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Integrated Healing - Integral Health
In the course of history many healers have developed approaches to the treatment of disease and to improve the health of the people in their community. Many of the methods came through intuition and empirical use. As modern science progressed new methods have been developed through the understanding of biology and biochemistry. Recently, with modern technological advances, many of the traditional, empirical, techniques have been found effective beyond the placebo response.
If we incorporate the old and the new, the traditional and the scientific, we increase our tools and chances to achieve health. As we pursue the path of health, for us and for our families, we must understand how our body functions, heals and how we can aid these processes. This is especially important in the treatment of children with special needs; their situation is significantly challenging, requires all the resources available and a full understanding of how a person comes to be and develops to maximize their recovery.
Development of the Embryo:
The whole person starts with one single cell, conceived when the ovum and sperm come together and give the individual it’s own unique ancestral genetic makeup. This genetic endowment will determine how the organism grows, what form it takes, how it will function, what predispositions to disease and what temperament it will have.
The individual genetic characteristics will determine what nutrients the person needs, how the person takes them in, and how well the individual will respond to environmental stress -including toxins, microorganisms and traumas. Some people are able to tolerate offending circumstances better than others. The same trauma, toxin or micro-organism, may barely affect an individual while it will seriously hinder the development and/or function of another.
As the first cell divides and becomes a multi-cellular organism the resulting cells start differentiating from each other and form three separate layers of tissue, the endoderm (inner skin), mesoderm (middle skin) and ectoderm (outer skin), from which various organs and organ systems will develop as the embryo grows.
Even though the organism has various types of individual cells, every cell will continue to be interconnected with the rest of the organism. Each cell will become part of a particular organ system and play a part in the symphony of life of the entire organism.
From the endoderm, the internal organs and glands -the thyroid, liver, pancreas, kidneys, pituitary, pineal gland, sexual glands, etc.- will develop. The bones, muscles, tendons, heart, blood, blood vessels and the lymphatic system develop from the mesoderm. The skin and the nervous system develop from the ectoderm. All these organs systems function in an integrated manner to help person live within its environment.
Nutrition and Regulation of the Cellular Environment:
We will only present here only a superficial overview of some of the basic functions of the body, especially the ones related to the management of nutrients and toxins, since a thorough approach to the subject would take several textbooks.
The body takes in substances from the air breathed, the liquids and foods ingested and what is absorbed through the skin. As the organism processes these substances it will produce waste products that will be eliminated through exhalation, perspiration, urination and stool. This is extremely important in children with special needs and brain injury, because their nervous system is vulnerable and susceptible to the action of toxins or the lack of proper nutrition.
Of course, we also take things in through our sight, hearing and touch. This sensory information will provide the building blocks of our mental world. This aspect of growth of the person is, of course, very important. A caring environment that provides love, safety, support, understanding, structure and discipline are critical for a healthy emotional and psychological life.
All the metabolic processes are coordinated by the nervous system. The airways and the lungs are in charge, primarily, of the management of oxygen and carbon dioxide. The digestive system is in charge of processing and absorbing nutrients. The urinary system is in charge of eliminating waste products of metabolism.
Some organs have various functions. The skin and the mucous membranes in the body also offer a barrier of defense against external elements and help in the process of elimination of leftovers of metabolism and of noxious substances. The liver, besides its function as the main laboratory of digestion, is in charge of detoxifying the organism by rendering inactive various potentially toxic compounds. It also is part of the immune system by participating in the production of lymph and processing lymphocytes, the cells that protect us from infection.
In people who take several medications the liver is working very hard to deal with these extra compounds in the blood stream. In a child, especially if neurologically challenged, who takes strong medications the nervous system grows in a medium of compounds that affects vital functions with their side effects. That is why it is important to limit the use of medications as much as possible.
Just as the organism is influenced by the environment in which it lives, each individual cell in the organism lives within an environment. The more we understand how this cellular environment functions, the better we can help the organism as a whole. The health of this cellular environment depends on what the body as a whole is exposed to and how it deals with it.
Dr. Heinz Reckeweg named the processing and elimination of the waste products of the metabolism of cells and the toxic products ingested “homotoxicology”. He described a series of pathsways the organism goes through to deal with these noxious products. (Reckeweg, 1980)
Even though it may not be apparent, most chronic diseases come from compounds that are or become toxic inside the organism. This will affect especially children with special needs and brain injuries because their immature and inneficient systems can’t handle effectively the burden of toxins.
The first pathway of detoxification is the elimination of toxins. As mentioned above, the body eliminates toxins in the urine, stool, perspiration and exhalation. The second pathway occurs when the body is not able to eliminate the toxins in an effective manner, through the organs of elimination. In these instances the organism will initiate a reaction of inflammation. Examples of these are the processes with names of disease that end in “itis”: like arthritis, dermatitis, etc.
Many times, infections occur when the microorganism finds an environment in the body that is favorable for its growth. Once we change the condition of the body the bacteria will no longer find it welcoming. This is the case with fungal infections, like candidiasis, and bacterial infections like chronic bronchitis, sinusitis or otitis. If we change the host environment the microorganism will no longer grow in the body.
If these inflammatory processes are not successful in eliminating the toxins, or if the process is suppressed with certain treatments, the body will deposit the products in the tissues. For example, if a child with a sinus infection is treated with nasal sprays and antibiotics the body will not be able to eliminated the leftovers of the bacteria and may become predisposed to having a more chronic problem. Of course, there are times antibiotics and other medications are necessary to contain infections.
If the accumulation of toxic products continues, the cellular environment becomes “polluted” and the individual cells start suffering. As the toxins accumulate, the cell start taking in the toxic compounds and the path of impregnation occurs. As that process continues the path of degeneration unfolds and finally the stage of cellular death or cancer occurs.
The goal of a holistic approach to healing is to help the body’s own healing power to handle disease, help to eliminate the toxins it comes in contact with by helping it detoxify and prevent the pathways that lead to the cell injury. This is especially important in children with neurological problems who can’t afford anything affect their already hurt nervous system.
Healing is accomplished by providing the organism a proper lifestyle, breathing techniques, baths, nutrition -including supplements, herbs and other remedies, physical techniques like physical therapy, chiropractic, massage, acupuncture, and psychological techniques like counseling, stress management, relaxation and meditation techniques. With these methods we can achieve health and permit the person to reach their highest potential.
Methods of Enhancing Body’s Function:
1) Breathing: In children we find that breathing occurs mostly using the diaphragm. Some of these children will have difficulty breathing properly and their brains will not get adequate oxygenation. It is important to help them to breath and special respiratory threrapy will help with that.
2) Physical Movement: It is extremely important to improve the function of the heart, muscles, joints and lungs. An active physical program helps to move the blood around the body and supplies the body with the supply of nutrients and oxygen to the cells. An active physical program also will impact the function of the nervous system by increasing the supply of oxygen to the brain, mood, and the growth of the nervous system’s interconnections. An exercise/mobility program is an integral part of a integrated treatment.
3) Nutrition: It is very important to follow mostly a plant-based diet of vegetables, fruits, grains, legumes, nuts and seeds. Plant foods provide a higher amount of fiber, which aids in the process of detoxification of the body. Plant foods also provide a greater amount of essential fatty acids and other substances important for the proper function of the body.
In the process of detoxifying chemical compounds the body produces products that oxydize the body and chemical free radicals that harm the cells. Carotenoids are antioxidants substances found in green leafy vegetables, carrots, apricots, mangoes, yams and squash. Legumes and seeds also have carotenoids. Flavonoids are substances that give color to flowers and fruits. They are very powerful antioxidants and protect against free-radicals. Sources of flavonoids are berries, citrus fruits, onions, parsley, legumes, and green tea.
The fat we eat should be mostly from plant sources. These polyunsaturated fats produce compounds that are beneficial to the body and are mostly anti-inflamatory. Such are the oils of canola, flaxseed and olive. These can help to treat various conditions including allergies. Fats from cold water fish, like salmon, mackerel, herring, and trout are also beneficial.
Most fat from animal sources are saturated and tend to produce products that are pro-inflamatory. “Trans” fatty acids, which are produced chemically, tend to rob the body of beneficial nutrients and predispose to chronic conditions and cancer.
Eliminate refined and simple sugars (corn syrup, honey, maple syrup, white grape juice concentrate etc.) because they stress the control of blood sugar and predispose to mood and behavior problems in sensitive people. Some children with behavior problems will worsen their condition.
If possible, buy organic produce to reduce the exposure to pesticides and herbicides. Exposure to those compounds will tend to predispose to birth defects, cancer and neurological damage. Eating a plant based diet will also reduce the exposure to these compounds since animals tend to accumulate them in their meat since they are usually fed foods that have been grown with pesticides and herbicides.
Eliminate the use of food additives, preservatives (sulfites, benzoates) and coloring agents (FD&C Yellow Dye #5, or Tartrazine). Food additives are used to prevent spoiling and enhance flavor. Colorings are used to enhance the appearance of foods and medicines. These products will also tend to produce mood and behavior problems as well as allergic reactions, like asthma and eczema, in sensitive people, especially in children. They also contribute to the development of cancer.
Drink sufficient water. The proper amount is about 1/4 to 1/3 of the body weight in ounces of water. For example, a person weighing 100 pounds should drink between 25 to 34 ounces of water. The water should be filtered with a purifying system in order to eliminate all the extra chemical compounds put in water. This purified water should be used for consumption and cooking. Many children with neurological problems will react to chemically treated water in their showers and baths and will require a water treatment system for their bath water.
It is also important to identify and manage food allergies. Food allergies will tend to promote mood and behavioral difficulties, arthritis, dermatitis and other conditions.
Because the foods produced today often lack adequate mineral and vitamin content it is often necessary to use supplements to provide the body with the necessary nutrition. At times the body can’t absorb enough nutrients because of a problem with digestion and will require the evaluation of digestive and assimilation processes.
Because the foods produced today often lack adequate mineral and vitamin content it is often necessary to use supplements to provide the body with the necessary nutrition. At times the body can’t absorb enough nutrients because of a problem with digestion and will require the evaluation of digestive and assimilation processes. Other specific compounds may be necessary to help the body detoxify toxic compounds, especially heavy metals like lead and mercury, or to maximize the detoxifying mechanisms of the body.
4) Homeopathy: Is a system of medicine developed by Samuel Hahnemann at the end of the eighteenth century. It consists of the use of mineral, vegetable and animal substances capable of causing in a person the same symptoms that need to be treated when suffering from disease. These substances are used in infinitesimally small amounts. They are supposed to stimulate the body’s own healing mechanisms without any toxic effects. An example of homeopathy is the use of the onion to treat colds, or coffee for the treatment of insomnia. Another way to use homeopathic remedies is in the treatment of toxicities, like the use of Mercury, Arsenic or Lead, for the treatment of intoxications with each one of these substances respectively.
5) Acupuncture: Is an ancient Chinese system of treatment used to treat conditions by inserting needles, or applying combustive herbal cones, onto specific points in the skin. The theory proposes that disease occurs when the life force, “chi”, is in disharmony, in excess, deficiency, or stagnation. The purpose of treatment is to bring the life force, the “chi”, into balance.
6) Botanical medicine: There are various traditional systems of medicine that uses herbs, such as the Chinese, Indian Ayurvedic and Western, for the treatment of disease. Research is proving that particular herbs can help in the treatment of various conditions. Qualified practitioners will be able to find the appropriate herb for a particular condition.
7) Nature’s Elements: Baths, compresses, poultices, packs, douches, enemas, have been used since times since times immemorial to improve health. They are used to help detoxify, decrease inflamation, and cleanse the body.
Krohn J., Taylor, F. (2000) “Natural Detoxification, A Practical Encyclopedia, The Complete Guide to Clearing Your Body of Toxins”, Hartley and Marks Publishers, Pt. Roberts, WA.
Murray M., Pizzorno J.,(1998)”Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine”, Prima Publishing, Rocklin, CA.
Reckeweg, H.R,(1980)”Homotoxicology, Illness and Healing by Antihomotoxic Therapy”, Menaco Publishing Company, Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA.