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Author: Peter Fenton
Title: Nature Cure Tools

Embryology describes the increasing complexity of prenatal development and outlines an evolutionary history from simple unicellular forms to multi-cellular diversity, i.e., that 'ontology recapitulates phylogeny'. Homeostasis, that tendency towards a stable equilibrium between interdependent elements, seeks to explain how the end result - our present morphology and biochemistry - ensure its survival within the context of intricate chemical and environmental constraints, some of which could be described as the boundaries of 'natural law'.

One aim of naturopathy is to promote quality survival via an inherent self-healing capacity, optimised by adherence to natural law, also countering the tendency of all complex systems to degrade to simpler molecular and thermodynamic states, or 'maximum entropy'. Homeostatic controls, mainly via biochemical 'feed-back' mechanisms and healing crises, which provide intense cellular, organic, sometimes emotional purification, also imbibing the chemical and electromagnetic energy of plants, through high alkaline diets all counter entropy. Personal health regimes or 'Nature Cure Tools' equally promote 'negative entropy' or survival.

Nutritional pioneer Max Bircher-Benner sought explanations for his outstanding success, via raw food diets and juices, in treating resistant conditions in his Zurich Clinic eventually gaining support from classical physics in the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics (entropy). Thus the high electromagnetic (life) energy of plants gained via photosynthesis - degraded by cooking, processing, agrochemicals etc - is transferred to the consumer. The plant's 'maximum entropy' counters ours, alternatively we all 'drink environmental order' (Schrödinger), but how is the key question. This may hold wider, more exciting possibilities viz that emotional contact, breath, love, compassion, theurgy and techniques for transcending time are equally more subtle ways of countering entropy.

The term 'disease crisis' - where reparative forces fail to arrest entropic decline - is both unfortunate and confusing; here it equates with maximum entropy (death). Lindlahr described it as 'an acute reaction resulting from the ascendancy of disease conditions over the healing forces of the organism - its tendency being towards fatal termination'. This may have reflected C19 pneumonias which, at crisis point, resulted in death or survival according the aetiology and/or inherent vitality of the individual. This should be re-examined in the light of modern pharmacology. Lindlahr's death at 62 from septicaemia is illustrative both of a 'disease crisis' and also CLT's dictum that 'sixty is a dangerous age for people who care!'

Lindlahr's increasing preoccupation with disease prevention and reaching a wider (national) audience is systematically mirrored in his professional life, but it crystallised in a decision to make an (ill-fated) lecture tour to reach the public directly. Lindlahr was a multi-talented, complex individual reflected in his life-history: as an émigré German chemist he became a successful businessman, mayor and banker via land speculation ahead of the railroads; at 35 he was diagnosed with terminal diabetes, recovered naturally in Bavaria under Fr Kneipp, underwent medical training and then founded a 200-bed residential NC clinic in Chicago with a staff of 200, personally supervising all departments. He rose at 5.30am, treated a full patient list by noon, lectured daily for 25 years, trained students (including James Thomson), edited 'The Nature Cure Magazine' and wrote extensively. Before the tour his son (and successor) Victor, not unsurprisingly described his father as being 'in a semi-exhausted state due to his unceasing labours and total disregard for his own comfort'. Lindlahr's interpretation would ironically have been 'walking on eggshells' or 'a prize-fighter, who ducking training, was substantially caught off guard!'

Mounting the train steps for an initial lecture in Alabama Lindlahr stubbed and lacerated his toe, which later turned to septicaemia. He died in 1924 two hours after amputation from 'post-operative pneumonia and shock'. His major writings were published by an osteopathic school in 1975.

What then is the relationship of the healing crisis to homeostasis? Although both resist entropy, comparative physiology in lower forms suggests that neither has precedence, albeit homeostatic control of, for example the thyroid gland, would have to await its evolutionary appearance, and its control via selection of an appropriate variation. An itemised comparison (*below) suggests they possess characteristics analogous to 'biological properties of matter' with different roles, objectives and responses to internal and external environmental changes similar to service engineer/office cleaner and office manager/quality controller in a corporate building. Generalising, the healing crisis thus appears as a sporadic, high-energy eliminative safety-net, and homeostasis as a more consistent internal/external fine-tuning mechanism.

Both may be compromised by a raft of anti-life (entropic) elements viz pollution, enervation, vital decline, negative emotions, organ inferiority, stress, medication and control of the 3 major life transitions - all acting exponentially. The results are evident in consultation: immune, glandular and autonomic imbalance, malignancy in ever younger subjects and lengthier healing crises (esp. in children) - here though catharses may act as a 'psychosomatic brake' compelling rest, their length and complexity reflecting the degree of imbalance in the primal adaptive system (immune/glandular/neurological co-ordination). Victorian physicians were unambiguous about the value of rest: 'If the patient cannot become un-exhausted, he/she cannot recover!’ Occupation and lifestyle may define the type of crisis encountered in various social groups, one reason why neighbourly comparisons (are not) like v like therefore invalid.

Epidemics may suggest our inability (even to begin) to perceive the totality of our existence, although our modified microbial environment requires evaluation. The reverse side of the entropic coin is that pro-life factors, 'Nature Cure Tools' also act exponentially. Clinical advice should largely shadow personal application. There are long term perspectives and daily routines, what do we do?

(1) Holiday breaks are useful for patients and practitioners in sympathetic overdrive (most are) the maximum risks being from unrelieved stress (CLTS's 'balloon' analogy): thus annual leave and statutory holidays pencilled in to yearly calendars provide © monthly time off via long weekends etc. Where? (i) Ideal are cottage holidays providing opportunity for a day's hill walking rounded off by a pleasant evening meal, and feet up by a log fire with a good biography (ii) Sun holidays allow for sea water bathing alternated with sun browning - not burning. Early June and late September avoid extremes of heat and s/s hotel facilities (Spain/Greece) provide adequate KNC dietary.

(2) At the low point of the week a 24 hour physiological rest (Friday tea: fruit/Saturday breakfast: fruit) reduces exhaustion (summates to 2m/year).

(3) Alternated hydrotherapy in joint injuries - still a vital part of clinical practice - reduces recovery periods by 1/3 or 1/2 and 2/3 in champion athletes.

(4) Sport science consistently confirms the benefits of regular exercise. Thus a daily walk of 30 minutes (preferably with a hill) is standard NC advice. Running provides 3x the cardio-vascular benefits of walking (10 minute run=30 minute walk) but also involves 3x the load on lower extremity joints. Mixing with 10k runners tends to reverse our clinically jaundiced view of entropic humanity(!).

Spinal exercises are important - the key are D2-9 (thoracic) influences 8 vital organs. Options are yoga, Pilates, gym work, back bending curve and swimming (also v good emotionally). Deeper more refreshing sleep can be obtained by performing 10 minutes of Iyengar standing poses before retiring (Trikonasana, Uttanasana, Trikonasa repeated each held © 15 seconds.

One day per week set aside for fell-walking (10-15 miles) is well worth the effort preferably with like minded friends - also an opportunity for a chat and warm-up in a log-fired moorland pub. Physiologically it provides the equivalent of an 'internal bath' (active elimination v fasting-passive elimination), collateral benefits include unpolluted air, cv effects, green impressions, space, long views (re vision), natural sights and sounds, more balanced perspectives, stress release and not least those phenomenal winter sunsets!

(5) Creativity, space and (inner) silence are also three (often unrecognised) human requirements.

(6) A leading yoga teacher, emphasising the importance of daily spiritual practice, said, 'This can wait, and that can wait, but your search for the Divine cannot wait!'