Latest research in the field of medicine reveals how modern lifestyles are affecting the health and well-being of people, says Dr. P.A. Kareem, Director and Chief Physician of the Health School of Naturopathy and of Yoga Hospital, located in the Indian state of Kerala. Dr. Kareem, who was recently in Kuwait to conduct a workshop on Naturopathy, urges people to follow his naturopathic approach to enjoy health and happiness in life.
On his short visit to the country, Dr. Kareem stopped by The Times Kuwait office to expound on the health benefits of naturopathy.
Dr. Kareem, who studied under well-known naturopath C.R.R. Varma, has done a post-graduation course in naturopathy. He has visited several countries in the Middle-East to promote awareness among people on the benefits of naturopathy and how it can change lives. He is the author of several books on naturopathy in different languages, including ‘Nature Cure, Not Medicine’.
What is Naturopathy?
It is a form of alternative medicine that focuses on natural treatments, such as mud therapy, nutrients, fasting, hydrotherapy, yoga, exercise and lifestyle changes. As a naturopath, I encourage my patients to try natural treatments instead of medicines. It is very important that we should be free from medicines. The naturopathic philosophy is based on the idea of vitalism and self-healing — the idea that the body, given the chance, can heal any ailments on its own.
Why do you prefer natural methods to medicines?
Medicines contain many chemicals that can cause side effects which harms the body. Almost all medicine labels come with a warning about possible harm to the liver, kidney or other symptoms like nausea. Nowadays, you read in newspapers about renal failure as a side effect of specialized drugs. The best way consumers can protect themselves is by choosing alternate natural methods, which is what I recommend.
Many people assume naturopathy is an ancient practice that isn’t well suited for the modern era, kindly comment?
During the 19th century, the modernized version of naturopathy started with the Nature Cure movement in Europe. And from there it has evolved, Thomas Allinson, the British doctor who popularized whole-grain bread, advocated ‘Hygienic Medicine’ in the 1880s, promoting a natural diet and exercise with avoidance of tobacco and overwork.
Then, Benedict Lust, the ‘Father of US Naturopathy’ expanded the scope of naturopathy discipline by including techniques such as hydrotherapy, herbal medicine, and homeopathy. Today, naturopathy is well known and recognized as a good alternative to chemical-based treatments in Europe. Many European doctors know the adverse effects of chemical medicines.
What are the most harmful habits that effect people today?
The overindulgence of teas and coffees, not to mention constantly drinking sodas are terrible for a person’s health as well as unhealthy food stuff. People need to reduce intake of non-vegetarian foods to once in a week and base their diet around healthy vegetarian dishes. A change in lifestyle is a must for a person to get the changes they want. People cause the problems and diseases that afflict their body with their unhealthy habits. Fasting is one method to heal the damage, because the body gets the chance to heal diseases on its own. Even animal and plants have the similar ability to self-heal.
What method would you advise to help the body heal?
When people eat and fill their stomachs, the energy is spent digesting the food; which is why I recommend people take some leisure time and fast once a week to enable their body to repair and maintain itself with its self-healing abilities. At the hospital, when patients undergo certain treatments, they have to fast and keep their stomach empty by only taking in water and juices on certain days. After they are done, we tell them that they have to follow this treatment at home to maintain their health. This treatment is especially useful for patients with a heart blockage.
Given the high rate of diabetics in Kuwait, what is your advice for them?
There is the belief that there is no cure for diabetes, but we have been able to treat ninety percent of the patients that come to our clinic by changing their diet, without the need for insulin injections or medicines. We encourage them to only have fruits, vegetables and salads, and we use certain procedures to help them.
What are the different procedures that help in wellness?
Hydrotherapy: Water is applied in therapeutic ways to the body depending on the ailment. The physician applies a pure water pack to the affected areas of the body or an entire area is covered with pure water, or alternatively, the area is soothed with hot and cold water regularly. Also, we can bathe the patient in pure water if needed to help expel the toxins.
Sun Bath: Patients need to feel the sunlight on their skin, as sunlight sustains living being on earth by providing nutrients. They are made to sit in bearably hot sunlight in the morning afternoon until their health improves and they feel better.
Mud therapy: Another useful treatment is mud, which is a very good curative treatment. In naturopathy, patients are encourages to bath in special medicated mud for a certain amount of time to improve their health. Mud can also be applied internally for certain afflictions with a physician’s guidance.
How do people with a fast-paced lifestyle and busy schedule follow naturopathy?
It is not difficult to follow the system. All the foods, vegetables and fresh juices are easily available here. However, people choose to eat heavy foods like rice, fish, chapatti and meat regularly, when they should be taking fruits for breakfast and in the evening. Also, they tend to eat around midnight, when the digestive power reduces after sunset. This is not a good idea; I encourage everyone to try to eat around 6 or 7 pm, and try to eat cooked vegetables, salads or fruits. Cooked food must be had two times a day for either breakfast and lunch, or lunch and dinner. While non-cooked foods should be had only once. If they follow this system, then no need to worry about any problems.
Many health problems are caused by bad food choices. For example, constant use of iodized salt in cooking is not recommended; it is even mentioned in medical research that the reported effects of iodized salt include hypertension, depression, insomnia, and more (Ref: As per Martindale, The Complete Drug Reference, published by The Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain). All naturopathy physicians are against this because the medical books underlines the harm is does to the body. The best kind of salt is rock salt and black salt.
People should be drinking pure water, but it is difficult to get pure water. There are a lot of preservatives in the regular drinking water, so we can use raw vegetables and fruits as a substitute. If possible, keep water in earthen pot so the contaminates will be purified from the water. These mud pots are available in Kuwait, and I have seen them being sold at the Irani marketplace.
Why are you propagating naturopathy as the best healing method for ailments?
I am propagating this because majority people are opting for medicinal treatments without considering the harm it does. People do not know how to improve and change their lives naturally without help from medicines. I am advocating this system and encourage everyone to try naturopathy to gain freedom from ailments and their health issues. Every year, I visit different Gulf countries to educate the public about natural remedies like selected foods and leaves like curry leaves and tulsi leaves that have medicinal properties.
How does following naturopathy change a person?
I receive many kinds of patients with heart problems, high blood pressure, acidic problems, diabetes, lungs, kidney, liver problems, obesity etc. Naturopathy changes them so that they feel renewed and alive by these prescribed methods. Once they begin adopting these changes in their lifestyle, they experience real improvements like they lose weight, are more active and feel better.
They find that their health problems like allergies, pain and body issues disappear. They also are freed from dependence on expensive medicines that gives them small and passing relief. Naturopathy is a total cure for human beings, and whatever ailment they might have. We educate people how to live and incorporate healthy habits into their daily lives; we are spreading positive information during our awareness classes. These are tools we encourage people to get relief from ailments and freedom from medicines.