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  • Naomi Stephens | Permaculture Designer

The Harmonious Connection between Permaculture and Holistic Health

Updated: Mar 4



This topic is unique, as holistic health has long captivated me. Holistic health is a wellness approach that integrates our existence's physical, mental, and spiritual aspects. It's a way of life that encourages active participation in our overall well-being, emphasizing the entirety of the individual instead of fixating on one specific facet of health. Through the pursuit of holistic health, we can cultivate a balance in all aspects of our lives and create a connection with our true selves.


As a permaculture enthusiast, the holistic approach to health resonated deeply with me because the two approaches share some core values and beliefs. Holistic health requires us to look beyond our physical state and embrace all aspects of our being. The pursuit of a balanced lifestyle requires dedication and ample amounts of self-care. It means eating nutritious foods, using natural herbs, spices, and essential oils, exercising regularly, getting enough sleep, managing stress levels, engaging in meaningful activities, and cultivating positive relationships. That, to me, is similar to permaculture, which takes a whole system approach when striving for nature's abundance in our lives.


In this blog post, I will explore how permaculture relates to holistic health and how practicing permaculture can enhance our physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing.


Embracing Ecosystems & Empowering Individuals: The Harmonious Connection Between Permaculture and Holistic Health





Permaculture resembles holistic health as it embraces an ecosystem-wide approach to problem-solving rather than addressing individual issues in isolation. For instance, permaculture offers innovative solutions such as companion planting when dealing with pests. This method considers the entire ecosystem and encourages the strategic placement of compatible plants rather than relying on conventional techniques. Another effective tactic is deploying sacrificial plants, which attract pests to spare the desired crops. By adopting these inclusive practices, permaculture promotes a comprehensive and harmonious approach to cultivation, in contrast to exclusionary and fragmented methods.


Holistic health encompasses a similar mindset, focusing on the overall wellbeing of an individual, encompassing the mind, body, and spirit. A holistic health practitioner often explores the circumstances surrounding the onset of health issues, recognizing that they may be triggered by stress or trauma. In certain instances, addressing the root cause of stress or trauma can lead to a reversal of illness. This holistic approach recognizes an individual is an interconnected system, where mental state can profoundly affect physical health. Some individuals may follow a healthy diet and exercise regularly but still be overwhelmed by daily stress, which can detrimentally impact their well-being.





Principles of Permaculture: Catching and Storing Energy





I view choosing nutrient-dense foods as a means of harnessing and preserving energy within my body. Prioritizing ingredients packed with nutrients is paramount for my overall well-being while being mindful of my budget. To achieve this, I transform store-bought produce into more nourishing forms. For instance, I sprout grains at home to unlock their dormant potential – unveiling a rich source of vitamins, minerals, and beneficial plant compounds. Not only does sprouting enhance nutritional value, but it also simplifies the digestion and absorption process by breaking down complex carbohydrates and amplifying essential amino acid concentrations. Moreover, sprouting mitigates the presence of phytic acid in grains, which, if left unchecked, may impede nutrient absorption.


I prepare sauerkraut using regular cabbage. Making sauerkraut at home not only boosts its nutritional value by adding beneficial probiotics for a healthy digestive system but also provides essential vitamins and minerals like vitamin K, B vitamins, and dietary fiber. Moreover, homemade sauerkraut is loaded with antioxidants and electrolytes, which are crucial for maintaining overall wellness.


I also tap into the energy of sunlight by tending to my vegetable garden, using the freshly harvested produce to enhance my meals. While supplementing my diet with groceries, I primarily emphasize savoring nutrient-rich, fresh foods.


In the permaculture realm, organic methods are crucial in enriching the soil. One such technique is "chop and drop," where ground covers plants like comfrey or other nutrient-rich plants are grown. This practice effectively harnesses and stores energy within these plants rather than leaving the ground barren. By finely chopping and dropping them onto the soil, the soil and its microorganisms can absorb precious nutrients before planting the desired crops.


I fertilize my garden using kitchen scraps such as leftover nettle tea bags or banana peel skins. It's a sustainable approach that nourishes the soil and the plants it supports.



Principles of Permaculture: Using Small and Slow Solutions





One of the core principles of permaculture emphasizes utilizing small and gradual solutions. We tend to be drawn towards quick and intricate fixes in today's modern world. Surgeries, while sometimes absolutely unavoidable, are often favored over lifestyle changes like diet, sunlight, exercise, and meditation. However, employing smaller and slower solutions allows synchronization with our bodies. For instance, herbs can offer benefits without adverse side effects, promoting a true cure rather than a mere symptom mask. On the other hand, pills such as antibiotics, which are sometimes very necessary, can potentially lead to further complications and side effects.


Having once relied on antibiotics to treat a persistent candida infection, I discovered that they provided no lasting healing. The infections stubbornly recurred, and taking antibiotics only resulted in further complications like UTIs. One day, I mustered the courage to seek advice from my doctor about alternative approaches, specifically in nutrition. Regrettably, she either ignored me or feigned obliviousness. This embarrassed me, dissuading me from persisting in my quest for answers. Years later, I consciously prioritized my health after departing from the corporate environment. Through diligent research, I eventually found the solution I had been seeking. Proper recovery requires adopting a healthier diet, embracing a balanced lifestyle, prayer, and harnessing the power of herbal remedies. Thanks to this holistic approach, I successfully cured the once-recurring condition, and I have not experienced its return ever since.


There are intriguing parallels between the pursuit of quick solutions in gardening and healthcare. Conventional gardening depends on pesticides, while conventional health relies on potent medications. However, the path to holistic health takes a divergent route, prioritizing alternative options as the initial course of action.


Practicing Permaculture Holistically Enhances Health


Permaculture and the natural environment:


Permaculture is about creating harmonious relationships with the natural environment and designing systems that work with and not against nature. By observing and emulating natural ecosystems, permaculture practitioners can create healthy, biodiverse landscapes providing food, shelter, and resources for humans and wildlife. By practicing permaculture, we can connect with nature on a deeper level, develop a sense of place and belonging, and reduce our environmental impact.


Permaculture and physical activity:


Permaculture gardening is a physically demanding activity that involves digging, planting, weeding, and harvesting. Regular physical activity has numerous benefits, including improving cardiovascular health, reducing stress and anxiety, and promoting weight management. By practicing permaculture, we can incorporate physical activity into our daily routine and get the bonus of fresh air, sunshine, and the satisfaction of growing our food.


Permaculture and mental health:





Permaculture gardening can be a highly creative, meditative, and cathartic practice that allows us to connect with our inner selves and find meaning and purpose. By working with the earth's natural rhythms and observing the cycles of growth and decay, we can develop a more profound sense of mindfulness, presence, and gratitude. Additionally, by engaging in activities that nurture our mind, body, and soul, we can reduce stress, anxiety, and depression and promote mental wellness.


Permaculture and community health:


Permaculture is about creating individual, self-sufficient gardens and building strong, resilient communities that support each other. By sharing knowledge, resources, and surplus produce, permaculture communities can foster social connections, reduce food insecurity, and promote collective well-being. Moreover, by creating green spaces in urban areas, permaculture can improve air and water quality, reduce heat island effects, and promote biodiversity, which benefits all community members.


 

Permaculture and holistic health are complementary fields offering a holistic and sustainable approach to living. Practicing permaculture can create regenerative systems that support our physical, mental, and emotional well-being and contribute to the health and vitality of the natural environment and the wider community. Whether you have a small balcony or a large backyard, you can start incorporating permaculture principles into your gardening practices and reap the many benefits of living in harmony with nature.


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