The laws of health
If we observe the natural world around us carefully, we see that natural phenomena always occur in the same way: the seasons follow a certain rhythm, the planets revolve in their fixed orbits, every plant grows in its own way at a certain time. This regularity suggests that nature follows an order that is based on certain laws. In contrast to man-made laws, which change frequently and are replaced by new ones, the laws of nature are irrevocable – they require no improvement.
After it has become clear in the two preceding parts of this series that illness does not arise by coincidence and that we are responsible for our own well-being, we will now observe the processes in our bodies to outline the laws underlying them, as well as show from the multitude of recognisable individual laws the major underlying principles upon which we depend for our physical and mental well-being.
In search of knowledge – from the small to the big
How can we identify laws? While man-made laws were written down and can be read in books, the natural laws are revealed to us by observation of our environment. Because the paramount laws are major principles that have validity everywhere in Creation, we can detect them by observing any part of nature: animals, plants, rocks, atoms, cosmic bodies, and so on. Laws can also be recognised through observing our body, for example the function of our organs. It is then a matter of finding out in a further step how to devise universally cosmic laws from these.
How our body works can be divided into three phases: first it receives the energy it requires (phase 1), then it processes the energy to make it usable (phase 2), and finally it gets rid of excess energy and waste products (phase 3).
The first phase of energy supply is essential, because we do not have all the energy that the body needs. So we need the air we breathe, the water we drink and the foods we eat. These energies enter through the respiratory or digestive tract. One could also mention the skin, because in a certain sense it, too, ‘breathes’ and even absorbs substances it comes in contact with, such as minerals in spas.
The second phase of organic functions consists in converting the energies that we have taken into the body. Because apart from the air and water, which can be used practically as they are, the other energies, thus the foodstuffs we eat, must undergo extensive changes before the body can use them. Bread, for example, cannot go directly into the bloodstream and then reach the cells; it must be split beforehand into sufficiently small particles and broken down chemically. These changes take place in the digestive tract, whose function it is to break down foodstuffs with the aid of mechanical (chewing, mixing in the stomach, intestinal peristalsis) and chemical processes (splitting of molecules by enzymes present in the digestive juices) into smaller and smaller particles. The energy in a loaf of bread is made up of long chains – up to a thousand – of glucose molecules. During the digestive process these long chains are split in several stages until the glucose has been reduced to single molecules. Proteins are split in the same way into amino acids and fats into fatty acids. Only in this simple form can nutrients be taken up and made available to the cells.
In the third phase the energy leaves the body in two ways: on the one hand by being used up – internally for the organism (heart contractions, heat production, etc.) and externally for the activities of daily living (getting around, working, etc.) – and, on the other hand, by being disposed of in the form of waste materials by the eliminatory organs. These waste products are those energies that cannot be or have not been used by the body (tough cellulose in cereals or surplus food not stored); slag resulting from the combustion process (the ‘ashes’ of the organic engine) or residues from cell metabolism (waste and so-called ‘cell corpses’).
What our health depends on
For us to enjoy good health it is necessary that each of these phases takes place harmoniously:
The food consumed must meet in quality and quantity the conversion possibilities of the digestive tract, digestion and assimilation must be correct and complete, energy release must be in balance with energy intake, and all waste material generated must be rapidly eliminated.
These three phases are very dependent on each other:
If the amount of food consumed is too large (phase 1), the digestion is inadequate (phase 2); if the foods are poorly processed (phase 2), there is not enough energy to be converted (phase 3), or the ensuing waste products exceed the capacity of the organs of elimination (phase 3).
This dependence also manifests in the reverse sense:
Those who do not get enough exercise (phase 3), show reduced digestive performance caused by an inadequate energy expenditure (phase 2). The inadequate disposals (phase 3), for example with constipation, result in a reduced energy supply (phase 1), and finally, digestive problems (phase 2) also influence the choice of food (phase 1).
The facts observed here can be summarised in the form of individual laws, such as:
• A meal that is too heavy entails a strain on the digestive tract.
• An incomplete digestion of food yields numerous waste materials.
• Any insufficient food intake results in less energy available.
No cause without effect
As different as these laws are, they all come under one great general law. This law, which states that every action, every process has a repercussion on actions or processes, is the law of reciprocal action.
Although this law is basically self-evident to everyone, it is not often given sufficient attention in therapy. How many digestive complaints are treated without asking what foods the patient is eating! How many patients suffer from problems with their organs of elimination without anyone investigating where all the waste products that have to be eliminated come from will always be more difficult! Trying to fight inflammation without paying attention to the triggering factors. Blood is being thinned without inquiring into the causes of the thickening – another gross oversight!
The law of reciprocal action is not exclusive to the physical level, but affects, as we shall see, all areas of life.
Everything is in motion
Let us now look at our organ functions from a different angle in order to recognise another general law. How the human body works can be compared to the functioning of an energy converter. As with this, there is an energy flow that enters the body (phase 1), passes through it (phase 2) only to finally leave it again (phase 3). The health of the body therefore depends on a good, steady energy circulation.
Discontinuing the energy supply would inevitably cause a disruption of the organ processes. The digestive processes would be just as undermined as the outer life. Blocking the conversion process would likewise have dire consequences: although energy would enter the body, it would not get to the organs or to the muscles, since it would not be available. A suspension of elimination would for its part prevent the spent energies (toxins) leaving the body, which would lead to a dangerous accumulation of waste products in the body environment.
All this shows how necessary it is that our body is all the time supplied with energy and kept in motion. The law of motion is yet another great cosmic law, according to which all living things must keep in motion to stay alive.
The law of movement manifests also in blood circulation, which ensures that cells continuously have necessary nutrients available, and which prevents the blood from thickening and forming a clot that could block a vessel and obstruct blood flow (heart attack, stroke, embolism).
The circulation of oxygen through our vessels is also a vital necessity, just as physical activity ensures the building and maintenance of muscles or continuous cellular exchange enables assimilation and growth.
Numerous therapies have the restoration or promotion of physical mobility as their sole aim. Massages activate blood circulation and cellular exchange. Water therapy has the same effect, it also intensifies breathing. The various reflex zone massages (on the feet, ears, etc.) are aimed at stimulating the activity of the organs via the nerves. Chiropractic and osteopathy re-establish circulation in the nerve strands by their manual intervention, acupuncture restores energy in the meridians. Gymnastics, too, has therapeutic effects in that it strengthens flagging functions or revives tired organs.
Finding the right balance
Just as the law of movement, another great cosmic law – the law of balance – is effective everywhere. With regard to how our organism works, again many forms of balance can be recognised: the balance between ingested foods and the extent to which they can be processed by the digestive tract, the balance between energy supply and its expenditure by the organs, as well as the balance between waste production and the capacity of the organs of elimination.
As soon as a balance goes unheeded – because one of the two factors is given more ‘weight’ – illness sets in. If the food does not cover the needs of the body, the organs can only function in a restricted manner (less energy production leads to a lack of muscle tone or asthenia). If, on the other hand, food intake is excessive to our needs, the body is overtaxed (indigestion), it must work extra (hypersecretion of gastric juices, hyperthermia, high blood pressure), toxins accumulate (clogged body environment), and an outcome is an increased deposit of fat tissue (weight gain).
The law of balance is also reflected in the balance between arterial and venous blood volumes, between inhaled and exhaled air, between activity and rest, the movement of the right and of the left leg while walking in order to ensure that we maintain our … balance.
If an extra large amount of toxins, microbes and poisons endangers the organism and these must be burned off as quickly as possible, fever develops. Fever, however, is not in itself a pathological condition, but only a temperature rise resulting from the speeding up of the organ activities. This acceleration is necessary to balance our body environment by burning the waste components.
In therapy there are numerous methods to rid the body of toxins and thus to balance the body environment. These include draining toxins. This is done with the aid of herbs or homoeopathic remedies, which speed up the work of the elimination organs and so enhance the process of removing toxins. Laxatives, enemas and in the past the use of leeches are part of these cleansing therapies. Fasting and diets are also important, because they help to offset the harmful effects of overeating. If we stop eating (fasting) or take in only very little or selected food (diet), the production of toxins is interrupted or reduced. Above all, however, the body environment can balance itself again, because the body must, in order to obtain nutrients for its activity, burn off the toxins accumulated in the tissues.
The striving for balance manifests also in how the body uses the organs of elimination to get rid of toxins. Sometimes it alternates between two organs to prevent one organ from taking on the task alone and being damaged by the toxicity of the poisons. This results in changing crises of elimination in which the removal of the waste is done by two different organs in turn. The best known of these cases are the alternation between asthma (removal of pathogenic toxins via the respiratory tract) and eczema (removal via the skin), and that between asthma and hemorrhoids (artificial removal through bleeding).
This possibility of using different organs to eliminate a certain type of toxin can be applied in therapy for diversion. In order to relieve a weakened or diseased organ, the toxins that would leave the body by this organ are deliberately directed to another – similar – organ. An example: the kidneys can be relieved by sweating because the waste excreted in urine and in sweat are the same type. The use of cupping glasses in an asthma crisis makes it possible to divert the toxins that pollute the airways to the skin. The same result can be achieved with Grandma’s remedy of mustard poultices.
There is no one for all
Among the great universal laws of nature the law of the attraction of homogeneous species must still be mentioned. Its mode of action is well expressed in the saying ‘Birds of a feather flock together’. Often one can find that one and the same treatment has different effects, depending on the type of patient. For a particular health problem a certain medicinal plant works well with some people, while with others there is no beneficial effect, or, what is worse, is even an impairment. This also applies to treatments such as acupuncture, water treatments or homoeopathy, which prove very successful with some patients, but not with others.
It is well known that for some a stay in the mountains is very refreshing, for others, however, a stay by the seaside is more beneficial. This difference in effectiveness depends – as it is rightly said – on whether a certain type of therapy ‘suits somebody’ or not.
On the basis of this law, therapists have always endeavoured to look for affinities between therapeutic measures (medicinal plants, medicines or food) and the type of patients. This can be seen in connection with the different temperaments. There are four basic temperaments: sanguine, melancholic, choleric and phlegmatic. Each temperament has similarity or homogeneity with quite certain things.
Take for example a person with a phlegmatic temperament, which is associated with the element water: he loves tranquility and calm, likes to be near water (lake, rivers, sea) and reacts well to hydrotherapy and applications with algae and medicinal plants in liquid form (herbal teas, drops, etc.).
The opposite temperament is the choleric, connected with fire. A choleric person loves movement; a long spell of calm living goes against his nature. It can even make him ill, because he cannot expend his energies. Sport and physical activity are more suited to him than calmness; sun baths are better for him than water applications, and he responds better to medicinal plants in tablet form than in the form of herbal teas.
The description of temperaments, however, always has something of a caricature and one-sidedness about it, because in reality they never manifest in their pure form. Each of us is a mixture of different temperaments, in which the one or the other predominates. The great art in medicine consists, therefore, in finding out the affinity that exists between the patient’s temperament and the therapeutic agents to be applied.
It may seem paradoxical, but the law of homogeneity is also manifest in an aversion to a food, for example, or a medicine that we have been taking for quite some time. This can easily be justified, however: if one assumes that like attracts like, this requires also that opposites repel. If some food is not doing us any good, then we are not attracted by it in the least, it can even have a ‘repulsive’ effect on us. We have no desire to consume it; our body knows that it does not do it any good. The feeling of aversion, which is caused by the sight or smell, ensures that we strike the food off our diet. Similarly, a medication that has been used for a long time, can become saturated in the body and cause someone to refuse to take it anymore. In this way our body protects itself against harmful effects.
The immune system, the subject of a lot of talk nowadays, is also subject to the law of homogeneity. It functions to differentiate the self from the non-self. It accepts everything that is of a similar species with its own organism; what does not exhibit this homogeneity – such as microbes, cancer cells, foreign proteins, etc. – is, in contrast, neutralised, destroyed or rejected. This process can take place very slowly, but also extremely rapidly: sometimes it can take an organism years to get rid of a foreign body (e.g. a splinter) that has penetrated its tissue. In other cases the reaction to the alien species is very rapid, severe and short. This is the case with vomiting, cough, diarrhoea, sweating and especially in allergies, which can break out within seconds of contact with the allergen.
No rule without exception?
The fact that the mentioned natural laws – the law of reciprocal action, of movement, of balance and of the attraction of homogeneous species – are universally valid, means that there are no exceptions.
If a person speaks without hesitation of the ‘exception to the rule’, or even that the exception makes the rule, it is only because this concerns man-made laws and he knows that these are imperfect. In contrast, with the laws of nature any exception is impossible – every happening takes place in the framework of these laws.
What we experience is thus always the consequence of what we ourselves have caused. It becomes difficult to accept this fact if the cause lies very far back and accordingly takes a long time before the effects manifest.
We will deal with this phenomenon in the next part of the series. By looking again at the functions of our organs, we will see how an illness can be established over years before it breaks out.