An Emergent Ethos
A complete summary of the Natural Medicine Manifesto, being the outline of the guiding principles of the Natural Medicine Tribe on Hive.
One of the things we had to do when we begun Natural Medicine was to be clear about the purpose for creating a Tribe on Hive. Our intention was two-fold:
- Hold a space for quality creative content on natural medicine, healing, and health to exist and be rewarded (curated) effectively; and
- Have an effective platform for a global community of NM-folk to come and join the Hive blockchain without being put off by content they weren’t interested in.
In regards to the second intention, attracting new users to the Hive blockchain who are interested in the broad niche topic of ‘natural medicine’ can only happen if there is a very visible capacity to reward quality content. Being able to moderate what appears in the “front-end” was a major factor to achieving this; and the work of the Hive-Engine team made that possible.
We felt that the NaturalMedicine Community on Hive had been created, cultivated, and grown according to the same principles we all value deeply - principles that can be found in the natural world, and inspire and inform the way we as individuals, and as a community, organise and function.
And so the NaturalMedicine Manifesto emerged out of hours of discussions, conversations, and posts that explained (or tried to) what it is that makes us who we are.
Over 9 parts, we explored various ideas which influence us - from Systems theory and Cybernetics, to Holistic theory; from herbalism and permaculture, to mythology and deep ecology.
The entire exploration series can be found by following the links in this post, but for brevity’s sake, we summarise them here in a single document.
This document should be seen as a ‘living document’ however; like all things in nature, it will grow and change over time, as will the members of the community. So it will be continually updated as required.
The NaturalMedicine Manifesto
The NaturalMedicine (NM) Community gathers around the notion of natural medicine, healing, and health.
In this framework, the idea of ‘medicine’ can be extended to include anything which has the capacity to assist an individual prevent and/or treat disease and illness. It is not limited to pharmaceuticals, nor to herbs, or even ‘nutriceuticals’ (nutritional supplements).
It can include:
- dietary approaches
- physical therapies, such as acupuncture, massage, or myotherapy
- psycho-emotional therapies such as counselling, psychotherapy, or hypnotherapy
- embodied practices such as Yoga, Tai Chi, or Qigong
- lifestyle practices such as re-wilding, home-steading, or permaculture
- spiritual practices such as meditation, prayer, vision-quests, or devotional worship
This is not an exhaustive list by any stretch of the imagination.
Obviously how we define ‘natural’ is at the crux of what kind of content we are wanting to encourage and promote on naturalmedicine.io. ‘Nature’ is the universe we exist in, and all matter comes from the same elemental building block - even plastics!
When we are discussing herbal medicines and food, it is fairly self-evident as to what we mean when we use the term ‘natural’. Or is it?
By ‘natural’ we mean that that something is somehow unadulterated, or have had as little human intervention as possible. Willow bark is a natural cure, or example. However, aspirin which is derived from its active ingredient cannot be said to be ‘natural’.
‘Natural’ can also be used to explain the human being in their unconditioned state, which is a perception from traditional medical systems such as Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda. Each of us has a ‘natural state’ and illness/disease is a variance from that state.
One thing about ‘natural’ is how something emulates or models itself on nature and her processes. This is how Systems Theory evolved and emerged, which has influenced many other fields of inquiry, not the least of which is cybernetics, robotics, and the development of computer technology. The internet and blockchain are prime examples of this.
There are some key features that help us define a ‘system’, and they are:
- System: An organised entity made up of interrelated and interdependent parts.
- Boundaries: Barriers that define a system and distinguish it from other systems in the environment.
- Homeostasis: The tendency of a system to be resilient towards external factors and maintain its key characteristics.
- Adaptation: The tendency of a self-adapting system to make the internal changes needed to protect itself and keep fulfilling its purpose.
- Reciprocal Transactions: Circular or cyclical interactions that systems engage in such that they influence one another.
- Feedback Loop: The process by which systems self-correct based on reactions from other systems in the environment.
- Throughput: Rate of energy transfer between the system and its environment during the time it is functioning.
- Microsystem: The system closest to the client.
- Mesosystem: Relationships among the systems in an environment.
- Exosystem: A relationship between two systems that has an indirect effect on a third system.
- Macrosystem: A larger system that influences clients, such as policies, administration of entitlement programs, and culture.
- Chronosystem: A system composed of significant life events that can affect adaptation.
When we are able to recognise something as a ‘system’, then we can use very powerful models to help design and maintain them.
Humans are obsessed with time, but it doesn’t appear that animals, trees, or flowers care about it as much as we do.
From our perspective, time appears to flow cyclically in the natural world, and yet we design and structure our (human) systems and whole civilisation around a linear view of time’s progress from past, through the present, off into the distant future.
We can be often be impatient about the progress of a project; and yet if we applied the principles of nature to that project, we may feel less anxiety about it, allowing it to grow and evolve as it will.
An old Chinese saying goes something along the lines of “nature accomplishes everything, yet is unhurried.” Trying to force something to happen faster (e.g., increasing crop yields or getting them to mature faster) or even slower (e.g., slowing the aging process in humans) goes against these principles.
Humans physiology is a system itself, comprised as it is of a number of sub-systems:
- Cardiovascular: circulating blood around the body and distributing oxygen, nutrient, and waste.
- Digestive: absorbs nutrients from food/fluids, and eliminates waste
- Integumentary: maintains the structure of the body from the outside and protects — skin, nails, hair, etc.
- Immune: including the lymphatic vessels, protects the body from pathogenic invasion and infection.
- Musculoskeletal: maintains the structure of the body and enables it to move.
- Nervous: the processing of information via the senses, and distributes information around the body to respond to the environment.
- Renal: filters blood and distributes waste to be excreted.
- Reproductive: the production of offspring.
- Endocrine: maintains and regulates other systems via hormones.
- Respiratory: absorbs oxygen and distributes it through the blood, and expels Carbon Dioxide (waste) that is brought back to it.
- Hematopoietic: the creation of blood cells and their cellular components.
But we also appear to have non-physical systems such as psychological, emotional, and consciousness which appear to be ‘meta-physiological’, and yet inter-related and mutually dependent on them too.
Ancient medical theories posited that human beings were a microcosm of the universe we lived in (a very rudimentary form of Systems Theory). So we can utilise aspects of Systems Theory to help predict and maintain when something may go awry, and also look to natural systems to help formulate preventative strategies to health.
Ever since we started living in city-states, humans have been trying to work out the best ways to organise our societies. Part of the problem is that many of the ideas work up to a point; as we scale up these ways don’t work so well. That, and humans are complex as individuals — that complexity increases logarithmically when you get a whole bunch of us living together!
However, if we look to natural systems as a way of modelling how we organise our communities, we may find that we take a lot of effort and angst out the equation — as we’ve seen, nature seems to be able to survive, adapt, and thrive no matter the circumstances.
This is part of the attraction behind decentralised systems that are explored in blockchain communities such as Hive. If we can start to imagine human communities as organisms, then all we need to do to look for successful models is to examine how other organisms do it.
Believe it or not, this idea isn’t new. Confucian scholars in Han Dynasty China (206 BCE–220 CE) imagined that human physiology emulated the social structure of Imperial China. It’s not quite right of course… however, what if we were to imagine human societies more like the interdependent physiological systems of human biology, for example?
What does work in most (if not all natural systems) are diverse sub-systems, each containing diversity themselves, all providing feedback to one another, and exchanging resources when needed with the idea of a thriving, adapting, super-organism. If we can design our communities along the lines of Systems Theory as outlined above, we may find we can create something that can sustain itself over time.
Applying the same principles, we can find ways to enhance and inspire our creativity. Again, we can look to nature as a model of how something gets it right every time.
For the most part, nature doesn’t ‘force’ creativity. Everything happens in its own time. Creation begins with the seed in the soil, starting off slow and small. As it absorbs nutrients, it continues to grow, absorbing more and more nutrients. At some point, that plant also starts to give back to the ecosystem it is part of, perhaps by shedding old material which decomposes and becomes nutrients in the soil, or by providing material for shelter or nutrition for other life-forms.
So too our creative endeavours. Anything humans create that lasts and is admired by many started off small, and required input to create and build. It also gives something back — in other words, it ‘adds value’ somehow.
On Hive, the problem of poor quality content in not so much that it doesn’t add value to the system, but that sometimes it is taking from the system, it is extracting resources (i.e. the share of the rewards pool).
There is a mindset that is popular that all one needs to do to earn a living blogging or writing is to write and publish constantly. And yet, how much of this is quality? How much of this content that is continually pumped out ‘adds value’ to the blockchain?
Consistently is certainly important, as this is something that exists in nature. However, allowing the seed of a creative idea to grow in due time, allowing that idea to be nurtured and cultivated over time, growing in its own time into something that others will benefit from is far more important to creating a thriving, creative ecosystem on Hive.
With an understanding of what ‘natural’ means, we can begin to apply this to the field of health and medicine. The concept of Holism takes these principles as the foundational presuppositions when seeking to understand disease and illness, and how to treat and prevent it.
Certainly, on the one hand, we have medicines that come directly from nature itself: foods, herbal medicines, and so on.
However we can also interpret illness/disease as a breakdown in the natural system of the human body.
Pathogens invade the body from the exterior, however how is it that the immune system was not able to defend against the pathogen? Is this a breakdown between the two environments (internal and external)? How is it that body hasn’t adapted to the environment it is part of?
In the case of modern chronic diseases, these are disharmonies of physiological function, where one or more physiological systems fail to perform for any number of reasons. In such cases, we can say that the body has moved away from its natural state of health. For some reason, homeostasis has broken down, or the feedback loops have been broken.
‘Natural medicine’ therefore can be any therapeutic intervention that seeks to return the ill individual to their natural state of wellness. This is why the concept can go beyond the pharmacological, and include therapies that cover many different aspects of human life, including psychological, emotional, cognitive, and environmental.
These can be brought together into 5 main categories, or fields.
The 5 Fields of Natural Medicine are as follows:
Physical Health covers the whole of human physiology, from the cells and tissue, the organs, and physiological systems they comprise.
This covers therapies that focus on physiological changes, such as pharmaceutical medicine, herbal medicine, dietary therapy, massage, acupuncture, physiotherapy, chiropractic, osteopathy, nutritional medicine, Yoga, Tai Chi, Qigong, Martial Arts, Pilates, fitness training, physical exercise, and so on.
Mental Health is associated with mental and cognitive functioning, and our ability to process information via the senses, and closely connected to the nervous system.
Mental Health medicines include psychology, psychotherapy, counselling, behavioural change therapies, meditation, education, problem-solving exercises, learning languages, studying/scholasticism, Qigong, Yoga, Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), and so on.
Emotional Health describes our emotional states, and include disorders such as Depression and Anxiety. It is linked with the nervous and endocrine systems, and also our mental health and ability to manage our states and adapt to the environment.
Emotional therapeutics include psychotherapy, counselling, behavioural change therapies, meditation, kinesiology, Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), NLP, sexuality, Yoga, Tai Chi, Qigong, breathwork, and so on.
Spiritual Health is our existential experience of life and reality. It can be described as an overarching sense of the divine, a sense of wonder and awe that influences your virtues, beliefs, and values. When our lives are aligned with these, it influences us in a generative manner; when it doesn’t, it can lead to put stress on the nervous system and lead to mental and emotional disorders, such as anxiety, depression, or low self-worth (which in turn can lead to poor lifestyle choices such as excessive alcohol or drug intake, or inappropriate diets).
Spiritual medicines are things such as having a personal faith, religious belief, participation in sacred (or even mundane) rituals, reiki, shamanic healing, ayahuasca rituals, astrology, tarot, meditation, prayer, vigils and ‘vision quests’, Yoga, Tai Chi, Qigong, Sacred Sexuality, philosophy, spiritual retreats, and so on.
Ecological Health is the context we live our lives in. What is the quality of the air we breathe, or the water we drink? Is our food nutritious or toxic? How much are we exposed to toxic chemicals that can have an effect on our bio-chemistry?
Medicines along these lines include permaculture, biodynamic farming, wildcrafting, and sustainable fishing.
A healthy environment is not just about the physical world we dwell in, it also includes our social environments, the relationships we have with other people, or other systems. In this broader sense “ecology” is referring to all the various systems that you are immersed in, and would engage and interact with on a daily basis. According to Systems Theory, the state of your own personal health will have an impact on the various other systems you interact with, because an ecology is two-way system: it impacts you, and you impact it!
The NaturalMedicine Manifesto & Hive
All of this is a brief introduction to the philosophical principles that guides and informs the NaturalMedicine community.
With these ideas, we feel we are able to grow this SCOT-Tribe on Hive, to add value to the wider blockchain community. Our goal is to foster creators and curators passionate about ‘natural medicine’ and provide a global forum for conversations, and the sharing and preserving of wisdom surrounding these topics.
Given the reach, dominance, and manipulation of mainstream media nowadays, not to mention how big business is manufacturing consent for their products, it is important that the wisdom and folk-traditions of natural health and healing have a home where it can be shared freely.
We welcome you to come and continue these conversations in our chat server on Discord https://discord.gg/ZjZAAdH
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This is an edited version of a post which originally appeared here, updated for www.naturalmedicine.io