Alchemising the Essence of Traditional Medicine | Dr. Jimi Wollumbin #007

Lets not only explore some of the gems, techniques and knowledge from a range of traditional medicine but let's cultivate capabilities to relate with the essence of these ancient lineages in order to heal using a more direct, holistic and powerful approach.

Set at the feet of Mt Wollumbin (Mt Warning) in the Northern Rivers of NSW at Jimi’s healing sanctuary, this interview explores traditional healing gems and techniques derived from a diverse catalogue of ancient lineages.

That is what Dr. Jimi has uniquely cultivated. An ability to cross-pollinate medical traditions then apply that in his clinic and teachings while maintaining professional sovereignty.

Jimi sheds insight into the root causes of disease by exploring deep and subtle primary wounds.

His approach is understanding and communing with the essence of a herb, a medical device, a body system, disease or a patient, in order to heal holistically. This is what makes a physician at the top of their game.

This interview is basically me picking Jimi’s brain on all cool things traditional medicine while he shares his philosophical views and approach. I also enquire about his journey of moving from tradition to tradition to cultivate his own flavour of healing while maintaining respect and authentic identity.


About Dr. Jimi Wollumbin

Whether he is presenting at the UN or at a village health co-operative in rural India, Jimi is always a highly engaging speaker, writer and educator. With 19 years clinical experience and almost as much in community development, Jimi combines his deep knowledge of holistic medicine with a passion for social causes and world health. As the social entrepreneur that founded One Health Organisation in 2005, he has since steered it to become the largest holistic and integrative healthcare NGO in the world - having distributed roughly 9 metric tonnes of medicine to hundreds of thousands of disadvantaged communities across the globe. Jimi’s private clients value his obvious passion for traditional medical practices and the way in which he combines aspects of the traditions of India, China, Tibet and Persia that continue to inspire him.


In this Episode we Discuss:

  • How Jimi got the name Wollumbin - the indigenous name of the mountain where Jimi lives.
  • Mt Wollumbin as the “Ajna” (third eye) of Australia. (6:10)
  • Cross-pollinating medical modalities and reviving living traditions. (8:30)
  • Jimi’s personal journey and experience with medicine. (13:30)
  • Jimi’s journey with Ayurveda.
  • The common grammar that underlies Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurvedic Medicine. (16:30)
  • Ayurveda and herbal medicine is a labour of love. (22:34)
  • Jimi’s platform of practice - alternative to the alternatives. (23:10)
  • Accessing deep and subtle primary wounds as root causes of disease. “What really needs to be healed here?” (24:30)
  • Pulse diagnosis: deep intimacy of sentients touching sentients. (35:35)
  • Starting to learn Pulse Diagnosis. How to approach it. “Feel” the pulse. (39:35)
  • Leech Therapy: Raktamokshana (Blood liberation). (44:05)
    • Used in 30 hospitals alone in NSW.
    • Why in the European tradition they used to call physicians “leeches.” (47:50)
  • Pan-Indo European Culture: Root culture of Europe encompassing 450 languages. (48:18)
  • Understanding the essence of a medical instrument or herb. Understanding the basic gestalt of the pattern, principle, idea, notion or spirit of a herb or medical device (such as a leech) in order to know how to apply that to the basic gestalt, pattern and principle of a disease. (50:23)
  • The qualities and nature of a leech: dark, night, yin, cool, feminine, water, flowing. (52:25)
  • Uses of leech therapy:
    • Use for something that is hot and not flowing.
    • The most potent anticoagulant known to man (hirudin).
    • All conditions of the blood and excess heat.
    • “Just as the swan drinks only the milk from a diluted milk, similarly the leeches drink only the bad blood first from the pool of (vitiated) blood.” ~ Vaghbata.
  • Other body treatments Jimi utilises: Svedana, Bastis, Shirodhara. (59:46)
  • Healing response of Kati Basti: Warm oil penetrates drives deep down into the tissues and doshas which allows vata (the primary vital force and subtle winds of the body) to flow and for blood to move.
  • 3 Modes of Ayurvedic Blood Letting and Cupping: (01:01:43)
    • Historically used to suck the disease-causing spirits out of the body.
    • Now used to suck the wind out.
    • Move stagnant blood without opening the vein (a mild form of venesection).
    • Toning through taking blood out.
    • Taking a little blood out of a weak person to stimulate the marrow for strength.
    • Treat “hot” infections.
  • Why anaemic people can die from getting fed iron supplements.
  • Disease is a spiritual phenomenon. Ayurveda is old as nature actually. (01:03:14)
  • Disease manifesting due to violation of natural law.
  • Excess iron causing immunological problems, liver strain and cardiac risk. Especially in men who don’t have a chance to shed iron need iron clearance. (01:08:15)
  • Causes of excessive iron: (01:09:40)
  • Iron age. To much arien arterial energy and not enough venus like yin energy.
  • We have stopped blood letting.
  • Earth pollution and heavy metals interacting with iron.
  • Jimi’s favourite herbs: (01:12:28)
  • Angelica:
    • Finland’s sacred and most revered herb.
    • Shamans would use in a range of shamanic practices.
    • Gained its fame during the plague. It was revered by angels and it was an angel that told suffering humanity that angelica would assist in fighting off the plague.
    • Pungent taste (Katu rasa) helps with phlegmatic, kapha, leukkoria, phlegm on lungs - bronchial infection. Low agni and invisible phlegm.
    • Useful for phlegmatic psychologically and physiologically issues (similar to Kapha).
    • Immune booster.
    • Gentle enough for children to use.
  • Adrenal boosters that are stimulants in disguise vs. adaptogens. (01:15:18) - Ginseng, rhodiola, cordyceps - high doses makes them stimulates, exhausting and healing. In low doses they won’t be.
  • Adaptogens have deep tonic properties are Qi tonics and kidney tonics that form ojas faster.
  • Ashwagandha - an adaptogen whose root literally smells like a horse. Balances vata and the nervous system. The “sleepy nightshade.” (01:18:50)
  • Today’s most common health issues Jimi sees in practice: Endocrine disharmony and hormonal problems that have adrenal fatigue at their root due to flight or fight constantly turned on. (01:21:32)
  • Parasympathetic nervous system: “Rest and digest.” “Feed and breed.”
  • Digestive disorders of vata blowing out agni due to nervous system imbalance.
  • Hypothyroidism - approaching the endocrine system as a web rather than separate glands.
  • Reductionism as a problematic approach to medicine.

Resources


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Please seek advice from a qualified practitioner before starting any new health practice.


Travel Healthy! Reduce Aeroplane Stress

Aeroplane travel will surreptitiously “suck the life out of you.” It sucks all the moisture out of your body.
With the humidity level in the cabins of most commercial aeroplanes at just 10-20%, and some even as low as 1%!(1), this makes aeroplanes drier than the Sahara Desert! which sits at about 25% humidity.

Take a good look at yourself in the mirror after travelling, especially if you travel a lot. If you are slightly in tune with your body, you will probably realise how much aeroplane travel accelerates your ageing process.

You may be surprised to learn the many risks associated with air travel.

For example, one study shows how bacteria can stay alive and continue to be infectious for more than a week on the armrests, seat pockets, seats and bathroom doors of commercial aircrafts. The dry air is said to contribute to their extra-long life on aeroplanes. (2)

That’s not to mention the health risks associated with jet lag, dehydration, swelling and fatigue.

Altitude Shock = Dehydration & Dryness

Ever wonder why it is so easy to fall asleep in a plane? It is likely because the oxygen has been literally sucked out of your brain as the cabin is being pressurised.

When people flock to mountain towns to hike, ski or for leisure, it is very common for them to get altitude sickness. Even fit athletes who train at altitude can tell the difference when they climb to 3,000 meters. In a plane, this altitude change happens in just a couple of minutes!

Dehydration and body dryness is the most instant result of altitude shock.

If you are flying a lot and your body is repeatedly put through such drastic altitude changes, the effects become chronic. Chronic sub-clinical dehydration will first dry out the outer skin and then dry out the skin associated lymph beneath the skin. When this dries out, lymphatic flow is hampered, compromising its function of draining toxins and circulating white blood cells around the body for immunity.

The good news is, I’ve compiled some effective strategies to buffer these risks. Incorporating just a few simple tips to your air travel routine will help lessen the impact of flying and help you feel more vibrant during and after your trips.

Air Travel Survival Tools

Pre-Hydrate

For 1-2 days before you fly, make every effort to drink plenty of warm-hot water. Approximately 2-3L depending on your body weight. Fresh coconut water is also recommended if in season and local.

On the day of your flight, sip hot water every 10-15 minutes to help further hydrate and support the lymphatic system.

Lubricate

Perform Ayurvedic Self-Abhyanga (Massage) before and after trips or treat yourself to an Abhyanga if available, especially upon arrival.

This will not only counter the dryness but effectively move the lymph and circulate blood. Continue to topically apply oil as a moisturiser on the flight.
Pack a little Ghee as lip balm, or use the massage oil.

Shilajit

Used by Himalayan mountain climbers to gain energy for climbing at heights above 6,000 meters and to help oxygenate at high altitudes. The active ingredient of this ancient herb, Fulvic acid, has now been found by scientists to support oxygen and energy transport. Consider taking this herb around travel days.*

* It is best to take herbs in a therapeutic combination rather than by itself. If taking by itself, have 1 day break every 7 days. Consult an Ayurvedic practitioner for a proper formulation and prescription. 

Pitta body types take caution as Shiljait is very heating and may aggravate Pitta.

Recycled Air

The Journal of Environmental Health Research reported that air travel increases the risk of catching a cold by 100 times because of the recycled air.

While exposure is unavoidable, we can increase our immunity and decrease our susceptibility.

Air Travel Survival Tools

Nasya

My most prized aeroplane survival tool.

Nasya is an Ayurvedic technique which involves lubricating the nasal passages (responsible for immunity).

Oil to use:  Vital Veda/Raju Nasika herbalised oil formula is superior. Inferior but still effective is Anu Tailia or cold pressed sesame oil.

Method: Tilt the head back and drop 1-3 drops in each nostril every hour so. The aim is to sniff it through the entire nasal passages, and even further up to your brain.
Also pop a couple of drops in your ears to deal with cabin pressure.

Learn about Nasya more here

Immune Boosting Rasayana (Elixir)

Ananda Siddhi Yog
Highly nourishing to the body and boosts immunity, strengthens and repairs all the seven layers of the dhatus (tissues) and gives all the refined nourishment you need for rapid healing. Very good for chronic coughs (strengthens the lungs) and restores physical vitality.
This is superior to Chywanprash.
Take 1 tsp 1-2x/day. Contact Vital Veda to order.

Chywanprash
This trusted and popular Ayurvedic formula supports immunity. This is a classic remedy for supporting frequent travellers and mitigating your risk of catching a cold during a flight.
*Please buy a quality product from a trustworthy source such as Vital Veda or Maharishi Ayurveda.

Jet Lag

Imagine air-lifting a dolphin from the Tasman Sea off the coast of Sydney, Australia to the Indian Ocean by Singapore in just 8 hours. Then, after a quick layover, air-lift that same dolphin to the harbour in Hong Kong in 4 hours.

Would you expect that dolphin to ever re-establish normal migration patterns? If so, how long do you think it might take?

For humans too, this disruption of the body’s normal biological rhythms is very real.

Jet lag can cause fatigue and lead to cognitive decline, sleep issues, and even psychotic or mood disorders.

Air Travel Survival Tools

Daily Ayurvedic Massage

Since your skin has more nerve endings than any other organ, applying herbalised oil will pacify the nervous system. Every square centimetre of the body’s skin is innervated by sensory neurons. These neurones are much happier when fed with herbalised oil, rather than left dehydrated to become irritated and over-stimulated. Learn to do self-massage.

Watch the Sunrise & Sunset

Watch the sunrise and sunset to re-connect with the local circadian cycles. Natures rhythms will enter through the retina of your eyes to regulate hormones like melatonin.
Even if it means pulling yourself out of bed, it’s worth it, and beautiful.

Ashwagandha

Considered by many to be one of the most potent adaptogens, this herb supports the body’s ability to adapt to stress like that incurred by jet lag and prevent you from absorbing the crippling impact.

It is best to take herbs in a therapeutic combination rather then by it self. If taking by itself, have 1 day break every 7 days. Consult a quality Ayurvedic practitioner. I recommend the product Stresscom as a good source of ashwagandha.

Blood Clots

20 million travellers will develop blood clots, or deep vein thrombosis (DVT) a year.(3)
The risk factors seem to be a combination of sitting still for hours in a pressurised cabin, lymph congestion and dehydration.

Air Travel Survival Tools

Get Up and Move Regularly During Long Flights

  • Walk up and down the aisles more
  • Yoga Asanas - find a more spacious place to do stretches - I usually go near the bathroom, back or front of a section, near the staff stations, exit rows, rows with more leg room, empty business class areas, or my favourite, the muslim praying area.
  • Stretch your neck, rotate ankles, wrists, as much as you can while sitting.

Herbal Support

If DVT is an issue for you, it is important to consult a practitioner to tackle this problem. More complex herbs and treatment are required to dilate the channels.

Rest As Mentioned Above

Hearing Loss

Airline cabins range from 75 decibels in the front of the plane to 85 to 100 in the back. A loud nightclub, for example, roars at about 100 decibels. The Institute for Occupational Safety and Health limits safe noise levels to 88 decibels for four hours. This suggests that there is potential risk of permanent hearing damage during frequent flights that last longer than four hours.

Air Travel Survival Tools

Noise Reduction Headphones

If you are a frequent traveller, consider a set of noise reduction headphones, which reduce noise by about 40 decibels.

Nasya in the Ears

Pop a couple of Nasya oil drops in your ears before flying. Hold the head on each side for about a minute for the oil to sink down deep down into the eardrum.

Constipation

Very common due to jet lag, altitude shock and dehydration.

Swelling

Mainly caused by congested lymph.
Causative factors of lymph congestion are almost all of the idea discussed above, particularly:

  • Constipation dries out the lymph concentration on the gut wall.
  • Altitude shock affects cellular pressure, which is responsible for lymph movement.
  • Sitting still for hours may congest the lymph as their is no movement to pump the lymph and regulate the circulatory system.
  • Dehydration directly affects lymph flow.
  • Jet lag creates stress on the body, which is a major cause of lymph congestion.

Air Travel Survival Tools

Vital Veda / Raju Shodana Vati

Detoxification agent & whole-body cleansing purifier. 3-dosha blanching. Accordingly these herbal pills prepared by the Raju family will support regular bowel motions.

Triphala

Tripahla is a natural bowel toner that supports regular bowel movements. It can be used for short periods of time around travels without dependency. available at Vital Veda.

*Not necessary if you are taking “Shodana Vati.”

Sip Hot Water Frequently

Ensure you have a thermos with you to keep refilling. You’ll make best friends with the flight attendant and perhaps contribute to the revolution of drink hot water rather than cold.

Vata Tea

Since the Vata dosha gets mostly thrown out during travel, a Vata tea can assist in balancing. My favourite Vata tea is from Moksha Ayurveda.

Meditate More

Due to the harsh environment of an aeroplane, meditate as much as you like! It will buffer against jet lag, provide deep rest, and get you through the flight a lot more joyfully. Vedic Meditation is recommended.

Avoid Caffeine and Alcohol

These only dehydrate you further while in the flight.

Tongue Scraper and Herbal Toothpaste

Don’t forget these in your carry on luggage for long flights to scrape away the ama (toxins).

My on-board travel kit. Also includes a thermos and some Vata tea bags.

Don’t just Arrive Alive, Arrive and Thrive!

References
(1) Robert Haru Fisher, http://www.frommers.com/articles/4606.html
(2) http://wireeagle.auburn.edu/news/1656
(3) “The Lancet,” New Zeland, 2003.
Credits: Dr. John Doulliard, Lifespa.com