Natural remedies are advertised for all varieties of health problems and disease prevention. People are told to take flax seeds to get their omega 3 fats to prevent heart disease or treat constipation, aloe vera to help your stomach and cayenne to promote circulation.
People are told to eat a lot citrus for vitamin C, oatmeal for fiber to lower your cholesterol and raw foods for enzymes. There is a grain of truth to the claims that are being made. The problem is that this was not how foods or remedies were understood. If we ignore the traditional understanding of remedies, not only will the remedies not help a health issue, it may make the health problem or the person worse.
Before exploring the idea that there is another way to understand food remedies, it is important to understand that knowledge of the nutrition in specific foods is useful in knowing what foods are good for health. These nutritional aspects of foods can also be utilized in a broader context.
Traditional cultures view foods, herbs and other remedies as having a specific energetic effect on the body and mind. In order to zero in on which foods, herbs and remedies are good for the organs and specific symptoms, natural remedies were matched with the energetic nature of the illness or organs of the person.
Both eastern and western traditional medicines before the development of allopathic medicine employed this approach. One example of this energetic or vitalistic approach is that remedies were identified as having either a cooling or warming effect.
Disease states were also identified as having a cooling or warming nature. For example, if someone was experiencing a mild fever and was craving warm foods and drinks with little sweating; these signs would indicate a temporarily cold condition in traditional Chinese medicine and oriental medicines from other countries. In addition to dietary suggestions, a tea that would be advised to warm this condition and create balance is ginger tea.
If the fever was very high, the person craved cold foods and drinks, and wants to be cooler, then throw off the covers on the bed. This is considered a temporarily hot condition. Mint tea or other cooling teas would be appropriate.
It should be noted that the herbal tea bags that one buys at the health store, do not have a medicinal amount of tea. When herbal teas are prepared as a remedy, 4 or more times the amount of herb in a teabag is used.
In a Full Spectrum Macrobiotic Approach using my IDX Diagnosis® method, I also interpret the symptoms of a person’s condition according to a modern biological understanding. From this view, a temporarily hot condition indicates that the metabolism is overactive while a cold condition indicates a person has a lower metabolism.
In addition to temporary symptoms, a person may have chronic symptoms. Chronic symptoms in my IDX system of diagnosis indicate a longer-term condition of imbalance. If a person experiences long term symptoms of low spirits or depression, exhaustion, paleness, anemia with frequent colds and flu's, it indicates a cold condition and a deeply deficient energetic state.
In the idea and approach that one herb is good for an organ, someone might think that cayenne pepper will warm up the person because it is said to increase circulation. Spices like cayenne pepper create a temporary heat that then stimulates and releases the internal energy of the body. This creates more weakness for certain conditions and does not improve the cold condition. In hot climates people traditionally ate more spicy foods to cool down the body.
A better remedy for a chronic cold and deficient condition would be to take remedies that are made from barks or roots such as Siberian Eleuthro or American or Chinese Ginseng. American ginseng is better for general use. For the use of Chinese Ginseng, much more information is needed about a person’s condition in order to recommend it. Chinese formulas that have either ginseng or a ginseng substitutes are generally better for deficient cold conditions because other herbs in the formulas balance it.
To understand why roots or barks are recommended, it is helpful to think in a more holistic fashion. In a naturalistic view, the characteristics of a substance are en-trained into the body. Barks and roots being harder and denser create strength in the body. These substances are seen as gathering energy into the body to build up internal strength and power.
By the above examples, it is easier to see that for the use of natural remedies, one size doesn’t fit all. The remedies have to be matched for the person’s condition and symptoms. This is what I do in my health consultations. For personal knowledge and for helping others, I present methods for people to be able to utilize this type of diagnosis and treatments in my Diagnosis +Nutrition Health Coach Training program.