Hippocrates and the start of holistic medicine

Hippocrates and the start of holistic medicine

Hippocrates

Most of you will be familiar with the ‘Hippocratic Oath’.  A practice where young doctors swear before to uphold an ethical code that won’t harm the patient and will keep all medical history confidential. But few know more about this Ancient Greek doctor. So let’s look at why Hippocrates’  work is still so influential almost 2400 years after his death?

Hippocrates of Kos (who lived around 460-370B.C.) is often referred to as the ‘Father of Modern Medicine.  He was the first physician to diagnose disease based on a medical condition rather than seeing it as a punishment from the Gods, separating biological medicine from religion for the first time. He was also the first doctor to make a valid link between health and adequate, healthy nutrition,  exercise, and environmental factors such as a good standard of hygiene and a balanced mental state. This was ground-breaking work in then effectively rural Ancient Greece.

Observing various stages of illness, he came up with a systematic categorization of diseases and founded the Hippocratic School of Medicine. Although the human anatomy was then not well-researched (in fact we know now that some methods described were clearly wrong), many observations survived and are still a valid part of modern medicine. What made Hippocrates’ approach so appealing is the fact that he was the first doctor to have a ‘whole-body approach’ to medicine. Once a disease is diagnosed it is of course priority to deal with the acute illness.  But Hippocrates believed that prevention and keeping an overall balanced state of health before and after an acute illness is the ultimate goal. A concept that we are slowly losing in our current medical system.

 How is this relevant to the LWTM Lifestyle?

We believe that keeping a healthy body-mind-soul balance is key to a happy and healthy life. Hippocrates borrowed some concepts from the Babylonians (check out this article about their calendar system) who linked body regions with positions in the sky. This meant that within 28 days all the organs/body parts are highlighted for at least 2-3 days at each time.  This may be an outdated concept medically speaking, but it is a great way of working on your body in an equilibrant way within a whole moon cycle. We have therefore added the body symbols to the LWTM lifestyle calendar and called this series ‘ Keep Fit and Healthy From Head to Toe’. 

Astroman 

keep fit and healthy from head to toe

 Here is Astroman, a depiction of how surgeons operated until the 19th century. Today we of course aim for the best surgical procedure when diagnosed with an acute illness. This could even mean robots operating and other high-end technical procedures, regardless of what the stars are doing. But working on each body area for 2-3 days each month will make sure that you pay equal attention to the whole body.  The aim is to prevent diseases from forming in the first place. If you have certain problem areas, then of course spend more time treating that specific body region. 

 

Illnesses do not come upon us out of the blue. They are developed from small daily sins against nature. When enough sins have accumulated, illnesses will suddenly appear

Hippocrates

 Keep fit and healthy from top to toe 

With this program, we hope that you can do your fair share to prevent disease and correct ‘these little sins against nature’ as and when they occur. Look after your overall health by: 

  • Keeping a well-nourished body and a healthy weight
  • Having an optimistic, can-do outlook and being kind to others
  • Keep well-balanced mind
  • Look after your environment (your home and nature) 

Remember – you alone are the master of your own destiny. Have a look at the LWTM lifestyle calendar by clicking the link below and check out the recommended suggestions and tips. 

Have a look at the LWTM Lifestyle Calendar.  What body part is highlighted today?

 

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Stewardship of the land

Stewardship of the land

weeding   This article explores the history of agriculture and how it turned into our recent way of farming that is so reliant on artificial fertilizers and pesticides. How can we use the stewardship of the land in a better way?

The history of artificial fertilizers and pesticides used in agriculture

We all can make a big impact, positively as well as negatively. When it comes to cultivating the land, nature always took care of itself, and the rhythmic cycles  –  preparing the soil, planting, harvesting, and composting in preparation for a new growing cycle –  took care of itself for thousands of years. The soil was rich and full of life. There were millions of tiny creatures involved in this delicate process. Fungi, earthworms, insects, and microbes all lived harmoniously in the soil. Microbes cultivated the crops and even colonized the guts of the humans and animals that ate these plants. It all worked in a harmonious, ever-repeating cycle.

Historians think that the earliest form of agriculture arrived with the domestication of wild animals such as horses, pigs, and cows and can be traced back to around 10,000 B.C.

During the Bronze Age (around 3,300 B.C.) more sophisticated ways of agriculture sprang up and modifications to harvest cycles and best planting practices – like Biodynamic planting dates – were established. All these were organic tools with the intent to enhance harvest production.

The arrival of the first fertilizers

The first introduction of artificial fertilizers was undertaken during the early part of the 19th century. John Bennet Lawes began the first scientific investigations about adding inorganic fertilizers (mainly phosphates) onto fields to increase crops with moderate success. But other than these early steps the organic way of farming and gardening remained largely unchanged until World War 1 (1914-1918).

The Haber-Bosch process

The first patents for synthetic ammonium nitrates and other chemical fertilizers emerged from Germany. In 1910 Carl Bosch, working at the time for the chemical giant BASF, started to secure a number of patents for the use of synthic chemicals to increase crop production. He teamed up with Fritz Haber and both won a Nobel prize in 1918 for their Haber-Bosch process. This method is still the main formula to produce artificial fertilizers. Basically, this process converts nitrogen(N2) to ammonia (NH3) by a reaction with hydrogen (H2).

In the years after World War 2, more patents were sought and the use of synthetic fertilizers increased rapidly. Countries like China, Russia, and even Vietnam used these products in great amounts and Russia remains to this day one of the leading producers of artificial fertilizers.

Pesticides

The real problem started when pesticides were used in tandem with artificial fertilizers.  Again during World War 1, chemical warfare started to be introduced for the first time as a new weapon to kill soldiers in the trenches. Factories had to be remodeled to manufacture and supply these substances, mainly consisting of mustard gas and tear gas. But the war was short and once it was over, all these factories stood idle.

Pesticides such as arsenic, mercury, and sulfur dusting have already been used by the Sumerians in 2000 B.C. but in very small quantities and overall the soil health remained intact. However, after World War 1 and especially after World War 2, its use increased enormously.  It is estimated that the worldwide use of pesticides today measures around 2.5 megatonnes per year and this has, of course, a huge impact on the health of our soil and as a consequence our health.

The main detriment is killing the useful bacteria, microbes, and all the millions of other insects and species that help with the composting and the soil preparation. By killing them all, the soil turns to dirt – void of all life, and artificial fertilizers have to be used in ever-increasing quantities to assure a successful crop. The more we destroy, the more we have to artificially feed the plants. It is a cycle of destruction and sadly many farmers are now stuck with this process. To build up a new soil structure takes time, a lot of time. And many farmers would not commercially survive this conversion. This brings me to the next point of stewardship of the land.

 

The Stewardship of the land

 The fundamental way of human existence is to be connected to the natural cycle and the feeling of being at one with nature. We are not above it, far from it! 

We are an integral part of the all-natural processes and share this planet with plants and animals in equal measures.  We need to respect them and in turn, will be enriched by their contribution to the natural cycle. It should be a cycle of mutual benefit, not destruction. 

 

The introduction of artificial fertilizers was not all evil. Initially, it was seen as a means to serve a growing population with increased food security and lower food production costs.  But now we know that this has not happened and starvation still exists. Instead, farmers are held to ransom with increasing fertilizer price rises and worthless soils.

We better had listened to Rudolf Steiner’s warning exactly 100 years ago when he predicted all this and gave lectures to regain soil health and the linked food production and gut health. At the time this approach was ridiculed by many established scientists and the connection was only proven a few years ago.

As I mentioned above, we all can have an impact, positively and negatively. You may not be able to grow your own food, but at least you can source food from responsible food growers who work with the land and its natural rhythms.  It may cost a tiny bit extra as this way of farming is slightly more labour intensive and it takes more time to keep the soil in a good state. But by doing this, these farmers make sure that the land keeps its fertile soil and is in a good state of health when it is eventually passed to the next generation and the next after them. We all share responsibility in this and we all share in the stewardship of our precious Earth.

Here is an article that explains more about gut health and weight control

 

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 An Introduction to LWTM

Biodynamic skincare

Biodynamic skincare

Cleansing Beauty Treatments
Why should we vary our skincare routine?

If you have read other articles on the LWTM blog you will be familiar with the biodynamic principle that days have not only dates but also varying qualities. I think most of us would agree that we don’t feel and act the same every day. On certain days we feel energetic and sociable, at others more emotional and withdrawn. Just look at the natural world.  Plants are not in bloom all year round. There needs to be some rest between busy times to regenerate. It is therefore a logical conclusion that we should not treat our skin the same every day.

What is the function of the skin and how does it renew?

The skin is the body’s largest organ. It

  • protects your body from environmental stressors like germs, pollution/ sun radiation
  • regulates your body temperature
  • receives sensory information
  • stores water, fat, and vitamin D

Cold-blooded animals such as frogs sustain their life by mainly breathing through their skin, also called cutaneous respiration. There are even salamanders that have no lungs at all! But in humans and other warm-blooded animals, skin breathing makes up only a very small percentage of the needed gas exchange. But it is the reason why we feel so happy and energized when immersing ourselves in a natural environment with lots of fresh air.

The skin consists of 3 main layers. The epidermis (also the top and body’s barrier), the derma, and the subcutis. For the purpose of this article, I will concentrate on the epidermis. ‘The Ancient Greek words Epi’, meaning ‘ over or on top’, and ‘derma’ –  skin build the word Epidermis – the outer skin or barrier. Until relatively recently scientists assumed that this was a quasi-dead layer of skin cells, shedding in a roughly 4-week cycle, coincidently the same length of time as a whole lunar cycle. But now we know that it is as alive as the rest of the skin, playing an important role in protecting the body from viruses and other pathogens and aiding in the functions mentioned above.

The lunar cycleA new approach to skincare

Now that we know the function and timing of how the epidermis works and renews, it makes sense to structure our skincare in the same rhythm. This, by the way, is not a new concept – but has been in practice for hundreds of years.

First of all, you should establish a daily routine, which will stay consistent throughout. The bare minimum is to cleanse your skin thoroughly every evening and replenishing it with a suitable night creme. In the morning wake up your skin by splashing it with cold(ish) water and add a day cream that includes good sun protection. The products you use will be guided by your skin type. This could be a rather oily, combination, or dry skin.

Now we move on to extra procedures that I would recommend to change in the 4-week cycle and choosing the rhythm of the moon would seem a natural choice.

Waxing Moon:  Any kind of skincare that plumbs the skin, adds moisture and nourishment. All anti-aging procedures fall into this camp, to do extra helpings of serums or body treatments that feed the skin and promote repair and healing.

Full Moon:  Ideal for a sensual massage or luxurious, pampering facial

Waning Moon:  All kinds of skincare that eliminate, deep cleanse, exfoliate, and purify. This would be a good body brushing session followed by a face and body peeling. Lymph drainage, deep cleansing clay mask, and any kind of hair removal.  Here is an article that introduces you to body brushing. The benefits of body brushing

New Moon: As part of a monthly internal cleansing (Liquid Fast Day), add on a detox bath with Epsom salt and purifying face mask.

For more information here is an article called Lunar Beauty 

 An Introduction to LWTM

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The soil revolution – part 3

The soil revolution – part 3

the soil revolution part 3

 Instituto Terra in Brazil

    Part 1 looked into:   Where are we now?  (please read it here)

From now onwards we look into solutions and people who have actively played part in this.
Part 2  will introduce you to Instituto Terra, an organization that specializes in reforestation, particularly in the Brazilian rainforest. 

In Part 3 we travel to New Zealand to follow dreamers and fools 

In 1987 Hugh Wilson bought some land and returned it back to a native forest. At first, people were skeptical and called him a fool, but now Hugh oversees over 1500 hectares of a beautiful nature reserve with plenty of wildlife and over 40 waterfalls – and is having the last laugh.
It is also interesting to see his take on modern life, technology and happiness. Not everybody’s cup of tea, but you can only respect and admire the man. 

Here is a documentary about his work 

 

 An Introduction to LWTM

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The Soil Revolution – part 1

The Soil Revolution – part 1

The soil revolution   The status quo –
where are we now? 

As far back as 2014, Reuters reported that a senior UN official said, “If we continue with our intense farming practices and destruction of wildlife at the current levels – we have realistically 60 years of sustainable farming left. “ (source Scientific American)

This is a sobering thought. But what has happened on the official front since 2014?

Where are the school campaigns that explain to children that to make 3cm of topsoil takes the earth roughly 1000 years, but we only have 60 left. Where are the billboards and media campaigns to the same effect? I am interested in this topic and apart from the occasional scientific paper, it does not seem to be ‘newsworthy.

But this ecological wave is coming nearer and nearer and nearer. And the evidence is all too clear. Since 2014 we had more floods, bushfires, and heatwaves and the destruction simply moves on. First the coral reefs, then the icebergs in Antarctica, the increase of desert and soil destruction, and the massive, massive loss of wildlife. The last one is properly the most talked about topic. And it is lovely to look after the bees, but only bees and no other wildlife would never ever work.

I know it is not the best place we currently find ourselves in, but this blog series is not meant to be just doom and gloom. The essence here is – what can we do about it?  And then act fast!

Luckily there are a few men and women around who really grasped this concept early on and started doing something about it. Some of these methods are really ingenious and we will hear more about their various projects over the next few articles.

But let’s start first at the beginning

When Rudolf Steiner first taught his first Biodynamic soil lectures – now almost 100 years ago – this topic did not seem relevant and he was called a deluded dreamer for most of the 20th century. But not anymore.  Ever since scientists discovered microbes in the soil and even inside us,  the concept of ‘the living soil’ has moved from random fiction to fact.

The first Biodynamic lectures were held just after the First World War and this is by no means a coincidence. Although this war was short (1914-1918), the world saw chemical warfare used for the first time in combat. The real war benefit was only established towards the end of this war, but with peace on the horizon all these chemical plants had no longer any use.  So a plan was hatched that these chemicals could in diluted form be brought out on the fields to get rid of ‘soil and leaf’ pests. This meant the farmer did not have to adhere to long-standing traditional methods of crop rotation, weeding and composting. The ‘miracle cure was of course much easier to administer.

And initially the farmers were enthusiastic. Who would not like more yield and less work? But after a few years, the quality of the soil and produce deteriorated and some farmers asked Steiner for advice.

Additionally, the first year a little bit of fertiliser did the trick, but with every subsequent year more and more fertilizer had to be used to achieve the same result. This is costly but after a while, there is not much of an alternative. left.  The farmers can’t just stop the farm for a couple of years in order to wait for the soil to revigorate. This is not a sustainable business model and the trap continues.

What had happened?

Let’s look first at how the soil works. Compost material (waste from the previous growing season) together with compost tonics and manure are put onto the fields and reinvigorate the soil. This usually happens in late autum (the end of the growing cycle)  and in early spring (the beginning of the cycle). This enables the billions of microbes in the soil to turn the compost into a fertile, nutrient-rich soil, ready for the next growing cycle. This humus is full of fungi, earthworms and insects. It is the ‘internet of the soil’, distributing moisture and letting plants almost ‘communicate’ with each other and certainly cross-fertilize each other (that is the principle of companion planting).

But artificial fertilizers destroy all these natural soil improvers, turning fertile, alive soil (there are billions of these creatures in just a handful of earth) into dirt= dead soil.

Lifeless dirt is then artificially fed to produce the next year’s crop, but there is no regeneration. Once this chemical is washed away by the rain, it is gone and more product has to be put on to replace it. But more importantly, the food you eat is ‘also dead’ as no or very few microbes survive. Dead food lacks nutrients and most importantly microbes. We need the soil and its creature for our survival, too.  IPS, bloating and more severe health crises can often be traced back to food that gives us fuel (and puts on calories) but does not actually ‘feed us’. And that is not even taking obesity and diabetes into account.

I have often talked about the macro-organism and the micro-organism and how they work together. If you are new to this concept it is as follows:

The Macro-organism is the universe, the planets, stars and micro-organisms are all living creatures. Beetles, birds, whales, lions, trees, flowers, and of course us humans. It is like a huge clockwork, every clog and wheel turns individually, but when in harmony they feed and enrich each other.

Going back to the clock example. Taking a small wheel out of the clock may be ok, but destroying half of the clockwork – what do you think would happen? Most children could answer this.

But this is exactly what we are doing with the planet. Currently, we are losing about 30 soccer fields EVERY MINUTE!

We read above that the earth is capable of making 3cm of good quality topsoil in about 1000 years – please make the Maths.

Additionally, the soil is responsible for catching carbon and hanging on to water. Dirt can’t do that and the results are floods and climate change.

So, we are where we are, and no more gloom! From now on this series will turn to seek real, positive solutions.  We need to make this positive turning point for the sake of our children and grandchildren. The Soil Revolution has started and we are all hell-bent to reverse this damage done over the last 100 years. Come and join in and do your bit!

Access here the second installment of the Soil Revolution series 

 

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The biodynamic ‘essence of life’

The biodynamic ‘essence of life’

Finding Balance

I often get asked what does the phrase ‘biodynamic’ actually means? In essence, it means ‘lifeforce’. This sounds simple, but when you look a bit more into it its origin it can get quite complex.

Most cultures have specific names for this ‘lifeforce’. In the Hindu philosophy, it is referred to as prana’, in China, it is known as ‘chi/qi’, the Mayans known it as ‘chu’lel’ and the Aborigines in Australia call it ‘alcheringa’ and these are just a few examples.

“All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a conscious and intelligent non-visible living energy force. This energy force is the matrix mind of all matter.”   – Max Planck, developer of Quantum physics. 

When Rudolf Steiner coined the phrase ‘biodynamic’ in the early 1900ie he used the Ancient Greek words  bio=life and dunamis – energy to describe this ‘life-force’.

He was certainly influenced by Wilhelm Reich’s research, another fellow Austrian doctor and author who published his work around the same time as the Biodynamic movement started and came to similar conclusions.

the biodynamic life forceThis ‘lifeforce’ is omnipresent, in plants, minerals, the cosmos, animals, and of course in us humans. The overarching concept is a symbiotic harmony of all lifeforms. It is the interconnectedness between macro-organism (the planets, stars, the universe) and all life on earth. It is the ‘energy’ that makes us think and tick and describes the harmony between the body, the mind, and the soul.

It is also the energy that makes us think of someone or gives us ‘a gut feeling’. We all pick it up subconsciously. It is about vibrations and how we interact. Some people lighten up a room others bring in ‘some bad vibe’.

We say that some people ‘have green fingers’, meaning they grow plants and garden with ease, where others can’t manage to keep a plant alive. This effect is true and has to do with ‘life-force’. We all exert energy and other humans,  animals and plants pick this up. There is a study that asked its volunteers to water plants with the same amount of water, light, and growing condition. But one test group has to gently stroke the plants in their care and ‘give them some love’. The other test group were encouraged not touch the plants and to handle them in an aggressive manner. I know what you are thinking these are plants, it should not matter – same light, the same amount of water should give the same results.  But this study clearly showed that it did matter and quite a lot, too. Therefore a ‘green fingered person is simply a gardener that really cares about their plants and gets pleasure out of handling them.

The saying ‘ where attention goes – energy flows’ is a clear manifestation for this elusive force. We tend to be skeptical about everything that we can not see, touch, hear or measure. But that does not mean it does not exist.

Translate this to agriculture and it is easy to see why biodynamic food tastes so good and is ‘full of life’. It is the way the soil is prepared, the crops are rotated, the organic watering/fertilizing process is handled. And once harvested, the fresh produce is handled with care, packed in breathable containers until it reaches the plate and is not stored into tight-fitting plastic wrappers that won’t let any air in.

During the growing cycle, the plant has plenty of interactions with other plant species and animals like bees, butterflies, and earthworms. There is not one specific benefit that matters the most – it is all these combined that produces this vibrant, good-tasting and healthy food. Which in turn nourishes us and keeps us happy and healthy – as we all know – you are what you eat.

Here is an article that compare Biodynamic agriculture with convential growing methods. 

As the Beach Boys sing – it is all about ‘good vibrations’. Here is an article series that may help you with this. I have rekindled it for our newer community members. It is called  The Benefit of crystals.

If you want to find out more about LWTM, please download our Freebies that give you more information.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finding Balance

I often get asked what does the phrase ‘biodynamic’ actually mean? So here is an article that I can point future enquiries to. 

In essence, it means ‘lifeforce’. This sounds simple, but when you look a bit more into it its origin it can get quite complex.

Most cultures have specific names for this ‘lifeforce’. In the Hindu philosophy, it is referred to as prana’, in China, it is known as ‘chi/qi’, the Mayans known it as ‘chu’lel’ and the Aborigines in Australia call it ‘alcheringa’ and these are just a few to mention.

“All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a conscious and intelligent non-visible living energy force. This energy force is the matrix mind of all matter.”   – Max Planck, developer of Quantum physics. 

When Rudolf Steiner coined the phrase ‘biodynamic’ in the early 1900ie he used the Ancient Greek words  bio=life and dunamis – energy to describe this ‘life-force’.

He was also influenced by Wilhelm Reich’s research, another fellow Austrian doctor and author who published his work around the same time as the Biodynamic movement started and came to similar conclusions.

the biodynamic life forceThis ‘lifeforce’ is omnipresent, in plants, minerals, the cosmos, animals, and of course in us humans. The overarching concept is a symbiotic harmony of all lifeforms. It is the interconnectedness between macro-organism (the planets, stars, the universe) and all life on earth. It is the ‘energy’ that makes us think and tick and describes the harmony between the body, the mind, and the soul.

It is also the energy that makes us think of someone or gives us ‘a gut feeling’. We all pick it up subconsciously. It is about vibrations and how we interact. Some people lighten up a room others bring in ‘some bad vibe’. 

We say that some people ‘have green fingers’, meaning they grow plants and garden with ease, where others can’t manage to keep a plant alive. This effect is true and has to do with ‘life-force’. We all exert energy and other humans,  animals and plants pick this up. There is a study that asked its volunteers to water plants with the same amount of water, light, and growing condition. But one test group has to gently stroke the plants in their care and ‘give them some love’. The other test group were encouraged not touch the plants and to handle them in an aggressive manner. I know what you are thinking these are plants, it should not matter – same light, the same amount of water should give the same results.  But this study clearly showed that it did matter and quite a lot, too. Therefore a ‘green fingered person is simply a gardner that really cares about their plants and garden. Maybe not rushing through, but enjoying the time with the plants.

Translate this to agriculture and it is easy to see why biodynamic food tastes so good and is ‘full of life’. It is the way the soil is prepared, the crops are rotated, the organic watering/fertilizing process is handled. And once harvested, the fresh produce is handled with care, packed in breathable containers until it reaches the plate and is not stored into tight-fitting plastic wrappers that won’t air in.

During the growing cycle, the plant has plenty of interactions with other plant species and animals like bees, butterflies, and earthworms. There is not one specific benefit – it is all these combined that produces this vibrant, good-tasting and healthy food. Which in turn nourishes us and keeps us happy and healthy – as you are what you eat.

As the Beach Boys sing – it is all about ‘good vibrations’. Here is an article series that may help you with this. It is called The Benefit of crystals.

If you want to find out more about LWTM, please download our Freebies that give you more information.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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