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 Self-Help Is One Skill Away 
Jim's Natural Therapies Column

The Big House First People's "Big House" Sointula, British Columbia.
Our ancestors once had the skills to provide all that they needed. Their homes and everything in their homes were products of self.


(Jim Meuninck is a biologist and counselor who writes, lectures and publishes books, databases and videos on natural health. Be sure to visit his "Tips Section": for useful tips on nutrition, medicinal plants, edible flowers, edible wild plants and alternative health. This column covers natural therapies that may help you achieve better physical and emotional health.)

Balancing Self with Other

Self satisfaction may be had two ways: buy it or earn it. In the natural scheme of things, buying self-respect is newfangled, not truly satisfying. The old fashioned route is to earn it. Earning self-respect comes from within, from your soul. Earning self-respect is traveling a course of your own design, instead of a  life designed by others. But an idyllic life charged with personal fulfillment does not come easy. It evolves. To jump start a natural and healthy evolution of "self" let's take an anthropologistís peek backward at how we got in this panic.

In the beginning, the reward for a hard day's work was a full basket of basic needs: shelter, food, clothing, protection, stable population and well nurtured kids. As we became more proficient at these tasks we could fill the basket in just a few hours. Suddenly we had free time. We started pinging art, inventing origin stories, and dividing people up as to their skills. We made rules. We specialized. We invented tools. Tools could be traded for food and clothing. Tools could be accumulated. With more and better tools we became more proficient. We discovered how to produce and capture supplies of food beyond immediate needs. In a few hours, we could gather several days supply of food. These foods, like grain and dried fish, were transportable. They were non-perishable. Like tools they could be stored and accumulated. Stored treasures of food and tools could be bartered for things made by others. Agriculture, fishing and animal husbandry proliferated. Small communities attracted artisans who made goods to trade with farmers, hunters and herders. A few amassed more than others. They became big men, then chiefs and kings. Meanwhile, farmers were producing far too much food, more than could be stored or distributed. There was no longer a need for so many farmers. Kings and barons confiscated the fields and forests. They drew circles around people, within the circle you paid tribute and followed the rules of the chief. These circles became states, then nations. One circle ran into another, states shared borders. Soon there was nowhere for a person to run should they chose not to follow the rules of the state. For just outside their circle was another scribed arc, an alien state. States conscripted armies to protect themselves from other circles. Circles allied with each other for protection. People within each circle evolved their own culture: values, mores, rules, cuisine. Dispossessed farmers moved to villages, villages swelled to towns and towns became cities. City folks could not grow or produce their basic needs. They took jobs to make tools, clothing and practical gadgetry. People who worked for others had nothing to trade for there basic needs. Money was invented. Money could be traded for goods. Money was backed by the wealth of the king. In the end, people began to work for and accumulate money. They began to perform tasks they didn't enjoy, to buy things they didn't need, made by people they didn't know.

That last sentence pretty much covers it. If you feel like you are in this rut rewrite that last sentence to read like this: Discover more things you enjoy! Stop buying things you donít need! Learn how to do-it-yourself! These "can-do" sentences should be hung where you can see them everyday. If you are too embarrassed to stick them on the refrigerator, hang them in front of your mindís eye. Start your transformation by putting more of yourself into the home. Replace some art of others with something of your own creation. Make a wreath. Take a drawing class. Learn how to fold Origami. Create a flower arrangement. I remember how my mother filled the void of "self" in our home. Kindergarten drawings were stuck on the refrigerator. My clay "what-ever-it-was" from the first grade was displayed prominently on the kitchen table for weeks. In a healthy, home there are objects of "self worth" everywhere. We are all capable of making things and we should. Unfortunately, the accouterments of our homes and grounds are too much the creations of others. Over thousands of years we have diminished quality of life by trading away our armamentarium of practical skills for a narrow band of job skills. A shrinking repertoire of abilities makes us less useful to ourselves and less useful to others. And what if you lost your job. Do you have the skills to do what you always wanted to? Could you walk right into a position of your own design. If not, then ring up the local adult education classes at your community college and begin learning the skills that will make you more employable, more self confident, more self-reliant and more respected by those around you. Renew yourself. Evolve!

For more primal ideas that work today see the videos Native American Medicine and Little Medicine

Also, see Jim's new all color book on Edible Wild Plants

Jim's Herbal Odyssey covers 15 years of hard work.  A CD Rom with insights, tips and skills to make your life truly satisfying.

Your kids need skills?   Learn Origami fold hats, napkins, boats, airplanes, animals and insects


Tips on Exercising 

Recommendation: IDEAL: Forty five minutes to one hour of exercise 7 days per week. Do not exercise if too tired or sick.  NEEDED: Try to average 25 workouts per month.

Major study showed that at least a two mile walk every day reduced overall risk of death by 50%. -New England Journal of medicine (1998,33:94-99). *

*Study included 707 nonsmoking men from 61-81 years of age. Twelve year study: 208 died, 43.1% of dead participants walked less that one mile per day, whereas those who walked two or more miles only 21.5% died. Those who walked more than two miles faired better than those who walked two miles. Long walkers died 60% less of cancer.


  • Speculation suggests that two mile daily walking diminishes hypertension, lipid levels, clotting mechanisms. Improves immune function.
  • Exercise improves circulation of nutrients, oxygen and waste products to and from individual cells, all cells from the brain to distal capillaries.
  • Exercise and fat intake reduction may be the only way to lose weight and keep it off naturally.
  • Exercise can improve your cholesterol to HDL ratio.
  • Exercise can reduce stress and oxidative damage caused by stress induced metabolic changes.
  • Exercise is a form of play, it is creative, and when done in the appropriate environment provides spirit like trances and endorphin highs that can be addictive.
  • Exercise improves your rest.
  • Exercise raises your metabolic rate and there is an increased burn of calories hours after you have completed your workout.
  • Exercise tones all organ systems and strengthens the heart and diaphragm two vital muscles controlled by the autonomic nervous system.
  • Regular exercise can lower blood pressure (in a few test subjects  as much as 50%*)
  • Daily exercise, 30 minutes per day, lowers LDL, raises HDL, decreases adipose tissue on body, decreases triglyceride levels and improves LDL to HDL ratio.
  • Exercise has no gender bias.
  • Exercise increases longevity by restoring primal conditioning as hairless, running apes, not prone to the sedentary ways of information age anthropoids.
  • Fitness can be achieved by walking hand in hand, day after day with the one you love.
  • Exercise can delay the onset of degenerative diseases: arthritis, diabetes and heart disease.
  • Increases estrogen levels.
  • Induces relaxation by burning off adrenaline.
  • Relaxes muscle tension.
  • Builds bone mass and muscles.
  • Improves skin tone, elasticity of skin and connective tissue.
  • Improves bladder control.
  • Improves sex, aids digestion, reduces arthritis symptoms. 

    (Copyright Meuninck 1999)

For more on exercise, diet,  plant foods against disease, five minute gardening and over 800 pages of information see:  Diet for natural Health Interactive Computer Database.


*Williams, Paul; Relationship of distance run per week to coronary heart disease risk factors in 8283 male runners; The National Runners' HeaLth Study, Archives of Internal Med. 1/27/97.

My Personal Exercise Prescription

I try to perform two exercise units per day: One: light exercise lifting or weight bearing exercise and Two: a moderate exercise.

One: Weight bearing: For the light exercise I lift light weights, do pull ups, push ups or dynamic tension exercises where I flex my muscles especially in the upper body and take them through a full range of motion. This light exercise is combines weight bearing with full body movement, full range of motion, with much stretching and reaching, moving all my joints, keeping my body flexible and toned.

Two: The moderate exercise is a leisure or brisk walk for at least two miles or a 10-12 mile bike ride every evening. Kayaking, wind surfing or hitting tennis balls against a wall, all before noon if possible. If the weather is impossible to get out into, I skip a day. No guilt, no shame. I may increase my weight training on the indoor day. Once weekly I try to have a full day of activity. This will be a vigorous two or three hour hike coupled with a swim in Lake Michigan, maybe proceeded in the morning with wind surfing. This is my all out physical day and it is usually Saturday or Sunday. Guess what! I eat out on the evening of this all "out exercise" day. I break some diet rules, knowing that tomorrow I am back on my rigid dietary schedule. In the winter, it's cross country skiing in the dunes or in the forest. I also like to X-country at night (night comes at five pm in Michigan). If there is no snow I walk, hike or ice skate. It's difficult to exercise as much in the winter. I have all the indoor exercise machines, but they bore me. I have yet to join an indoor exercise facility, but am seriously considering it.

For more information on exercise and weight loss see:  Diet for Natural Health  and The Diet for Natural Health Interactive Computer disk.