History of Reflexology

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Posted by Mia Ponzo | Posted in Complementary Alternative Medicine, Natural Health | Posted on 26-02-2014

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History of Reflexology

Reflexology Chart

Reflexology (which is a treatment that consists of manipulation of the reflexes of the feet and hands) has been around since long before recorded history. There is evidence of it being practiced in many different cultures from all parts of the world, showing that it didn’t have its beginning in any particular place, but in many remote places at around the same time.

            The first recorded knowledge that we have about reflexology comes from ancient Egypt, dated to be around 2300 BC.  There are paintings and drawings of what seem to be healers treating people on both the hands and feet in a way extremely similar to the manner in which reflexology is practiced at the present time! In fact the tomb that this painting was found in was called the physician’s tomb. The tomb was specifically that of an ancient medical practitioner called Ankhmahor. Also, the Native American tribes knew about using pressure points on the feet as a treatment for disease, which was passed to them through the ancient traditions of the Incas. In Hawaii, too, a form of reflexology has been practiced since before their written history. From ancient Egypt the practice of reflexology was carried to ancient Rome. In ancient Greece, there were amazing health spas where reflexology (among other things) was available as a treatment to the clientele.

Reflexology Atlas

From old time Japan, from around 690 AD, a lot of evidence has been found showing the practice of reflexology (or something very similar) was practiced there. In fact there is a statue of Buddha that was found in what has become known as the “medical teaching temple” that has symbols all over an upturned sole of his foot, showing the reflex points. Its practice has been known in Africa, China (for which there is evidence dating its use to even before the Egyptians: 4000 BC), and other Oriental locales. Ancient India was known for its knowledge of maps of the reflexes of the feet as well, although their theories vary slightly from what we know in the present, the Asian Indians had made detailed “maps” of the feet, with all the bodily organs clearly mapped and drawn as they are in the body.

The Complete Reflexology Tutor

Sometime during those centuries after the heyday of reflexology its use declined practically to the point of extinction. So called “modern medicine” took over in most places in the world, until toward the end of the 19th Century some researchers in Europe and Asia (specifically the UK, Russia and Germany) began to take a look into the connection between points on the outside of the body and bodily organs. Then, at the beginning of the 20th Century, a doctor by the name of William H. Fitzgerald started to look into a theory that he had about the body being divided into zones with each of these zones being connected. He also stated that in these zones certain “reflexes” were located. He further went on with this theory with his hypothesis that if certain places on certain zones were manipulated there would be a corresponding location in the body that could be numbed and pain relieved.  This was considered to be helpful in two ways: first of all for use during medical procedures, such as dentistry, and second of all, for people who suffered from chronic or acute pain. Soon it was also discovered that this manipulation of the reflexes didn’t only relieve and numb pain, but it actually relieved the disease or ailment itself! This was an important discovery, and was the beginning of the practice of modern reflexology.

Reflexology and Associated Aspects of Health

At around the same time Dr. Fitzgerald worked with another doctor by the name of Dr. Shelby Riley, who furthered the use of zones in zone therapy and refined the use of the map of the feet and hands. With him was a physical therapist by the name of Eunice D. Ingham.  It was she that did the detailed research and mapping of the actual reflexes on the feet and hands and set forth the actual practice of reflexology as we know it today. In the 1930’s she began treating people with this amazing drug free treatment, and in 1938 she published the first book about reflexology. This book was called “Stories the Feet Can Tell”. She subsequently published another book called “Stories the Feet Have Told”.  These books and her method were somewhat of a sensation, and she began to teach others how to use the method. It was through her students that the practice of reflexology spread to Canada and England, finally going all around the world. 

Reflexology Art and Science

In 1970 a lady called Mildred Carter wrote a book called “Helping Yourself with Foot Reflexology”, which was challenged by a lawsuit as to whether or not it was legal to even use the term “reflexology”, which, up to that point, was considered illegal (as a form of practicing medicine without a license). The courts overturned the legality of such a claim, and thereafter reflexology was fully legal to practice and teach in the USA (other countries had not banned it openly). It was through the huge sales of Ms. Carter’s book that reflexology became better known in the USA and other places.

Reflexology Set

Eunice D. Ingham died in 1974, leaving her legacy behind her, which has grown by leaps and bounds, particularly in the last 20 years or so. This was particularly because of the efforts of Ms. Ingham’s nephew Dwight Byers, who established a school of reflexology and published important books on the subject, thereby establishing reflexology as a bona fide complimentary medical treatment

            Since that time a great deal of research has been conducted about reflexology and this research is extremely promising. In the UK right now, reflexology is even covered under the health system, and in the USA, Denmark and Japan private insurance covers its use as a medical treatment. The amazing thing is the high rate of success with reflexology. Studies in China found that the use of reflexology provided relief to more than 95% of the patients studied, and this study was done on over 18,000 cases! More and more studies are being done all the time, and the results of these studies are nothing short of amazing.

The Original Work of Eunice D Ingham

            ***(At the present time reflexology is practiced in close to every country in the world, including Kuwait. There are several practitioners here, but it is important to note that there are many types of treatments that go under the umbrella of reflexology, and most of the people in Kuwait who practice are not doing medical or clinical reflexology, but actually doing esthetic reflexology, which is like a glorified foot massage. So, make sure that if you are suffering from a medical ailment that you go to professional clinical reflexology treatments and not esthetic ones, which won’t do much for your problem.)

And for those of you who just like massage… here is a chair that does it all for you right in your home… of course this is not like real reflexology, which is always done by hand (don’t go to reflexologists who use wooden prodders or anything else like that.. )… but this is the next best thing to the real reflexology massage.

Reflexology Massage Chair




History of Acupuncture

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Posted by Mia Ponzo | Posted in Complementary Alternative Medicine, Natural Health | Posted on 26-02-2014

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History of Acupuncture   Acupuncture

We can’t talk about the histories of various alternative therapies, without mentioning acupuncture. It is one of the oldest known medical treatments. In fact, according to many, the only types of treatment that seems to have predated it are herbal medicine and some types of bodywork therapies (massage type).  In China, there is evidence that goes as far back as from 4,000 to 10,000 years ago showing that acupuncture type needles were used. Now, they were more primitive and made out of primitive materials, but they were there, none the less, and were being used in what seems like the same way as they are being used in the present! Now acupuncture is one of the most popular alternative therapies in the world. It is one of the most accepted and respected as well. In fact, there are many places in the West, the USA included, where acupuncture is practiced almost everywhere, and is no longer considered an obscure treatment. Even here in Kuwait, there is an entire branch of a government-run (ministry of health) hospital devoted to nothing else but Traditional Chinese Medicine, near the Shuwaikh industrial area, and there are countless privately run clinics where qualified Chinese practitioners treat people

Chinese Medicine and Healing

Historically, acupuncture can be traced all the way back to the New Chinese Stone Age. There have been many examples of stone acupuncture needles, called “bian” (meaning the use of a sharp edged tool to treat disease), dated from this time that have been found. There are differing accounts as to how it all came about though.

            Chinese medicine is all based on the idea of the natural flow of bodily energy. When the natural flow of this energy is hindered in any way, the body becomes diseased, and when the energy is flowing properly, the body is healthy. This concept came from the religion of the Tao, the history of which goes back beyond 8,000 years ago. While meditating, the Taoists would note the flow of energy between their own bodies and the universal energy. The most notable wise man of that time in Chinese history was a man called Fu Hsi, who lived in the Yellow River area of China. It is said that he is the first person to notate the idea of Yin and Yang (which stands for the eternal dance of good and evil, light and dark, black and white, male and female, cold and hot, heavy and light, etc). This was the basis for the I-Ching, which was and still is the foundation point of Chinese medicine, Feng Shui (another healing art, dealing with the healing of places), Chinese astrology, and more.

History of Acupuncture 2

In hieroglyphs dating from about 1000 BC (Shang Dynasty), the use of acupuncture (and Moxibustion, which is a treatment using burning cones of herbal material) was noted, as well as the discovery of bronze needles also dating from that time period.

            Previously, in the time of the Yellow Emperor (Huang Di) (in around 2600 BC), a dialog is said to have taken place between the emperor and his physician, and this conversation became the basis of a perhaps the greatest written medical work in all of Chinese history, “Nei Jing” or the “Classic of Internal Medicine” (which was only compiled later, between 200-300 BC). This great work consisted of two important sections. One called the “Su Wen” which consisted of medical information such as the etiology, treatment, and prevention of disease, kinds of pathology, anatomy and physiology, and more. The other called “Ling Shu” which consisted of information about the meridians (zones) of the body, bodily energy and energy points, types of needles, needle techniques, and more.

A Manual of Acupuncture

Later on, in the period of the Warren States Era (from around the 200 years preceding 221 BC), metal needles formally replaced the stone needles that had been used for thousands of years. Gold and silver needles that were found in an excavation of a tomb have been dated from that era. From the same time period at least three important works on medicine were written, one on the various types of acupuncture needles, another about the most important medical practitioners of that time, and the third about medical theory.

Acupuncture Model

Over the centuries the Chinese practice of acupuncture has been honed to an exact science, and there have been many, many important volumes written on the subject over the years, as the practice was perfected. Although the practice of acupuncture has changed somewhat over the literally thousands of years of its history, it is still based on the original ancient concepts. Acupuncture is still an important part of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), and is taught right alongside what is considered to be “conventional” medicine in China, although it was discouraged from the 1600’s, and was practically stamped out in the early 1900’s. Luckily though, practitioners continued to practice the art of acupuncture either secretly or unofficially, until its place was restored by Mao Zedong in around 1950, when it began to be practiced side by side with the so-called “allopathic” medicine that had taken over in China for several decades.

Quantum Acupuncture

Presently, in China, as well as the rest of the world, acupuncture and the other corresponding Chinese medical treatments that go along with it, are being practiced with fervor. There are thousands of practitioners of TCM who are experts in acupuncture who have never been to China before, and there are schools of acupuncture and TCM sprouting up everywhere in the world now, particularly in the Americas and Europe.

            The history of acupuncture is long, and over the thousands of years of its practice, the efficacy of the treatment has never been doubted. The practice of acupuncture is much the same today as it was then, with only minor changes or perfections having taken place over all the years of its history, making acupuncture one of the oldest medical treatments in the history of the world. 

Chinese Medicine

 




History of Homeopathy

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Posted by Mia Ponzo | Posted in Complementary Alternative Medicine, Information About Essential Oils, Natural Health | Posted on 24-02-2014

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homeopathy


History of Chiropractic Medicine

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Posted by Mia Ponzo | Posted in Complementary Alternative Medicine, Natural Health | Posted on 20-02-2014

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Ancient Chiropracty History of Chiropractic Medicine

Chiropractic (taken from the Greek “cheiros”, meaning “hand”, and “praktos”, meaning  “done by”– was coined in the late 1800’s or early 1900’s) medicine has been around for literally ages, although not in its present day form. In practically all lands and all cultures there have been “bone healers” of one form or another. Right here in Kuwait we have Arabian “bone healing”, which is a form of healing art passed down through the generations that has been around in this area for thousands of years. Although it is not exactly like modern chiropractic, it is certainly extremely similar to it.

Chiropractic is the practice of spinal manipulation, which is said to literally cure all disease. The theory is that the root of all disease is found in the alignment of the spine and the entire musculus-skeletal system in the body, and thus, the health of the major nerves that come out of the spine. Basically, the idea is that all disease stems from problems in this area, due to imbalances in the central nervous system. The treatment, that has come to be known as chiropractic therapy is based on this theory, and involves manipulation of the vertebrae in order to clear the passages of the nerves, and therefore bring the body back into homeostasis (balance and health). One of the most important and beneficial aspects of chiropractic medicine is that the cure is accomplished completely free of chemical medications and invasive intervention. It is all done in a perfectly natural and safe way, without interrupting the natural energy flow of the bodily systems.

Chiropractic Theories

The Chiropractic Theories: A Textbook of Scientific Research

      Depictions of spinal manipulation have been around for close to as long as recorded human life, and there have even been cave drawings of this type of treatment being done (specifically from France) dating back as far as 17,500 BC! There is evidence of this practice from practically every civilization, including ancient Egypt, ancient Greece, ancient China, and more. In fact way back in the times of ancient Greece, Hippocrates (who is called the father of modern medicine) (460- around 377 BC) stated, “Get knowledge of the spine, for it is the requisite of many diseases.” And another ancient Greek practitioner, from the same time as Hippocrates, by the name of Herodotus, felt that diseases were caused by misalignment of the spinal vertebrae, and used to manipulate the spine in order to cure people. As I mentioned before, in the Arabian Peninsula and surrounding areas, bone setters still practice their art, much as it was practiced thousands of years ago by their forefathers. Here in Kuwait there is one very well-known Bedouin bone setter and a slew of bone setters of Iranian descent. 

Modern day chiropractic medicine has had a much shorter history, beginning in the late 1800’s in the USA by a Canadian born man by the name of Daniel David Palmer. He had long been studying the details of anatomy and physiology, as well as other types of natural healing (he was a practitioner of magnetic healing), and felt that most, if not all, disease stemmed from incorrectly aligned spinal vertebrae. His first actual chiropractic treatment was on a man who had been deaf for 17 years, due to a spinal injury. After adjusting the offending vertebra, he quickly regained his hearing! He introduced the first students to chiropractic, although many people in America didn’t believe in his methods and eventually had him jailed! His son later continued on with his work, helping modern chiropractic medicine on the way to its present popularity by founding the first school of chiropractic medicine in the USA, and eventually getting chiropractic to be recognized as a bonafide practice. Now the practice is recognized in all 50 US states and all over the world. Since the practice of chiropractic has developed over the past century, x rays are now used as part of the diagnostic tools of chiropractors, along with other forms of technology, and specific techniques for spinal manipulation, but the basic practice remains the same, hands on manipulation. Studies have been done that show that chiropractic medicine is one of the most effective forms of treatment for a variety of diseases. A study done in Canada in 1993 showed that the cost effectiveness of using chiropractic was so great that it would save patients and insurance companies literally millions of dollars every single year, particularly in lost wages and disability payments!  

Chiropractic Technique

Chiropractic Technique: Principles and Procedures, 3e

I was personally introduced to chiropractic by my grandmother, who was a pioneer in many ways, and went to a chiropractor regularly in order to help her arthritis. Many years later, when I was suffering from pain in my back, and after going to every conventional doctor I could find, including bone specialists, osteopathic doctors, and sports medicine specialists, none of whom could help me, I decided to try a chiropractor. After only one treatment, the pain I had been suffering for more than a year was 80% better, and with subsequent treatments, disappeared completely! The treatment was done by first taking x rays and other diagnostics and taking a complete medical history. Before the actual manipulation, the muscles were deeply relaxed by applying hot packs to the area for a period of time, and then, while the muscles were still warm and pliable, the various spinal adjustments were done by hand, in order to realign the spinal vertebrae. It was not painful at all, although the sound of the bones cracking was a little disturbing, although I have certainly come to appreciate that sound. I later came to discover a method by which I could adjust my own spine, after warming up first with exercise! I still use this method all the time, along with stretching, and it is extremely effective.

 Presently there are more than 50,000 qualified chiropractic doctors all over the world, and interestingly, although Kuwait has officially recognized the Arabian and Iranian bone setters practicing at the present time, the Ministry of Health doesn’t recognize chiropractic medicine. It is hoped that this is something that will quickly change, and that Kuwait will work together with the world community to get up to speed with the rest of the world in this particular area.

Principles and Practice of Chiropractic

Principles and Practices of Chiropractic

Principles of Manual Medicine

Greenman’s Principles of Manual Medicine (Point (Lippincott Williams & Wilkins))




History of Aromatherapy

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Posted by Mia Ponzo | Posted in Complementary Alternative Medicine, Information About Essential Oils, Information About Herbs, Natural Health | Posted on 20-02-2014

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Ancient Aromatherapy History of Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy is one of those super popular alternative treatments right now. It is right in the mainstream of several disciplines, including both the health and the beauty industry. Naturally, there is a reason for this. Aromatherapy not only works, but it works in the most pleasant manner. I can’t imagine that there is a person on earth who doesn’t like a beautiful aroma, and the greatest scents of the world are infused with the numerous essential oils that are part of the wonder of aromatherapy. So, where did aromatherapy come from? How and when did it get its beginnings?

 

 

            The history of the use of natural essential (volatile, natural oils derived from plants and flowers) goes back much farther than written history. In fact, although the term aromatherapy is new, the practice of using essential oils to heal people is a practice that has been used by every recorded ancient history, including that of the ancient Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Indians, and the Chinese. Even the ancient Aztecs from South America have been found to have used essential oils in healing, and had extensive knowledge on the subject. In fact, the use of aromatherapy goes back much farther than the 6000 years of recorded history that documents it. In fact there are some historians who claim the use of essential oils for healing has been practiced for 20,000 years, and others claim the use of aromatic essential oils as far back as 40,000 years ago! We know this because, even when the ancient people were drawing and writing about its use, it was clear that this ancient medicinal discipline was one they were expert in and that there were certain people specialized in the use of such essential oils. It was an established practice, even then. In fact, their use has been mentioned in every religious text ever to have been written, including the ancient Jewish scriptures, the Bible, and the Qur’an, along with Buddhist, Hindu, Taoist, and others.

Illustrated Ecyclopedia of Essential Oils

 

The ancient Egyptians and others developed methods of distillation in order to extract the volatile essential oil from the plants and flowers. Since essential oils are mostly the volatile (easily evaporated) oils which are like the plants “hormones”, they would easily be collected through this and other methods. Rose water and orange blossom water are two derivatives of the distillation process. So, when you use them to flavor your foods (they are very popular flavorings, particularly here in the Middle East) you are actually using aromatherapy in your food!

            Hippocrates (the father of modern medicine) was well known for his practice of healing with essential oils and plants derivatives. During the Dark and Middle Ages, particularly in Europe, the use of essential oils was a part of every day life. This was never truer than when the plague broke out in Europe. People used essential oils to stave off the devastating disease that was rampant and lethal. It is said that the perfumers (who had constant, daily contact with essential oils) were practically immune to the plague!

Essential Oils Desk Reference

Essential Oils Desk Reference

In fact, it was only at the dawn of what is considered “modern medicine” that the use of essential oils for healing

            The modern day revival of aromatherapy in the West occurred when a chemist by the name of Rene Maurice Gattefosse began using essential oils to cure various ailments in the 1930’s, and it is he who referred to it as “aromatherapy”. He began is journey into the amazing uses of essential oils when he accidentally burned his hand and instinctively plunged it into pure lavender essential oil. He soon discovered the amazingly fast healing qualities of the oil, when his burn healed in record time, and with absolutely no scarring.

In the years following, aromatherapy has taken off, and in the past 20 years or so, its use has skyrocketed. In fact, there is a little known fact about aromatherapy. This quaint alternative healing method was extensively used by medics in World War II, particularly by a French surgeon called Jean Valnet. He used essential oils as strong antiseptics, to ward of infections and the spread of disease, which was rampant at that time. A Frenchwoman called Margaret Maury (who was a biochemist) began using essential oils combined with gentle massage for healing purposes (which is how many modern aromatherapists practice aromatherapy) as it was found to be a very effective method for introducing the essential oils in the bodily systems. There have been several studies that show that application directly to the skin is the ideal method for the use of essential oils, and that they are readily absorbed and miraculously seem to go directly to the needy organ, bypassing other organs that are not in need of the benefits of the oils. 

Encyclopedia of Essential Oils

Encyclopedia of Essential Oils: The complete guide to the use of aromatic oils in aromatherapy. herbalism. health and well-being. by Lawless. Julia ( 2002 ) Paperback

At this point in history, aromatherapy is at its peak, and it shows no signs of slowing down. There is a reason for that. It works and it works well! Aromatherapy is used for beautification and healing purposes right up to the present day. Many claim that there are some essential oils that are so beneficial to the skin that they are considered virtual “fountains of youth”, for example frankincense, rose, and neroli oils. I might add that these are three of the most expensive oils in the world.

From a medical point of view, the use of essential oils is often far more beneficial than any drug that the doctor can give you. It has been documented that there have been people who have had heart attacks, and were clinically dead, who were revived by the use of rosemary oil on the heart reflex of the feet, combined with vigorous reflexology! Now that is amazing!

Complete Aromatherapy Set

Ultimate Aromatherapy 100% Pure Therapeutic Grade Essential Oils Set (Essential Oil Gift Pack)- 32/ 10 ml

Presently aromatherapy is being extensively practiced in clinics, hospitals, and salons all over the world, and is particularly popular in England and other European countries. In fact, there is practically no country in the world where aromatherapy is not being practiced in one form or another. That is certainly a tribute to aromatherapy’s value from a medicinal and beautification point of view. If essential oils didn’t work, people would surely not be using them from the days of ancient history right up to the modern ages, would they? If you are suffering from an ailment or disease, or if you just wish to enhance your skin, try aromatherapy for a most effective treatment.

Plantlife Essential Oils Aromatherapy Set

100% Pure & Natural Therapeutic Grade Essential Oil- Beginners Best of the Best Set 14/ 10 ml (Bergamot, Clary Sage, Eucalyptus, Grapefruit, Lavender, Lemon, Lemongrass, Patchouli, Peppermint, Rosemary, Spearmint, Sweet Orange, Tangerine, Tea Tree)

Wooden Essential Essential Oil Display Shelf

144-Bottle Essential Oil Display Rack 3-Shelf 5-15ml with 1 1/8″ holes

Essential Oil Beginners Kit

Essential Oil Beginners Kit




The History of Arabian Herbal Medicine

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Posted by Mia Ponzo | Posted in Complementary Alternative Medicine, Information About Herbs, Natural Health | Posted on 20-02-2014

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Arabic Medicine

Arabian Natural Medicine   Black Seed

The history of herbal medicine in the lands of Arabia is as old as history itself, as it is in other herbal histories. Ancient Arabian medicine has also been influencing other traditional medicinal practices for almost as long.

            Since the earliest written history, there are records of the Arabs using herbal medicinal cures, and one of the oldest recorded histories of this was Hammurabi’s code, from the 18th Century BC. Apparently the ancient Babylonians were fairly proficient at healing people, and it was their custom to have the sick and suffering lay by the side of the street so that the passers by could have a go at healing them. In ancient Mesopotamia (which covers what are Arabia and the areas of Sham today) traditional medicine was advanced and effective. There are tablets that have been found that go back as far as 3000 BC about ancient medicinal practices. In ancient Egypt, the recorded healing tradition goes back to the most ancient Pharaohs, which is estimated to be around the 3rd millennium BC. There is evidence of this on the pyramids, particularly the older ones, and the papyri that have been discovered over the years. But, in fact, herbal medicinal tradition went back much, much farther than that. Back to far before recorded history. In fact, there was a burial site that was discovered in 1960 from the times of ancient Iraq that had clear evidence of herbal medicaments being used all the way back as far as the times of around 60,000 years ago! Later on, the Arabian herbal tradition was influenced by Islamic medicine as well, which came about in the beginning, through the traditions of the Prophet Mohammad himself, and later, was carried on by other great physicians, such as Ibn Sina (known in the west as Avicenna), Razi, Al Tabbari, and more.  

Greco Arab and Islamic Herbal Medicine

Greco-Arab and Islamic Herbal Medicine: Traditional System, Ethics, Safety, Efficacy, and Regulatory Issues

This ancient medical tradition carried over into the subsequent years, and during the Dark and the Middle Ages, it is said that Europeans were using what amounts to barbaric methods to treat illness, and the Arabs were already using extremely sophisticated, time-tested methods to treat patients.  

            They would treat with herbal medicine with expertise and aplomb. In ancient Arabian medicine, the practitioner would first diagnose the illness by observing and examining the patient and asking him questions. In Arabian medicine, dietary recommendations are tantamount to cure, and the ancient Arabs said that disease begins in the stomach. There is also a prophetic tradition in this regard.

Natural Remedies of Arabia

Natural Remedies of Arabia

The ancient Arabian healers had a huge herbal pharmacopoeia in their expertise. They knew how to use hundreds of local natural herbs in their cures, and were also aware of many herbal usages from other nearby locations as well. There were slight differences in the practices of the doctors from different parts of the Arabian world, with the Bedouin also having their own special version of Arabian medicine, which concentrated on the herbs that were available to them in the desert regions.

            The Arabian medicinal tradition was so strong and effective that later physicians from all over the world were influenced directly by it, and openly studied their cures and comments with regard to the vast variety of diseases that the information covered.

Encyclopedia of Islamic Herbal Medicine

Encyclopedia of Islamic Herbal Medicine

In Arabian traditional medicine there is vast evidence of surgeries taking place, and they were also experts when it came to diseases of the eye. The ancient Egyptians (as well as the Mesopotamian) had expertise in the field of eye diseases, and knew about surgery, as well as gynecology, and internal medicine. They were aware of medicaments that are still used today by Arabian traditional practitioners.

            It is said that there are some herbal remedies that are made with herbs taken from the desert that are better than any modern chemical medication found in the world today, and cure much faster. In traditional Arabian medicine there is also plenty of use of animal derived cures, for example, using the fat of the sheep for a special salve to help rid the body of arthritic pain. Also, important in Arabian traditional medicine is cupping, branding, and blood letting. (Although the Prophet Mohammad didn’t allow branding, he recommended both cupping and blood letting). This is still being carried out up to the present time, and is extremely successful in its cure. In fact, many of the modern essential oils used today were discovered and used since ancient times in ancient Arabia and ancient Egypt (and other places around the Arabian Peninsula). Herbs such as myrrh, frankincense, and licorice are still being used right up to the present time, in modern Arabian lands, as well as in western herbal medicine and aromatherapy.

Medicine of the Prophet

Medicine of the Prophet (Islamic Texts Society)

            In fact, right here in Kuwait, there is a government sponsored herbal medical center based on the ancient Arabian healing tradition, and anyone can go there with a referral from any polyclinic. So, if you are suffering from an illness, go and try some of their expertise and cures. Some of the cures come from a time practically as old as the age of humankind.




Native American Traditional Medicine

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Posted by Mia Ponzo | Posted in Complementary Alternative Medicine, Information About Herbs, Natural Health | Posted on 17-02-2014

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Native American Traditional Medicine

When we talk about Native American traditional medicine, we are really talking about a combination of practices. There are so many tribes in the Americas, and each tribe had (and still does have) its own variation of traditional medicine, although it is all based on similar principles, in that Native American tradition encompasses the idea that man and nature are one. The ancient and modern shamans all practice that ideology, which they say is a balance between our world and the spirit world.

As with most other ancient traditions, Native American medicine has been around since long before the written word, and even then, it wasn’t their written word, but that of the settlers and those who came after them. Some sources claim a history of Native American medicine of up to 40,000 years, or more! The only detriment to the Native American practice of medicine was that it had never been written down, and was traditionally passed down through the generations through first hand information. This was unfortunate, as much of the Native American medical tradition has been lost in this way. Thankfully, though, this great traditional is making a huge comeback, as people from both inside and outside of the tribes are learning the practice of Native American medicine.

Native American Healing

Native American Healing in the 21st Century

Like so many other traditional medicinal styles, Native American medicine is completely holistic. This means that it covers every aspect of human life, including emotional, physical, and spiritual. There can be many aspects to Native American medical practices, including herbal medicine, spiritual ceremonies (these are the shaman practices that are so popular in Europe and the Americas these days), massage-type treatments, the sweat lodge, and even bone setting.   

In the Native American healing tradition, the most important factor is “life force”. (This is similar to the idea of “chi’ or “ki” in eastern medical practices). The essential difference is that in Native American medicine all of the energy around the patient also plays an important part in the healing process. This means that the energy of the healer and even the community are involved. That may be why it is so important to the Native Americans to be “at one” with the land and universe. In the Native American healing tradition disease always has several causes that are all interrelated. And, the goal in healing it is to deal with all these things at once and together. In Native American healing, the healer (shaman) will use visions and spiritual “contact” with “other” world spirits. It is believed that these spirits will help them to heal the patient. In actuality, the shaman doesn’t believe that he (or she) is the healing force, but indeed, it is the spirit or the universal force that is healing them.

Red Medicine

Red Medicine: Traditional Indigenous Rites of Birthing and Healing (First Peoples: New Directions in Indigenous Studies)

With Native American healing, everything around the sick person is taken into consideration. So, when a healer is taking a medical history of a patient, they will ask about spiritual factors, physical factors, emotional factors, and even environmental factors. These are all taken into consideration, and are seen to have an effect on the patient, and even the community’s health. Since Native American beliefs include respecting the earth, this is a factor in disease as well, for example, if the earth isn’t being properly respected, then it will possibly cause people to be ill. (Respect for the earth is one reason why they didn’t want to till the earth (use agricultural means to eat), and preferred to take whatever naturally came out of the earth for them. Illness, in Native American tradition is through to be causes by an evil spirit(s), and as such the healer must call on it and perform ceremonies in order to get it out, or send it on to another, safer place.

The medicine men of the Native American traditional were considered extremely powerful, but in reality, they would be the first to tell you that there was no actual power inside them, but the power came from both the spirit world and the universal energy. The special calling that shamans have is simply a spiritual “incident” where they become “connected” with the spirit world. The Native Americans believe that this happens naturally, and it doesn’t happen to all healers. So, that is the difference between a shaman and an ordinary medicine man. This is a transcending theme throughout many societies and their ancient medical practices, and must have been part of a universal ancient medical tradition that was practiced when the first people were on earth. This is fairly verifiable since shamanistic tradition can be traced independently to ancient Asia, including Siberia, Tibet, and more. Since it is generally believed that the Native Americans are originally from those areas (from way back tens of thousands of years ago) this would make perfect sense.

Secrets of Native American Herbal Remedies

Secrets of Native American Herbal Remedies: A Comprehensive Guide to the Native American Tradition of Using Herbs and the Mind/Body/Spirit Connection for Improving Health and Well-being

Some of the herbs that Native American healers had been using for thousands of years are still used, and have found their way to the modern herbal pharmacopoeia of the West. One of these is sage. This is used all over the world, and is good for almost everything, including fever, infection, and inflammation, in fact, it actually cures the common cold! Willow has always been used for pain, and among the Native Americans it is the same. It is also used for fever, digestive problems, and bleeding problems or open wounds. That is interesting since it has the constituents of modern aspirin. Another commonly used herb in Western herbal medicine is Dandelion, both the root and the leaf. The Native American medical tradition uses dandelion in all its forms for several purposes, including as a blood and liver cleanser, a digestive, and an overall tonic. These are just three of the hundreds, in fact, thousands of natural materials that are used in Native American healing practices.

The Native American healing tradition has been around for thousands of years, and based on the present day interest in its tradition, will hopefully be around for thousands more!




The History of Indian Ayurvedic Herbal Medicine

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Posted by Mia Ponzo | Posted in Complementary Alternative Medicine, Information About Herbs, Natural Health | Posted on 17-02-2014

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Indian Ayurvedic Medicine

Herbal medicine, as we said, has been around since the beginning of time, and Indian Ayurvedic Medicine (Ayurveda means the “science of life”) has been around for ages as well, in fact something like 5000 years ago (some estimates go back as far as 10,000 years ago!). The practice was even documented historically from as far back as 2000 years ago in written form, but it has been around for literally thousands of years longer than the written word. In fact, it is said in the ancient writings to come from divine revelation and what the people called “the universal religion”, which is an interesting term. They also say that the energy that is harnessed for healing is “universal energy”. So, in Ayurveda, it is believed that at one time in the far, far past, all human beings were of one religion! They were also firm believers in the astrological significance of things, including how it relates to one’s health. Now, Ayurveda actually encompasses many, many different healing practices, including hands on healing, gem therapy, yoga, color therapy, universal energy, the charkas, herbal medicine and much, much more, but we will concentrate on the herbal aspects for the most part here. While the concentration on natural, non-invasive healing methods is inherent in Ayurveda, there is also a system of Ayurvedic surgery, which has carried from its beginnings in ancient times, right up to the present. Now, whether it’s true or not is unsure, but many of the old epic writings talk clearly about intricate surgeries, even including eyeball and head transplants! And, if you can believe it, all of this was written during and prior to the 6th Century BC! Thus, it is very likely, if not certain, that modern day surgical practices were taken from the ancient protocols of Indian Ayurvedic medicine.  Also, there are writings that go into great detail on topics that are only still just coming to light in modern times, for example, on embryology and the other minute workings of the human body.

Traditional Systems of Medicine

Traditional Systems of Medicine

Back in 1500 BC Ayurvedic medicine was so important and so well known that people would go to India, to one of the two great Ayurvedic schools of that time, to learn about it, people who were literally from all over the world, far and wide. In fact, it is said by some that every single subsequent medical practice in any country either ancient or modern originated from the practice of Ayurvedic. Nowadays Ayurveda is only known in India, and, unlike Traditional Chinese Medicine, Ayurveda is not popular world-wide, although there are a very few places where people have opened Ayurvedic healing centers outside of India, although there are some in America and Europe.  It is still very important, particularly in India, and that is probably due to the fact that it works. What was good back in ancient times is still good right up to the present. In fact, we even have at least one very professional, clinical Ayurvedic center here in Kuwait.

Ayurveda is based on several things, and takes into consideration a variety of important observations. Then, once the body, system, or situation is completely understood, can a complete system of healing be prescribed, which might include dietary changes, courses of specialized massage with special herbal oils, and herb blends to be taken internally, and more depending on the diagnosis. In Ayurveda every aspect of the human being is taken into consideration, including the body, the mind, and the soul.

Textbook of Ayurveda

Textbook of Ayurveda, Volume One: Fundamental Principles

The most basic delineation in Ayurvedic medicine is the three basic body types, including Vata – Air (also called prana), Pitta – Fire (also called Agni), and Kapha – water and earth (also called Soma), which are supposed to be completely balanced in order to have good health. So, if they aren’t balanced, for some reason, (which is discovered during the initial and subsequent visits with the Ayurvedic doctor through a variety of tests, including interviewing for symptoms, pulse taking, examining the tongue, and more) steps are taken to get them balanced again right away. In Ayurveda, it is believed that the body becomes balanced and unbalanced through the stomach, and thus, the healing mechanisms are aimed mostly to the digestive system. So, when the Ayurvedic doctor determines the root cause of the disease that the patient is suffering from, the causes can be easily balanced. No two people, even those who suffer from exactly the same disease will have the same treatment. Everything will depend totally on the individual makeup of that particular person.

In Indian Ayurvedic medicine it is said that there are six “tastes”, which are each made up of two elements, and include sweet (earth and water- ex. milk, rice, dates), salty (water and fire- ex. salt, kelp), bitter (air and ether- ex. dandelion root, bitter melon), sour (earth and fire- ex. yogurt, lemon, tamarind), pungent (fire and air- ex. onion, radish, ginger, chili), and astringent (air and earth- ex. apple, pomegranate, plantain). It is also important to consider if the food is heating or cooling, for example, sweet, bitter and astringent are cooling, and sour, salty and pungent are heating. In Ayurveda both raw and cooked foods are utilized, depending on what the problem is and what is required to cure it. It also depends on the type of food itself.

Textbook of Ayurveda 2

Textbook of Ayurveda, Volume Two: A Complete Guide to Clinical Assessment

Over the centuries since writing was invented, there have been literally thousands of texts written on Ayurvedic healing and the use of herbs and other healing substances. As of the turn of the turn of the century (1900 AD) over 1800 healing substances had been identified and written about. This tradition carries on today, and the same substances that were used from ancient times are still being used right now, with very, very little change. That is because they didn’t need to change anything. Those ancient writers and practitioners, who claimed to have gotten their information through divine inspiration, were right on the mark from the beginning, as was witnessed by the interest in scholars from the many different countries that flocked to India back in ancient times, to learn all about this medical wisdom. Now, as before, Ayurveda is picking up popularity worldwide, which seems to be a good, beneficial thing. So, if you are suffering from a medical problem, that no allopathic doctor knows how to treat, take it to the Ayurvedic doctors. It is very likely that they will be able to help you!




Chinese Herbal Medicine

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Posted by Mia Ponzo | Posted in Complementary Alternative Medicine, Information About Herbs, Natural Health | Posted on 17-02-2014

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Chinese Herbs

With the natural remedies craze that is happening all over the world now, Traditional Chinese Medicine has taken a proud seat, front and center, in the quest for useful alternative methods of treating one’s medical ailments. Westerners and Easterners alike are being treated by Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioners of Chinese and even western origins. That is because of the fact that it works. Something that has been used by literally millions of people, for literally thousands of years is something you can trust with a fair amount of confidence.

            Chinese herbal medicine is the third oldest known in the world and the first recorded use of herbs and natural medicaments, in the form of a discussion between the Yellow Emperor and his doctor, which is said to have been written by the doctor and scribes of the Yellow Emperor around 2700 BC. (Although this varies depending on who is reporting the history, and most historians set the date much later). But, it is estimated that herbals were being used in China from more than 5000 years ago, and possibly more!  After that first writing on Chinese herbals, another famous Chinese herbalist wrote, arguably, one of the most important treatises on herbs in the history of Chinese medicine. And it was all based on the author’s own observations and experiments. His name was Shen Nong, and his writings are some of the most important of all times, among a host of other important Chinese practitioners. Bearing in mind that much of the ancient Chinese history of TCM is based on myth and conjecture, the best we can do is take the valuable information from the actual writings, particularly the “Materia Medica” of the numerous ancient writers on the subject and benefit from their vast experience and expertise, leaving the actual “history” of who and when to the historians (who, by the way, don’t agree on it either).  

Chinese Herbal Medicine Formulas and Strategies

Chinese Herbal Medicine: Formulas & Strategies (2nd Ed.)

Chinese medicine is based on a total analysis of the body, including the taking of the pulses, checking the tongue, and the overall appearance of the body, and according to what the patient presents. This is very important in TCM, since every factor in the body and in the external environment affects the health of a person, and as such, must be taken into consideration. With Traditional Chinese Medicine, the idea is to carefully get the body to go back to homeostasis (balance) in a gentle way. The ideal method is to get this to happen without any side effects and, with TCM this is accomplished. The goal in Chinese medicine is to keep a person healthy, and to prevent illness from happening, so the Chinese normally see their doctors regularly for treatments when they are not ill, and would get upset with their doctor if they did fall ill!

There are several branches of Chinese medicine that are all considered completely valid. They include acupuncture (which is an energy revitalizing treatment using very thin needles at a variety of important energy points, depending on what the problem is) (along with acupressure (which is like massage, but very specific and strong, on certain pressure points over the entire body, moxibustion (which is a kind of treatment using a special Chinese herb burned over pressure points), cupping (which is using a vacuum to create suction on pressure points, etc.), herbal medicine (which uses traditional Chinese herbs in a variety of ways, including herbal tinctures, herbal infusions and more), “power and spirit” exercises (including Qi Gong and Tai Chi (which are both a kind of martial arts concentrating on the specific use of energy and how to control it), and nutritional therapy (which is therapy based on the diet of the patient, depending on what the patient needs) (all of which we will discuss further later on). Each of these methods is useful alone, and using several or all of them together is the best of all.

Chinese Herbal Medicine

Chinese Herbal Medicine

There are almost 2000 known Chinese herbs that were extensively written about since ancient times in China, and literally thousands of set prescriptions that have been written about in the ancient Chinese herbal books. Presently, there are almost 6000 herbal substances that are written about in the present day Materia Medica. A couple of the more well known Chinese herbs are ginseng (which is also found in some other places in the world as well, and is good for rejuvenation, increasing energy and immune function, and as a general tonic herb), and Dong Quai (which has been used as a general tonic as well, but has come to be known also for it’s benefit to menopausal and post-menopausal women as well). And there are many more where those came from. The ancient herbal practice, along with the wide variety of other medical practices of the Chinese are still being used almost in their original forms up to the present day as well.

Traditional Chinese Medicine is recognized all over the world now, and is accepted as a bonafide medical practice that is valid and beneficial. Even the AMA (American Medical Association) and the WHO (World Health Organization) have clearly accepted Chinese medicine in many ways, particularly in the case of acupuncture.

Chinese Herbal Formulas and Applications

Chinese Herbal Formulas and Applications

Traditional Chinese Medicine therapies treat every sort of ailment from the common cold to cancer and are quite successful, providing the practitioner is qualified and experienced.  There are TCM practitioners all over the world now, in practically every country, including Kuwait. In fact, in Kuwait, the Ministry of Health even has a special branch that only uses Traditional Chinese Medicine and brings specialized doctors of TCM directly from China!




Western Herbalism

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Posted by Mia Ponzo | Posted in Complementary Alternative Medicine, Information About Herbs, Natural Health | Posted on 15-02-2014

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Western Herbalism

The first leg in our tour of herbal medicine will be Western herbalism (also known as Western phytotherapy). That is the tradition that I practice and is the tradition that is practiced in America, where I’m from. Although it is not the absolute oldest herbal tradition, it has certainly been around since the first people inhabited Western Europe and used the herbs they found growing naturally in those areas. From England and the surrounding areas of Western Europe, western herbalism went to the Americas with the settlers and the use of some of the American naturally growing herbs became a part of the western herbal pharmacopeia. The western herbal tradition goes back as far as the Greeks and the Romans and is still valid up to the present time. Throughout the ages there have been some well-known practitioners of herbal medicine, including those most ancient of practitioners, men such as Galen, Dioscorides, and the most famous Hippocrates, after whom the Hippocratic Oath (that all doctors up to the present day still take) was named.

Later in history there were other important herbalists whose herbal traditions were so accurate that their findings are still used now. In fact, when you compare the older herbalists to the newer ones, you will usually find that the older herbalists had far more knowledge than any of the modern ones. People like Nicholas Culpeper are still well-known even now, and their works are still valid.

In fact, it is interesting to note that many, if not most of the modern day chemically formulated medicines that we use today were originally formulated from natural herbals. Later on, certain constituents of the herb were isolated and often reconstructed with chemical additives in order to produce the medicine that is now used. Aspirin is a good example of this process. The ingredient in aspirin that was originally taken from the white willow tree was salicin, which is turned into something called salicylic acid, or the precursor of acetylsalicylic acid, otherwise known as aspirin. Another extremely important modern medicine, which has been said to be “the most valuable cardiac drug in history”, is Digitalis purpurea (otherwise known as garden foxglove, a beautiful flowering plant), was turned into modern day digitalis. This drug is presently used as a cardiac stimulant. The fact is that there are many more where that came from, and more on the way.

Even in these times of amazing technological growth, new discoveries, and synthetic medicines, often the old standards, and herbal remedies are the fastest working, most effective solutions. In fact, traditional herbal medicine is fast becoming the medicine of choice for many, and with good reason. If used correctly and carefully, herbal medicine should have no side effects at all!

Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine: The Definitive Home Reference Guide to 550 Key Herbs with all their Uses as Remedies for Common Ailments

All types of herbal medicine are holistic (meaning for the whole person, physically, spiritually, and emotionally), and Western herbal medicine is no different than the rest in this respect. With western herbal medicine the idea is to gently return the body into homeostasis (natural balance), through as completely natural means as possible. This is accomplished through the medical herbalist’s complete understanding of the patient. The only way this can accurately and successfully be done is by taking an absolutely complete medical history, including environmental, dietary, and familial aspects, and also, taking into consideration the person’s emotional state, life influences, and more. In fact, this is so involved that the initial history taking might take up to two hours, or even more! This is necessary though, because, in order for the practitioner to treat the person properly he (or she) will need to know as much about the patient as possible, in addition to observing the patient and his (or her) reactions to treatment and life in general. At the same time, the person needs to help the practitioner, and over time, the practitioner will be able to see whether or not the person is keeping his end of the bargain by following the advice of the practitioner.

There are around 3000 herbs in the western herbal pharmacopeia, although not all of them are widely used. Some of the most common ones that are used are lavender, which is from England and France, and is so beneficial that it can even kill the worst infection, and prevent the scarring of a serious burn, and Echinacea angustifolia, and Goldenseal herb, which have become two of the most up and coming herbs for increasing the immune system, among other things.

Thus, western herbal medicine, although it has literally been around for thousands of years, is still probably the best choice on your list, in most cases by far. People are constantly amazed at how fast herbal remedies work (although herbal medicine is often rumored to have a slow action). In most cases, they will work so fast that you will forget why you took them. Just be sure to consult a good herbal practitioner (or book, at least) before starting out on your herbal adventure.

And here are a few more really excellent, highly rated books on Western Herbalism from Amazon:

Medical Herbalism

Medical Herbalism: The Science Principles and Practices Of Herbal Medicine

Hebalism

Herbalism