The healing systems that developed in the Ancient world are divided into three major groups.
Greek, Chinese and Ayurvedic medical systems makeup what is called Traditional Medicine.
There are other medical systems that developed among local peoples that aren't included here.
These three philosophies are in essence, opinions on health.
This is in sharp contrast to Western medicine, which holds mathematics and science as facts
And although modern medicine has its roots in the Greek system, Western medicine has put all its proverbial eggs in one basket, science.
Science is methodical, focused and predictable.
Medical science investigates disease and its treatment.
The more it investigates, the more conclussions it draws.
Trial and error are the hallmarks of science.
Western medicine utilizes sophisticated tools to diagnosis disease and then applies a uniform treatment (drugs and surgery) to correct it.
Traditional approaches on the other hand, are based on the individuality of the healer and the need to prevent diseases from occuring in the first place.
Thus the primary philosophical difference between the Traditional approach and the modern, scientific approach is the latter’s emphasis on treatment and not prevention.
The Traditional approach to healing is based on a nebulous circulatory balance of entities.
The entities vary in each of the major healing systems.
Each one was specifically designed to fit the land and the environment it grew out of and was invariably the one best suited to their culture.
My lack of training precludes a better description but in the end their philosophy explained the physiologic, pathogenic and therapeutic processes in terms of contrasting pairs of understandable qualities (hot/cold, dry/wet, light/dark, and active/passive, strait/curved, yin/yang, even good/evil.
The main thrust of ancient therapies was to return the body to a state of harmony by reversing the stress that was causing the dysfunction.
Recent discoveries of natural pathways in the body lend credence to herbal theories and cures. These therapies were developed over the millennia and are still being used by a majority of the earth’s population. Research conducted on botanical products has validated many of Traditional medical principals by the standards of modern medical science. This program is based on the first Traditional medical principal. “Let food be thy medicine”, the other Hippocratic oath.
Traditional medicine denotes the health practices of Native peoples. This includes American Indians, Arabs, Amazonian and African tribes as well as the Ancient Greek, Indian and Chinese peoples. Their medicine depended on the use of plants or botanicals to prevent and cure illness. The foods that were chosen contained colorful antioxidants, powerful anti-inflammatory compounds and higher amounts of Omega-3 fatty acids.
The library of compounds in plants provides built in balances to prevent side effects. Their effect on biological systems is thus safer and different from that displayed by pharmaceutical drugs.
Herbs used by native cultures contained many different compounds. These compounds can act as an antioxidant or an anti-inflammatory agent, they can structurally be a plant steroid (saponin), an alkaloid, carbohydrate or fat.
Most plants contain a combination of these compounds in varying proportions.
These plant constituents are grouped according to their molecular structure but it is their mechanism of action that is most important. The compound might be a unique antioxidant, which protects vital structures by intercepting free radicals or a highly specific anti-inflammatory agent. Anti-inflammatory foods function by interfering with arachidonic acid metabolism via the cyclooxygenase and lipoxygenase pathways.
Plants also contain less omega-6 fatty acids. Their foods provide a balanced ratio of omega-3 fats to omega-6 fats. The higher the proportion of omega-6 fatty acids the more arachidonic acid becomes available and converted to prostanoids, the chemical enablers of inflammation.
The Greco-Romano World
Asclepius, the son of Apollo was the god of healing. As a diety he guarded over and represented the personification of health. So powerful were his skills that he was killed by Zeus for using his potions to bring the dead back to life. Over the years, those practices were passed down from mentor to student.
The medical ideas and practices of the Ancient Greeks are typically attributed to the father of Greek medicine, Hippocrates. He represented the collective cultural elite of Ancient Greece. The theories that evolved were attributed to him as a single man, but should be viewed as representing a number of Medical Philosophers.
Hippocrates based his theory on four humors. These four qualities consisted of wet, dry, hot and cold. Balance was their key. For example, Hippocrates prescribed ginger (a 'warming' herb) for a cold.
Rosemaary, thyme, mint, fennel, caraway, rose. cinnamon, clove, anise, frankincense, myrrh, coriander, ginger, garlic, opium, belladonna, and mandrake were some of the herbs used in the Corpus Hipporaticum.
The roots of modern medicine lie in the Western Mediterranean.
The great Roman physician Galen of Pergamum, was a great teacher and a skilled surgeon. Galen studied at the local temple of Asclepius before becoming physician to the gladiators.
When Galen went to Rome and became physician to Emperor Marcus Aurelius, he used his free time to write and reflect. Galen's writings on medicine were based on observation and humoral theory, which was used to found the Greco-Romano system of medicine. Galen, like Hippocrates before him, believed in maintaining balance in the body to promote health.
Galen employed the power and logic of human observation and believed in the healing power of plants.
European medicine would subsequently diverge from this primitive healing philosophy with the rise in importance of the scientific method. This method's success in discovering new cures and improving health for the ill is undeniable and so it is the core of Western medicine. But this thype of medicine, geared to the ill, is woefully inadeqaute for the healthy.
Cause and effect science replaced the more intuitive approach of the early healers. The entrenchment of the scientific method as the only path to understanding human health has diminished the world of healing.
Treatment has replaced healing. Medicine and health are not empirical sciences. Reason and testing do not always provide answers. Since doctors no longer rely on intuition, healthy athletes will need to develop their own.
The Asian cultures of India and China embraced and expanded herbal healing. They incorporated a physical component to their diet. As part of their healing methodology, they added movement to its program.
Their core belief is that the earth’s bountiful harvest provided all that is needed to prevent and cure illness. Their therapy incorporated plants into their 'patient’s' everyday diet. These medical systems consider plants the essential ingredient to health.
The addition of movement, Tai chi or yoga, adds years to the lives of its practioners.
Taichi was created out of the meditation practices of the ancient world of China, Tibet, Nepal, and northern India. These practices spawned profound meditation systems. Many were lost to time as societies and cultural patterns shifted towards worldly conquests, not personal ones. What remains today are the treasures of yoga, as well as the many incantations of Buddhist meditation and Taoist Tantra practice.
Chinese Traditional Medicine
In China, medical philosophers developed another variation of Traditional healing. Chinese healers added the use of needles to reverse the imbalances caused by disease.
Acupuncture is believed to restore balance and harmony by opening the pathways of energy or qi.
'One pattern, many diseases. One disease, many patterns'
Combined with plants, acupuncture and martial arts represents the Chinese approach to health. These methods help reverse disease. Traditional Chinese healing system is easier to feel than it is to understood. It is a powerful healing method that is wholly dependent on the unique experiences and expertise of the heeler.
The original Greco-Romano philosophy of balance has evolved into the rational modern medical system of today. A system focused on treatment and intervention. A medical system that views patients as consumers and physicians as providers. A system made up of pharmaceutical companies that manufacture cures and the insurance industry that funds them.
They are supported by a hospital infrastructure that cleans up the mess. Hovering over the system are a legion of lawyers and lobbyists. The system depends and benefits from an unhealthy population. Traditional healing has been replaced by treatment or over-treatment.
Today’s physician does not heal patients, they treat symptoms and the results of tests. Ancient societies evolved their medical system around balance while over treatment characterizes the modern system.
Whereas the early healers emphasized prevention and activity, our medical system concentrates on passive treatment and inactivity.
The Ancient Chinese healers reflected on the unity of opposites (yin-yang) and combined it with Tao to develop a medical system that attempts to achieve harmony within.
The I Ching, or Book of Changes reduces the complex manifestations of change to the simple observation that any change is created by the interplay between two forces, yin and yang. The written Chinese characters of yin and yang reveal the fundamental meaning of their system as they represent two sides of the same mountain.
One face of the mountain is bright and sunny while the other is cloudy and dark. In an insightful and logical way, the Chinese reveal their belief in the cycle of change. Yin and yang represent two faces of the same mountain. And since the amount of light shining on the mountain continues to change so too does yin and yang.
The sunny side darkens as the dark side brightens. Yin and yang are two sides of the coin but each one can be converted to the other.
According to Chinese medicine all things have a yin and yang component. Within each yin or yang component there is another division of yin and yang. Yin and yang create each other, control each other and can be transformed into each other.
Foods, herbs, and body types have been classified in a yin-yang binary system.
Chinese physicians developed their medical system to counter the imbalance of yin-yang.
The purpose of Chinese therapy is to improve the flow of qi.
Qi is fundamental to Chinese philosophy. Qi is frequently referred to as life’s vital energy or inner power cell. Lacking an accurate translation, qi can be thought of as matter on the verge of becoming energy, or energy at the moment of materialization.
The written Chinese character representing qi shows water transforming into vapor.
Qi is complex and highly changeable.
Yin-yang theory explains change and when combined with Qi becomes a complete philosophy.
Chinese healers believe that this theory replicates the symmetry of the universe.
Yin and yang are matter and energy and qi is the converting power than transforms one into the other.
The Athlete’s Diet incorporated many of the botanicals found in Chinese herbal medicine into its diet. Unlike the Chinese healers, who utilize teas made with herbs, the botanical recommended in this book are extracts and are thus consumed in powdered form. It should be pointed out that quality extracts still maintain the balance of the original plant.
Ayurveda sprung from the fertile minds of the Ancient Hindus.
Ayurvedic knowledge originated in India more than 5,000 years ago and represents the ‘science of life’. Its emphasis on prevention gave it the claim to be called the ‘mother of all healing’.
Ayurvedic healers believe in the mutual interaction of mind and body. They like the Chinese incorporated movement in their healing schemes.
The Hindus developed yoga, a form of psychic exercise, as the physical component of Ayurveda.
Ayurvedic healers believe that their system produces a harmony between the body, its soul and the cosmos. Ayurveda places an emphasis on preserving and promoting fitness and instills a positive outlook on life.
Ayurveda blends dietary ingredients with physical exercise.
Ayurveda views health as a particular pattern of energy. Its purpose is to balance the individual combination of physical, mental and emotional characteristics to produce a happy and healthy person.
Ayurveda balances what it considers the five elements of life and uses herbs and foods to promote the body’s natural mechanisms to balance them and heal itself.
Ayurvedic pharmacopeias contains medicinal uses for over 500 plants and details over 10,000 recipes of drug combinations. In modern India, sales of herbal extracts and herbal remedies are twice that of pharmaceutical drugs.
Ayurvedic healers consider fresh air and sunlight essential ingredients to health and wellness.
Ayurveda differs from the Greco-Romano system by including physical movement (yoga) and spiritual exercise (meditation) in its program.
The goal of yoga is to achieve a sense of liberation through the complete integration of body, breath, heart and spirit. This is accomplished through a series of postures and breathing exercises. Yoga in America is limited to a series of stretches and muscle-building exercises. Even with this limited scope, Yoga produces improved strength and flexibility.
This program highly recommends the practices of yoga and its modern day cousin, Pilates, for relieving stress and improving fitness.
Athletes are encouraged to follow these programs under the guidance of expert instructors.
Early Indians worked hard to live. They practiced yoga and meditated. Afterwards, they rewarded their bodies with food. They replenished what had been depleted and empowered their bodies to relax. Their healers recommended herbs, botanical oils, powders, decoctions and teas to help them relax. They repressed inflammation and strengthened ligaments. Ayurvedic healers steamed, bathed and massaged their remedies into patients. The spicy food they ate contained important protective antioxidants that prolonged their life. The healer’s goal in Ayurveda, as it is in all Traditional Systems, is to restore and maintain balance. Ayurveda and its theoretical structure form the backbone of all the medical systems on the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia. Ayurveda is a great healing system and is important for its emphasis on movement and the need to rejuvenate the body between activities.
This program borrows from these teachings and beliefs and is indebted to all the Ancient Healers.
The incorporation of healthy practices early in an athlete’s life can lessen, delay or minimize the deleterious effects of exercise and overuse. Botanical supplements aids the body’s recovery following exercise and helps prevent arthritis. Naturally occurring botanicals contain anti-inflammatory compounds that inhibit prostaglandin production and leukotriene formation. The natural pathways in the body were used by herbal healers as they developed a a system to treat illness over the millennia.
This program is based on the first Traditional medical principal. ‘Let food be thy medicine’, the other Hippocratic oath. The term Traditional medicine denotes the health practices by Native peoples. This includes American Indians, Arabs, Amazonian and African tribes as well as the Ancient Greek, Indian and Chinese peoples.
Botanical anti-inflammatory foods are drugs. The library of compounds contained in a plant behaves as a drug with very little difference. However, since the plant is not limited to only one chemical ingredient, the plant provides other compounds that mitigate the side effects of that theor pharmaceutical cousins no not. Botanicals share built in balances. Their effect on biological systems is different from that of pharmaceutical drugs. The mechanism in both instances depends on the receptor-ligand complex, the holy grail of molecular biology. There is undeniably a preponderance of evidence that the herbs used by native cultures improved the health of its members. The herbs contained either one a series of compounds. These compounds are classified as an antioxidant, an anti-inflammatory agent or a plant steroid (saponin). Another class of compounds are the the nitrogen containing alkaloids which don’t seem to offer the preventive aspects of the other three. Alkaloids are the basis for most pharmaceutical drugs especially the narcotic and halucinogenics. Most plants contain varying proportions of fuel and phytonutrients. Athlete’s Medicine The Athletes Solution is based on intense exercise and the special circumstances it creates. It recommends sound nutrition, adequate rest and plenty of water to best prepare the body for and aid its recovery from, exercise. All forms of exercise injures muscle fibers and ligaments to some extent. The diet must therfore provide enough protein and micronutrients to repair them. Proteins are essential to recovery because the amino acids they are made from, are needed to carry out the instructions encrypted in the triplet base sequences of DNA. DNA files are nature’s zip files that when expanded, cause cell structures to be built. An athlete’s medicine is based on intense exercise fueled by a well-balanced diet. Athletes need to devote themselves to aquiring the right nutrients and to expending a great deal of energy to burn them. The Athlete’s Diet incorporates eight core components in its program. As previously stated, this program is an all inclusive one and includes all aspects of the Diet as defined by the Ancients, that is the sum total of all metabolic events. The eight components are listed on the following page. 1. Exercise is the most important component in an athlete’s Diet. Exercise increases the demands on the body, which progressively improves with use. The prevention of injuries is a high priority of the diet and recommends an assortment of foods and botanicals to accomplish this. 2. Antioxidants are required in higher amounts due to the increased formation of free radicals from exercise. They are provided through foods and supplements. 3. Anti-inflammatory compounds are required to repress the inflammatory process that follows exercise. They are provided through foods and supplements. 4. Carbohydrates are most important to athletes that are engaged in strenuous, long-term exercise. Carbohydrates best fuels exercise. A diet that contains ten or more grams of carbohydrate for every kilogram of body weight prevents glycogen depletion during intense exercise. Athletes that exercise on a daily basis will have trouble resupplying their glycogen reserves. It may not be noticeable to the athlete but will affect performance. 5. Proteins are essential for growth and strength. Protein for endurance athletes should be at least 1.2 grams for every kilogram of body weight, while extreme strength athletes may require up to 2 grams per kilogram of body weight. 6. Fats are important for membrane integrity. There is no advantage to consuming increased fat, but it can safely contribute twenty percent of dietary calories. Omega-3 fats are essential to good health and recovery from exercise. 7. Rest and proper sleep habits are important in allowing the body to properly recover. Rest, relaxation and sleep reduce the stress level caused by release of the stress hormones (adrenaline and cortisol) during exercise. 8. Water is more essential to athletic performance and for that matter human survival than any energy substrate or metabolic cofactor. One ounce per kilo of body weight