Naturopathy uses the five elements of nature — fire, water, sky, earth and air — to treat various ailments. With a new DVD about Mahatma Gandhi’s teachings on naturopathy set to release soon, Deepali Dhingra speaks to naturopaths to find out how these elements can be utilised for healing
One of author Criswell Freeman’s famous quotes says, “Healing takes time. Despite great advances in medicine, the biggest part of your recovery is attributable to the enormous healing power inside you. The body heals itself according to its own timetable — anxious thoughts never hasten recuperation.” We’re sure Mahatma Gandhi would agree because the father of the nation was a great believer in the power of the body’s own healing abilities. He advocated naturopathy, which also forms the basis of health guru Mickey Mehta’s upcoming DVD titled Gandhi — The Healer. The two-part series has been shot across seven locations in the country and brings forth Gandhi’s practices of nature cure
Mickey Mehta, holistic health guru
Mehta, who is the director, anchor, presenter and conceptualiser of the project, believes that healing happens through forgiveness, love, compassion and non-violence. “When aggression is neutralised, that is the beginning of healing,” he asserts.
Naturopathy is a form of treatment that uses the five elements of nature — earth, water, sunlight, akash (ether) and air. However, the treatments here can only control ailments, not cure them. “It is a lifestyle modification,” says Dr S Subhash, Bachelor of Naturopathy and Yogic Sciences at Nirvana Naturopathy & Retreat near Igatpuri. We take a look at these elements and how they can be used for healing purposes:
Hot water relieves pain, while cold water reduces swelling
The cleansing properties of water cannot be more emphasised. The human body, after all, is made up of 75 per cent water. Dr S Subhash says that hydrotherapy can be used in both ways – hot water for reduce pain and inflammation and cold water to reducing swelling. Hydrotherapy, adds Dr Chaturvedi, is also used to cleanse the body, thereby improving blood circulation and curing insomnia.
It’s in the air
Breathing right is important for well-being
We all breathe, but most of us are not aware of the correct breathing techniques. Wrong ways of breathing can lead to an imbalance in the body, leading to sluggishness and other problems. The element of air can be utilised for healing the body through breathing exercises, open-air baths and walking outdoors. Dr Chaturvedi believes in the concept of ‘Sau dava ek hawaa’ (Hundred medicines, one air). “The toxins in our body are removed when we breathe in pure air. A 20-minute walk in a park can rejuvenate a person. Lungs become stronger and the body is able to fight diseases better,” he adds. Local steam too is administered in some cases.
Here comes the sun
The early morning sun is good for you
In a study conducted last year, it was estimated that over 80 per cent Indians suffer from a lack of Vitamin D. Insufficient Vitamin D leads to a number of ailments, including back pain and type 1 and type 2 Diabetes, in some cases. Naturopaths suggest sunbaths to keep these problems at bay. “The element of sun or fire in our bodies is hydrochloric acid, which helps in digestion. But its excessive secretion leads to many problems. A walk in the sunlight for 30 minutes every morning is recommended,” says Dr Shailendra Chaturvedi, senior naturopath at Ratan Veer Nature Cure Centre in Gujarat.
According to Dr Chaturvedi, the essence of naturopathy lies in removing toxins from the body, thus, helping it cure itself. “The representative of earth in our body is the muscles and bones. When we apply mud to the body, it opens up the pores and sucks out the toxins,” he says. Mud packs or mud baths have an anti-ageing and anti-inflammatory effect on the body and can be used in the treatment of various skin diseases. Herbal mud is also applied for people with skin problems.
Just as we require a holiday to recuperate from stress, our body, too, needs to fast in order to fight ailments, explains Dr Chaturvedi. “When the toxin levels of our body goes up, we get fever. That is the body’s way of telling you to observe a fast, as the vital force required to digest the food can then be used to fight the disorder,” he says. Steam baths are also recommended for patients suffering from obesity.