The Holistic Protocol to Reverse Cancer
Holistic Methods and Techniques Explored
Cancer is at epidemic levels in the United States.
Conventional methods eradicate cancer cells, but cancer often returns later. This is because conventional treatment does nothing about the underlying causes of cancer. Conventional treatment destroys healthy cells along with cancerous cells and damages the immune system. Conventional treatment does nothing to bring the body back into a state of balance and good health.
Generally speaking, conventional medicine treats cancer as a death sentence. It is used to prolong life for a few years, but not to cure cancer.Natural Supplements continued
While conventional medicine searches for the “Cure,” alternative medicine says we have the “Cure” already- and the Cure is the holistic mind, body, spirit (energy) approach to cancer.
This article focuses on holistic methods that are being used to reverse cancer. Holistic methods include natural techniques, methods and products.
Historically, holistic techniques, methods and products have not been subject to well-funded clinical trials. But, there is much antidotal evidence to support their effectiveness. Some holistic health clinics that are dedicated to reversing cancer like the Budwig Center in Spain, the Oasis of Hope Clinic in Mexico and the Gerson Institute in San Diego assert that the five year survival rate for holistic methods is better than conventional treatment by multiples. Depending on the type of cancer, some holistic practitioners assert that the five year survival rate for the holistic approach to cancer is as much as 90 percent.
Clinical trials of natural supplements take place with more frequency now. Clinical trials are very expensive and not within the budget of holistic practitioners, clinics and organizations. But, they are beginning to take place by universities. Naturally, there is resistance to holistic techniques, methods and products. After all, cancer is a $100 Billion per year industry.
In general, people diagnosed with cancer opt for conventional treatment before they turn to alternative therapy. This puts alternative medicine and the holistic approach at a marked disadvantage.
CANCER – explore the site
Conventional treatment (especially chemo and radiation) does massive damage to the body. So, the holistic approach used after conventional treatment attempts to reverse cancer after the body has been greatly damaged by the conventional treatment. The cure rate for the holistic approach would be much higher if the patient elected alternative therapy from the beginning.
With respect to disease, the holistic approach treats the whole person-mind, body and spirit to bring the person back into a state of good health and balance. The holistic philosophy begins with the premise that disease is “dis-ease”, an imbalance in the body that must be brought into balance to heal disease.
The holistic approach first identifies the causes of this imbalance and then eliminates, greatly reduces and/or mitigates them. The holistic approach to disease also involves the use of natural techniques, methods and products to build up the bodily systems- the immune system, the digestive system, the metabolic system, the lymphatic system and the circulatory system. This is also true with cancer.
So, first holistic practitioners identify the causes of cancer. Holistic practitioners believe the main cause causes of cancer is a weak and compromised immune system, an acidic PH balance and low oxygen levels in the blood and carcinogens and other toxins (chemicals, heavy metals and radiation) which cause some cells to mutate and spread as cancer. We regularly ingest and absorb carcinogens and other toxins. These toxins are in the food, water, beverages, body products, cleaning products, the environment, pharmaceutical drugs and vaccines.
Other causes of cancer include stress, negativity and negative energy, vitamin and mineral deficiencies and a poor diet, i.e., a diet that consists primarily of processed and manufactured foods.
Holistic practitioners and writers believe that all of the above causes lead to the ultimate cause of cancer- a weak and compromised immune system that is not able to stop the spread of cancer cells or the formation of tumors. Our bodies produce cancer cells on a regular basis. But, a normal immune system swiftly destroys them and prevents them from spreading and forming tumors. A weak immune system cannot destroy cancer cells or prevent them from spreading and forming tumors.
The main causes of a weak and compromised immune system begin with cellular oxidation and inflammation and low energy at the cellular level. The causes of this include all the causes listed above. The result of all these causes is to damage all of the other bodily systems (i.e., the digestive system, the metabolic system, the lymphatic system and the circulatory system) and the organs-especially the kidneys, liver and thyroid. The end result of damaged bodily systems and organs is a damaged and weak immune system that cannot stop the spread of cancer.
The holistic approach to cancer starts with the belief that the body can heal itself. All that is needed is to use natural techniques, methods and products (foods, herbs, herbal supplements, vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants) to boost the body’s ability to heal. As mentioned above, in holistic parlance, disease is referred to as “dis-ease,” an imbalance in the mind, body and spirit that has a deleterious effect on health. With respect to cancer, there are imbalances and deficiencies that have to be corrected.
The holistic protocol discussed in this article employs mind, body and spirit (energy) techniques to eliminate or greatly reduce the causes of cancer and boost the immune system, while repairing damage done to other bodily systems and the organs and restoring cellular energy. The focus of the holistic protocol is to enable the immune system to destroy the cancer cells and tumors and prevent them from spreading further. At the same time, the holistic approach restores the health and vitality of the non-cancerous cells so they can defend themselves from the spread of the cancerous ones.
The most important bodily systems to boost with respect to cancer are the immune system and the metabolic system- especially that aspect of the metabolic system related to cellular mitochondria and cellular energy. But, all the bodily systems and organs work together. So, they must all be dealt with together through the holistic protocol. This will enable the body to function at an optimal level.
The holistic protocol uses diet, nutrition, vitamin and mineral supplements and other natural supplements to boost the immune system and energy. It also uses vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and oxygen for the same reason. At the same time, it employs natural supplements to directly target and destroy cancer cells -like natural chemo. The holistic protocol also uses diet and natural supplements to de-toxify toxins (chemicals and heavy metals) that are stored in the body’s cells. Detoxification is specifically focused on the intestines and organs to get them to function better.
The optimal diet to reverse cancer is a raw organic vegan diet (which consists of raw organic, whole, plant-based foods). This consists of fresh whole organic vegetables, fruit, whole grains, nuts and seeds. They should be consumed in raw form as much as possible. This will boost the immune system.
This diet includes a lot of salads with dark green leafy vegetables such as collards, kale, spinach and arugula (green leafy vegetables contain a lot of cancer fighting chlorophyll) and an assortment of colorful vegetables- i.e., cucumber, tomato, onion, mushroom, celery, beets, pepper, radish, avocado, green and red cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, etc. Green juices, beat and beet root juices and carrot juice are also good along with smoothies. These foods are filled with what the body needs for good health- vitamins minerals, anti-oxidants, fiber, water, oxygen and life force energy. When, you eat them in raw form, you maximize the ingestion of vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants, water and oxygen in them. This will boost the immune system.
There is a split in the holistic world on fruit because fruit contains sugar (albeit natural fructose) and sugar (along with an acidic PH balance) feeds cancer. If you continue to eat fruit, make it low glycemic fruit such as berries – blueberries, raspberries, strawberries and blackberries. Avoid whole grains that contain gluten. Gluten is a form of sugar- and sugar feeds cancer. The best whole grain is quinoa because it is gluten free and high in protein, vitamins and minerals. Brown rice is second best for the same reasons, but it contains fewer nutrients than quinoa.
The typical meal and snacks include salads and fresh juices and smoothies. Eat plenty of nuts and seeds. Nuts include walnuts, cashews, almonds and Brazil nuts among others. Seeds include pumpkin seeds, flaxseeds and chia seeds among others. Nuts and seeds will provide you with needed protein and fats (along with avocado and coconut). They will also help stabilize brain chemistry, which is important for happiness and positive thinking which is important for a strong immune system.
The optimal diet includes super-foods along with pre-biotic and pro-biotic foods. Superfoods are filled with anti-oxidants include, among others, chlorella, spirulina, wheatgrass, chlorophyll, fresh onion, garlic, ginger, turmeric, blueberries, goji berries, acai berries, chia seeds, flax seeds and pumpkin seeds. Garlic, ginger and onion are also pre-biotic foods. Also, drink water with fresh squeezed lemon or lime. Lemon and lime are rich in vitamin C, a strong anti-oxidant. Probiotic foods are fermented foods and include sauerkraut, pickles and kefir (which is not plant based). Prebiotic and probiotic foods are especially important to boost the immune system.
The above-described diet is similar to the Gerson Diet, Bud wig Diet and the Oasis of Hope Diet discussed below.
Because it is organic, this raw vegan diet is free of carcinogens and other toxins from pesticides and herbicides. It contains no toxic GMOs. This diet contains needed vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants, fiber, oxygen and life force energy to help repair the body and immune system. It is also very de-toxifying as it contains a lot of fiber needed for detoxification.
Refined salt is toxic and devoid of minerals. So, only use a fully mineralized salt such as Himalayan salt or Celtic salt.
Eliminate or greatly reduce meat and dairy. If you include them, make sure they are organic and grass fed/free-range. Egg whites and wild, fresh water fish are the best source of animal protein for health. But, the raw vegan diet contains sufficient amounts of protein (you only need 60 to 120 grams of protein per day depending on your size and body type). There is a lot of protein in nuts, seeds, beans and whole grains (especially quinoa). Vegetables also contain protein. So, animal protein is not needed.
Eliminate refined sugar and processed and packaged foods. These manufactured foods are not real food. They are not easily digested. They are toxic and full of sugar and, along with dairy and meat, tend to make the PH balance acidic. An acidic PH balance and sugar feed cancer. The need to keep the PH balance alkaline and the need to eliminate or greatly reduce sugar (especially refined and processed sugar) is discussed below. The optimal diet discussed above is an alkaline diet and a low sugar diet.
To reverse cancer, we must conserve and boost our cellular energy. We expend most of our energy on digesting and metabolizing food (and on ongoing negative thoughts). The raw vegan diet consists of natural plant-based foods that are easy to digest and metabolize. Meat and processed foods take a lot more energy to digest and metabolize. This is another reason to avoid these foods.
Ongoing negative thoughts burn energy. Mindfulness and positive thinking techniques discussed below keep us in a relaxed state. We must greatly reduce stress and negativity and stay in a relaxed state to conserve and boost cellular energy.
To reverse cancer, maintain an alkaline PH balance. This will boost your immune system. Alkaline is the opposite of an acidic PH balance. Acid an acidosis feeds cancer. You can test your PH balance with test strips. These test strips will show you whether your PH balance is alkaline or acidic.
The raw vegan diet is alkaline. To maintain an alkaline PH balance, eat the raw vegan diet and drink a lot of pure water each day. Some advocate a gallon of pure water each day or eight, eight ounce glasses of water each day. But, make sure your water is filtered, distilled or spring water. It is best to filter your water with a strong filter that gets out all chemicals and heavy metals including sodium fluoride. A reverse osmosis filter is best for this. To maintain an alkaline PH balance only drink pure water and tea, especially herbal tea and green tea. Avoid or greatly reduce coffee. It promotes an acidic PH Balance. Eliminate soda, soft drinks and sugary and artificially sweetened drinks. They promote an acidic PH balance.
Also, to maintain an alkaline PH balance, drink a few eight ounce glasses of pure water with a teaspoon of aluminum free baking soda and fresh lemon a couple of times each day. This will help you maintain an alkaline PH balance. Water, fresh lemon and Himalayan salt is alkaline. You can buy alkaline water.
On a daily basis, take a good size dose of vitamins and minerals – 10 to 15 times greater than the Recommended Daily Allowance. The Recommended Daily Allowance is not sufficient to boost the body’s immune system and cellular energy. Multi-vitamins include vitamins A, B complex, C, D3, E, K1 and K2. Take a good size daily dose of colloidal trace minerals, which includes all of the trace minerals needed by the body. The body needs a lot of vitamins and minerals for good health. Whole plant-based foods are important but not sufficient to deliver all the vitamins and minerals needed for good health. This is because of the enormous amount of toxins we ingest or absorb that we must combat along with the fact that the soil has been depleted of needed vitamins and minerals.
Take supplements that boost your immune system and cellular energy including ginseng (American, Asian, Siberian Ginseng), resveratrol, B complex vitamins, Asian mushroom supplements (reishi shiitake maitake mushroom extract), green tea and green tea extract, Bee Propolis, grape seed extract, quercetin, alpha lipoic acid and maca.
All disease including cancer is triggered by oxidation (oxidative stress) and inflammation at the cellular level. So, take anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatories on a daily basis. This will boost the immune system. Take a good size dose of Co Q 10/Ubiquinol. This is a super anti-oxidant – and the immune system needs to be flooded with anti-oxidants to fight cancer. Also, take a good size dose of turmeric or curcumin (the active ingredient in turmeric). Turmeric is a super food. It is an herb from India that is both an anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory.
Eat fresh garlic and ginger on a daily basis. Garlic is a super food and strong anti-oxidant. Ginger is a super food and strong anti-inflammatory. Take a good size dose of flaxseed oil supplements. Flaxseed oil contains omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, which are beneficial for health and will help boost the immune system. Also, consider hemp oil. Hemp oil also contains omega 3 and 6 fatty acids. Other seeds such as pumpkin seeds and chia seeds also contain omega 3 and 6 fatty acids. Some practitioners recommend fish oil for omega 3 fatty acids, while others believe that fish oil may contain contaminants from the fish and from how it is processed. So, flaxseed oil and hemp oil are the preferred choice for omega 3 fatty acid.
The whole, organic, vegan diet contains vital nutrients and fiber needed to boost the immune system and cellular energy. The whole, organic, vegan diet consists of foods that contain a lot of water and oxygen needed for good health.
A lot of oxygen is needed to bolster the cells to fight cancer. Also, oxygen destroys cancer cells. Water contains a lot of oxygen. It will also keep your body hydrated for good health. So, drink a lot of pure water. You can add oxygen to your water with an ozone machine. Besides pure water, practice deep breathing. Take deep cleansing breaths from time to time and make sure your breaths are slow and deep. Buy alkaline water.
Do not drink soda, artificial or bottled drinks. Do not drink artificially sweetened drinks. These are made from toxic chemicals. Drink pure water, green tea and herbal teas while healing.
Do not use refined sugar or artificial sweeteners. They are toxic and will damage the immune system and cells.
To boost the immune system, you must greatly eliminate and avoid toxins. At the same time, you must de-toxify the cells of your body including the intestines and colon, liver and kidneys. This will rev up your immune system.
For general detoxification of the body, drink apple cider vinegar and water on a daily basis. Put apple cider vinegar on your salads. Drink water with diatomaceous earth or bentonite clay. Use psyllium husk and activated charcoal. Eat fresh onions. Take colloidal trace minerals on a daily basis. Drink a juice made with fresh parsley and cilantro. Boil water and put clumps of parsley and cilantro in the hot water and let it steep overnight. Then drink the juice. All of this de-toxifies chemicals and heavy metals stored in the body’s cells by drawing them out of the cells. The body then eliminates them as waste.
To boost the immune system, it is important to de-toxify the intestines and colon along with the kidneys and liver. With respect to the kidneys and liver, take herbal supplements designed to remove toxins from them. These supplements include milk thistle and dandelion root and other beneficial herbs. Drink unsweetened cranberry juice and eat kidney beans for the kidneys. If your energy is low, you may need to bolster the thyroid with iodine and Indian herb called guggul gum.
A healthy colon and intestines are critical to boost the immune system. To de-toxify the colon and intestines, you must get rid of the parasites and candida over-growth that smothers interior walls of the intestines and colon and limits their effectiveness. Candida over-growth and parasites feed on refined sugar, processed foods and an acidic PH balance. So, most people have candida over-growth and parasites in their intestines and colon because they have eaten refined sugar and processed foods and they have drunk acidic beverages such as coffee and soda for a long time.
By adopting the alkaline diet discussed above, you will eliminate sugar and processed foods and move to an alkaline PH balance. Next, take herbal supplements designed to destroy candida over-growth and parasites in the intestines and colon. This includes a combination of wormwood, black walnut shell and cloves extract along with grapefruit seed extract. Whole grapefruit is also beneficial in treating candida overgrowth.
Finally, good digestion requires the gut to be populated with beneficial bacteria to get it to function effectively. But, often antibiotics, drugs and toxins kill off beneficial, gut bacteria. So, re-populate your gut with beneficial bacteria. You do this by eating pre-biotic foods and fermented foods or by taking a good pro-biotic supplement. This will keep candida overgrowth in check.
Detoxification is important to boost the immune system. Toxins (chemicals and heavy metals) that are ingested and absorbed are stored in the body’s cells. While de-toxifying, it is essential to stop ingesting and absorbing additional toxins that will damage your immune system. So, eat a clean organic, vegan, raw diet. The foods in this diet contain a lot of fiber that will help to de-toxify the body and, because they are organic, they will not add toxins to your body. Drink pure water, green tea and herbal teas. Pure water and these teas help to de-toxify the body and they will not add toxins to your body.
Also, use body products (soap, lotion, shampoo, etc.) and cleaning products that are organic and toxin free. Be careful of drugs and vaccines. Drugs are made from chemicals. Vaccine fluid contains chemicals and heavy metals. Refrain from drinking alcohol or smoking cigarettes. Cigarettes contain heavy metals and chemicals and alcohol is a chemical.
Take good sized doses of supplements that specifically target cancer cells for destruction. These supplements assist the immune system in destroying cancer cells and they take pressure off the immune system. These supplements include dandelion root, turmeric/curcumin, Vitamin B17 (laetrile)(sold only in the form of apricot kernels in the US per the FDA), black walnut hull extract, wormwood extract (especially when combined with iron), grape seed extract, colloidal gold (gold nanoparticles), artemisinin (especially when combined with iron supplements), soursop, pau’ d arco, bitter melon, thunder god vine (lei gong teng), modified citrus pectinpyrroloquinoline quinone, milk thistle, medical marijuana and cannabis oil. Some of these herbal supplements also come in the form of tea. Essiac tea is also highly recommended to reverse cancer. Essiac tea contains a blend of herbs including sheep sorrel, which is believed to be the main cancer fighting herb in Essiac tea.
The holistic approach also includes injection of large doses of vitamin C to target cancer cells. Vitamin C is a super anti-oxidant that destroys cancer cells.
Daily exercise and stretching are important. This improves the circulation- which is necessary to bring needed nutrients, oxygen and life force energy to the cells. Exercise includes walking two to three miles per day, cardio-vascular exercise (that gets the heart rate up) and lifting light weights (that aids metabolism and circulation) along with stretching and yoga (that also aid circulation). You should exercise at least 1.5 hours per day. Get outdoors and get at least 20 minutes of sunshine on your arms and face as often as possible. This promotes the body’s production of Vitamin D- which boosts the immune system.
The mind is an important aspect of healing. With respect to the mind, the holistic protocol starts with beliefs. The mind can trigger disease and help to reverse it. To reverse cancer, we must believe in the conscious and unconscious mind that we are healthy and whole and the cancer is a temporary problem that will be solved with the holistic methods. Essentially, we must visualize ourselves as healed, whole, peaceful and happy. This requires us to use positive affirmations to change our beliefs from negative to positive ones. If we believe what we are told by a medical doctor – i.e., that we are very ill and cancer is a death sentence and the prognosis for survival is bad – then you will most likely succumb to the disease. It also requires a lot of meditation, prayer and the use of emotional release techniques to let go of all fear and worry and to maintain an relaxed, positive and happy state. Fear and worry damages the immune system, but can be overcome with inner work.
We must achieve and maintain a relaxed state. This is important to boost the immune system and cellular energy. A relaxed state stops the body from producing cortisol – which is a toxin that damages the body. A relaxed state ensures that nutrients, oxygen and life force flow freely to all the cells of the body through the circulatory system A relaxed state requires us to use meditation, prayer and emotional release techniques to release negative energy related to anxiety, fear, worry, anger, resentment, etc. In addition, we must greatly reduce stress and stress factors in our life. It requires us to have faith. This will help boost the immune system.
While stress is triggered by external factors, it is really caused by ongoing negative thoughts and negative self- talk. It is important to eliminate or avoid triggers. This is done, in part, by building and maintaining strong boundaries and staying away from negative and toxic people and environments.
Practice mindfulness. Through mindfulness techniques, we monitor our thoughts and related emotions. Use “distract and substitute” techniques to turn negative thoughts into positive ones or just focus on your breath or details that you encounter in the moment.
When you experience negative thoughts, command yourself to stop thinking about that and substitute positive thoughts, images, affirmations and prayer for negative thoughts. The holistic approach includes energy healing, holistic health coaches, hypnotherapists and bio-feedback specialists to get the mind to be relaxed, centered, balanced and positive. This along with being happy will boost your immune system.
There are many herbs and supplements that help reduce stress and get the mind and body to relax, while boosting your energy. This includes Adaptogens (such as ashwaganda, rhodiola, astragalus, ginseng ( American, Asian and Siberian Ginseng) and maca. Also helpful with respect to stress reduction and relaxation are 5 htp, valerian root extract, magnesium, medical marijuana and cannabis oil. Hot baths (with Epsom salt, magnesium powder and lavender essential oil) also helps get the body to relax, along with massage.
A lot of rest, sleep and relaxation are essential to boost the immune system. This is true for all diseases including cancer. If you can get a leave from work, take it. Spend your time resting, sleeping, relaxing and enjoying life. Be in a clean and comfortable, stress-free environment. Listen to relaxing and upbeat music. Get into nature often. Turn off the news. All of this will help to keep you in a relaxed, positive and happy state, which will boost your immune system and energy level.
Daily heart centered meditation and inner work (including daily prayer and expression of gratitude) are essential to boost the immune system. This is the spirit aspect of mind, body, spirit. It is important to focus on blessings and what is good in your life (and give thanks for that on a daily basis) and to not focus on the disease and what is lacking in your life. Start with the blessing of life and being alive and the basic things that you have-loved ones, pets, shelter, food, a car, a job, etc. Have fun, enjoy life, turn on the music, dance and live in the moment through your senses and not through ongoing negative thoughts.
There is an energy component to all diseases including cancer. So, the spirit (energy) aspect of mind, body, spirit includes energy healing.. Our cells are mostly energy. They are re-vitalized with additional life force energy. Negative energy depletes them of needed life force energy. Energy healing replenishes them.
Life force energy flows to all the body’s cells through the circulatory system. This free flow of life force energy is needed for good health and a strong immune system. Negative energy (low vibration energy) blocks the free flow of life force energy (high vibration energy).
These negative energy blockages are the same as emotional blockages and always manifest in disease. Energy healing brings extra positive life force energy into the body to break up energy blockages and restore the free flow of life force energy. Energy healing includes Reiki and acupuncture. Yoga, chi gong and Tai Chi are also helpful along with prayer, meditation and meditative visualizations designed to fill the body with life force energy and cleanse the body of negative energy.
As mentioned above, to reverse cancer, it is essential to do inner work on a daily basis i.e., heart-centered meditation and prayer and meditative visualizations. The goal of inner work is to infuse the body life force energy and to raise vibrations and bring inner peace at the same time. Breathing techniques are important to combine with meditative visualizations. Breathe in visualized white light in meditation. Take long and slow breaths and fill up with visualized white light and then expand it out a foot or two from your body and hold it there. Fill the body with a visualized violet flame and the color green (the color of healing). The body responds positively to visualized white light, the violet flame and the color green for healing. Short quick breaths (about 20 in a row) in rapid succession also will help raise your vibrations. High vibrations will burn off negative energy (which is low vibration energy).
Use high vibration crystals such as orgone, citrine and clear quartz. Hold them in your hands during meditation to raise vibrations. Angel light and fluorite help bring inner peace. So, hold them in your hands while meditating and carry these and high vibration crystals in your pocket. Essential oils are used in aromatherapy help to raise vibrations and bring inner peace. Orange and lemon help raise vibrations, while vanilla, sandalwood and lavender help bring inner peace. The essential oil frankincense along with the plant it is derived from (boswellia) also boosts the immune system.
Burn white sage in your home and spread the savory smoke to clear it of negative energy.
Here are some other well-known holistic cancer protocols:
Cesium Chloride Therapy
Many holistic practitioners use cesium chloride or a combination of cesium chloride and potassium for advance states of cancer. Cesium and potassium make cancer cells alkaline, while cesium chloride inhibits their intake of glucose. Cesium chloride and potassium starve cancer cells by cutting off their” food” -i.e., sugar and acid.
Oxygen destroys cancer cells. So, ozone therapy is part of the holistic approach to cancer. Ozone therapy is administered by licensed medical professionals. Ozone therapy gets oxygen to the cells by using oxygen or hydrogen peroxide. The most common approach of ozone therapy is to draw a pint of blood from the patient and infuse it with oxygen. The blood in the bottle turns bright red. The oxygen- infused blood is then injected into the patient’s bloodstream. Ozone therapy may include drinking edible hydrogen peroxide mixed into a glass of water. Edible hydrogen peroxide can be taken orally when mixed with water.
The foregoing is not intended to be medical advice. It is information based on holistic health research. It is a holistic approach intended to be used in combination with conventional medicine. Consult your physician for medical advice.
The Holistic Protocol to Reverse Cancer by Michael E. Goldberg
Aroma ‘Therapy’ and the Black Death
From Mediaeval times until the mid-1800s, it was generally believed that diseases were caused and spread through a corruption of the air or ‘miasma’. This belief probably arose because of the foul smells associated with illness and the lack of hygiene common at that time. When it came to preventing or treating such diseases, a lack of any knowledge of modern science or medicine meant that people had only the beliefs and practices of their ancestors to rely on. While some of these, mainly herbal, remedies have been since found to be effective (e.g. wormwood for stomach complaints and lungwort for respiratory problems), most were totally ineffective when the Black Death swept across Europe in the 1300s.
The most common form of the Black Death was the bubonic plague, characterized by the appearance of black-coloured buboes in the groin, neck and armpits, which oozed pus and blood, together with fever, headaches, painful aches in the joints, nausea and vomiting. It was highly contagious and usually fatal. The Black Death was universally feared – it spread ferociously fast, and death could occur within a couple of hours of the onset of symptoms. Between the 14th and 17th centuries, Europe suffered a series of attacks from the plague, and the consequences were enormous. Between 1348 and 1350 alone, the Black Death is estimated to have killed between one- and two-thirds of the population of Europe.
The plague was associated with a characteristic stink – the huge number of victims together with the rapid and high death rate associated with the plague would have given rise to an extraordinarily strong stench. This reinforced in most people’s minds the idea that the disease was carried in contaminated air. Among the more obvious remedies that were proposed, therefore, were those based on aroma – the aim was to counter the bad air with sweet-smelling agents, which were thought to have the power to overcome the harmful evil odours. Herbs and spices were most popular, though generally anything that smelt good was considered useful.
Those who could afford it burned a range of aromatic herbs – such as rosemary, juniper, laurel, pine and beech – in their houses, to help ward off bad smells and purify the air. Camphor and sulphur were also thought to be effective. Sweet-smelling herbs, such as lavender, sage, thyme, meadowsweet and winter savoury, were dried and strewn on the floor, sewn into cloth bags or carried as posies. Cloths infused with aromatic oils, such as camphor, rosemary or laurel, that were used to cover the face when going out were a more expensive option. Vinegar was also thought to be an effective deterrent.
Even wealthier people could afford pomanders. These consisted of pierced metal cases containing resin or wax embedded with a multitude of expensive aromatic spices, including nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves. Held to the nose, the pierced casing allowed the scent to escape, thus (supposedly) offering the owner protection from the air-borne pestilence. The attractions of the aromatic spices, nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves, are perhaps obvious, but ambergris, a waxy secretion of the intestinal tract of the sperm whale, was also used in pomanders. Unlikely as it may seem, ambergris has a pleasant sweet fragrance and is still used today by the perfume industry. Only the very rich could afford to carry ambergris pomanders, and these were considered to be more potent against the plague than other pomanders.
In Elizabethan times there are reports of many ‘cures’ for the plague: here are two of those based on herbal remedies…
“Take yarrow, tansy, featherfew, of each a handful, and bruise them well together, then let the sick party make water into the herbs, then strain them, and give it the sick to drink.” (The belief that drinking your own urine is a panacea for all ills is a relatively common one even today.)
“Take of sage, rue, briar leaves, elder leaves, of each a handful, stamp them and strain them with a quart of white wine, and put thereto a little ginger, and a good spoonful of the best treacle, and drink thereof morning and evening.“
Although the remedies available at this time were totally ineffective at treating people who developed the plague there is a possibility that some may, strangely enough, have actually been of some help in preventing the spread of the plague. Wormwood, rosemary, feverfew and tansy, in particular, are today recognized for their flea-repelling properties (indeed wormwood was used as a flea deterrent during the plague years) – and fleas and the rats that carried them are now generally thought to have been responsible for carrying and spreading this devastating disease.
Aroma ‘Therapy’ and the Black Death by Alix Williams
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