by Ria Vervliet
Naturopathy is an eclectic system of healthcare, which promotes the body’s self-healing mechanism. The word “Naturopathy” stems from the 19th Century “Nature Cures” using treatments incorporating water, air, light, massage and diet. The early Naturopaths were also called the hygiene school of practitioners, advocating moderation in eating and drinking and cleanliness of living. Often fasting was used as treatment. Naturopathy is still alive and well in the 21st century, indeed it is at the heart of all Holistic Medicine.
In naturopathy we treat the whole body, both physically and mentally. There are many techniques used by Naturopaths such as Homeopathy, Reflexology, Cranio-sacral therapy, Hypnotherapy, Nutrition, Iridology, Psychotherapy and Aromatherapy and many others. Here we will go into some detail about three of them, namely Psychotherapy, Reflexology and Aromatherapy.
Psychotherapy – A Process of Discovery
Using psychotherapy techniques we can look at the whole human being and at all the factors that have contributed to make that person unique. An assumption of psychotherapy is that there are aspects in our lives of which we are not consciously aware. In some cases the work is to uncover experiences of the past that are brought to the surface by current events, situations and relationships. This will allow us to understand the circumstances and how to deal with them in an appropriate way. Quite often people are lost regarding their hurts because they are too painful. The best treatment is for them to actually rediscover themselves, to find their own priorities and the courage to act on them.
We do not tell our clients what to do but we will help them to become more aware of what is happening. The most important thing in psychotherapy is to let the client get insight, which is actually the best treatment. The client will be clearer, more helpful, more energetic and will function better as a result.
The fundamental principle of psychotherapy is that of two people trying to make a relationship with each other. Methods and theories might differ widely but every psychotherapeutic situation contains at least two people, a therapist and a client. Although in group psychotherapy the relationship formed between group members may be more important than that formed between the therapist and the client, this does not contradict the hypothesis.
There is a danger that the philosophical beliefs which the individual psychotherapist holds, may influence what he finds in his client and also the relative emphasis which he places upon his various findings. It is therefore very important for the therapist to be aware of his own beliefs and prejudices.
Psychology is, by its very nature, concerned with the basic themes of human life. Problems related to love and hate, birth and death, sexuality and power, will all come into our work. All the complexities of the emotions, which stir or sway the hearts of men and women are the daily concern of the psychotherapist. Quite often individuals who enter into therapy are suffering from disorders which affect not only themselves but all those who are emotionally involved with them. Therefore the successful recovery of the individual will have a positive repercussion on the family and friends concerned.
In the course of the psychotherapeutic process it is the careful transmission of ideas that motivate the client to activity. It is these ideas which motivate clients to take action and break out of their shells. These are the same ideas which cause them to shake off the past and look at the future with a new and positive outlook.
Hypnosis is a powerful tool at the psychotherapist’s disposal. Hypnotherapy is the combination of hypnosis with therapeutic treatment. It is a technique which can help make the subconscious mind more accessible to suggestion. Hypnosis can be thought of as a heightened state of awareness, dominated by the subconscious mind.
A hypnotherapy session usually proceeds in four stages, namely Induction, Deepening, Therapeutic Intervention and Release (sometimes misleadingly termed “Awakening”). Hypnotherapists often use the terms “sleep” and “awakening” even though they completely understand that the subject is not asleep and therefore not really in need of awakening. He or she is in an altered state of mind. It is just the hypnotherapist that finds it convenient to use these terms when dealing with the subject. Throughout the whole therapy session the subject is completely aware and can release his or her self from the hypnotic state should they wish to do so.
The hypnotic state, if such a thing exists, is hard to define. It is one of the most important debates in hypnotherapy circles. Research over the years has shown that the right brain is the part that deals with imagery, creativity, imagination and emotion, whereas the left brain is our calculating logical facility. It is the part of the brain that deals with language. According to one theory, the hypnotic state is a particular state of awareness dominated by the right hemisphere of the neo-cortex.
Reflexology is a very special kind of foot massage. It is one of the most unbelievably relaxing treats that you can give yourself or others. All foot massage is beneficial and relaxing but reflexology provides a more specific method of working to diagnose problems and stimulate health throughout the whole body.
Reflexology is a method of stimulating the body’s healing mechanism through the massage of certain reflex points on the feet and hands. The therapy, derived from ancient Chinese and Indian diagnostic and therapeutic techniques, is based on the idea that organs of the body are represented on the feet, making them a vital map of the body. Seems odd but it works!
Modern reflexology is both a science and an art. As a science it requires careful study, faithful practice and a good knowledge of the techniques and skills. And yet, as one of the healing arts, reflexology yields the best result when the Reflexologist works with dedication, patience, focused intention and, above all, loving care. The reflexologist is a channel of healing.
Foot reflexology is “pressure therapy” and involves applying focused pressure to certain known reflex points located in the foot to balance energy, elevating ailments and helping to prevent disease. The art of reflexology uses the premise that energy channels or pathways transverse throughout the body, linking organs and body parts, to stimulate and revitalise this energy flow. Nerve zones or reflex points go from the bottom of our feet to the top of our head, encompassing all vital organs on the way. A sensitive area of the foot may indicate a problem in the corresponding organ of the body and by working on this trouble-spot, the main problem can often be helped. A trained reflexologist can put pressure on different meridians or energy lines on the sole and side of the feet to determine and treat the cause of illness.
Energy is the basis of life and a vital factor for healing. As reflexologists we are concerned with the internal body energy. With an understanding of this energy we will be able to promote better comprehension of the holistic philosophy. Reflexology is truly a holistic non-invasive therapy, where the practitioner sees the patient as a whole; it is most important that the practitioner is aware of this concept from the onset of treatment, as it is this approach and perspective that is so advantageous. Patients’ problems should not be viewed as just a bad shoulder or stiff neck and so forth. The body does not function as a collection of individual parts but as an interaction of many structures and systems.
One of the keys to effective therapy work is the skill of listening and observing the client. The holistic process is aimed at treating the whole person, the mind as well as the body. By treating the person, emotional release is likely to happen. This can be in the form of agitation, anger, anxiety, distress, laughter or tears. This is a result of emotional overload. This release is very important and plays an important part in the curative process.
As reflexologists we will assess what a client needs. As we commence the treatment the person relaxes and totally unwinds, creating tranquillity and
relaxation. This, together with soothing music and burning incense, creates a powerful ambience to calm the inner emotions. The mind relaxes, the eyes close and the shoulders release their tension. During a treatment, many relaxation techniques may be used. Also breathing exercises can be given.
Relaxation is one of the keys for good health. People who have had several sessions will automatically become more aware of their body, which is
actually the first step to good health.
In reflexology, not only the feet but also the hands and ears are seen as a perfect microcosm of the body, with a somatic replication of all organs, glands and muscles on to an area or a reflex point. Palpation or pressure on such points helps to achieve balance in the body by normalizing the functions of internal organs through a system of zones that link particular reflexes with particular organs. This treatment by pressure helps to stimulate the body’s healing process and allows the person to achieve physical and emotional well-being.
There are many ways to apply pressure. Even wringing the hands or rubbing them together can be quite beneficial, while putting the fingertips together helps to stimulate the brain, and squeezing the fingers can relieve a headache or toothache. Borrowing from Chinese meridian theory, the area just behind the ball of the foot is known as ‘Bubbling Spring’ (or ‘Well’) point, a vital acupoint. This is also the same area where the solar plexus is represented on the feet in reflexology theory. It is on these minute reflex areas that the reflexologist will apply precise alternating pressure techniques, thus bringing about a therapeutic effect on the corresponding area of the body.
Reflexology is a must for the 21st century. Relaxation is also an essential part of acquiring physical and mental well-being, to relieve day-to-day stress. We need to make this age-old therapy a regular part of everyday life. It is good for young and old alike. Reflexology treatment has many benefits. It leads to a better functioning of the circulatory system, as blood flow is improved, taking all the nutrients to the appropriate parts more efficiently. Blood and nerve supply to muscles improves, aiding and relaxing muscle spasm and tension. The treatment also promotes good muscle tone through nerve stimulation. So reflexology helps, to a degree, to compensate for lack of exercise in cases of illness or old age. It also promotes a more active peripheral vascular return. This is especially helpful in people who have a sedentary lifestyle, whose skeletal muscles often lack the ability to adequately squeez the veins to increase the venous blood pressure. Following a Reflexology treatment their hearts do not have to work quite so hard to bring about the venous return.
People often find the therapy warming and exhilarating, as it calms the nervous system. Since stress-related problems do not seem to have the same adverse effects, they are better able to cope. Reflexology can in fact be both sedative and a stimulant to the nervous system. This is why it benefits and relieves pain in many nervous and autoimmune disorders. Also, the processes of elimination works more efficiently, so that there is no accumulation of excess waste within the system, which many therapists consider the primary cause of disease. Stimulating the circulation helps the elimination of excess waste products and contributes to an increase in the of excretion of fluids.
The treatment generally also lessens inflammation (pain, swelling, heat and redness) which may occur as reactions of the body’s tissues to injury. In cases of injury there is no need to touch the impaired part itself. Stimulation to the lymphatic system helps the oedema that is often the body’s reaction to injury, and the accumulation of fluids that could also be the result of a defective kidney or a circulatory disorder.
Reflexology is also very effective when combined with other natural health therapies. Reflexology complements massage and other physical therapies by reducing stress and tension in the internal glands and organs of the body and by relieving stress from parts of the body that are too painful to be worked on directly.
With reflexology we can provide added benefit by integrating colours and working with the auric field and chakras. Colour Therapy works on stimulating the auric field in the subtle anatomy. Colour enhances the reflexology treatment and eases the conditions that are difficult to treat with reflexology alone. Using colour doesn’t just work with the physical ailment but also with the emotional and mental aspects of the person being treated.
During a reflexology treatment, a painful reflex is indicative of either a physically manifested disease or an accumulation of stagnant supple energy in the aura. It might also show that the part of the body related to this reflex is working extra hard, normally due to impaired functioning of one or more of the body’s organs, to help keep the person in a state of homeostasis. The recommended treatment for painful reflexes is to apply specific compression techniques in order to clear the stagnant energy. This can be a very uncomfortable procedure and many people will deter from seeking further treatment. However, the application of the correct colour can often achieve the same result painlessly. Also, the application of colour to certain reflexes induces a state of complete relaxation. So it would be very beneficial to apply colour at the start of a treatment because a relaxed body is able to assimilate healing energies more effectively.
Like our physical body, our auric field has its own frequency of vibration. Similarly, if one field is affected then so will the other fields. Everything we do affects our aura and if what we are doing is detrimental, then an imbalance in the vibration occurs. This changes its colour and reflects itself in the endocrine glands, nervous system and organs of the physical body.
By giving a full reflexology treatment, the painful reflexes will be revealed. Colour can be subsequently applied to these reflexes. The appropriate treatment colour, followed by its complementary colour, can be administered to sensitive reflexes associated with a physically manifested disease. Overactive chakras can be treated on the spinal reflex of both feet by the chakra’s complementary colour.
When you have experienced the vitalising working of reflexology you will no longer doubt that this natural way of treatment is beneficial to your health. As a regulating therapy it improves the energy of the human body. This active life energy is as important to our cells as electricity is for machines. Foot reflexology is relaxing and curing but also, for our daily vitality, this unique method will guard our health. It will protect us from disease as it boosts our immune system. Without any doubt when we talk about reflexology we speak of a healing power that energises the functional process in our body.
Aromatherapy, under one name or another, is a very ancient treatment. The value of natural plant oils has been recognised for over 6000 years, for their healing, cleansing, preservative and mood enhancing properties, as well as for the sheer pleasure of their fragrances. The origin of aromatherapy can be traced back through the religious, medical and social practices of all the major civilisations. It is likely that the Chinese were the first to discover the remarkable medicinal powers, however it is the Egyptians who must take the credit for recognising and fully exploiting the physical and spiritual properties of aromatic essences. From Hippocrates we know the Greeks had some awareness of the therapeutic properties of the oils, and their value as sedatives and stimulants was certainly recognised. The Greeks and Romans used aromatics widely in religious ceremonies and rituals and the oils played an important role in the popularity of baths and massage. However, with the fall of the Roman Empire the use of essential oils declined in Europe.
The term “Aromatherapy” was first used in 1928 by a French chemist, Rene-Maurice Gattle José to describe the therapeutic action of aromatic plant essences. His work was taken up by Dr. Jean Valnet who found the essences’ remarkable regenerative and antiseptic properties were effective for healing the wounds of World War II soldiers.
The application of aromatherapy in beauty experience. Its valise in health care was pioneered my Marguerite Maury in her influential book “The Secret of Life and Youth”. She also developed the method of applying the oils through massage. Today there is a worldwide revival in the art of aromatherapy and research is beginning to understand the scientific foundations of the oils’ properties and applications, discovered by trial and error over thousands of years ago.
Stress, pollution, unhealthy diet, and hectic but sedentary lifestyles have adverse effects on our bodies and spirits. The art of aromatherapy harnesses the potent pure essences of aromatic plants, flowers and resins, to work on the most powerful of senses, smell and touch, to restore the harmony of body and mind.
The vital element of any aromatherapy treatment is the pure essential oils used. These oils are very different from the heavy oils we use for cooking. They are concentrated essences, much lighter than water and highly flammable. They evaporate quickly, so they’re usually mixed with other ingredients. Because they are so concentrated, essential oils are measured in drops.
Due to their small molecular structure, essential oils can permeate the skin more easily than vegetable oils, which only lie on the surface. Used medicinally over the centuries, essential oils have now become an established alternative natural therapy which can assist in almost every type of ache and pain, as well as smoothing away the stress of modern life.
Each oil has a distinct chemical composition which determines its fragrance, colour, volatility and, of course, the way in which it affects the system, giving each oil its unique set of beneficial properties. They are extracted from an array of plant sources; petals, leaves, seeds, nuts, bark, stalks, flower heads and gums and resins from trees.
As these highly volatile essences evaporate they can be inhaled, thus entering the body via the millions of sensitive cells that line the nasal passages. These send messages to the brain and affect the emotions by working on the limbic system, which also controls the major functions of the body. Thus, in an aromatherapy treatment, the essential oils are able to enhance both your physical and psychological well-being at the same time.
Essential oils contain the active ingredients of a plant in a highly concentrated form and must therefore be treated with care and should never be applied directly to the skin undiluted.
Carrier Oils (sometimes called Base Oils) are less volatile than essential oils. They play an important role in carrying and diluting the highly concentrated oil as well as lubricating the hands as they move over the skin in aromatherapy massage. Carrier oils are extracted from nuts or seeds and each has its own particular quality. Sweet almond is the best for general purposes because it is neutral and non-allergenic. It can even be used for massaging babies. Walnut acts as a co-ordinator and balances the nervous system. Sesame oil is ideal for stretch marks. Walnut and evening primrose oil will help alleviate menstrual problems including pre-menstrual tension. Wheatgerm acts as an anti-oxidant and will help preserve a mixture.
Because of its non-invasive nature, aromatherapy is used for a wide range of health problems such as anxiety, stress, insomnia and stress-related conditions. Many people find it useful for arthritic and rheumatic pain, headaches and pre-menstrual tension. It can also be used to improve circulation. Massage can treat muscle pain, fluid retention and swelling.
Subtle Aromatherapy concerns the less obvious and the less physical aspects of healing and aromatherapy. In other words, it is an aspect of aromatherapy which works on spiritual and psychic levels of healing. The healing of the physical body will be deeply influenced on higher levels. Massaging the aura, balancing the chakras, healing from a distance are all aspects of this less physical approach. The healing of the physical body will be deeply influenced by the healing on higher levels.
A chakra can be too open and drain its energy away, or it can be too closed so there is no exchange of energy. These energy centres are also related to the organs where they are positioned, and are associated positively or negatively with their health function. They are not so much attached as permeating through the body and through the aura. Balancing the chakras is an important task for the therapist who wants to work on higher levels of the psyche and spirituality in a client because it is here that more penetration healing can take place. The essential thing is to tune into the client’s energy system. The chakras are responsive to essential oils and their olfactory effects as well as to colours. Working with the energy system will affect the physical body.
Over time many emotions and traumas get repressed and buried within our subconscious, where they can start to manifest themselves in physical ways or problematic relationships. Some traumas of long ago may seem unimportant but their emotional associations may still be there, locked away. As long as they remain unresolved they will continue to seek expression. So the subconscious mind will manufacture some physical problem in an attempt to bring the unresolved issue to our attention. A suitable organ will usually be chosen for this, maybe one which symbolises the unresolved issue. This organ may present itself with increased problems, outbreak of psoriasis etc. This is why when we, the therapist, work on a particular tense or tight area of the body, the client may cry or get angry. If we are aware of this possibility, we may be able to help the client to see how the subconsciously held trauma-memory is causing the dysfunction. Armed with this insight they may be able to resolve the issue and find relief. In some more cases, psychotherapy or hypnotherapy may also been useful.
It is believed that the spine may act as a connecting link between the physical and esoteric bodies and that the Chi, or life force, runs through the spine. If this is so then it is simple to understand how problems with the back, affect the whole of our well-being. Misaligned vertebrae chafe on the nerve to which they are attached, which in turn connects to organs of the body. Pain in the back may therefore be a reflection of what is occurring in the chakras. Also, injury or dysfunction in the spine will affect the etheric bodies and be revealed through the aura. As the irritation in the nerve develops, uric acid accumulates with other toxins and backache accrues.
In other words, there is a two-way process, the physical body affecting the etheric body and the etheric body affecting the physical body. This is why it is important to take care of both these factors in our being; spiritual and physical. Neglect of either will have a negative effect. Similarly, of course, different areas of the body respond to one another because everything is aligned, and this is not always apparent. Everything manifests in the aura. If the back becomes out of tune, the life force in the spine does not flow properly and the person feels tired, tense and lacks vitality. This is why good posture is so important and why care of the back is so essential.
It is always a good idea to finish a physical aromatherapy massage with a concluding auric massage to leave the client well protected before they leave you.
Opening Doors: What Happens in Gestalt Therapy by Daniel Rosenblatt
The Interpretation of Dreams by Sigmund Freud
Essentials of Hypnosis by Michael D. Yapko
A Brain is Born by John E. Upledger
Reflexology (illustrated guide) by Beryl Crane
The Encyclopedia Of Natural Remedies by C. Norman Shealy
Bioenergietherapie by Reinhold D. Will (Dutch language)