A friend recently bought a tub in which to do a hip bath. This is the naturopathic way to help with several problems, including indigestion and period pain. All you need to do is sit in it daily, for about 15 to 20 minutes, with water that’s either warm, cold or at room temperature (depending on the problem) — no medicines, white coats, or chanting involved. It’s perfect meme material (your feet, hands, and top jut out), but it’s also a harmless way to try and heal yourself of a problem that is not too far gone.
How did we let things get to a point where we’ve ended up normalising diabetes and hypertension? The answer lies in ultra urbanisation (pollution, population). We then opened ourselves up to Western medicine, pushing out Eastern practices, losing touch with ourselves and faith in the body’s ability to heal itself.
Instead, we pumped ourselves with hormones (milk), chemicals (fertilisers, stabilisers, preservatives), and medicines (pain killers, steroids, antibiotics). The body submitted to an artificial living that numbed it into a mistrust of itself — a lifelong feeling of your foot going to sleep where you’re not sure it’ll support your weight — except it’s happening to the whole body (brain included). We’ve handed over our power and our bodies to scientists, preferring to submit to a ‘higher authority’ with multiple degrees.
But people are finally saying no — we’re still a microscopic minority, but the movement is beginning. It’s also reflected in a small percentage of people moving away from large cities and opting for smaller ones or even more pastoral activities like farming. We want more connection with nature, and are looking at its potency to nurture us, heal us, rebuild the connection.
So many people who’ve suffered cancer are using supplementary curative methods that are restorative rather than destructive (we all know what chemo does — killing both ‘good’ and ‘bad’ cells). Dr Rukmani Nair, a naturopath, prefers to call it integrative medicine, where a multi-therapy approach is followed: some healing foods, some exercise, some breathing and meditation, and because we push ourselves to the edge, sometimes, pills. Perhaps it’s time we stopped using the word ‘alternative’ altogether, as if it’s some off-Broadway experimental stuff only a bunch of people will understand.
Naturopathy is treatment that uses tools like fasting, water, and food to balance our systems. It doesn’t do lab-made chemicals, even if they’re drugs. Big pharma will shrink like a boil if naturopathy takes over.
Much before docs in the West ‘discovered’ the brain-gut connect and the gut-reset diet, and international conferences on the microbiome (a term to describe our individual microbial make-up) were organised, there was the naturopath’s understanding that the stomach and digestive system is the place from where disease begins. (I once spoke to a naturopath who did an hour-long chat with me on poop and then sent me a follow-up PPT presentation on the subject.)
Where do we begin then if we really want to change our lives? As Dr Nair laughingly says, “To fast foods.” What could be faster than grabbing an apple or a cucumber?