In the past decade, there has been a soaring interest in "self-health" techniques and methods for many reasons: "modern" medicine has become depersonalized ... its drugs often have more side effects than benefits ... its cost is exorbitant ...

In contrast, self-health methods and techniques are usually free of cost, or nearly so. They are easy to learn and simple to apply. The "right" method brings fast relief and long-term healing benefits, while the "wrong" method does little (if any) damage. And each ailment or illness that one self-treats provides insight and growth in to his/her own nature as a human being.

There are many self-health techniques and methods, but they fall into four broad categories:
1. Those which depend upon mental or psychic activities ...
2. Those which require a substance be taken by mouth ...
3. Those which depend upon one or more bodily senses (e.g., sight, smell, etc.) ...
4. Those which require the use of touch.
We will discuss the techniques falling in the first two categories in this part of the two part article.

Of these four categories, the latter -- touch therapies -- are the easiest to use. The best known of these is probably the whole-body massage -- usually called "Swedish massage." A trained masseur, kneads and goads the sufferer's muscles to provide comfort, relaxation and a pleasant "glow." But it has drawbacks: you cannot give yourself a complete massage; and it has only limited uses for specific ailments.

A much more useful type of massage technique, especially for self application, is called acupressure. This is a kind of acupuncture ... but without the needles. Instead, the fingertips are used to stimulate tiny therapy points throughout the body. There are many forms of acupressure (e.g., jin shin do, shiatzu, do-in, etc.), but the easiest, and often most effective of these is called G-Jo. This method -- which takes only minutes to learn and seconds to apply -- brings immediate relief from headaches, back pains, and nearly every other ailment that you might otherwise self-treat with aspirin or other over-the-counter remedy. I described this technique in detail in an earlier article.

Another popular form of touch-therapy is a kind of "micro-acupressure" called reflexology or zone therapy. There is a complete healing system in either hand and foot. And these, when massaged deeply enough to both find and "trigger" the most sensitive spots, will produce relief and eventually stimulate self-healing of many ailments and health problems.

Like most acupressure points, the ones which produce the greatest benefits are usually very tender to deep, specific pressure. When massaged, these "ouch points" will produce a toothache-like sensation. And typically with this deep massage comes a peculiar response -- generally a sudden sense of warmth or clamminess -- called an "acupressure reaction."

Acupressure points are usually massaged regularly over a period of time (usually for several days or weeks in a row), especially for chronic ailments, and in the beginning, the sensitivity at the points tends to grow increasingly worse. But soon, the tenderness at the acupressure point "peaks," then fades, which indicates the body's innate self-healing mechanisms have been called into action.

One of the most exciting, but complex, self-applied touch therapies is performed upon either the ear or the nose. Each of these facial appendages has a complete healing system buried within it. But here, a blunted toothpick or a wooden matchstick can be used to both find and stimulate the most sensitive (and thus most effective) pinhead-sized therapy points.

But although acupressure techniques may be both effective and easy to perform, they have at least one drawback: they are, as mentioned, generally somewhat uncomfortable. Indeed, the more tender the acupressure point, the more likely it is to be helpful in bringing relief in healing. So some people have difficulty in using this self-health method.

Another easy, but less painful category of self-health techniques is that which uses the mouth (or two other bodily openings -- the nostrils or the rectum, whose uses are more fully described later) to ingest healing substances.

The most common and least understood medicine that we each take daily is food. Every food we consume has an effect -- good or bad -- on at least one of our vital organs and glands. Eating too much -- or a poor variety of -- food is nearly always a contributing factor to disease and suffering. And improving the diet is almost always required in any program for long-term healing and wellness. Good food, alone, cannot make us well; but good health without a balanced, moderate diet is nigh onto impossible.

For centuries, Oriental doctors have prescribed specific foods to help "reverse" (heal) various ailments -- one food to treat the lungs ... another for the liver ... yet another for the kidneys, and so forth. Food therapy is one of the most interesting and essential of the self-health sciences -- a subject which I have covered in some detail in several of my books. (Specific foods and the organs they affect are described in greater detail in our Master of G-Jo Acupressure Home-Study Certification Program and Dynamic Nutrition! The Acugenics Way Of Eating For Pleasure And Health, both from The G-Jo Institute, ).

Vitamins, minerals and other nutritional supplements are the second-most popular way of "getting healthy" by mouth ... at least in the West. Nearly every Westerner has taken some kind of vitamin or mineral supplement at some time in his or her life, although such supplements have never gained much following east of Europe.

Vitamin and mineral supplements appear to work by stimulating a specific organ or gland to produce and manifest its own nutrients, rather than "extracting" a nutrient from the pill, itself. Food is thought to work its miracles the same way. This helps explain why people in all climates of the world (and who eat a variety of diets) can still have complete nutrition. Food, of course, is nature's own vitamin pill. The man-made kind are usually poor substitutes. Nonetheless, they can often provide a temporary "lift" for an ill or ailing person.

The use of medicinal plants and herbs has long been a favorite of self-healthers who favor taking their medicine by mouth. There are literally thousands of barks, roots, leaves and other plant parts which have medicinal value. The study and application of medicinal herbology -- called phytotherapy -- has made a strong recovery in popularity as a alternative to more powerful (and more dangerous) drugs and medicines. In fact, many prescribed medications are indeed nothing more than intense concentrations of these plants and barks. By knowing the specific action of each herbal remedy, it is often possible to self-prescribe an herbal "formula" which works often more "deeply" -- though not usually as swiftly -- as a prescription medication.

Herbal remedies are usually taken in the form of a tea -- called an "infusion" -- over a period of several months. However, like most healers which are taken by mouth, the potential for abuse is much higher than with touch therapy. Thus, it is wise to seek professional guidance -- or at least read several books on the subject -- before self- prescribing for an ailment or illness.

Herbal infusions are often used in enemas, as well. Enemas -- or colonic irrigations -- have the benefit of both delivering a therapeutic substance as well as cleansing a "clogged" (poorly functioning) large intestine ... but here, too, the potential for abuse exists. Too much colonic irrigation can both destroy the intestine's beneficial micro-organisms and temporarily disrupt the elimination cycle. But many people use enemas -- either with herbal infusions, strong coffee, or a variety of other warm liquids -- to occasionally cleanse and stimulate the entire system. Used in that manner, they may be particularly beneficial.

Perhaps the most complex and least understood of the self-healing arts (at least those which depend on substances taken orally) is homeopathy. This is actually the forerunner of modern medicine and was first described to Western physicians by Samuel Hahnemann, an 18th century physician called "the Father of Medicine."

With homeopathy, minute doses of one of hundreds of therapeutic substances are taken to stimulate self-healing. The rationale is "like cures like". This means that, if an herb or plant (when consumed to excess) would produce certain symptoms of "poisoning" (such as diarrhea, fever, nausea or such), then tiny doses of that same substance could be taken to cure those same symptoms, even if they did not arise from poisoning by that substance. Time and space do not permit a complete discussion of this remarkable healing method; it is every bit as complex as the medicine practiced by Medical Doctors, Osteopaths and other physicians ... but is generally safer and in many cases more effective than the medicines used by most present-day physicians.

A homeopathic preparation is made by first extracting the medicinal elements of a plant or other substance by "marinating" it in alcohol for a period of days; then by taking a few drops of this "mother tincture" and "succussing" (sharply rapping or banging) a dilution of the tincture repeatedly. This changes the molecular structure of the fluid.

Higher "potencies" are made by further diluting, then re-diluting this mixture, succussing each dilution a number of times. Surprisingly, the greater the dilution, the more powerful and deep acting the homeopathic remedy is said to be. Low potencies -- those which have been re-diluted not more than six, twelve or thirty times (called "six X," "twelve X" or "thirty X" potencies) are generally safe for self-prescription. Higher potencies should never be self-prescribed, unless one is well-versed with homeopathy.

It would seem that a substance so highly diluted could have little or no effect on a painful health problem. However, nothing could be further from the truth. Homeopathy is a profoundly effective healing art; but instead of "killing" the symptoms, it accelerates and purges them from the body-mind. In that respect, it is a much truer cure than most "allopathic" medicines that Western doctors presently use.

And we must not forget to add that a program of regular, moderate exercise, such as walking, Yoga, swimming, bicycling, are healthful fitness practices that can easily be sustained throughout life. Keep in mind the "rule of the four S's": Do all movement programs slowly, slightly beyond what is comfortable, for short periods of time, and do only simple movements. In other words: Slow, Sensual, Short and Simple.

Moderate exercise -- which is a vital component to any self-health or wellness program – works its benefits through the energy system, too. Energy is carried to and from the organs and glands via "meridians" or pathways found within the skin and muscles; exercise helps keep these pathways open and "unblocked" so that energy flows freely.

The reason that this -- and the other techniques described thus far in this article -- work is that they affect the body-mind's subtle energy system. All living creatures are dependent upon a special, vital energy -- which the Chinese call "ch'i" and the Japanese call "ki". When energy flows too quickly or too slowly from organ to organ, we become ill. And when this vital energy leaves the body, we are dead.

The self-health techniques in this article (plus many others which are not described here) all tend to "balance" this vital life force between moving too quickly and too slowly. But it is the body -- and only the body -- which heals itself; the self-health techniques merely stimulate self-healing.

For the conclusion of this article, please read "SELF-HEALTH METHODS -- AN OVERVIEW: PART II" covering the self-health techniques included in the last two categories:
3. Those which depend upon one or more bodily senses (e.g., sight, smell, etc.) ...
4. Those which require the use of touch.

Author's Bio: 

Author, lecturer and natural health educator, Michael Blate has spent most of his life researching and sharing acupressure and other "self-health" methods from around the world. Known to millions as "The Guru of Acupressure," he has written dozens of books and teaching guides to help people become more healthy, self-reliant and spiritually attuned. Michael has also been a frequent contributor to numerous magazines and has appeared on nearly 2,000 radio and TV talk shows to introduce audiences to the amazing healing powers and spiritual potential lying within each of us.

About the Author:
Author, lecturer and natural health educator, Michael Blate has spent most of his life researching and sharing acupressure and other "self-health" methods and traditional spiritual teachings from around the world. Michael has a special gift for presenting complex teachings in a straightforward, practical and easy-to-use format. He has written dozens of books and teaching guides to help people become more healthy, self-reliant and spiritually attuned.

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