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In the healing hands of nature

Apswanthara amrutamapsu bheshajam

Apsume somo abraveedantarvishwani

Aapaha: pruneeta bheshajam varoodham

The above verse in the Atharvaveda is translated as, “There is nectar in water; there is medicine in water. The god Soma told me that all varieties of medicines are in water; Let the water fill me with medicines that heal diseases.” Vedic scholar Dr Giridhara Shastry narrates this verse in a conversation with Soulveda about the healing power of nature. “Many prayers in the Vedas propagate the medicinal value of nature, even as they worship the deities. Earth, water, fire, air and ether have healing powers, according to the Vedas,” he says.

In 400 BCE, the Greek physician Hippocrates is known to have touted the healing power of nature. His style of medicine might not have been limited to natural and non-invasive remedies. But it is said that he believed in lifestyle changes and herbal remedies to fix several ailments.

Clearly, natural healing isn’t a new concept. Even before humans figured medicine out, nature knew how to heal us. To this day, it continues to heal us. Often, we feel our spirits lift after a good long walk in the park or playing at the beach. We attribute this feel-good factor to nature, and rightly so. A recent study on the relationship between air ions and mood outcomes has indicated that natural environments are concentrated with negative ions–oxygen molecules known to reduce stress. There we have it. We’ve finally begun understanding the science behind why we feel so great after basking in nature.

In fact, disciplines like Ayurveda and Naturopathy are based on the idea that the human body has inherent healing mechanisms and nature with its elements can help foster these mechanisms. On account of World Environment Day, Soulveda explores some of nature’s elements that are known for their healing properties:

Water

We don’t give much of a thought to the water, when we’re at the beach. But water bodies can be natural agents of hydrotherapy. It’s not surprising that the Dead Sea has turned into nature’s own spa. With nearly 33 percent salinity, it’s the world’s saltiest lake. People from all corners of the globe flock this site, seeking relief from body aches.

A study conducted by the rheumatology unit of Israel-based Soroka Medical Centre found that the Dead Sea salinity acts as a painkiller, particularly in patients with osteoarthritis. Furthermore, researchers are now exploring how floating in this lake can increase the amount of urine produced by the body, thereby removing more toxins from the body.

Live agents

Those of us who’re easily squeamish might get goosebumps at the very thought of insects on our bodies. But if we’re open to all that nature has to offer us, live biotic agents can be highly beneficial in healing several ailments.

Leeches have proven to be of great medicinal value, especially in healing diabetic wounds. In fact, a report by Stanford University suggests that doctors prefer leeches to other modern techniques of drawing blood, given the beneficial compounds present in their saliva.

Believe it or not, bees too have a way to heal us. Bee Venom Therapy involves applying honey to the target area and attracting bees to sting the patient. This treatment is said to reduce pain, inflammation, arthritic symptoms, high blood pressure, and asthma.

Clearly, nature holds a wealth of healing power. If only we valued such remedies more, we’d probably be more protective of nature. 


Sand

Some of us might find it very irritating when sand sticks to the skin, while at the beach. But sand bathing has been a therapy for a while now, and is believed to have healing effects on the body. After all, animals too are known to roll around in sand or mud to cleanse their bodies of toxins.

While the process of sand bathing might be rather uncomfortable, those who’ve experienced it maintain the relief the body feels afterwards is well worth the discomfort. On the Japanese island Kyushu, sand bathing involves lying down and covering the body with volcanic sand, instead of burying it neck-deep at a beach. It is said to help treat infertility, diabetes, anaemia and asthma.

Fire

We know fire was used to burn wounds for cauterisation, during the middle ages. We’re certainly grateful for modern methods that are far gentler. But fire still has its place as a natural healer. Before we get all worked-up with fear, let’s make it clear that the sun too is fire.

From acne to psoriasis, and depression to juvenile jaundice, there isn’t an ailment that the sun can’t heal. All it takes is just exposing ourselves to the gentle rays of early morning sun. Also, the sun’s power in increasing vitamin D is irrefutable. Perhaps, our ancestors knew this deep down in their bones. It’s probably why yogis developed the Surya Namaskar.

Plants

We’re aware that Ayurveda relies heavily on plant products in its treatments. After all, many of us use herbal remedies for beauty purposes. Neem is perhaps the most versatile plant in this regard. Neem oil is highly beneficial in treating acne and allergies.

But it’s not just beauty that neem aids. Researchers have established that the neem tree is highly beneficial in purifying the air around us. It’s now proven that the neem tree produces more oxygen than many other tree species, thereby keeping our environment pure. Rest assured, the neem tree has earned its title as a ‘noble’ plant.

Clearly, nature holds a wealth of healing power. If only we valued such remedies more, we’d probably be more protective of nature. We may find holistic wellbeing, if we reduce popping those pills and seek treatment from all things natural.

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