Martin Shaw

I have been researching and using alternative and complementary healthcare for 35 years. The research has been pragmatic rather than scientific, insofar as I've used myself as the laboratory and guinea pig, and relied on observation and experience. It's been a wonderful journey, and has led to an increasingly deep understanding of my body-mind, and how it works. I have seen and experienced many examples of so called 'miracle cures', and have learned to accept them as part of my life.

Fundamental to all this has been the adoption of a vegetarian, alcohol-free diet, which quickly made me more sensitive to the messages my body was giving me, and then to interpret them. A cold became 'an elimination', and rather than suppressing the symptoms, I learned to understand why I had the cold, and then allow the elimination by eating appropiately. Accidents, whether minor or serious, became an urgent message from the subconscious to wake up and see what the universe was telling me. In this way, misfortunes have become a blessing, and an opportunity. I have known several cancer sufferers who have said they would not have missed it for the world, and several who have been completely cured by the adoption of complementary or alternative measures.

I worked with a naturopath and iridologist in Australia, a formidable and awesome lady who had cured herself of liver cancer through diet. Such was her commitment and faith in her methods, that I asked if she had lost many patients. "Oh yes," she said, "because after a time of following the diet and cleansing, they feel wonderful, the doctors declare they are in remission, and they want to resume their old eating habits. I say, no, it takes two years for the signs in the iris to change significantly, and that the subtle cancer tendency is still there. But they go back to the old ways, and die quite soon...."

When it comes to plumbing and carpentry, modern medicine is wonderful. Common sense would dictate that a compound fracture should be treated by an orthopaedic surgeon rather than, say, a homoeopath. But if the homoeopath and the doctor can work together, we then have a very powerful healing combination. I studied polarity therapy, which has its roots in the ancient ayurvedic traditions of India. One of my fellow students was a professor of surgery at Cambridge who had been called in to try to assist the breathing of a road traffic accident victim who was dying. Unable to to do anything, he had asked his team if they knew of anything, anything at all, that might help. One of them had heard of a polarity therapist in Cambridge, and the surgeon had the humility and wisdom to call her in. She succeeded where medicine failed; the patient survived; and the surgeon came to study polarity therapy. If only the whole profession could be so open minded....

Some years ago, I sustained a serious back injury, which required surgery. As a diagnostic aid, I was required to have a myleogram, a procedure which involves the insertion of a long needle into the intervertebral space and the injection of a dye to allow the X-ray to be more clearly seen. One of the side effects is a very severe headache due to the loss of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) from the puncture site. I was advised by a friend, a cranio-sacral therapist, to visualise a white light around the site, and to "ask" the CSF to move up and away from the puncture. During the procedure, I heard a muttered exclamation from the radiographer, who called his colleague over, when I clearly heard him whisper, "... absolutely no CSF!" When I asked what was happening, the response, of course, was "Nothing, nothing." Back on the ward, I was repeatedly offered painkillers for the headache they couldn't believe hadn't arrived. I possess no special powers of concentration, and this was done during the inevitable stress and pain of the procedure. I sincerely believe we all have the ability to understand and listen to our bodies and minds and effect cures and relief for ourselves in a healthy andnatural way.

This has been my way of life for 35 years, and the journey goes on, and the understanding accumulates and deepens. Our bodies are our temple, and know how to heal themselves. We have only to learn how to listen.

Martin Shaw is a much-loved British actor, who has starred in many TV dramas and West End theatre productions.

Copyright John Davidson, 2006

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