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Basic Principles of the Natural Health Philosophy

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One of the body's natural means of staying healthy is its ability to detoxify itself. Many of the harmful substances we absorb, inhale or create, are rendered harmless and expelled from the body. The organs of detoxification are the liver, kidneys, bowels, lungs and skin.

Detoxification

One of the body's natural means of staying healthy is its ability to detoxify itself. Many of the harmful substances we absorb, inhale or create, are rendered harmless and expelled from the body. The organs of detoxification are the liver, kidneys, bowels, lungs and skin. Avoiding harmful substances such as junk food, drugs and smoke, as well as supporting the organs in their detoxifying action is vital in maintaining and restoring health. Sufficient fluid intake supports the eliminating function of the kidneys, the bowels and the skin. We often forget the skin's function as a detoxifying organ, and yet many therapies rest on this ability, including saunas, which promote sweating. Fever is a natural means of toxin elimination during sickness. The heat triggers chemical reactions that enhance the immune system, and destroy bacteria and viruses. By routinely reducing fevers, we remove the body's self-healing mechanisms. Only when a fever becomes dangerously high should we attempt to lower it.

Healthy circulatory and lymphatic systems support detoxification. When these become sluggish, many waste products are left behind in the tissues. Regular exercise and alternating hot and cold baths invigorate both the circulatory and lymphatic systems. Dry brushing the skin is a European method of improving skin function. Besides serving to cleanse the skin of its layer of dead cells, it also promotes circulation and stimulates detoxification.

Fasting is a very effective method of detoxification and purification. It can also be an inspiring and motivating experience. An ancient tradition, fasting has been used for religious and spiritual purposes, to cleanse and to strengthen the body and spirit. Its benefit of preserving and restoring health is well documented. Fasting has alleviated a wide variety of chronic illnesses, including arthritis, skin problems, chronic inflammation, constipation, migraines, even gallstones and kidney stones. Although it is not appropriate for everyone, fasting is an effective way of moving toward a healthier diet and removing attachments to food, drugs and alcohol.

In the natural treatment of chronic illness, a healing crisis, a temporary worsening of symptoms, often occurs before a condition improves, as a result of detoxification. The aggravation of symptoms is due to the release and elimination
of toxins that have remained in the body for long periods.

Digestion

Just as important as ridding itself of toxins, it is vital that the body has the nourishment and energy to defend and renew itself. Today, many people are fraught with problems relating to the digestive tract, whether it is indigestion, constipation, heartburn, gas, bloating, colitis, ulcers or otherwise. The list is endless, as are the chemicals offered to provide temporary relief. To add to the problem, poor absorption and assimilation of foods have the potential to cause further trouble, especially nutrient deficiency syndromes like anemia. Even food allergies, which are so widespread today, are thought to be the result of improper absorption of food particles. Improper nourishment not only comes from a poor diet, but also from poor digestion.

Digestive health requires healthy foods, frequent small meals and freedom from stress and anxiety. Worries can also be the source of colics and ulcers. Overfilling the stomach and eating hastily promote indigestion. Digestion begins with the smelling and tasting of food, and chewing properly is a small but effective first step toward proper digestion.

The digestive tract's ability to nourish the body is compromised if imbalances occur. Stomach acid supports digestion and destroys bacteria that cause gas and bloating. Too little acid hinders digestion and disinfection, while too much acid eats sores into the mucous membranes of the stomach. The digestive organs, including the intestines, liver, gall-bladder and pancreas, function to provide proper digestion and assimilation of nutrients. They should be maintained through a natural healthy lifestyle.

Stress Reduction

The ability to cope with stress lies in attitudes and reactions, whether you see upsets as challenges or defeats. There is no doubt that many people today live in a high-stress environment. The need to reduce stress levels and make them manageable is essential for healthy living.

Various techniques exist for coping with stress. Hard physical work and fresh air are the greatest insurance for a good sound sleep. Physical activity is one of the simplest and best techniques for releasing stress and achieving overall relaxation. Another method is deep breathing, which elicits a more immediate response to anxiety and stress. Any situation that introduces stress causes breathing to quicken and the muscles to tense up. Calming yourself by deep abdominal breathing can relieve anxiety and tension immediately. Proper breathing can be coupled with a conscious relaxation of each of the body's muscles, starting from the face and neck right down to the feet and toes. This technique can be performed in any comfortable position, ideally lying down. It is helpful to tense each of the muscles before releasing and relaxing them. In this manner, the body is forced to relax.

Another valuable method of reducing stress levels is to be aware of your surroundings and how they contribute to your anxiety level. The work environment is usually high on the list of stress-inducing factors, if only because of the sheer amount of time spent there. Maintaining a comfortable home environment is important, especially as a refuge for relaxation. Unnatural or insufficient natural lighting, poor air quality and improper use of space are just some of the problems that contribute to high stress levels. Noise, crowding and air pollution cause additional problems, especially when coupled with city living. Although not all of these problems can be changed, recognizing their effects on you can help you to devise ways to counteract them. For example, realizing that insufficient light and space adversely affect the way you feel can provide you with the motivation for a daily walk in the local park or a weekend hike. Indoor air quality can be improved with non-flowering plants and open windows. With a little effort, your home or work space can be reworked to offer the highest level of comfort.

Immune System Support

In the last few decades, a great deal of information has been revealed about the immune system and its truly amazing power to destroy bacteria, fight viruses and eradicate foreign substances. When the immune system functions optimally, the body is best able to fight infectious illness, cancer, allergies and autoimmune diseases. The immune system is affected by every aspect of our life, especially diet and the ability to cope with stress, grief, rest and daily situations. Disease resistance is complex, as it depends on this coping mechanism and on the environment, the exposure to cold and heat and the strength of a particular germ or virus. The immune system is continually developing and evolving. Native peoples in North America, for example, were nearly wiped out by diseases they had never been confronted with before, diseases that no longer posed a serious threat to the Europeans who brought them. Training the immune system to function naturally is vital to maintaining and restoring health. Antibiotics and vaccines hinder the immune system's ability to fight infection, causing immune degeneration and increased susceptibility to illness.

Simple habits can support the defense system. Keeping the vital organs healthy through regular physical activity, fresh air, rest, good nutrition and nutritional supplements provides a sound basis. Ensuring proper elimination of toxic waste, by helping the body's detoxification processes, is also important. Sweating, supporting the kidneys with sufficient fluid intake, and maintaining regularity in the bowels with adequate fiber and exercise are all helpful. Increasing resistance to the elements by using saunas, alternating hot and cold water therapies and dry brushing are also simple, effective aids.

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