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By: Dr. Sushma Shah - Naturopathic Doctor

Each species has its own niche in an ecosystem. The organisms, their chemical and physical environments, together make up the ecosystem. Ultimately, however, all ecosystems are linked together in a single biosphere that includes all the environments and the organisms at the surface of the earth (The economy of Nature, 1993)

There are interactions between the populations of the organisms, which spread across the globe as individuals and materials move between habitats and regions. In the course of their lives, organisms transform energy and process materials in a variety of ways as they metabolize, grow and reproduce. In doing so, they modify the conditions of the environment and the amounts of resources available for other organisms. They also contribute to the energy fluxes and the cycling of elements in the natural world. Planetary health therefore is essential for the well being of every creature (Berry, 1992). Being in excess of six billion individuals, human are a prominent part of the biosphere

Two of the pioneers in naturopathic medicine, Benedict Lust and Henry Lindlahr recognized that human health is intimately connected to the environmental conditions and Nature, and disease arose from the violation of Nature's laws. Further more, they believed that all of nature's agents (air, water, electricity, sunlight, herbs and more) could be used to cure disease. Lindlahr believed that health came from nature, not that disease came from germs and since health came from nature, then nature must be given free reign (i.e. being free from the various polluting factors such as hazardous chemicals, gases, metal tailings, and more). He regarded the vis medicatrix naturae or the healing power of Nature, as the true physician, which pervades every body cell and repairs and heals form within

The physician's job, he believed, was to remove obstruction and establish normal conditions so that the healing power of nature could work to its best advantage (Nature Doctors, 1994). Lindlahr and Lust opposed allopathic views of disease as they felt that medicinal doctors did not work in accord with the Law's of Nature. One of the principles articulated by Lindlahr was that preventative method does not wait until diseases have fully developed and gained ascendancy in the body, but it concentrates its best endeavors on preventing the development of diseases, by hygienic living and natural methods of treatment

Thomas Berry values the principles articulated by Lindlahr and Lust, and states that we need sciences that understand the natural world, not simply through analytic, reductionist, quantitative, or mechanistic approaches, but through the holistic, qualitative, and organic modes of functioning of the natural world within a self- organizing universe. We need biological sciences that have a " feel for the organism" (Berry, 1992). He feels that we are ignorant of our footsteps on the earth, and our apparent quest is to disassemble the planet and turn it into a huge wasteland. He states that many human illnesses are either caused by or aggravated by environmental disorders, and we need to recognize:

a) The universe is a communion of subjects all functioning in harmony, NOT a collection of objects.
b) The earth is primary and we are secondary, that is the earth can do without us, but we cannot do without it.
c) We now have an extensive responsibility for healing the bio-systems we have damaged so extensively for our well-being as a species and as individuals, and the well being of others sharing this earth.

Our planet has been one of constant change and adjustment, and the biosphere has proved remarkably resilient to all the changes so far experienced. It may seem complacent to have faith in the ability of the natural world to cope with any predictable stress, including those directed at it by our own species. The most important question is whether we are equally resilient; and whether we are equally able to adapt to changing conditions fast enough to permit the survival of Homo sapiens. Nature, in some form or another survive the next few centuries, but will we (Biogeography, 1996)?

Berry, Thomas. (1992) A new era - Healing the injuries we have inflicted on our planet. Health progress, Bronx, NY. 73(2) 60 - 63.

Cox, B.C. and Moore, P.D. (1993) Biogeography- An ecological and evolutionary approach. King's College. U.K. 5, 3 - 4.

Kirchfeld, F and Boyle, W (1994) Nature Doctors. Buckeye Naturopathic Press. Ohio.

Ricklefs, R. (1993) The Economy of Nature. W.H. Freeman and company. U.S. 3, 15- 17.

The information on this handout is the property of SUSHMA SHAH N.D., and is not intended to treat, diagnose or cure any disease. For any questions, or concerns, please contact me at 416 913 4325 (HEAL) or email me at

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