Tag Archive | therapy

Nature Helps Our Brain Connect!

Nature Helps Our Brain Connect!

By Hwaa Irfan

It is generally considered that only 10% of the earth to be natural! Nature? Some city folk have no love of nature, but the reality is that we as humans are products of nature, not man, yet increasingly more and more of us are living in cities.

Europe as tried to remedy the situation by making nature an intrinsic part of city life, but unfortunately developing countries, and elsewhere consider nature to be an inconvenience, or an ornament. The dysfunctional aspects (including our mental health) seem to be irrelevant, and though recognized as a problem, no serious attempt is being made to adjust to the numerous studies which show city life to be unnatural to the general well being of man, this is because city life, and by this one means the “concrete jungle” in itself is considered as being normal. This was one of the benefits of traditional Islamic town planning, was that nature played an intrinsic part in the layout of the city from inception, unfortunately, in the drive towards being modern (meaning Western), many Middle Eastern countries have unwittingly opted for the chaos that goes in tandem with the unlearnt lessons of western city planning.

It is because we have made no direct correlation to our everyday lives, that we do not consider plausible ways in which we can increase natural living within our city lives. We are unaware how much this has impacted on our general well-being, and our mental health. The noise and the level of activity has become a way of hiding the silence that tells us what we do not wish to hear about our lives. We look to be “entertained” through cinema, the arts, and all the other attractions, and because of all this activity, we view the city as the hub of life, partly becuase many of us have never known anything else! After all, nobody wants to be wrong, but unfortunately… Only those who have never really comfortable living in the city, are ready to hear what they have always known, but have become frightened to say, because it is not socially acceptable – at least in the city! However, this ridiculously hot summer – the summer of 2010, might convince a few more that it does not have to be this way!

Despite what many of us would like to believe, more and more evidence proves the burden city life has on our well being. Our mind might say otherwise, but our brains actually function better in natural surroundings, whilst man-made environments disrupt the connectivity of the brain. Recent research at the University of Sheffield, U.K. used functional brain scanning to establish the evidence. Natural scenes stimulated connectivity in areas of the brain.

“People experience tranquility as a state of calmness and reflection, which is restorative compared with the stressful effects of sustained attention in day-to-day life. It is well known that natural environments induce feelings of tranquility whereas manmade, urban environments are experienced as non-tranquil. We wanted to understand how the brain works when it perceives natural environments, so we can measure its experience of tranquility,” said Dr. Michael Hunter, of the Sheffield Cognition and Neuroimaging Laboratory.

A perfectly healthy adolescent female, who spent her early years in one city, and her early adolescence in the countryside, returned to the city, to find it unbearable. Going out with friends on the hectic streets literally acts like a stun-gun on her brain. This may seem to be abnormal for city lovers, and one wonders how much those looking to have fun go into overdrive to get that high, but research from the University of Michigan demonstrated that what happened to this young girl, is not abnormal. Measuring the cognitive deficits after a short walk in the city, psychologist Marc Berman found the brain is less able to recall things from memory, and that there is reduced self-control. So parents, there is a reason why your adolescent child does not return the same manner in which they left the home with!

 “The mind is a limited machine,” Berman told Boston Globe

 “And we’re beginning to understand the different ways that a city can exceed those limitations.”

The city bombards the brain with stimuli, like walking into a megasuperstore – even an electric circuit overloads once the voltage goes beyond its capacity!

Receivers were attached to a group of undergraduates attending the University of Michigan. One group took a walk around the arboretum, while the other group walked down the busy streets. Those who went for a walk down the streets were in a bad mood, the consequence of which they scored lower in a test on attention and working memory.

 Frances Kuo, director of the Landscape and Human Health Laboratory at the University of Illinois, after interviewing female residents of a massive housing project on the South Side of Chicago found that those residents that had a patch of nature to look upon from the windows of their home had more functionality within the home, than those who did not.

“I think cities reveal how fragile some of our ‘higher’ mental functions actually are,”

“We take these talents for granted, but they really need to be protected,” Kuo commented.

Kuo also found there was less domestic violence in the apartments which had some element of nature to view from their windows.

We truly underestimate what makes us perform well, and what makes us perform badly as human beings. Studies abound demonstrating how being in the midst of nature reduces one’s pulse rate, blood pressure, and the hyperactivity in the sympathetic nervous system. The immune system improves drastically, and children who have been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder show little symptoms after being out in nature for a while. Referring to the research done by the University of Sheffield, Professor Peter Woodruff rightly added:

“This work may have implications for the design of more tranquil public spaces and buildings, including hospitals, because it provides a way of measuring the impact of environmental and architectural features on people´s psychological state…”


Hunter, M.D., Eickhoff, S.B, Pheasant, R.J., Douglas, M.J., Watts, G.R., Farrow, T.F.D., Hyland, D., Kang, J, Wilkinson, I.D., Horoshenkov, K.V., Woodruff, P.W.R, `The state of tranquility: Subjective perception is shaped by contextual modulation of auditory connectivity´, NeuroImage 2010; 53: 611-618, doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2010.06.053

Lehrer, J. “How the City Hurts Your Brain.” http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/ideas/articles/2009/01/04/how_the_city_hurts_your_brain/?page=full

Related Links:

The Healing Sounds of Life

Making Cities Women Friendly!

Society Says Your Body Not Your Mind!

Attention Deficit or Information Overload in Our Children?

Mindfulness and Adolescence

The Brain Connection: Prayer and Meditation 

Allah’s Medicine Chest: Oranges

Allah’s Medicine Chest: Oranges

By Hwaa Irfan

As the summer approaches, one of life’s natural sweeteners are oranges. However, when I was growing up, it was the bitter orange that my mother used for its medicinal properties, especially the peel. Oranges are native to China. It was introduced to the rest of the world through Moorish Spain. The sweet orange is distinguished through its Latin name, Citrus sinensis, and the bitter orange through the Latin name Citrus aurantium. The bitter orange has a greater medicinal value, from which can be produced three different types of essential oils (the oils used in aromatherapy).

The Fruit

The fruit contains:

• Acids: Citric, ferrulic, glutaminic, linoleic, oxalic, serine

• Amino acids: arginine, asparagine, histidine, proline

• Alkaloids: Betaine

• Sugars: Fructose, galactose, glucose, sucrose

• Vitamins: carotene (A), thiamin (B₁), riboflavin (B₂), B₆, ascorbic acid (C), vitamin K

• Minerals/Metals: Aluminium, calcium, barium, cadmium, copper, chrome, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, zinc

Together the ascorbic acid, potassium and the caffeine in the fruit acts as a good diuretic; whilst ascorbic acid helps to dissolve small kidney stones.

The Peel

The peel/rind contains flavanoids: tangertin, nobilitin. The flavanoids are active principles in the reduction of cholesterol. From the bitter orange a decoction of 60 grams in a liter of water for 15 minutes helps to settle the stomache.

Hesperindine found in the peel and the pith is used in phytotherapy to inhibit the release of histamine for those who suffer from allergies such as hay fever. In a study by Hiroshige Chiba et al is was found to prevent bone loss, and to lower liver cholesterol.

Pectin is also found in the peel of citrus fruits, and its gel has been used in modern medicine to help target a drug to the gastrointestinal tract, and is used to lower blood cholesterol, and to remove lead and mercury from the gastrointestinal tract, and the respiratory system.

The Seeds

In industry, the seeds are used in making soaps, cooking oil, and plastics. It is also beneficial in cattle feed, and the hull is added to fertilizers.

The Leaves

The leaves contains alkaloids: Betaine, caffeine. As an infusion of two leaves in a cup of water, the nerves are calmed.

The Flowers

The flowers contain alkaloids: Betaine, caffeine. An infusion of 6 flowers in a cup of water helps ease stomach spasms.

As a flower essence in Vibrational Medicine, the focus of citrus sinensis is the emotions. This flower essence works to calm the nerves by helping to release stored tensions, but it is advised not to take this before going to bed as the tensions could release themselves in the form of nightmares.

The Oil

From the bitter orange tree, Bitter Orange Essential Oil is produced from the fruit of the tree. Petitgrain Essential Oil is produced from the leaves of the tree, and Neroli Essential Oil is produced from the flower of the tree. Limonene comes from the fruit.

Pettigrain has an invigorating smell, and is useful in relieving painful indigestion, as a tonic, as an intellectual stimulant, and strengthens the memory.

Neroli is also used in perfumery, especially the expensive ones, but medicinally it acts as an antidepressant and as a sedative. It as aphrodisiac properties, and stimulates the energy point/heart chakra. It relieves insomnia, hysteria, depression, palpitations, stress-related diarrhea, is useful for dry or sensitive skin, and is soothing in cases of grief or shock.

From neroli orange flower water is hydrolated and is beneficial in skin care and relieving colic in infants. It is also used in pastry making.

In phytotherapy, an orange oil from the fruit of the sweet orange i.e, citrus senenis is used ease bronchitis.

The Juice

The juice makes a good diuretic, and replaces ephedra which has been banned in the U.S.

The European Journal of Nutrition indicated that a 240 ml glass of the flavonoid-rich orange juice was associated with significantly improved scores for attention, executive function, and psycho-motor speed in healthy middle-aged men without mild cognitive impairment six hours after consumption, compared with placebo.

Orange juice contains lutein and zeaxanthin, compounds believed to play an important role in preventing age-related macular degeneration (loss of vision) and cognitive impairment in the elderly.


In aromatherapy, the orange essential oil is used lot in perfumery, but it is also useful in cases of:

• Indigestion (gastric)

• Fevers

• Skin care (wrinkles and dermatitis)

• Nerves

A Good Buy!

With all the modern processes involved in the food industry, it can sometimes be difficult to know when you are buying value or buying garbage, as looks can be deceiving. When buying oranges, I like to know that they are fresh, and have not been smothered with pesticides etc. So the first trick is, is to buy in season, and to not buy imported fruits, because the journey alone will tell you something is involved to keep those oranges in the market. A healthy orange tends to say “Buy me” because they look as nature intended – ready to eat. They should be firm and heavy for their size, and the sweet smell will entice you. If the oranges look dull, then they have aged a bit, and the nutritional content has deteriorated. By teaching the children to make their own orange juice, they will learn to appreciate anything of value does not come ready made, besides they will be drinking a high quality nutritious drink that will improve their metabolism, and they will learn that oranges do not begin life at the supermarket.

Gurudas “Flower Esssences and Vibrational Healing” 1989. Cassandra Press, U.S.

Lavabre, M. “Aromatherapy Workbook” 1990. Healing Arts Press, Canada.

Phytochemicals. http://www.phytochemicals.info/phytochemicals/hesperidin.php

Properties of Orange Tree. http://www.botanical-online.com/medicinalstarongerangles.htm

Sriamornsak, P “Chemistry of Pectin and Its Pharmaceutical Uses: A Review”

Related Topics:
Allah’s Medicine Chest: Lemons
Allah’s Medicine Chest: Garlic

The Healing Sounds of Life

The Healing Sounds of Life

By Hwaa Irfan

Traditionally, the artist had a community responsibility to develop the inner ear of the listener and create greater awareness of the unity of all things. In Persia, the sounds of birds or waterfalls were used to heal. Mothers often use a soothing voice to put their babies to sleep. The recitation of the Qur’an has been used for healing since the time of Prophet Muhammed (SAW). However, not all sounds are healing. Some can be harmful.

Everything in His creation has a resonance, and therefore emits a sound whether we can hear it or not. Energy releases sound before it can become matter. Each particle of life, seen and unseen emits a sound. Sound is the vibration from which matter arises, and for one life form to be compatible with another life form there has to be resonance, i.e. both life forms have to vibrate at the same level. This notion was poetically described by Ogotemmeli, a religious leader of a Dogon tribe in Sudan. When asked by the author of Conversations with Ogotemmeli, Marcel Griaule, Ogotemmeli replied:

    “The life force of the earth is water. God moulded the earth with water. Bllod too He made out of water. Even in a stone there is this force, for there is moisture in everything…
    “When Nummo (The Creator) speaks, what comes from His mouth is a warm vapor which conveys, and itself constitutes speech. This vapor like all water, has sound…
    “Thus clothed, the earth had a language, the first language of this world, and the most primitive of all time. It’s syntax was elementary, it’s verbs few, and its vocabulary without elegance. The words were breathed sounds, scarcely differentiated from one another, but nevertheless vehicles. Such as it was, this ill-defined speech sufficed for the great works of the beginning of things”.

“In the beginning was the word [sound], and the word was God”


Man is mostly constituted of water, and sound moves faster in water. In addition, the human bone structure is also highly responsive to vibration as 69%-79% of sounds heard within the audible range vibrates through the human bone structure. The bone structure then continually translates information from the more subtle levels into the neurological tissue. Inappropriate or loud music, on the other hand, can be harmful or not in resonance to the human form. A 1990 study purports that loud noise causes vasoconstriction causing increased blood pressure. In turn this leads to the hypertrophy of smooth muscle, a narrowing of small vessels and a resistance to blood flow.

As we are today, we are subject to overload of a cacophony of conflicting sounds, which demand our attention. Our response/reaction takes place not only on the physical level, but also on the mental and emotional level. Have you ever found yourself humming a tune that was frequently played in your midst without you listening to it? That is how much control we have over own bodies.

The sound of music, for instance, affects pulse rates, skin temperature, blood pressure, muscle tension and brain wave activity. Music can also help to release biochemicals such as endorphins in the brain and act as a natural painkiller if resonance is present.

Similarly, inappropriate sounds of any sort can be harmful. Electricity and electromagnetic energies are the worst pollutants due to over usage. With increasing noise pollution a person’s hearing can lose the capacity to hear sound within a certain frequency range.

In a laboratory study, volunteers were confined to a dormitory and exposed to pulsed tones over the course of 30 days. The result was that plasma cortisol and blood cholesterol levels increased with increased noise levels beyond 85 dB. The effect lasted for several days after the noise ceased. Such pulses can be found coming from air conditioning units, transformers and other electronic equipment.

Changes in earth’s electromagnetic field caused by TVs, computers, power cables and radio waves effect people too by causing the body’s energy waves to vibrate at unnatural frequencies i.e. out of resonance.

A branch of Bioacoustics studies the effect of sound and noise on man. A pioneer in the field, Sharon Edwards proved that every muscle, compound, process and structure in the body could be mathematically calculated and assigned a tone. This led to the discovery that that each person has his or her own set of frequencies or resonance. This is confirmed within classical homeopathy which states that each cell has its own frequency/resonance, which combines with other frequencies/resonances (i.e. other cells) to form what can be best described as an orchestra. The orchestration becomes more extravagant, when we move towards cells forming tissues, organs and the finale, the human mind, spirit and body. Hence, when someone is ill or not in resonance, certain notes may be absent or over-abundant in their speaking voice. illnesses such as epilepsy, respiratory and heart conditions, bone breakages and fractures, traumatic pain, multiple sclerosis as well as drug dependency and depression are addressed by Bioacoustics.

Regaining Resonance

Sound Therapy addresses the issues of what sounds are helpful and what sounds are harmful to the body and aims to ‘retune’ the body back into harmony. Healer, Barbara Brennan uses sound to strengthen the energy points/chakras located in the body. Barbara uses her voice one inch away from the chakra she is working on. She states:

    “Each chakra has a different pitch, and each person’s pitch for a particular chakra is slightly different.”

In adjusting her pitch, the patient can hear and feel the resonance. She has been successful in treating ulcerative colitis, discs, obtaining enhanced tissue growth, aligning the functions of the organs of the body and balancing the nervous system. In the same way, the intonation and variations in tune of a skilled Qur’an reciter can also invoke healing.

In Cymatics, another aspect of Bioacoustics, the understanding is that every cell in the body is controlled by an electromagnetic field with its own frequency. This therefore means that the body has a composite harmonic frequency! However, in Cymatics, the method isn’t the cure. Like Homeopathy and some modern vaccines, Cymatics stimulates the regulatory, metabolic and immune systems back into balance or resonance. Dr. Peter Guy Manners developed an instrument that emits over 800 controlled audible frequencies. The required sound frequency is focused through a skin applicator from an electronic device and has been found to be useful in rheumatic, bone and muscular disorders.

Oncologist Dr. Terrance Bugno of Chicago attests to the benefits of Sound Therapy and Bioacoustics. Michael, a patient of his had a voice print analysis done at a Bioacoustics clinic, which revealed a thyroid problem. This was not verified by the lab results received by his doctor. Nine days later he collapsed with unknown symptoms. Eventually a thyroid condition was discovered. In another case a top class reader had ‘forgotten’ how to read, causing much distress. A voice print test at a Bio-acoustic clinic revealed that the student Andi had formaldehyde poisoning. Her ‘signature was rebalanced using low frequency sound which raised her level of immunity or resistance. In addition she was placed on a detoxification program. Her reading level standard returned!

Many branches of Sound Therapy and Bioacoustics exist; however, one must not ignore what is nearest to them. Qur’anic recitations are an ideal way to enjoy sound therapy. As David Williams, self-awareness and self-development teacher informs us:

    “Harmonious sound vibration directed with appropriate mental thought disrupts negative qualities and transmutes them into positive qualities. Esoteric sound vibrations shatter rigid patterns…”.

{And [as for] those who follow the right direction, He increases them in guidance and gives them their guardian [against evil] }(Al Muhammad 67:17).

The original, The Science of Sound, was written in 2001.


Brennan, Barbara. Ann. “Hands of Light.” USA: Bantam Books. 1987.

Crystalinks.com. “Sound Frequencies for Healing.” Crystalinks.com. 10/2/01. http://www.crystalinks.com/sound_frequencies.html

Griaule, M. Conversations with Ogotemmeli: An Introduction to Dogon Religious Ideas. Oxford University Press. 1970.

Gurudas. “Gem Elixirs & Vibrational Healing Vol.1.” USA: Cassandra Press.

Kaufmann, Judith. “How Does Harmonic and Sound Healing Work.” Emerald City Healing Arts. 10/03/01. http://www.harmonichealing.net/harmfaq.html

Macalester.edu. “Effects of Noise Pollution.” Macalester. Edu. 10/12/01. http://www.maclaster.edu/~psych/whathap/ UBNRP/Audition/site/noiseeffects.html

Manners, Peter. Guy. “Cymatics Healing By Sound.” The Eclectic Viewpoint. 10/02/01. http://www.ecelcticviewpoint.com/evmanners.html

Overload Media. “Sound Therapy – Electronic Music and Wired Culture.” Media.co.uk. 10/02/01. http://www.overloadmedia.co.uk/library/soundtherapy.shtml

Pichler, Gillian. “Cymatics – Sound Therapy.”Altguide.com. 10/2/01. http://www.altguide.com/therapy/info/cymatics.html

Sound Health. “Bio-Acoustics In Action.” Sound Health Inc. 10/12/01.http://www.soundhealthinc.com/al.html

Williams, David. “The Harmonics of Sound, Color & Vibration.” USA: DeVorss & Company Publishers. 1988.