. Almost all parts of the body are involved in and benefit from this asana. Lie flat on your back with your arms by the side, palms turned down. Bring your legs up slowly to a 90 o angle and then raise the rest of the body by pushing the legs up and resting their raise the rest of the body by pushing the legs up and resting their weight on the arms. Fix your chin in jugular notch, and use your arms and hands to support the body at the hip region. The weight of the body should rest on your head, back and shoulders, your arms being used merely for balance. The trunk and legs should be in a straight line. The body, legs , hips and trunk should be kept as vertical as possible. Focus your eyes on your big toes. Press your chin against your chest. Hold the pose for one to three minutes. Return to the starting position slowly reversing the procedure.

Sarvangasana helps relieve bronchitis, dyspepsia, varicose veins and peps up the digestion. It stimulates the thyroid and para-thyroid glands, influences the bran, heart and lungs. It helps lymphatic juices to circulate in the brain and strengthens the mind. This asana should not be done by those suffering Viparitkarani from high blood pressure, heart disease and eye trouble.

7. Matsyasana (Fish pose ) :

Sit in padmasana. Bend backwards and lie flat on your back without raising your knees. Press your palms beneath the shoulder. Push the hip backwards thus making a bridge -like arch with the spine. Then making hooks of your forefingers, grasp your toes without crossing your arms. Maintain this pose and breathe rhythmically and comfortably.

Reverse the order and return gradually to the starting position of Padamasana. Matsyasana is beneficial in the treatment of acidity, constipation, diabetes, asthma, bronchitis and other lung disorders.

8. Uttanapadasana ( Left-lifting pose) :

Lie on your back with leg and arms straight, feet together, palms facing downwards, on the floor close to the body. Raise your legs above two feet from the floor without bending your knees. Maintain this pose for some time. Then, lower your legs slowly without bending the knees. This asana is helpful for those suffering from constipation. It strengthens the abdominal muscles and intestinal organs.

9. Halasana ( Plough pose ) :

Lie flat on your back with legs and feet together, arms by your side with fists closed near

your thigh keeping your legs straight, slowly raise them to angles of 300, 600 and 900, pausing slightly at each point. Gradually, raise your legs above your head without bending your knees and then move them behind until they touch the floor. Stretch your legs as far as possible so that your chin presses tightly against the chest while your arms remain on the floor as in the original position. Hold the pose from between 10 seconds to three minutes, breathing normally. To return to the starting position slowly reverse the procedure.

This asana relieves tension in the back, neck, and legs and is beneficial in the treatment of lumbago, spinal rigidity and rheumatism, myalgia, arthritis, sciatics and asthma.

10. Bhujangasana ( Cobra pose ) :

Lie on your stomach with your legs straight and feet together, toes pointing backwards. Rest your forehead and nose on the ground. Place your palms below the shoulders and your arms by the side of the chest. Inhale and slowly raise your head, neck, chest and upper abdomen from the navel up. Bend your spine back and arch your back as far as you can looking upwards. Maintain this position and hold your breathe for a few seconds.

Exhale, and slowly return to the original position. This asana has great therapeutic value in the treatment of diseases like cervical spondylitis, bronchitis, asthma and eosinophillia. It removes weakness of the abdomen and tones up the reproductive system in women. It exercises the vertebrae, back muscles and the spine.

11. Shalabhasana ( Locust pose ) :

Lie flat on your stomach, with your legs stretched out straight, feet together, chin and nose resting on the ground, looking straight ahead. Move your arms under the body, keeping them straight, fold your hands into fists and place them close to the thighs. Now, raise your legs up keeping them straight together and stretching them as far back as possible without bending your knees and toes. Hold this position for a few seconds and repeat four or five times.

This asana helps in the treatment of arthirits, rheumatism and low backache. The whole body is strengthened by this asana especially the waist, chest, back and neck. Persons suffering from high blood pressure or heart disease should not practice this asana.

12. Dhanurasana ( Bow pose ) :

Lie on your stomach with your chin resting on the ground, arms extended alongside the body with the legs straight. Bend your legs back towards the hips, bring them forward and grasp your ankles. Inhale and raise your thighs, chest and head at the same time. Keep your hands straight. The weight of the body should rest mainly on the navel region.

Therefore, arch your spine as much as possible. Exhale and return slowly to the starting position, by reversing the procedure.

Dhanurasana provides good exercise for the arms, shoulders, legs, ankles, back and neck. It also strengthens the spine. It relieves flatulence and constipation and improves the functioning of the pancreas and the intestines. It should not be done by those with a weak heart, high blood pressure and ulcers of the stomach and bowels.

13. Makarasana ( Crocodile pose ) :

Lie flat on your abdomen. Spread your legs, with heels pointing towards each other. Bring your left hand under the right shoulder and grasp it. Grasp the left shoulder with your right hand, keeping the elbows together, one upon the other on the ground. Your face should be between your crossed hands. Relax and breathe normally for two or three minutes.

Then gradually go back to the sitting position. This asana completely relaxes both the body and the mind and also rests the muscles. It is beneficial in the treatment of hypertension, heart disease and mental disorders.

14. Vakrasana :

Sit erect and stretch legs out. Raise your right knee until your foot rests by the side of the left knee. Place your right hand behind your back without twisting the trunk too much. Then bring your left arm from in front of you over the right knee. Place your left palm on the ground near the heel of your right foot. Push your knee as far as to the left arm. Twist your trunk to the right as much as possible. Turn your face to the right over the right shoulder. Release and repeat on the left side.

This asana tones up the spinal and abdominal muscles and nerves and activates the kidneys, intestines, stomach, adrenaline and gonad glands. It relieves cases of constipation and dyspepsia.

15. Ardhamatsyendrasana :

This is the half position of Matsyendrasana, which is named after the great sage Matsyendra. Sit erect on the ground, stretching your legs in front of you. Insert your left heel in the perineum, keeping the left thigh straight. Place your right foot flat on the floor, crossing the left knee. Pass your left arm over the right knee and grasp the big toe of your right foot. Grasp your left thigh from the rear with your right hand. Turn your head, neck, shoulders and trunk to the right bringing your chin in line with the right shoulder. Maintain this position for a few seconds, gradually increasing the duration to 2 minutes. Repeat the same process on the other side for the same duration.

This asana exercises the vertebrae and keeps them in good shape. It helps the liver, spleen, bladder, pancreas, intestines and other abdominal organs, and also stretches and strengthens the spinal nerves. This asana is beneficial in the treatment of obesity, dyspepsia, asthma and diabetes.

16. Paschimottanasana (Posterior stretching pose ) :

Sit erect.

Stretch your legs out in front of you, keeping them close to each other. Bend your trunk and head forward from the waist without bending your knees and grasp the big toes with your rest your forehead on your knees. With practice, the tense muscles become supple enough for this exercise. Old persons and persons whose spine is still should do this asana slowly in the initial stages. The final pose need be maintained only for a few seconds. Return to the starting position gradually.

Paschimottanasana is a good stretching exercise in which the posterior muscles get

stretched and relaxed. It relieves sciatica, muscular rheumatism of the back, backache, lumbago and asthmatic attacks. It is also valuable in constipation, dyspepdis and other abdominal disorders.

17. Gomukhasana ( Cow-face pose ) :

Sit erect on the floor, with your legs outstretched. Fold your leg back. Place your left foot under the right hip. Similarly, fold back the right leg and cross your right foot over your left thigh. Place your right heel against the left hip. Both soles should face backwards, one over the other. Now interlock your hands behind your back. See to it that if your right leg is over the left, then your right elbow should face upward and the left elbow downward.

This position is reversed when the leg position is changed. Hold the pose for 30 seconds and then repeat the procedure reversing the process. The practice of gomukhasana will strengthen the muscles of the upper arm, shoulder, chest, back, waist and thigh. It is beneficial in the treatment of seminal weakness, piles, urethral disorders and kidney troubles. It also relieves varicose veins and sciatica.

18. Pavanmuktasana ( Gas-releasing pose ) :

Lie flat on your back, hands by your side. Fold your legs back, placing your feet flat on the floor ; make a fingerlock with your hands and place them a little below the knees. Bring your thighs up near your chest. Exhale and raise your head and shoulders and bring your nose between your knees. This is the final position. Maintain this pose for a few seconds and repeat three to five times. Reverse the procedure to get back to the original position. This asana strengthens the abdomineal muscles and internal abdominal organs like the liver, spleen, pancreas and stomach.

It helps release excessive gas from the abdomen and relieves flatulence. Persons suffering from constipation should do this exercise in the morning after drinking lukewarm water to help proper evacuation of the bowels.

19. Chakrasana ( Lateral bending pose ) :

Stand straight with your feet and toes together and arms by your sides, palms facing and touching the thighs. Raise one arm laterally above the head with the palm inwards up to shoulder level and palm upwards when the arm rises above the level of your head. Then, bend your trunk and head sideways with the raised arm touching the ear, and sliding the palm of the other hand downwards towards the knee. Keep your knees and elbows straight throughout. Maintain the final pose for a few seconds. Then gradually bring your hand back to the normal position. Repeat the exercise on the other side.

This asana induces maximum stretching of the lateral muscles of the body, especially the abdomen. It strengthens the knees, arms and shoulders and increases lung capacity.

20. Trikonasana ( Triangle pose ) :

Stand erect, with your legs apart. Stretch your arms up to shoulder level. Bend your trunk forwards and twist to the left, looking upwards and keeping your left arm raised at an angle of 900. Place your right palm on your left foot without bending the knees. Maintain this pose for a few seconds. Then straighten up and return to the normal position. Repeat the procedure on the other side.

Trikosana is an all-round stretching exercise. It keeps the spinal column flexible and reduces the fat on the lateral sides of the body. Besides, it stimulates the adrenal glands and tones up the abdominal and pelvic organs.

21. Pranayama

Prana means ‘ vital force ‘ and Ayama means ‘ control ‘ in Sanskrit. Thus Pranayama means the control of the vital force through concentration and regulated breathing. By means of controlled breathing that is, inhaling and exhaling by holding the breath for a fixed time and changing the rhythm of inspiration and expiration, it is possible to influence the life-force in the body. Pranayama is the process by which such conscious control is achieved through controlled and rhythmical breathing . Pranayama purifies the channels along which the life stream of ‘prana’ flows in the body and prevents various disorders. Itincreases one’s resistance to respiratory diseases.

The best position in which to practice pranayama is the padmasana or lotus pose. If for some reason that position is difficult to adopt, it can be done while sitting in any comfortable pose. The important thing is to keep the back, neck and head in a straight line. The body should be in its natural relaxed condition and this can be achieved by resting a few minutes in shavasan. If necessary, use your right finger and thumb on either side of the nose to control the right and left nostrils during inhalation and exhalation. In practicising pranayama, a ratio of two to one should be maintained throughout, that is, the exhalation time should be double that required for inhalation. For instance, if inhalation takes 5 seconds, exhalation should take 10 seconds. Both inhalation and exhalation should be smooth and quiet. Some varieties of pranayama beneficial in the treatment of common ailments are as follows :

22. Anuloma -viloma :

This is also known as Nadishuddhi pranayama. Sit in any comfortable meditative pose, keeping your head,neck and spine erect. Rest your left hand on your left knee. Close your right nostril by pressing the tip of your right thumb against it. Breathe out slowly through the left nostril. Inhale slowly and deeply through the left nostril, keeping the right nostril closed. Close your left nostril with the little finger and ring finger of your right hand and exhale through the right nostril. Then inhale through the right nostril, keeping the left nostril closed and, lastly, exhale through the left nostril, keeping the right nostril closed.

This completes one round ofanuloma-viloma. Repeat the entire process. Inhaling and exhaling should be done very slowly, without making any sound. This pranayama is a process of purification. It strengthens the lungs and calms the nerves. It helps cure cough and cold, insomnia, chronic headache and asthama.

1. Ujjayi :

Sit in any comfortable meditative pose. Inhale slowly, deeply and steadily through both nostrils with a low uniform sound through the glottis. Hold your breathe for a second or two after inhaling and then exhale noisily only through the left nostril, keeping the right nostril closed. Do this as often as required. This pranayama clears the nasal passage and helps the functioning of the thyroid gland and benefits respiratory disorders, especially bronchitis and asthama. Persons suffering from high blood pressure should not practice ujjayi.

2. Bhastrika :

‘Bhastrika’ means ‘bellows.’ It is performed by instant and quick expirations of breath. There are many varieties of bhastrika. The simplest technique is as follows : Sit in padmasana. Do 20 strokes of kapalbhati. Inhale and exhale rapidly, making a puffing sound. This is a good exercise for abdominal viscera and lungs.

3. Sheetali :

Sit in padamasana or any other comfortable posture. Stick your tongue out about an inche from the lips, rolled up at the sides to form a channel like a bird’s beak. Suck in air through the channel. After a full inhalation, slowly close your mouth, hold your breath and exhale slowly through both nostrils. This completes the exercise. Repeat as required. This pranayama cools the body and mind, activates the liver and bile and has beneficial effects on the circulation and body temperature.

4. Sitkari :

IN sitkari a sound is produced while inhaling by opening the mouth a little, placing the tip of the tongue against the lower front teeth and then sucking the air in slowly. After holding your breath, exhale through both nostrils. This exercise helps to control thirst, hunger and laziness.

5. Suryabhedan :

‘Surya-nadi ‘ is the right nostril and ‘ ChandraNadi’ is the left nostril. In this pranayama, one always uses the right nostril for inhalation. Sit in padmasan or any other suitable posture. Keep your head, neck and back straight. Inhale through the right nostril. Hold your breath and then exhale through the left nostril. Hold your breath and then exhale through the left nostril. Repeat as often as required. This pranayama increases gastric juices and helps digestion. It also fortifies the nervous system and clears the sinuses.

6. Bhramari :

In this pranayama, the buzzing sound of a bee is produced and hence it is called bhramari. Keep your mouth closed while inhaling. Exhale through both nostrils, producing the humming sound of a bee. This pranayama affects the ears, nose, eyes and mouth and makes the complexion glow. It also helps those suffering from insomnia.

Therapeutic Baths

In Nature Cure and Natural Methods Of Treatment on December 6, 2007 at 5:11 am

Water has been used as a valuable therapeutic agent since time immemorial. In all major ancient civilizations, bathing was considered an important measure for the maintenance of health and prevention of disease. It was also valued for its remedial properties. The ancient Vedic literature in India contains numerous references to the efficacy of water in the treatment of disease.

In modern times, the therapeutic value of water was popularised by Vincent Priessnitz, Father Sebastian Kneipp, Louis Kuhne and other European water-cure pioneers. They raised water cure to an institutional level and employed it successfully for the treatment of almost every known disease. There are numerous spas and “Bads” in most European countries where therapeutic baths are used as a major healing agent.

Water exerts beneficial effects on the human system. It equalises circulation, boosts muscular tone and aids digestion and nutrition. It also tones up the activity of perspiratory gland and in the process eliminates the damaged cells and toxic matter from the system.

The common water temperature chart is : cold 100C to 180C, neutral 320C to 360C and hot 400C to 450C. Above 450C, water loses its therapeutic value and is destructive.

The main methods of water treatment which can be employed in the healing of various diseases in a do-it-yourself manner are described below.

ENEMA

Also known as rectal irrigation, an enema involves the injection of fluid into the rectum. In nature cure treatment, only lukewarm water is used for cleaning the bowels. The patient is made to lie on his left side extending his left leg and bending the right leg slightly. The enema nozzle, lubricated with oil or vaseline, is inserted in the rectum. The enema can containing the lukewarm water is then slowly raised and water is allowed to enter into the rectum. Generally, one to two litres of water is injected. The patient may either lie down on his back or walk a little while retaining the water. After five to 10 minutes, the water can be ejected along with the accumulated morbid matter.

A warm water enema helps to clean the rectum of accumulated faecal matter. This is not only the safest system for cleaning the bowels, but also improves the peristaltic movement of the bowels and thereby relieves constipation. A cold water enema is helpful in inflammatory conditions of the colon, especially in cases of dysentery, diarrhoea, ulcerative colitis, haemorrhoids and fever. A hot water enema is beneficial in relieving irritation due to inflammation of the rectum and painfull haemorrhoids. It also benefits women in leucorrhoea.

COLD COMPRESS

This is a local application using a cloth which has been wrung out in cold water. The cloth shouldbe folded into a broad strip and dipped in cold water or ice water. The compress is generally  applied to the head,neck, chest, abdomen and back. The cold compress is an effective means of controlling inflammatory conditions of the liver, spleen, stomach, kidneys, intestines, lungs, brain, pelvic organs and so on. It is also advantageous in cases of fever and heart disease. The cold compress soothes dermities and inflammations of external portions of the eye. When the eyeball is affected, the cold compress should follow a short fomentation.

HEATING COMPRESS

This is a cold compress covered in such a manner as to bring warmth. A heating compress consists of three or four folds of linen cloth wrung out in cold water which is then covered completely with dry flannel or blanket to prevent the circulation of air and help accumulation of body heat. It is sometimes applied for several hours. The duration of the application is determined by the extent and location of the surface involved, the nature and thickness of the coverings and the water temperature. After removing the compress , the area should be rubbed with a wet cloth and then dried with a towel. A heating compress can be applied to the throat, chest, abdomen, and joints. A throat compress relieves sore throat, hoarseness, tonsillitis, pharyngitis and laryngitis. An abdominal compress helps those suffering from gastritis, hyperacidity, indigestion, jaundice, constipation, diarrhoea, dysentery and other ailments relating to the abdominal organs. The chest compress also known as chest pack, relieves cold, bronchitis, pleurisy, pneumonia, fever, cough and so on, while the joints compress is helpful for inflamed joints, rheumatism, rheumatic fever and sprains.

HIP BATHS

The hip bath is one of the most useful forms of hydrotherapy. As the name suggests, this mode of treatment involves only the hips and the abdominal region below the navel. A special type of tub is used for the purpose. The tub is filled with water in such a way that it covers the hips and reaches upto the navel when the patient sits in it. Generally, four to six gallons of water are required. If the special tub is not available, a common tub may be used. A support may be placed under one edge to elevate it by two or three inches. Hip bath is given in cold, hot, neutral or alternate temperatures.

COLD HIP BATH

The water temperature should be 100C to 180C. The duration of the bath is usually 10 minutes , but in specific conditions it may vary from one minute to 30 minutes. If the patient feels cold or is very weak, a hot foot immersion should be given with the cold hip bath.

The patient should rub the abdomen briskly from the navel downwards and across the body with a moderately coarse wet cloth. The legs, feet and upper part of the body should remain completely dry during and after the bath. The patient should undertake moderate exercise like yogasanas, after the cold hip bath, to warm the body.

A cold hip bath is a routine treatment in most diseases. It relieves constipation, indigestion, obesity and helps the eliminative organs to function properly. It is also helpful in uterine problems like irregular menstruation, chronic uterine infections, pelvic inflammation, piles, hepatic congestion, chronic congestion of the prostate gland, seminal weakness, impotency, sterility, uterine and ovarian displacements, dilation of the stomach and colon, diarrhoea, dysentery, hemorrhage of the bladder and so on. The cold hip bath should not be employed in acute inflammations of the pelvic and abdominal organs, ovaries and in painful contractions of the bladder, rectum or vagina.

HOT HIP BATH

This bath is generally taken for eight to 10 minutes at a water temperature of 400C to 450C. The bath should start at 400C. The temperature should be gradually increased to 450C. NO friction should be applied to the abdomen. Before entering the tub,the patient should drink one glass of cold water. A cold compress should be placed on the head. A hot hip bath helps to relieve painful menstruation, pain in the pelvic organs, painful urination, inflamed rectum or bladder and painful piles. It also benefits enlarged prostatic gland, painful contractions or spasm of the bladder, sciatica, neuralgia of the ovaries and bladder. A cold shower bath should be taken immediately after the hot hip bath.

Care should be taken to prevent the patient from catching a chill after the bath. The bath should be terminated if the patient feels giddy or complains of excessive pain.

NEUTRAL HIP BATH

The temperature of the water should be 320C to 360C. Here too, friction to the abdomen should be avoided. This bath is generally taken for 20 minutes to an hour. The neutral hip bath helps to relieve all acute and sub-acute inflammatory conditions such as acute catarrh of the bladder and urethra and subacute inflammations in the uterus, ovaries and tubes. It also relieves neuralgia of the fallopian tubes or testicles, painful spasms of the vagina and prorates of the anus and vulva. Besides, it is a sedative treatment for erotomanis in both sexes.

ALTERNATE HIP BATH

This is also known as revulsive hip bath. The temperature in the hot tub should be 400C to 450C and in the cold tub 100C to 180C. The patient should alternately sit in the hot tub for five minutes and then in the cold tub for three minutes. The duration of the bath is generally 10 to 20 minutes.

The head and neck should be kept cold with a cold compress. The treatment should end with a dash of cold water to the hips. This bath relieves chronic inflammatory conditions of the pelvic viscera such as salpingitis, ovaritis, cellulitis and various neuralgias of the genito-urinary organs, sciatica and lumbago.

SPINAL BATH

The spinal bath is another important form of hydrotherapic treatment. This bath provides a soothing effect to the spinal column and thereby influences the central nervous system. It is given in a specially designed tub with its back raised so as to provide proper support to the head. The bath can be administered at cold, neutral and hot temperatures. The water level in the tub should be an inch and a half to two inches and the patient should lie in it for three to 10 minutes.

The cold spinal bath relieves irritation, fatigue, hypertension and excitement. It is beneficial in almost all nervous disorders such as hysteria, fits, mental disorders, loss of memory and tension. The neutral spinal bath is a soothing and sedative treatment, especially for the highly strung and irritable patient. It is the ideal treatment for insomnia and also relieves tension of the vertebral column. The duration of this bath is 20 to 30 minutes. The hot spinal bath, on the other hand, helps to stimulate the nervous, especially when they are in a depressed state. It also relieves vertebral pain in spondylitis and muscular backache. It relieves sciatic pain and gastrointestinal disturbances of gastric origin.

FULL WET SHEET PACK

This is a procedure in which the whole body is wrapped in a wet sheet, which in turn is wrapped in a dry blanket for regulating evaporation. The blanket should be spread on the bed with its edges hanging over the edge of the bed. The upper end should be about eight inches from the head of the bed. Then spread a linen sheet wrung out in cold water over the blanket so that its end is slightly below the upper end of the blanket. The patient should lie on the bedsheet with his shoulders about three inches below the upper age. The wet sheet should be weekly wrapped round the body of the patient, drawn in, tightly tucked between the legs and also between the body and the arms. The sheet should be folded over the shoulders and across the neck. Now the blanket should be drawn tightly around the body and tucked in along the side in a similar manner, pulling it tightly. The ends should be doubled up at the feet. A turkish towel should be placed below the chin to protect the face and neck from coming into contact with the blanket and to exclude outside air more effectively. The head should be covered with a wet cloth so that the sculp remains cold. The feet should be kept warm during the entire treatment. If the patient’s feet are cold, place hot water bottles near them to hasten reaction. The pack is administered for half an hour to one hour till the patient begins to perspire profusely. He may be given cold or hot water to drink.

This pack is useful in cases of fever especially in typhoid and continued fevers, and benefits those suffering from insomnia, epilepsy and infantile convulsions. It is useful in relieving chronic cold and bronchitis and helps in the treatment of rheumatism and obesity.

HOT FOOT BATHS

In this method, the patient should keep his or her legs in a tub or bucket filled with hot water at a temperature of 400C to 450C. Before taking this bath, a glass of water should be taken and the body should be covered with a blanket so that no heat or vapour escapes from the foot bath. The head should be protected with a cold compress. The duration of the bath is generally from 5 to 20 minutes. The patient should take a cold shower immediately after the bath. The hot foot bath stimulates the involuntary muscles of the uterus, intestines, bladder and other pelvic and abdominal organs. It also relieves sprains and ankle joint pains, headaches caused by cerebral congestion and colds. In women, it helps restore menstruation , if suspended, by increasing supply of blood especially to the uterus and ovaries.

COLD FOOT BATH

Three to four inches of cold water at a temperature of 7.20C to 12.70C should be placed in a small tub or bucket. The feet should be completely immersed in the water for one to five minutes. Friction should be continuously applied to the feet during the bath, either by an attendant or by the patient by rubbing one foot against the other.

A cold foot bath, taken for one or two minutes, relieves cerebral congestion and uterine hemorrhage. It also helps in the treatment of sprains, strains and inflamed bunions when taken for longer periods. It should not be taken in cases of inflammatory conditions of the genito-urinary organs, liver and kidneys.

STEAM BATH

Steam bath is one of the most important time-tested water treatments which induces perspiration in a most natural way. The patient, clad in minimum loin cloth or underwear, is made to sit on a stool inside a specially designed cabinet. Before entering the cabinet, the patient should drink one or two glasses of cold water and protect the head with a cold towel. The duration of the steam bath is generally 10 to 20 minutes or until perspiration takes place. A cold shower should be taken immediately after the bath.

Very weak patients, pregnant women, cardiac patients and those suffering from high blood pressure should avoid this bath. If the patient feels giddy or uneasy during the steam bath, he or she should be immediately taken out and given a glasss of cold water and the face washed with cold water.

The steam bath helps to eliminate morbid matter from the surface of the skin. It also improves circulation of the blood and tissue activity. It relieves rheumatism, gout, uric acid problems, and obesity. The steam bath is helpful in all forms of chronic toxemias. It also relieves neuralgias, chronic nephritis, infections, tetanus and migraine.

IMMERSION BATHS

This is also known as full bath. It is administered in a bath tub which should be properly fitted with hot and cold water connections. The bath can be taken at cold, neutral, hot, graduated and alternate temperatures.

COLD IMMERSION BATH

This may be taken for four seconds to 20 minutes at a temperature ranging from 100C to 23.80C. Before entering the bath, cold water should be poured on the patient’s head, chest and neck and the head should be protected with a cold moist towel. During the bath, the patient should vigorously rub his or her body. After the bath the body should be quickly dried and wrapped up in a blanket. If the climate is favourable, moderate exercise should be undertaken. This bath helps to bring down fever. It also improves the skin when taken for five to 15 seconds after a prolonged hot bath, by exhilarating circulation and stimulating the nervous system.

This bath should not be given to young children or very elderly persons, nor be taken in cases of acute inflammation of some internal organs such as acute peritonitis, gastritis, enteritis and inflammatory conditions of uterus and ovaries.

GRADUATED BATH

The patient should enter the bath at a temperature of 310C. The water temperature should be lowered gradually at the rate of 10C per minute until it reaches 250C. The bath should continue until the patient starts shivering. The graduated bath is intended to avoid nervous shock by sudden plunge into the cold water. This bath is often administered every three hours in cases of fever.

It effectively brings down the temperature except in malarial fever. Besides, it also produces a general tonic effect, increases vital resistances and energises the heart.

NEUTRAL IMMERSION BATH

This bath can be given from 15 to 60 minutes at a temperature ranging from 260C to 280C. It can be given for long duration, without any ill-effects, as the water temperature is akin to the body temperature. The neutral bath diminishes the pulse rate without modifying respiration.

This treatment is the best sedative. Since the neutral bath excites activity of both the skin and the kidneys, it is recommended in cases relating to these organs. It is also beneficial for cases of organic diseases of the brain and spinal cord, including chronic inflammatory conditions such as meningitis, rheumatism and arthritis.

A neutral immersion bath taken for 30 to 60 minutes is highly beneficial in general dropsy, due to cardiac or renal diseases. It also helps those suffering from multiple neuritis, alcoholism and other narcotic habits, chronic diarrhoea, peritonitis and chronic affections of the abdomen. In such cases the bath may be given daily for 15 to 30 minutes. This bath is also useful in the toxemic conditions caused by dyspepsia and pruritus. The neutral bath should not be prescribed in certain cases of eczema and other forms of skin diseases where water aggravates the symptoms, nor in cases of extreme cardiac weakness.

HOT IMMERSION BATH

This bath can be taken from two to 15 minutes at a temperature from 36.60C to 400C. Generally this bath is started at 370C and the temperature is then gradually raised to the required level by adding hot water. Before entering the bath, the patient should drink cold water and also wet the head, neck and shoulders with cold water. A cold compress should be applied throughout the treatment. This bath can be advantageously employed in dropsy when there is excessive loss of tone of the heart and blood. This bath also relieves capillary bronchitis and bronchial pneumonia in children. It relieves congestation of the lungs and activates the blood vessels of the skin muscles. The bath should be terminated as soon as the skin becomes red. In pneumonia and suppressed menstruation, the bath should be administered at 37.70C to 400C for about 30 to 45 minutes. This bath should be given when the menstruation is due and may be repeated for two to three days in succession. In dysmenorrhoea, this bath should be given at 380C to 44.40C for 15 minutes.

In chronic bronchitis a very hot bath taken for 5 to 7 minutes should be accompanied with rubbing and friction. This relieves congestion of the mucous membrane and provides immediate relief After the bath, oil should be applied to the skin if necessary.

The hot bath is a valuable treatment in chronic rheumatism and obesity. It gives immediate relief when there is pain due to stones in the gall bladder and the kidneys. The hot bath should not be taken in cases of organic diseases of the brain or spinal cord, nor in cases of cardiac weakness and cardiac hypertrophy.

EPSOM SALT BATH

The immersion bath tub should be filled with about 135 litres of hot water at 400C. One to 1 1/2 kg. of Epsom salt should be dissolved in this water. The patient should drink a glass of cold water, cover the head with a cold towel and then lie down in the tub, completely immersing the trunk, thighs and legs for 15 to 20 minutes. The best time to take this bath is just before retiring to bed. This is useful in cases of sciatica, lumbago, rheumatism, diabetes, neuritis, cold and catarrh, kidney disorders and other uric acid and skin affections.

Precaution

Certain precautions are necessary while taking these therapeutic baths. Full baths should be avoided within three hours after a meal and one hour before it. Local baths like the hip bath and foot bath may, however, be taken two hours after a meal. Clean and pure water must be used for baths and water once used should not be used again. While taking baths, temperature and duration should be strictly observed to obtain the desired effects. A thermometer should always be used to measure the temperature of the body. Women should not take any of the baths during menstruation. They can take only hip baths during pregnancy till the completion of the third month.

Exercise in Health and Disease

In Nature Cure and Natural Methods Of Treatment on December 6, 2007 at 5:10 am

A world famous physical educationist, Eugene Sandow, has very aptly said, ” Life is movement, stagnation is death. ” Physical exercise is essential for the maintenance of normal condition of life. Lack of natural exercise is one of the chief causes of weakness and ill-health.

In recent years, the need for exercise has been recognised even in sickness. Physio and occupational therapy are now standard procedures in medicine to restore the use of muscles and nerves that have been injured by disease or by accident. Patients with organic ailments are now advised to stay in bed for the minimum period considered necessary.

Exercise and Activity

For corrective living, it is essential to differentiate between exercise and activity. While both are important as they are involved in vital physical movement, they vary in degree and benefits. Both employ the body in voluntary movement. Activity uses the body to a limited degree and generally to achieve a specific purpose. Exercise employs the body over the widest possible range of movement for the particular purpose of maintaining or acquiring muscle tone and control with maximum joint flexibility.

Activity requires less physical effort and often less conscious effort once the routine has been established. Exercise demands considerable physical effort and is more beneficial as mental concentration is simultaneously employed.

Benefits

Systematic physical exercise has many benefits. The more important benefits are mentioned below :

Regular exercise taken properly can achieve the increased use of food by the body, which contributes to health and fitness. The basal metabolic rate and habitual body temperature will slowly rise during several weeks of physical exercise, if the programme is not too hard. The healthy person usually has abundant body heat and a warm radiant glow.

i. Regular progressive physical exercise can bring about the balance of automatic, or involuntary , nervous system. The tone of the vagus nerve, one of the nerves that control sensation and motion, is strengthened. This accounts for stronger pulse waves, higher metabolism and better circulation.

ii. Exercise can prevent or reduce gravitational ptosis or sag, as it is commonly called. Ptosis results from uneven flow of blood in the feet, legs and lower abdomen.

iii. Improved capillary action in the working of muscular and brain tissue results from exercise carried to the point of real endurance. This permits greater blood flow and gives the muscles, including the heart, more resistance to fatigue.

Massage, heat and moderate exercise are relatively ineffective in producing additional capillary action as compared with vigorous exercise.

iv. The full use of the lungs in vigorous exercise can reduce or prevent lung congestion due to lymph accumulation.

v. Gas and intra-intestinal accumulations can be reduced by exercise that acts to knead and squeeze or vibrate the intraintestinal mass.

vi. Better respiratory reserve is developed by persistent exercise. This ensures better breath holding, especially after a standard exercise. With greater respiratory reserves, exercise become easier.

vii. Improvement in tone and function of veins can be accomplished by repetitiously squeezing and draining the blood out of them and then allowing them to fill.

viii. Sweating in exercise aids kidneys by helping to eliminate the waste matter from the body.

ix. Consistent exercise leads to improvement in quality of blood. Studies have shown improved haemoglobin levels, relatively greater alkalinity, improved total protein content and a grater red cell count.

x. Systemic exercise promotes physical strength and mental vigour and strengthens will power and self control leading to harmonious development of the whole system.

Exercise promotes longevity

Medical researchers at Harvard and Standford Universities who studied the habits and health of 17,000 middle-aged and older men, reported the first scientific evidence that even modest exercise helps prolong life. Dr. Ralph S. Paffenberger, the visiting professor of epidemology at the Harvard School of Pubic Health, who is the principal author of the report said, ” We have found a direct relationship between the level of physical activity and the length of life in the college men we have studied. ” He added,” This is the first good evidence that people who are active and fit have a longer life span than those who are not. “

A strong connection between a hard and a healthy hard has also been convincingly demonstrated in the same study. The study showed that the less active persons ran a three times higher risk of suffering a fatal heart attack than did those who worked the hardest. Review of fatal heart attacks revealed that the less active men were also three times more likely to die unexpectedly and rapidly within an hour after the attack.

A parallel research report from doctors in Dulles also concluded, after a study of the lives and habits of 6,000 men and women, that the physically fit were less likely to develop hypertension.

Dr. Steven N. Blair who headed the research group said, ” We followed the physical health and habits of these people for an average of four-and-a-half years and the data showed that the lackof physical fitness leads to hypertension. ” Exercise increases calorie output. The body fat can be reduced by regular exercise. It is therefore, useful for weight reduction in conjunction with restricted food intake. According to a study by Dr. Peter Wood of Stanford University Medical School, author of ‘ California Diet and Exercise Programme ‘, very active people eat about 600 more calories daily than their sedentary counterparts but weight about 20 per cent less. Upto 15 hours after vigorous exercise, the body continues to burn calories at a higher rate than it would have without exercise. Moderate physical exercise has been found to be accompanied by less obesity and lower cholesterol levels.

Regular exercise plays an important role in the fight against stress. It provides recreation and mental relaxation besides keeping the body physically and mentally fit. It is nature’s best tranquilliser.

Chronic fatigue caused by poor circulation can be remedied by undertaking some exercise on a daily basis. It helps relieve tension and induces sleep. Moderate physical exercise at the end of a try day can bring a degree of freshness and renewed energy.

Exercise also plays an important role in the treatment of depression. According to Dr. Robert Brown, a clinical associate professor at the University of Virgina School of Medicine, ” Exercise produces chemical and psychological changes that improves your mental health. It changes the levels of hormones in blood and may elevate your beta-endorphins (mood-affecting brain chemicals). Exercise also gives a feeling of accomplishment and thereby reduces the sense of helplessness. “

Methods of Exercise

Several systems of exercise have been developed over the years, the most popular among them being the Swedish system and yoga asanas, the later having been practised from ancient times in India. Whichever system you choose to adopt, the exercises should be performed systematically, regularly and under proper guidance.

To be really useful, exercise should be taken in such a manner as to bring into action all the muscles of the body in a natural way. Walking is one such exercise. It is, however, so gentle in character that one must walk several kilometers in a brisk manner to constitute a fair amount of exercise. Other forms of good exercise are swimming, cycling, horse-riding, tennis, etc.

Precautions

Vigirous exercise of any kind should not be taken for an hour and a half after eating, nor immediately before meals. Weak patients and those suffering from serious diseases like cancer, heart trouble, tuberculosis and asthama should not undertake vigious exercise except under the supervision of a competent physician. If exercising makes you tired, stop immediately . The purpose of exercise should be to make you feel refreshed and relaxed and not tired.

The most important rule about the fitness plan is to start with very light exercise and to increase the effort in gradual and easy stages. The sense of well-being will begin almost immediately.

One can start off with a brisk walk for 15 to 20 minutes. A comfortable sense of tiredness should be the aim. It is valueless and possibly harmful to become exhausted or seriously short of breath. Perhaps, one should aim at activities which need about two-thirds of one’s maximum ability. One way to assess is to count your own pulse rate.

Counting of pulse is quite easy. Feel the pulse on your left wrist with the middle three fingers of your right hand. Press just firmly enough to feel the beat easily. Now count the number of beats in 15 seconds, with the help of a watch with clear second hand and calculate your rate by multiplying by four. At rest heart beats 70 to 80 times a minute. This rate increases during exercise. Really vigorous can produce rates as high as 200 beats per minute or more.

Reasonable aim is to exercise at about two-thirds of maximum capacity. It follows that heart rate should be about 130 per minute during and just after exercise. Always avoid over-exertion and never allow your pulse go above 190 per minute minus your age.

Curative Powers of Earth

In Nature Cure and Natural Methods Of Treatment on December 6, 2007 at 5:09 am

Earth was used extensively for remedial purposes in ancient times as well as the middle ages. IN modern times, it again came into prominence as a valuable therapeutic agent in the last century through the indefatigable efforts of Emanuel Felke, a German-born Lutheran minister who was nicknamed the “Clay Pastor.”

Felke found that the forces of earth have remarkable effects upon the human body, especially during the night. These effects are described as refreshing, invigorating and vitalising. Felke believed that for wounds and skin diseases, application of clay or moistened earth was the only true natural bondage. The body is thus repaired with the element from which it is assumed to be made.

Adolf Just ( 1838 – 1936) , one of the pioneers of nature cure in modern times, believed that all diseases, but especially the serious nervous troubles of our age, would lose their terrors, if only sleeping or lying on the earth at night became customary in the curing of diseases. According to him, by sleeping on the ground, ” the entire body is aroused from its lethargy to a new manifestation of vital energy, so that it can now effectively remove old morbid matter and masses of old faces from the intestines, and receive a sensation of new health, new life and new unthought -of vigour and strength. “

Going barefooted all day long, except when it is very cold, is also regarded as a valuable step towards achieving good health and true happiness. Men can draw vital energy and strength out of the earth through their feet. Jesus Christ also attached a great deal of importance to the practice of going barefooted. He himself was barefooted and commanded his disciples likewise.

It is advisable to go entirely barefooted as often as possible, especially on the bare ground but in rooms with painted floors it is better to wear chappals, since the painted floor affects the body adversely if one walks on it with bare soles.

The American Indians lay great stress on earth treatment.

They believe that healing power is strong in leaves and herbs, powerful in the air, but very powerful indeed in the earth. They have a custom to bury sufferers from all kinds of disease in the earth up to their necks, leave them there for some hours, and then remove them. They believe that many of them are cured. Presumably the body draws unto itself the healing minerals and some of the earth’s magnetism.

MUD PACKS

The nature cure practitioners at present are making increasing use of moistened earth in the treatment of diseases. The use of mud packs has been found highly beneficial and effective in the treatment of chronic inflammation caused by internal diseases, bruises, sprains, boils and wounds. This mode of treatment is normally adopted in conjunction with a proper scheme of dietary and other natural therapies.

The advantage of mud treatment is that it is able to retain moisture and coolness for longer periods than cold water packs or compresses. The cold moisture in the mud packs relaxes the pores of the skin, draws the blood into the surface, relieves inner congestion and pain, promotes heat radiation and elimination of morbid matter.

A mud pack is prepared with clay obtained from about ten cms. below the surface of the earth, after ensuring that it does not contain any impurities such as compost or pebbles. The clay is then made into a smooth paste with warm water. This is allowed to cool and then spread on a strip of cloth, the size of which may vary according to requirements. The dimensions of the pack meant for application on the abdomen are generally 20 cm X 10 cm X 2.5 cm. for adults.

Mud packs have been found to be a valuable treatment of diseases relating to general weakness or nervous disorders. It can also bring down fever and is beneficial in the treatment of scarlet fever, measles and influenza. The mud pack is prescribed for swellings, eye and ear troubles, gout, rheumatism, stomach troubles, kidney and liver malfunctions, diptheria, neuralgia, sexual  disorders, headache, toothache and general aches and pains. The mud bandage, after being placed on the body, should be covered with flannel or other protective material. The pack is applied for 10 to 30 minutes.

As the abdomen is the seat of most diseases, mud pack applied to this part of the body can cure many disorders including all forms of indigestion affecting the stomach and bowels. It is most effective in decreasing the external heat and breaking up the morbid matter. It also aids the inactivity of labour pains and for this purpose, the pack may be renewed every hour or two.

The mud pack is also helpful as an alternate treatment. The area under treatment is first given fomentation for five to 10 minutes until it is well heated. Mud is then applied directly to the skin for five to 15 minutes, depending upon the reaction required.

Hot and cold applications are useful in relieving chronic pains, intestinal cramps and lumbago.

Alternate application helps to relieve discomfort caused by flatulence and intestinal obstructions. It is also helpful in amoebiasis, colitis, enteritis and other inflammatory conditions of bacterial origin.

MUD BATH

Mud or clay bath is another mode of treatment. It is applied in the same way as packs, but only on a larger scale on the entire body. In this, mud or clay is first ground and sifted to remove all impurities, and then made into a smooth paste mixed with hot water. The paste is then spread on a sheet which in turn is wrapped round the body. One or two blankets are then wrapped over this, depending on the temperature of the room and that of the pack. A mud bath is followed with a cleansing warm water bath and a short cold shower.

The mud bath is found to tone up the skin by increasing the circulation and energising the skin tissues. Frequent mud baths help to improve the complexion, clear spots and patches on the skin following skin disorders or due to smallpox. It is very beneficial in the treatment of skin diseases like psoriasis, leucoderma and every leprosy.

This bath is also valuable in getting relief from rheumatic pain or pain in the joints caused by injuries. The duration of the bath should be from 30 minutes to one hour. Care should also be taken to avoid the patient catching a chill during the bath. Mud applications also form a vital part of natural beauty treatment.

Exercise in Health and Disease

A world famous physical educationist, Eugene Sandow, has very aptly said, ” Life is movement, stagnation is death. ” Physical exercise is essential for the maintenance of normal condition of life. Lack of natural exercise is one of the chief causes of weakness and ill-health.

In recent years, the need for exercise has been recognised even in sickness. Physio and occupational therapy are now standard procedures in medicine to restore the use of muscles and nerves that have been injured by disease or by accident. Patients with organic ailments are now advised to stay in bed for the minimum period considered necessary.

Exercise and Activity

For corrective living, it is essential to differentiate between exercise and activity. While both are important as they are involved in vital physical movement, they vary in degree and benefits.

Both employ the body in voluntary movement. Activity uses the body to a limited degree and generally to achieve a specific purpose. Exercise employs the body over the widest possible range of movement for the particular purpose of maintaining or acquiring muscle tone and control with maximum joint flexibility.

Activity requires less physical effort and often less conscious effort once the routine has been established. Exercise demands considerable physical effort and is more beneficial as mental concentration is simultaneously employed.

Benefits

Systematic physical exercise has many benefits. The more important benefits are mentioned below :

Regular exercise taken properly can achieve the increased use of food by the body, which contributes to health and fitness. The basal metabolic rate and habitual body temperature will slowly rise during several weeks of physical exercise, if the programme is not too hard. The healthy person usually has abundant body heat and a warm radiant glow.

i. Regular progressive physical exercise can bring about the balance of automatic, or involuntary , nervous system. The tone of the vagus nerve, one of the nerves that control sensation and motion, is strengthened. This accounts for stronger pulse waves, higher metabolism and better circulation.

ii. Exercise can prevent or reduce gravitational ptosis or sag, as it is commonly called. Ptosis results from uneven flow of blood in the feet, legs and lower abdomen.

iii. Improved capillary action in the working of muscular and brain tissue results from exercise carried to the point of real endurance. This permits greater blood flow and gives the muscles, including the heart, more resistance to fatigue.

Massage, heat and moderate exercise are relatively ineffective in producing additional capillary action as compared with vigorous exercise.

iv. The full use of the lungs in vigorous exercise can reduce or prevent lung congestion due to lymph accumulation.

v. Gas and intra-intestinal accumulations can be reduced by exercise that acts to knead and squeeze or vibrate the intraintestinal mass.

vi. Better respiratory reserve is developed by persistent exercise. This ensures better breath holding, especially after a standard exercise. With greater respiratory reserves, exercise become easier.

vii. Improvement in tone and function of veins can be accomplished by repetitiously viii. squeezing and draining the blood out of them and then allowing them to fill. Sweating in exercise aids kidneys by helping to eliminate the waste matter from the body.

ix. Consistent exercise leads to improvement in quality of blood. Studies have shown improved haemoglobin levels, relatively greater alkalinity, improved total protein content and a grater red cell count.

x. Systemic exercise promotes physical strength and mental vigour and strengthens will power and self control leading to harmonious development of the whole system.

Exercise promotes longevity

Medical researchers at Harvard and Standford Universities who studied the habits and health of 17,000 middle-aged and older men, reported the first scientific evidence that even modest exercise helps prolong life. Dr. Ralph S. Paffenberger, the visiting professor of epidemology at the Harvard School of Pubic Health, who is the principal author of the report said, ” We have found a direct relationship between the level of physical activity and the length of life in the college men we have studied. ” He added,” This is the first good evidence that people who are active and fit have a longer life span than those who are not. “

A strong connection between a hard and a healthy hard has also been convincingly demonstrated in the same study. The study showed that the less active persons ran a three times higher risk of suffering a fatal heart attack than did those who worked the hardest. Review of fatal heart attacks revealed that the less active men were also three times more likely to die unexpectedly and rapidly within an hour after the attack.

A parallel research report from doctors in Dulles also concluded, after a study of the lives and habits of 6,000 men and women, that the physically fit were less likely to develop hypertension.

Dr. Steven N. Blair who headed the research group said, ” We followed the physical health and habits of these people for an average of four-and-a-half years and the data showed that the lackof physical fitness leads to hypertension. “

Exercise increases calorie output. The body fat can be reduced by regular exercise. It is therefore, useful for weight reduction in conjunction with restricted food intake. According to a study by Dr. Peter Wood of Stanford University Medical School, author of ‘ California Diet and Exercise Programme ‘, very active people eat about 600 more calories daily than their sedentary counterparts but weight about 20 per cent less. Upto 15 hours after vigorous exercise, the body continues to burn calories at a higher rate than it would have without exercise. Moderate physical exercise has been found to be accompanied by less obesity and lower cholesterol levels.

Regular exercise plays an important role in the fight against stress. It provides recreation and mental relaxation besides keeping the body physically and mentally fit. It is nature’s best tranquilliser.

Chronic fatigue caused by poor circulation can be remedied by undertaking some exercise on a daily basis. It helps relieve tension and induces sleep. Moderate physical exercise at the end of a try day can bring a degree of freshness and renewed energy. Exercise also plays an important role in the treatment of depression. According to Dr. Robert Brown, a clinical associate professor at the University of Virgina School of Medicine, ” Exercise produces chemical and psychological changes that improves your mental health. It changes the levels of hormones in blood and may elevate your beta-endorphins (mood-affecting brain chemicals). Exercise also gives a feeling of accomplishment and thereby reduces the sense of helplessness. “

Methods of Exercise

Several systems of exercise have been developed over the years, the most popular among them being the Swedish system and yoga asanas, the later having been practised from ancient times in India. Whichever system you choose to adopt, the exercises should be performed systematically, regularly and under proper guidance.

To be really useful, exercise should be taken in such a manner as to bring into action all the muscles of the body in a natural way. Walking is one such exercise. It is, however, so gentle in character that one must walk several kilometers in a brisk manner to constitute a fair amount of exercise. Other forms of good exercise are swimming, cycling, horse-riding, tennis, etc.

Precautions

Vigirous exercise of any kind should not be taken for an hour and a half after eating, nor immediately before meals. Weak patients and those suffering from serious diseases like cancer, heart trouble, tuberculosis and asthama should not undertake vigious exercise except under the supervision of a competent physician. If exercising makes you tired, stop immediately . The purpose of exercise should be to make you feel refreshed and relaxed and not tired.

The most important rule about the fitness plan is to start with very light exercise and to increase the effort in gradual and easy stages. The sense of well-being will begin almost immediately.

One can start off with a brisk walk for 15 to 20 minutes. A comfortable sense of tiredness should be the aim. It is valueless and possibly harmful to become exhausted or seriously short of breath. Perhaps, one should aim at activities which need about two-thirds of one’s maximum ability. One way to assess is to count your own pulse rate.

Counting of pulse is quite easy. Feel the pulse on your left wrist with the middle three fingers of your right hand. Press just firmly enough to feel the beat easily. Now count the number of beats in 15 seconds, with the help of a watch with clear second hand and calculate your rate by multiplying by four. At rest heart beats 70 to 80 times a minute. This rate increases during exercise. Really vigorous can produce rates as high as 200 beats per minute or more.

Reasonable aim is to exercise at about two-thirds of maximum capacity. It follows that heart rate should be about 130 per minute during and just after exercise. Always avoid over-exertion and never allow your pulse go above 190 per minute minus your age.

Healing Power of Colours

In Nature Cure and Natural Methods Of Treatment on December 6, 2007 at 5:07 am

Chromotherapy is a method of treatment of diseases by colour. It is best used as a supportive therapy along with other natural methods of preserving health such as correct diet, adequate rest and relaxation, exercise, yogic asanas and so on.

According to practitioners of chromotherapy, the cause of any disease can be traced to the lack of a particular colour in the human system. Colour therapy is a technique of restoring imbalance by means of applying coloured light to the body. It was a popular method of cure even in ancient times. Some 2,500 years ago, Pythagoras applied colour light therapeutically and ‘colour halls’ were used for healing in ancient Egypt, China and India.

The pioneer of modern colour therapy was Niels Finsen of Denmark. Following the discovery, in 1877, of the bactericidal action of solar ultra-violet energy,Finsen studied the possibility of assisting the healing of wounds with visible light. He subse- quently used red light to inhibit the formation of smallpox scars and, in 1896, founded a Light Institute ( now the Finsen Institute of Copenhagen) for the phototreatment of tuberculosis. In 1932, Gerrard and Hessay, two Californian psychologists, scientifically established that blue light had a calming effect and red a stimulating power on human beings.

Blue and red colours are considered at the two extremes with yellow representing the midpoint. These are also the three principal colours in a rainbow. A patient is first subjected to an examination to ascertain which colour he lacks. The deficiency is determined by observing the colour of the eyeballs, nails, urine and excrement. In cases of the lack of red the eyes and nails will be bluish, and the urine and excrement white or bluish. If there is a deficiency of the blue colour, the eyes and nails will be reddish and urine and excrement yellowish or red.

Every substance on earth contains colour. Even the rays cast on earth by celestial bodies contain colour in the form of white light. The rays of the sun contain seven different colours – violet, indigo, blue, green, yellow, orange and red. These are natural colours which are highly beneficial to the maintenance of health and for healing diseases.

According to Dr. Babbit, a well-known authority on chromotherapy, “sunlight is the principal curative agent in nature’s laboratory and where light cannot enter, disease does. Chlorosis, anaemia, leukaemia, emaciation, muscular debility, degeneration of heart and liver, dropsical effusion, softening of bones,nervous excitability, physical deformity, stunted growth and consumption are the result of excluding oneself from the beneficial effects of sunlight. “

Sunlight plays an important role in the recovery from chronic diseases. Judicious use of sunlight can be part of the curing process in almost every affliction. The rays of the sun improve digestion and nutrition, quicken blood and lymph circulation and increase the elimination of impurities through the skin.

The action and effect of various colours on the body and their healing qualities are as follows :

Red :

Symbolic of heat, fire and anger. It is a stimulating and energising colour. It stimulates arterial blood and brings warmth to cool extremities. Used as a general tonic, it is very valuable in the treatment of diseases like low blood pressure, rheumatism, paralysis, anaemia and advanced cases of tuber- culosis.

Orange :

Symbolic of prosperity and pride, orange is useful for stimulating blood supply and energising the nerves. It is beneficial in the treatment of kidney and gall stones, hernia and appendicitis. It is also used to stimulate the milk producing action of breasts after childbirth.

Violet :

Violet is beneficial in the treatment of nervous and emotional disturbances, arthritis, acute cases  of consumption and insomnia.

Yellow :

Associated with joy and happiness, yellow is laxative and diuretic. It is a stimulant to the brain, the liver and the spleen. It is also effective in the treatment of diabetes, indigestion, kidney and liver disorders, constipation, eye and throat infections, syphillis and impotence.

Purple :

Purple or indigo combines the blood-warming red and the cooling antiseptic blue. It is an excellent stimulant without being an irritant. It is beneficial in the treatment of advanced stages of constipation, hydrocle , leucorrhoea, many disorders of the stomach and womb , cataract , migraine and skin disorders. It exerts a soothing effect on the eyes, ears and the nervous system.

Green :

Made up of the blue and yellow, green is regarded as a colour of harmony. It is a mild sedative. It is useful in the treatment of nervous conditions, hay fever, ulcers, influenza, malaria , colds, sexual disorders and cancer. It preserves and strengthens eyesight. Being highly medicinal and depressive, it is of great help in the treatment of inflammatory conditions.

Blue :

Cool, soothing and sedative, blue alleviates pain, reducing bleeding and heals burns. It is beneficial in the treatment of dysentery, colic, asthma, respiratory disorders, high blood pressure and skin aberrations. IN a study at the New England State Hospital in the United States, 25 members of staff with normal blood pressure were bathed in blue light for half an hour. It resulted in universal fall in blood pressure. The blood pressure rose when red light was applied.

Methods of Treatment

There are two methods of treating diseases by colour :

By the application of light through different coloured glasses ; and

i. By external or internal use of colour-charged water. In the first method , sheets of glass, 30 cms. X 36 cms. of the required colours are needed. These are placed at the window frames or any other convenient place in such a way that the sun’s rays can pass through them and fall directly on the patient’s body. The usual duration of the colour treatment is 30 minutes. In case of local application, a pane of glass can be placed in front of the diseased part so that the light passing through the glass falls on the afflicted area. At night lanterns can be used for the purpose. A single lantern can have glass panes of four different colours and the required colour can be focussed on the patient or the affected parts.

In the second method, coloured bottles are needed. These bottles should be cleaned and filled up to three-fourths level with fresh well water, distilled water or rain water. The bottles should be corked and then placed in bright sunlight for three to four hours. After this exposure, the water is said to acquire medicinal properties and this colour-charged water can be used both internally and for external applications. Wounds and ulcers can be washed with this water and it can also be used to massage the affected parts or applied as compress on them. For internal use, an adult can take 30 ml. of colour-charged water as a single dose. The dose can be repeated as required.

ii. Diet

A correct and balanced diet is essential during the treatment of diseases through chromotherapy. The patients should take food items with analogous colouring. The various colours contained in different food items are :

Red : Beets, radish, red cabbage, tomatoes, watercress, most red-skinned fruits,red berries and water melon.

Orange : Orange-skinned vegetables and fruits such as carrot, orange, apricot, mango, peach and pappaya.

Violet : Egg plant, berries, black carrot and purple grapes.

Yellow : Lime and lemon, sweet lime, grapes, pumpkin, melon, banana, mango, yellow apple and guava.

Purple : Foods having both blue and violet colouring.

Green : Most of the green vegetables and fruits such as gourds, spinach, plantain, lettuce, pea, green mango, gooseberry, pears, beans , etc.

Blue : Blue plum, blue beans, blue grapes, etc.

Contraindications

There are some important contraindications to colour treatment which should be borne in mind while adopting this mode of cure. For instance, the red colour would be injurious in a naturally inflammatory condition of the system, and in case of persons with feverish and excitable temperament. If the red light is employed for too long and frequently, it may produce dangerous fevers. The danger can be obviated by using the red light for a few minutes at a time or by placing a wet bandage over the head.

Similarly, yellow should not be used when the nerves are very active or irritable. Yellow or orange reddish tones may prove injurious in fevers, acute inflammations, delirium, diarrhoea, neuralgia, palpitation of the heart and any condition of over- excitement.

In cases of paralysis, chronic rheumatism, gout, consumption and in all cold, pale and dormant conditions of the system, blue, indigo and violet may prove too cooling and constricting and should be avoided.