Make Peace With Chronic Disease, Not War
Although chronic disease leads to a great deal of suffering, my experience is that these conditions are extremely responsive to inexpensive lifestyle changes. Chronic disease is defined as any ongoing, degenerative condition that does not resolve within three months. Diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, autoimmune disease, obesity and arthritis are examples. Here are a few salient recommendations that are highly likely to greatly reduce the burden of chronic disease:
Find a physician. Find an open minded physician well versed in herbal medicine but who can prescribe prescriptive medication judiciously. Herbs offer the most well balanced, effective therapy capable of targeting multiple systems. In the Rogue Valley, most naturopathic physicians and a few nurse practitioners and medical doctors fall into this category.
Connect to the Earth. Grow a garden and walk outdoors barefoot. This is a simple way of establishing a connection to the outdoors. Your garden does not need to be large. A goal might be to grow 3-4 kale or spinach plants that you can use as a source of greens. If you do not have space for a garden or your condition prevents you from digging, plant the spinach in pots. However, some sort of physical connection with the earth is imperative. The soil contains microbes that are important for proper intestinal health; in fact, many of the microbes in our digestive tract are identical to those found in soil. Further, the earth is an electromagnetic organism. By walking barefoot on grass or in the soil, the body reconnects and harmonizes with the electromagnetic flow from which we have become distinctly and uniquely separated.
Make a smoothie with a friend. Committing to morning smoothies are a great way to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into your menu. What’s more, those who have difficulty swallowing pills will be happy to know that most herbal capsules can be added to the smoothie. I encourage you to take at least forty five minutes to make your smoothie and to share it with at least one other person. Naturally the process can be shorter than that, but both haste during meal times and lack of community are two attributes of our society that I encourage my patients to change. Taking the time to connect with others and with your food will also help the digestive process. Make the smoothie tasty! Berries, coconut oil, carob powder, cacoa nibs and some organic juice or almond milk will contribute to a satisfying flavor. Adding seeds (pumpkin, flax, chia, hemp and sesame) will contribute important essential fats. Add several robust handfuls of greens, including the ones you grew yourself.
Breath work. Many of us breathe with shallow, restricted breaths that fail to saturate our bodies properly. Spending time practicing specific breathing exercises will result in better energy, sleep and digestion and begin to reverse the cellular damage that lead the disease. Additionally, incorporate walking into your day. This is the form of exercise the human frame evolved to do! A brisk 3-4 mile per hour pace should break a sweat. Start with 10 minutes a day and work up.
Raise your body temperature. Forests must periodically experience fires in order to burn up detritus that has accumulated on the forest floor. Otherwise, so much fuel will accrue that a lightning strike will result in a raging inferno. The analogy is apt: Our society teaches us to suppress our natural immune responses (such as fever) with ibuprofen and other drugs to such an extent that toxic “detritus” builds up. Many folks eventually erupt in a conflagration: chronic disease. As a matter of fact, the immune system of most of my patients are so suppressed, it is only rarely that they record a temperature of 98.6º. I recommend saunas and epsom salt baths (preferably sipping tea with diaphoretic herbs) at least three times a week to help the body to burn off its “detritus”.
Chronic diseases need not dominate our lives. Incorporation of these five important suggestions will go a long way toward optimizing our health.