Sleep is one of nature’s greatest inventions and blessings of life. It is a periodic rest of the body which is absolutely essential for its efficient functioning. It has been called ” most cheering restorative of tired bodies. ” Sleep is the indispensable condition to the recuperation of energy. We go to bed fatigued and get up refreshed. Sleep repairs the wear and tear of the body and mind incurred during waking hours.
Nothing is so restorative to the nerves as sound and uninterrupted sleep. Sleep is thus a vital element in a total way of life. It is a basic need in man’s mental as well as physical life. During sleep most of the functions of the body are carried on at the lowest level possible in health.
Heat production is from 10 to 15 per cent below the basal level. The mechanism regulating the body temperature are less sensitive than in the waking state and are depressed by 0.5 to 1.0 degree F. The rate of the heart is reduced by 10 to 30 beats per minute and a decline in blood pressure of about 20 mm occurs in quiet restful sleep. The urine volume is considerably reduced, but its concentration in solids is increased. The tone of all the skeletal muscles is lessened. The eyes are usually rolled upward and the pupils constricted.
Loss of sleep exerts seriously detrimental effects upon the nervous system. Long periods of wakefulness may cause profound psychological changes such as loss of memory, irritability, hallucination and even schizophrenic manifestations. During the last World War, prisoners in Nazi concentration camps who kept awake for days by strong lights and blaring wireless sets, collapsed.
Sleep Versus Rest
For correct living, it is essential to differential between sleep and rest. At rest the body is disturbed by all exterior noises ; but in sleep it is screened from them by partial loss of consciousness and also by what is called ” dream protection. ” One useful purpose of the dream is to convert outside noises that might awake the sleeping person, into fantasies that do not disturb him.
During rest the limbs are normal, but in sleep they swell. Blood flows from the brain, distends the arteries, and makes the limbs bigger. IN sleep more muscles are relaxed than in rest, though the sleeping person changes his position about 35 times in one night, without knowing it. Many organs which work during rest suspend their activities in sleep. Thus the recouping value of sleep is much more than that of rest or simple lying down.
Theories of sleep
Many theories of sleep have been advanced to explain the temporary loss of consciousness which we know as sleep. The oldest theory is that sleep is induced by a reduction in the blood supply to the brain or at least to conscious centers. This is known as ischemic theory. Even the ancient Greek physicians were aware that the carotid artery was in a way concerned with the onset of sleep. The name itself expresses this belief. The Greek word ‘ Karotides’ for carotid arteries is derived from karoo which means ‘put to sleep.’
In modern times, the drowsiness after a meal, presumably due to the diversion of blood from the brain to the digestive organs, is cited in support of the ischemic theory. Another important theory about sleep is the chemical theory.
As a result of experiments in the metabolism of sleeping subjects, it is considered that the fatigue inducing sleep may be a mild form of blood poisoning or toxaemia. This ” poisoning” is believed to be brought on by the expenditure of energy during the waking hours. According to this theory, every contraction of a muscle and every impulse passing through the brain or the nerves breaks down a certain amount of tissue. The debris from broken down tissue is then thrown into the bloodstream. In the waking state, much of the waste from broken down tissue is got rid of through the natural eliminating processes of lungs, kidneys, bowels and skin.
But there comes a saturation point when there is such an accumulation of waste that it cannot be disposed of by these processes and it then invades the grey matter of the brain. In such an eventuality, mental and physical alertness are impaired. It is nature’s warning that the waste product must be reduced to replenish the lost energy. So we get tired and the urge to get sleep becomes irresistible.
During sleep, the cells and tissues that break down to produce toxic waste become less active and the production of toxic waste is vastly reduced. Simultaneously, constructive activities take place within the body during sleep, which rebuild the broken down tissue.
Another theory places a sleeping center in the hypothalamus. Many of the bodily changes in sleep such as constriction of pupils, reduced frequency of heart beat, increased gastric tone and secretion are manifestations of the activity of hypothalamus nuclei, especially parasympathetic centers. Perhaps some of the sleeping pills affect this center in the brain.
Although the various theories have certain amount of experimental evidence to support them, none has really solved what is the most mysterious process in our lives. All we know is that sleep substitutes constructive measures for the destructive processes of our waking hours. We cannot live without sleep.
Another mystery about sleep is that no two persons need the same amount of sleep. Dr. Nathaniel Kleitman, Associate Professor of Physiology at the University of Chicago, who conducted years of extensive experiments at the University’s “Sleeping Laboratory” says that there is no more a normal duration of sleep than there is normal height and weight. A study of 25 subjects spread over thousands of nights showed that the average amount of sleep needed to feel well rested is seven-and-a-half hours, though individuals varied from six to nine hours.
According to Dr. Dennis Williams, a noted authority on sleep, the amount of sleep needed for an individual’s well-being, is determined by what he feels he needs, not by what other people, including the doctor, think is reasonable. On the whole, women sleep from 45 minutes to one hour more than men. The amount of sleep required varies at different ages as follows :
- New Born : 18 to 20 hours
- Growing children : 10 to 12 hours
- Adults : 6 to 9 hours
- Aged persons : 5 to 7 hours
The depth of ordinary restful sleep fluctuates throughout the sleep. In most adults, sleep deepens through the first hour, after which it lightens rather sharply and then more gradually until morning or until the usual time of wakening. In growing children, however, sleep deepens a second time for a little while.
According to Dr. Lindlahr, a famous naturopath, two hours before and two hours after midnight are the most valuable for sleep of all the twenty-four hours of the day. In these four hours, mental and physical vigor are at their lowest ebb and sleep is soundest and most natural.
It is believed that three-quarters of our sleep consists of what is called ‘ slow wave sleep.’ The restorative processes occur during this time. The remaining quarter is taken by what is called ‘rapid eye movement (REM) sleep.’ It is also called paradoxical or dreaming sleep and it comes in episodes of about 20 minutes duration about five times in a night. It involves dreaming, irregular heart rates, raised blood pressure and erection of the penis. It is in this phase of sleep that normal healthy young men may have wet dreams. Both forms of sleep are considered equally important, being normal sleeping rhythms.
There are many theories about good and bad sleeping positions. Practically everyone changes positions several times during sleep. Hence how one starts out is of no consequence. It is a good thing we do turn about in our beds. If we did not, we would awake in the morning stiff, having maintained the same position all night.
For proper sleep, however, one should not sleep on one’s back but on the side with one or both legs brought well up and the head and the shoulder slightly forward.
To Sleep Well
Sleeping pills are no remedy for sleeplessness. They are habit-forming and become less effective when taken continuously. They lower the I.Q. dull the brain and can prove fatal if taken in excess or before or after alcohol. The side-effect of sleeping pills include indigestion, skin rashes, lowered resistance to infection, circulatory and respiratory problems, poor appetite, high blood pressure,kidney and liver problems and mental confusion.
Sleeping well is an art. It needs a perfect blend of healthy habits and control of mind. A clean body and mind, relaxed mood, physical exercises, and perfect dietary control are some of the basic sleep-inducing methods. Unpleasant situations at bed time such as arguments, quarrels, watching a horror movie, listening to loud music which would create anxiety, fear, excitement and worries should be avoided. Such situations stimulate the cerebral cortex and tend to keep one awake.
The sleeping place should be well ventilated, with balanced temperature and free from noises. The bed should be neither too hard nor too soft, but comfortable. The pillow should not be too hard or too high. The bed clothes should be loose-fitting and light colored. Another important rule is not to have heavy food shortly before bed time.
Chromotherapy is a method of treatment of diseases by color. 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 color in the human system. color therapy is a technique of restoring imbalance by means of applying colored light to the body. It was a popular method of cure even in ancient times.
Some 2,500 years ago, Pythagoras applied color light therapeutically and ‘color halls’ were used for healing in ancient Egypt, China and India. The pioneer of modern color 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 subsequently 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 colors are considered at the two extremes with yellow representing the midpoint. These are also the three principal colors in a rainbow. A patient is first subjected to an examination to ascertain which color he lacks. The deficiency is determined by observing the color 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 color, the eyes and nails will be reddish and urine and excrement yellowish or red.
Every substance on earth contains color. Even the rays cast on earth by celestial bodies contain color in the form of white light. The rays of the sun contain seven different colors violet, indigo, blue, green, yellow, orange and red. These are natural colors 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, anemia, leukemia, 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 colors on the body:
Symbolic of heat, fire and anger. It is a stimulating and energizing color. 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, anemia and advanced cases of tuberculosis.
Symbolic of prosperity and pride, orange is useful for stimulating blood supply and energizing 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 is beneficial in the treatment of nervous and emotional disturbances, arthritis, acute cases of consumption and insomnia.
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, syphilis and impotence.
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.
Made up of the blue and yellow, green is regarded as a color 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.
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 color : By the application of light through different colored glasses ; and by external or internal use of color-charged water.
In the first method, sheets of glass, 30 cms. X 36 cms. of the required colors 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 color 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 colors and the required color can be focused on the patient or the affected parts.
In the second method, colored 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 color-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 color-charged water as a single dose. The dose can be repeated as required.
A correct and balanced diet is essential during the treatment of diseases through chromotherapy. The patients should take food items with analogous coloring. The various colors 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 papaya.
- 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 coloring.
- 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.
There are some important contraindications to color treatment which should be borne in mind while adopting this mode of cure. For instance, the red color 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, diarrhea, 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.
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 popularized 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 equalizes 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.
This is a local application using a cloth which has been wrung out in cold water. The cloth should be 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.
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, diarrhea, 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.
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 liters 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 fecal 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, diarrhea, ulcerative colitis, hemorrhoids and fever. A hot water enema is beneficial in relieving irritation due to inflammation of the rectum and painful hemorrhoids. It also benefits women in leucorrhoea.
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 up to 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 yoga asanas, 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, diarrhea, 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.
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 bed sheet 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 scalp 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 Bath
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 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 glass 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 toxemia. It also relieves neuralgia, chronic nephritis, infections, tetanus and migraine.
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 energizes 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 diarrhea, 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 congestion 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.
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.
Nature Cures, not the Physician.
Principles and Practice
Natural medicine, or naturopathy, is a constructive method of treatment which aims at removing the basic cause of disease through the rational use of the elements freely available in nature. It is not only a system of healing, but also a way of life, in tune with the internal vital forces or natural elements comprising the human body. It is a complete revolution in the art and science of living.
Although the term ‘ naturopathy’ is of relatively recent origin, the philosophical basis and several of the methods of nature cure treatments are ancient. It was practiced in ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome. Hippocrates, the father of medicine ( 460-357 B.C.) strongly advocated it. India, it appears, was much further advanced in older days in natural healing system than other countries of the world. There are references in India’s ancient sacred books about the extensive use of nature’s excellent healing agents such as air, earth, water and sun. The Great Baths of the Indus Valley civilization as discovered at Mohenjodaro in old Sind testifies to the use of water for curative purposes in ancient India.
The modern methods of natural healing originated in Germany in 1822, when Vincent Priessnitz established the first hydropathic establishment there. With his great success in water cure, the idea of drugless healing spread throughout the civilized world and many medical practitioners throughout the civilized world and many medical practitioners from America and other countries became his enthusiastic students and disciples. These students subsequently enlarged and developed the various methods of natural healing in their own way. The whole mass of knowledge was later collected under one name, Naturopathy. The credit for the name Naturopathy goes to Dr. Benedict Lust ( 1872 – 1945), and hence he is called the Father of Naturopathy.
Natural medicine is based on the realization that man is born healthy and strong and that he can stay as such as living in accordance with the laws of nature. Even if born with some inherited affliction, the individual can eliminate it by putting to the best use the natural agents of healing. Fresh air, sunshine, a proper diet, exercise, scientific relaxation, constructive thinking and the right mental attitude, along with prayer and meditation all play their part in keeping a sound mind in a sound body.
Natural medicine believes that disease is an abnormal condition of the body resulting from the violation of the natural laws. Every such violation has repercussions on the human system in the shape of lowered vitality, irregularities of the blood and lymph and the accumulation of waste matter and toxins. Thus, through a faulty diet it is not the digestive system alone which is adversely affected. When toxins accumulate, other organs such as the bowels, kidneys, skin and lungs are overworked and cannot get rid of these harmful substances as quickly as they are produced.
Besides this, mental and emotional disturbances cause imbalances of the vital electric field within which cell metabolism takes place, producing toxins. When the soil of this electric filed is undisturbed, disease-causing germs can live in it without multiplying or producing toxins. It is only when it is disturbed or when the blood is polluted with toxic waste that the germs multiply and become harmful.
The whole philosophy and practice of natural medicine is built on three basic principles. These principles are based on the conclusions reached from over a century of effective naturopathic treatment of diseases in Germany, America and Great Britain. They have been tested and proved over and over again by the results obtained.
The first and most basic principle of natural medicine is that all forms of disease are due to the same cause, namely, the accumulations of waste materials and bodily refuse in the system. These waste materials in the healthy individual are removed from the system through the organs of elimination. But in the diseased person, they are steadily piling up in the body through years of faulty habits of living such as wrong feeding, improper care of the body and habits contributing to enervation and nervous exhaustion such as worry, overwork and excesses of all kinds. It follows from this basic principle that the only way to cure disease is to employ methods which will enable the system to throw off these toxic accumulations. All natural treatments are actually directed towards this end.
The second basic principle of natural medicine is that all acute diseases such as fevers, colds, inflammations, digestive disturbances and skin eruptions are nothing more than self-initiated efforts on the part of the body to throw off the accumulated waste materials and that all chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, rheumatism, asthma, kidney disorders, are the results of continued suppression of the acute diseases through harmful methods such as drugs, vaccines, narcotics and gland extracts.
The third principle of natural medicine is that the body contains an elaborate healing mechanism which has the power to bring about a return to normal condition of health, provided right methods are employed to enable it to do so. In other words, the power to cure disease lies within the body itself and not in the hands of the doctor.
Nature Cure vs Modern System
The modern medical system treats the symptoms and suppresses the disease but does little to ascertain the real cause. Toxic drugs which may suppress or relieve some ailments usually have harmful side-effects. Drugs usually hinder the self-healing efforts of the body and make recovery more difficult.
According to the late Sir William Osler, an eminent physician and surgeon, when drugs are used, the patient has to recover twice – once from the illness, and once from the drug. Drugs cannot cure diseases; disease continues. It is only its pattern that changes. Drugs also produce dietary deficiencies by destroying nutrients, using them up, and preventing their absorption. Moreover, the toxicity they produce occurs at a time when the body is least capable of coping with it. The power to restore health thus lies not in drugs, but in nature.
The approach of modern system is more on combative lines after the disease has set in, whereas the naturopathic system lays greater emphasis on preventive method and adopts measures to attain and maintain health and prevent disease. The modern medical system treats each disease as a separate entity, requiring specific drug for its cure, whereas the naturopathic system treats the organism as a whole and seeks to restore harmony to the whole of the patient’s being.
Methods of Naturopathy
Natural medicine aims at the readjustment of the human system from abnormal to normal conditions and functions, and adopts methods of cure which are in conformity with the constructive principles of nature. Such methods remove from the system the accumulation of toxic matter and poisons without in any way injuring the vital organs of the body. They also stimulate the organs of elimination and purification to better functioning.
To cure disease, the first and foremost requirement is to regulate the diet. To get rid of accumulated toxins and restore the equilibrium of the system, it is desirable to completely exclude acid-forming foods, including proteins, starches and fats, for a week or more and to confine the diet to fresh fruits which will disinfect the stomach and alimentary canal. If the body is overloaded with morbid matter, as in acute disease, a complete fast for a few days may be necessary for the elimination of toxins. Fruit juice may, however, be taken during a fast.
- A simple rule:
Do not eat when you are sick, stick to a light diet of fresh fruits. Wait for the return of the usual healthy appetite. Loss of appetite is Nature’s warning that no burden should be placed on the digestive organs. Alkaline foods such as raw vegetables and sprouted whole grain cereals may be added after a week of a fruits-only diet.
Another important factor in the cure of diseases by natural methods is to stimulate the vitality of the body. This can be achieved by using water in various ways and at varying temperatures in the form of packs or baths. The application of cold water, especially to the abdomen, the seat of most diseases, and to the sexual organs, through a cold sitting ( hip) bath immediately lowers body heat and stimulates the nervous system. In the form of wet packs, hydrotherapy offers a simple natural method of abating fevers and reducing pain and inflammation without any harmful side-effects. Warm water applications, on the other hand, are relaxing.
Other natural methods useful in the cure of diseases are air and sunbaths, exercise and massage. Air and sunbaths revive dead skin and help maintain it in a normal condition. Exercise, especially yogic asanas, promotes inner health and harmony and helps eliminate all tension: physical, mental and emotional. Massage tones up the nervous system and quickens blood circulation and the metabolic process.
Thus a well-balanced diet, sufficient physical exercise, the observation of the other laws of well-being such as fresh air, plenty of sunlight, pure drinking water, scrupulous cleanliness, adequate rest and right mental attitude can ensure proper health and prevent disease.
Reiki is a Japanese technique for stress reduction and relaxation that also promotes healing. It is administered by “laying on hands” and is based on the idea that an unseen “life force energy” flows through us and is what causes us to be alive. If one’s “life force energy” is low, then we are more likely to get sick or feel stress, and if it is high, we are more capable of being happy and healthy.
The word Reiki is made of two Japanese words – Rei which means “God’s Wisdom or the Higher Power” and Ki which is “life force energy”. So Reiki is actually “spiritually guided life force energy.”
A treatment feels like a wonderful glowing radiance that flows through and around you. Reiki treats the whole person including body, emotions, mind and spirit creating many beneficial effects that include relaxation and feelings of peace, security and well being. Many have reported miraculous results.
Reiki is a simple, natural and safe method of spiritual healing and self-improvement that everyone can use. It has been effective in helping virtually every known illness and malady and always creates a beneficial effect. It also works in conjunction with all other medical or therapeutic techniques to relieve side effects and promote recovery.
More Reiki information can be found here: Twofeathers Reiki
Reflexology involves the use of different massage and pressure techniques to relax and loosen muscles in the feet and hands. Reflexology is based on the concept that energy zones connect certain areas of the body to the feet and hands. In this way the feet and hands are viewed as maps or mirrors of the body. Putting pressure on and massaging specific points on the feet or hands is believed to affect the corresponding area of the body.
Each foot contains more than 7,000 nerve endings. Technically, foot massage with a clear intention to manipulate these nerve endings is a form of reflexology. To an extent, reflexology can be performed on oneself.
Source: Holistic and Complementary Therapies
Massage therapy is the manipulation of muscle and connective tissue to enhance function and promote relaxation and well-being. It is an alternative and complementary healing modality that dates back to prehistoric times.
Massage therapy can be as simple as a back rub performed by a loved one or as complex as sustained light and deep tissue massage performed by a massage therapist.
Different types of massage therapy and techniques exist. Massage therapy can include pressing, rubbing, pulling, staccato touch, light touch, gliding strokes, matching, back walking, kneading, tapping, shaking, and cupping. These various techniques are practiced differently from culture to culture and may be given different names.
Source: Holistic and Complementary Therapy
Herbal therapy is the use of an herb or any part of a plant for culinary or medicinal purposes. Herbal therapies are also sometimes referred to as “botanicals,” “nutraceuticals,” or “phytomedicines.” Dietary supplements are considered a part of herbal therapy.
Until the 1950’s, the United States federal government regulated herbs as drugs. For example, in 1938, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration passed the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, which required all drugs, including herbs, to be proven safe before they could be sold. In 1962, the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act was amended by the Kefauver-Harris Drug Amendments, which required manufacturers to also prove to the FDA the effectiveness of drugs and herbs before they could be marketed.
Parts of herbs used in herbal therapies include flowers, fruits, seeds, stems, wood, bark, roots, and rhizomes. Herbal remedies are dispensed as brews and powders and can be used in cooking or making drinks. Herbalists, in some cultures referred to as shamans, or traditional healers, also make ointments and poultices out of herbs.
Herbal therapy has been the core of most systems of medicine from the beginning of civilization, and herbs are quickly becoming one of the most commonly used alternative therapies. Some commonly used herbs with therapeutic value are:
- Echinacea – immune stimulant and anti-infection agent
- Ginger – antinauseant and antispasmodic
- Ginseng Root – increased stamina and decreased fatigue
- Kava Kava – calming effect
- St. John’s Wort – anxiolytic and antidepressant
Much more in depth information on herbs and herbal therapies can be found here:
Source: Holistic and Complementary Therapies
Aromatherapy involves the use of essential oils (extracts or essences) from flowers, herbs, and trees to promote health and well-being. In the past decade, most people have turned to natural alternative therapies, such as aromatherapy, to treat stress and relieve disease symptoms.
Essential oils can be used in a variety of therapeutic ways. In addition, many essential oils are potent antibiotic agents. Aromatherapy can also be used to promote sleep, alleviate anxiety or pain, and improve mood. Although the psychological benefits of aromatherapy have been shown, the physiological benefits of essential oils, specifically their antibacterial effects, are still debatable.
Two classical essential oils are lavender and peppermint. Lavender is used to reduce stress and depression and promote relaxation; peppermint is used to treat headaches, digestive disorders, and muscle aches.
Source: Holistic and Complementary Tharapies
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