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March 23, 1996
I have just found about Macrobiotics, it's a new word to me, but I am greatly interested in this, hoping to improve my health. So far, the yin and yang of our world needs to bring us together. Thanks for your interesting pages on the net. Will take you advice and start with barley and brown rice. Have just recently started Kombucha Tea. Do you know anything about this tea and if it would be helpful in one's diet?? Thanks, Paulette
Thanks for your letter. I agree, both the Yin and Yang need to pull together to make the world a better place.
Kombucha Tea is a fungus that grows on sugar syrup or honey. Some people think the mold acts as an antibiotic, and credit it with almost miraculous cures of a wide variety of health problems. Macrobiotics would classify it as Yin because it is sugar-based, like yeast. This means it might help some people who are too Yang (strong, hardy) from eating a lot of meat in the past, but it would not help people who are already Yin (tend to weakness, feeling cold, or lack of energy, paleness, anemia, etc.). I tried it, and did not get any benefit from it. In fact, I started feeling weaker because of being a borderline hypoglycemic in the past. If you do not feel better taking it, especially if you feel dizzy or weak after a while, I would definitely discontinue it. This would indicate it is too Yin for you.
Please let me know how you do with it, and what you experience.
Make sure when you start the Macrobiotic diet that you include enough vegetables: steamed, baked, sauteed, in stews and soups. If you start too simply, just eating grains and miso soup with no vegetables, you might not get enough nutrition to keep your energy levels up. Baked squash is great for energy. Try to attend some Macrobiotic cooking classes in your area. It really helps to get hands-on lessons. What you can learn in a few hours can shortcut years of trial and error.
If you don't know who is giving them where you live, let me know, and I will try to locate someone nearby.
Keep in touch.
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March 9, 1996:
I am very interested in beginning a macrobiotic way of life, but do not know where to begin. There are several natural health food stores in my area that sell the food needed for a macrobiotic diet. However, it seems to me that these foods are more expensive than food in a big grocery store. I am on a limited budget, and do not have the money to experiment in buying foods that I know nothing about or how to cook. I am currently reading two macrobiotic books, one by George Ohsawa, and one by Michio Kushi. What do you suggest to a beginner? How long have you been practicing macrobiotics? Any information would be helpful. Thank you.
I have been practicing Macrobiotics for 30 years, and think "experience is the best teacher". You have to test and discover if principles you read about are really true, or everything you learn from books is just second-hand knowledge.
To get started on a limited budget, I would try to get the basics: barley miso, short-grain organic brown rice, natural soy sauce ("tamari"), sea salt, wakame seaweed, some organic vegetables like carrots, onions, broccoli, a good vegetable knife and cutting board, twig tea ("kukicha"), organic oatmeal, organic whole wheat noodles or macaroni, some wood stirring spoons, heavy iron frying pan with cover, stainless steel pressure cooker, sesame salt ("goma-sio").
These items will give you enough to make basic, wholesome, healthful meals. Oat meal for breakfast with miso soup (with wakame, sauteed carrots & onions), twig tea; for lunch, pressure-cooked brown rice with sauteed carrots/onions/broccoli and tea; for dinner, fried rice mixed with leftover vegetables, miso soup, tea.
You can also add some fresh fish and fresh, organic salad greens and organic apples to make baked apples or applesauce for dessert, if you feel like it.
If you get only a few pounds of each item, it should not cost too much. If you are still short of cash, don't buy organic (to save money), but switch to organic for the extra nutritive value when you can afford it. Like every other shopper on a limited budget, try to take advantage of special discounts, coupons, etc.
If you cannot afford a stainless steel or porcelain pressure cooker, aluminum, while not ideal, can often be found at thrift stores at very inexpensive cost. It will help you get started until you can get a stainless steel or porcelain p-cooker.
You know, the years when you have to stretch every dollar are precious, because you can really live the "vivere parvo" ("to live simply") spirit of Macrobiotics. You have a great opportunity to discover the elegant taste of plain brown rice, which never gets boring, even though you eat it every day for the rest of your life. It becomes as much a part of your life as breathing (which never gets boring, either, by the way!). You are in very good company, too. George Ohsawa often had to live the simple life, and wrote about his experiences. I remember stories about when he was penniless in Paris. He used to take the subway to the countryside to pick wild vegetables because he could not afford to buy them at markets! As he wrote, these vegetables are grown without commercial intent, and have more nutritive value than commercially-grown vegetables anyway!
By the way, if you have trouble staying on the Macrobiotic Diet, do not worry. Part of the educational process is discovering what foods do to you physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. That is valuable experience! Just keep returning to brown rice, miso soup and vegetables to regain balance and health.
I hope you enjoy this special time thoroughly.
I would also get a good, basic Macrobiotic cookbook, like 'Zen Cookery' by Lima Ohsawa (George's wife). It is published by the Macrobiotic Foundation in Oroville, California. If you have trouble finding anything, let me know.
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Fred, I read some of your page and feel that what really cheeses me of is that everybody takes macrobiotics so serious. I am about 50% MB but find the whole MB environment more serious than the Dalai Lama on his 47th incarnation. To me it is fun after all it is the BIG LIFE. And the more people realise that the next step forward is a step backwards the more successful MB will be. It, to me, is not a religion but a way of life. Good Luck with your endeavours, and meet __________ (MB Canada), his main message is: Have fun.
Thank you for your thoughts. You are totally correct about people not liking daunting tasks. I have wrestled with this problem for years. How do you make MB easy to understand and do? I tried, years ago, to write a cartoon format MB introduction, but the feedback was I was "not serious" enough. Your letters are making me think I should not have given up so easily! After all, as you say, MB is about having fun and enjoying your life. I agree totally, ou are supposed to amuse yourself with your life, or you are not being true to yourself.
I hope you continue in this vein, for it is a good direction. I hope you will also continue to share your thoughts when you have the time. As yousay, we must reach youth, for they are being seduced by drugs, manipulated by big business and are trying to cut their way through all the hype and phony nonsense that too much of the modern world represents. I would like to reach this part of society. I think, as you do, that MB is a way to help people make it through the phoniness, and it offers one of the few real things in this life.
In America, there is the so-called "Generation X" of your age group that has a sense of the phoniness, but is having a hard time finding anything real to commit to. There is a lot of energy being wasted on idle or self-destructive activity. I hope your interest in MB will continue to grow, and that you will try to reach these people. Please keep in mind I am 50 years old, but I have not forgotten the "hippie" rebellion in the 60's when many young people were also trying to find something real in an excessively material-oriented world. I would appreciate it if you could try to define what people of your generation are looking for, their attitudes, etc. Are you as sceptical of the values and methods used by the "establishment" as my generation was? What do you consider to be sacred, if anything? What do you think is behind Creation, if anything? I would like to know your thoughts on these matters, when you have time.
Perhaps we can get something going on the Internet when you get back to SA. Please drop me a line when you are online again. I'll be glad to help where I can. If you or anyone you know has any questions or ideas they want to bounce off me, please feel free to do so.
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You describe a fascinating concept. I am interested in exploring your premise that we "all bring on our illness." I find elements of truth to your theory of healthy living; however, there is a germ theory that exists.
What do you think about the germ theory?
What is your definition of health and "healthy lifestyle"?
People with compromised immune systems, I believe, are the ones who must be concerned about germs, and, consequently, methods of disposing of germs and rendering them less harmful.
A country with a weak defense system must worry about invasions by foreigners, and may have to expend a considerable amount of its resources perfecting new systems for defending itself; a country which maintains strong and effective defenses does not.
Same goes for the human body. As without, so within.
Germs are simply scavengers, feeding on dead and dying debris. They are nature's sanitary engineers, and, as such, are very important in the natural scheme of things. They clean up toxic and unnatural conditions, stimulate the organism to rally its defenses and thereby contribute to its future well-being. We either succumb to them, or learn how to combat them and improve our defenses to better avoid illness in the future.
To focus on them, and getting rid of them, is misdirected attention. Focus should be placed on restoring a healthy immune system and healthy body which can handle them, and present a hostile environment for them to grow in.
For example, most bacteria cannot grow in a slightly alkaline environment. Blood ph should be slightly alkaline; improper diet and lifestyle makes it acidic. Bacteria love acidic conditions, so we essentially create a fantastic environment for them and then wonder why we get sick. Talk about open invitations. We are telling them, "Come to the feast we have created for you". They are more than happy to comply.
Normally, in a healthy body, the immune system handles bacteria when they breach the skin or intestinal lining. When the skin, the immune system and the intestinal mucosa have become perforated or compromised, bacteria can enter easily, and we must then battle them on our own turf, like the wars many European peoples have had to experience through the centuries, even during the present time.
It is not fun getting sick. If we have allowed our defenses to weaken, and our lives are at stake because we do not possess sufficient resources to combat pathogens, then modern medicine and wonder drugs can mean the difference between life and death.
But we should not become dependent on them for our recurring salvation. We must, as soon as possible, try to improve our health by proper eating and lifestyle. A tragic story of modern life: too many people relying on modern medical miracles instead of trying to restore their own health, for and by themselves.
If modern civilization does not read the "writing on the wall", our healthy days may grow shorter and shorter. Macrobiotics offers a way to rebuild damaged defenses and give us the kind of immune system nature intended us to have, that can keep us healthy even when we are exposed to germs. No one, unless he or she lives in a sterile bubble, can avoid exposure to germs. The key is to be able to neutralize them before they can overwhelm us.
Our ability to create antibody templates against all known and unknown pathogens, and store these for future use is quite amazing--an example of nature's incredible genius. All we need to do is help this system function optimally by giving it the right materials with which to build itself: our daily food. If our food is correct, the body will build or rebuild an immune system so strong we do not have to fear any microorganism, now or in the future.
Since even our environment is compromised, and stresses the immune system, as does our hectic, stressful, modern lifestyle, we need to take advantage of everything at our disposal. If that be herbal supplements, then take them. We should not feel we must rigidly adhere to any one system, but should develop our intuition to be able to select what we need.
Macrobiotics says thorough chewing of whole grains and vegetables primarily helps us rebuild brain cell quality to be able to discern what is good and what is not for our own systems. Each person must discover and decide this for and by themselves.
In light of what is written above, health is the ability to enjoy an active, interesting, amusing and long life, and change illness, suffering and pain into their opposite. A healthy person is essentially an alchemist, making gold out of dross.
A healthy lifestyle is one that enables your immune system to maintain itself and you at the peak of your performance, vitality, mental and physical faculties. This varies from person to person, for no two people's needs are exactly the same. Each person must discover what is a healthy lifestyle for them. Also, as our health changes, our tolerance for various stresses increases, so the definition of what is a healthy lifestyle must also change, and encompass more and more, as our health improves.
There are no cut and dried definitions, for life is always changing for everyone and everything. We must bring ourselves "up to speed" (restore our essential Yangness) so we can navigate this ocean of life guided only by the magic compass of Yin and Yang, and our faith (knowledge) of the Infinite Order of the Universe.
Thanks for your questions and your interest.
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Anything that has an effect on T-cells I want to stay away from. I know that the foods in the MB diet have an effect on blood quality. But since they work WITH the body, the effect, while dramatic in my case, is not a "shock" to the system. And the effects don't wear off as long as you keep to the diet. This is why I'm convinced MS is a metabolic issue. [Also fits in w/what you said re "acidic" blood quality "eating" the myelin.]
This - "shocking" the immune system - is what allopathic docs are doing w/Betaseron, Prednisone, Avonex, etc. MSers notice effects immediately, but they wear off when the drug is stopped. If they understood what is happening when they use steroids I would hope they would cease and desist. Example: "____" was put on Prednisone after her bad reaction to Betaseron. She was awake until 4 AM every night she was on it. Since she starts work at 8 AM, has two kids under 5, a husband, is the president of some accountants' group and owns many rental properties, I'm sure her added energy was a boon. But since it doesn't last she, for one, is going to the amusement park and riding the roller coaster - using the steroid as a temporary stop-gap measure and I am pretty certain it's a stupid idea. If I thought it was a good idea I would take it, too.
She did go out and purchase miso - but POWDERED miso - and bought a CHEAPER sea salt than what I recommended. I'm getting tired of these people who half-listen to the Voice of Reason over here and then don't notice any change. Duh. But not everyone is a Bodhisattva. I have to keep that in mind. --M
Again, I want to support your intuitive grasp of the situation regarding use of Betaseron & Prednisone. The drugs' effects do wear off, and have side-effects. Macrobiotics, on the other hand, lets the body rebuild, rebalance, restore, gradually over time, in a permanent way. Eventually, your tolerance to to various foods should increase after your body has had a chance to rebuild itself, so you will not have to live such a restricted lifestyle. But restricted is better than no life at all, and some big lessons about humility, gratitude for the miracle of life, acceptance of limitations are a positive side-effect not appreciated by many people in today's world of "give me more", "don't restrict me", "I'll do whatever I want" mentality.
Life to me is more enjoyable if lived within our limitations, which vary from person to person. Each person must find these limitations, and learn to be happy within them. The "I want it all" attitude promoted as enlightened and liberated can really get people in trouble. Macrobiotics to me is learning how to be happy with less and less. Paradoxically, "less is more": the less we need to be happy and healthy, the more free and more happy we can become. Wanting more and more can become dependence on more and more.
Becoming Macrobiotic to me is ultimately divesting oneself from all except what is absolutely essential to life. I was not the first to realize this: George Ohsawa expressed this idea in his writings.
I think you have crossed a very big hurdle/milestone in your life by realizing the prudence of placing your fate and destiny in the hands of sensible eating in lieu of the "fix me, doc" attitude.
This is Faith -- born of recognition of the Order of the Universe.
At the risk of you thinking I am overdoing it a bit, I want to congratulate you for reaching this threshold, for a new life living in freedom awaits you. To borrow a couple of lines from a "Lovin' Spoonful" song (remember them?), "It is not always easy, it is not always kind/ Did you ever have to make up your mind?"
I am here partly to welcome you, to meet and greet you, just as people who have "died" and returned to life have experienced, your friends and relatives await you to welcome you home when you cross over to the next life. I see you now "crossing over" to a new life while you are yet alive. To me, that is even more amazing.
Thank you for giving me the chance to feel really worthwhile. There are so many phony things in this world. Helping people with Macrobiotics offers something genuine that brings back the true meaning of life. I hope what I am trying to say comes through my awkward attempts to express it in words.
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Hi Mr. Pulver!
I was wondering if you knew the macrobiotic perspective on herbs. I have taken many many of those cleansing herbs during the last two years, most recently this summer, thinking I was doing my body good. Can herbs as a group be classified as more yin or yang?
I'm also worried that I may have weakened my body by taking such immense doses of them. (Sometimes 24 a day, I'm embarassed to say.) is there anything I can do about it?
I was also wondering, what exactly made you move away from being pre-med? Was it because your beliefs were not like those of traditional medicine?
When I told my mother I no longer wanted to be a doctor she sounded all disappointed, I felt bad that my change didn't make her happy BUT she already has a son in medical school in Canada. I am just not good enough in science, or at least I don't like it so much so that I'm motivated to do well.
Are there any aspects of health in which macrobiotics yields to traditional medicine? Or does macrobiotics believe that ALL can be healed naturally?
Thank you for letting me have someone to write to!
Thanks for your letter, and for honoring me with your confidence and questions.
Here are my answers:
1) Herbs can be classified as more Yin or Yang, just as foods can. In fact, they should be classified in this manner to help people decide how they might be effective, and for what conditions, etc. Perhaps you could undertake such a project!
2) Taking too much of them could weaken the body, especially the intestines, which have to process them, but also other organs which may have been strained in the effort to process them all, especially if they included strong alkaloids or other ingredients which can be toxic in large amounts.
However, you can probably undo any damage that may have occured. I would just recommend moderation in the future, and to take them as teas or cooked into extracts or in soups, etc. They are more easily assimilated than in dried, powdered form. As you know, you would not take a mouthful of powdered herbs and try to swallow them. They would be too dry to swallow, and would get stuck in your throat and esophagus, not to mention your stomach and bowels, unless you consumed a lot of fluid to dilute them. And capsules, especially those made of bovine gelatin, sometimes do not break down. There are cases of patients for which x-rays revealed undissolved gelatin capsules lining pockets in the intestines. In such cases, assimilation of nourishment may actually become impaired.
3) Yes, after I started studying Macrobiotics, my beliefs diverged. I began to see healing as something to assist through correct diet, and that dietary mistakes were at the root of many, if not all, health problems.
4) However, sometimes people respond better to modern medicine, or prefer it, due to their advanced condition that needs immediate, emergency care, or they possess a mindset and lifestyle, awareness, attitude, etc. that makes it hard to stick to macrobiotics or to understand it well enough to effect their own cure. For these people, I do not try to persuade them to try macrobiotics. I think when you feel someone cannot really grasp the basic concepts well enough, they may actually worsen their condition rather get better if they try incorrectly to practice Macrobiotics, so in this case you should not recommend macrobiotics to them.
So much depends on the patient you are dealing with. After all, it is the patient who must cure him or herself, not the doctor or health advisor. It is very important to grasp this concept, and follow through with it, to be an effective facilitator. But this is a foreign concept to many people, both doctors and patients.
You sound like you are in the same boat I was when I decided to diverge from a pre-med career, so I sympathize with you. The right path is not always easy to discern, nor to follow. But if it is the right path for you, there is really no alternative. You will be happier following the right path than you will following the wrong one, even if following the wrong one made you rich and comfortable. Wealth and comfort will not bring real happiness and satisfaction with yourself and your life.
Serving others will.
My son is 21, has had type-one diabetes since age 2, and also has what they call severe ADHD. Both of these conditions developed after the MMR vaccine that he had at 18 months of age.
I read that the type-one diabetes is due to the injection of animal proteins into the bloodstream, with the animal DNA, combining itself with the human DNA of the insulin producing beta cells, resulting in antigenic complexes, and autoimmune destruction of these antigenic-beta cells.
I personally do not believe that there is such a thing as "ADHD". I have observed my son throughout the years, and I believe that the so called "ADHD" is really a mild case of Autism. I also believe that the pharmaceutical companies KNOW this, and simply do not want to admit how many autistic children in this country they have created with the mercury (Thimerisol) in the vaccines. Besides, this bogus ADHD diagnosis creates profits for them in their sales of prescription METH (also known as Ritalin).
I cannot tell you what a hard life of suffering my son Marc has had with these 2 illnesses. This is what drives me..... to find something truly powerful to heal him.
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