The Legacy of the Health Care Readings
Dr. Eric Mein
Copyright 2006 A.R.E.®, Inc. All rights reserved.
Edgar Cayce readings © 1971, 1993-2006 by the Edgar Cayce Foundation
More than fifty years ago, an important body of information about health and healing presented itself through the work of Edgar Cayce. For over forty years, Cayce would lie on a couch and, from a sleeplike state, present information and respond to questions covering a wide range of topics. Significantly, of the more than 14,000 of these transcribed discourses now called “readings,” sixty-eight percent were “physical readings” – dealing directly with the physical conditions of individuals seeking Cayce’s help and recommending treatments to help them. Recognizing the influence of this work, the Journal of the American Medical Association’s first editorial on holistic health linked the beginning of the American holistic health movement with the birth of Edgar Cayce in 1877.
Many of the readings’ pronouncements on diet, exercise, and meditation are key parts of the current holistic paradigm. The Cayce readings agree with the adage that “nature is much better yet than science,” and they most frequently recommended osteopathy and hydrotherapy combined with herbal preparations. Like other holistic systems, the readings start with clear spiritual premises about the universe. Unlike some other systems, they are equally at home in the world of the cell and the molecule, agreeing with science that the disease process occurs at this level of our physical bodies. The Cayce readings can shift within a single discourse from a discussion of the kundalini forces, to the effects of anger on the body, to the balance of electrolytes in the blood. All but a few of the physical readings were given for specific individuals.
Patterns emerge, however, when they are all considered together. They demonstrate a remarkable consistency and appear to present a deep coherent picture of how the body functions in health and disease. While the readings couch these concepts in the language of a poet/mystic, they are interpretable and testable. From the readings’ perspective, the physical body exists in the world of cause and effect. While the prescribed therapies recognized the mystery of the spirit/mind/body interaction, they did not rely on magical influences. Every single suggestion demanded effort – physical, mental, and spiritual – on the part of the patient and those working with the patient. All the recommended therapies have real effects on the body, from castor oil acting as a prostaglandin precursor to adjustments working with facilitated neurons.
Forty years before the advent of psychoneuroimmunology, the Cayce readings described the effects of our moods “as electronic energies … [leaving the] blood…with a glow from the emotions controlled through the centers or lines of the nervous systems for both positive and negative natures.” (263-13) To better understand our bodies, the Cayce readings suggest, we view ourselves as being composed of three parts: a physical body, a mental body, and a spiritual body. Each is separate from the other and, at the same time, they are one and the same thing. Each can be worked with in its own realm and yet they are constantly affecting each other. Change in one is reflected as change in all of them, similar to the integrated “body-mind” continuums now being recognized in science. A premise in the Cayce readings which helps to understand and start working with these components of ourselves is Spirit is the life, Mind is the builder, and the Physical is the result.
Spirit Is the Life
Spirit is the enlivening essence in our bodies, most clearly represented as the “reproductive principle.” Our cells’ ability to renew and regenerate themselves is the most fundamental of universal laws and, according to the readings, is the first principle of spiritual forces. Our bodies contain within them the pattern to be whole and are continuously trying to achieve that pattern. Far from being a passive victim to disease, the human body can rally its healing forces and repair itself with more vigor than the world’s best-trained medical team. The Cayce readings are clear that this innate healing ability – and ultimately all healing – is the direct result of the manifestation of Spirit within the body. Healing requires “attuning each atom…to the awareness of the divine that lies within each atom, each cell of the body” (3384-2), and “whether there is the application of foods, exercise, medicine, or even the knife, it is to bring the consciousness…of creative or God forces.” (2696-1)
This premise forms the core of a coherent and profound philosophy of healing, which in its simplicity has major ramifications. The implications range from conclusions that can be drawn about the origin and meaning of illness to the choices of therapeutic approaches. Since all healing requires concomitant inner response and change, it follows that “not by the method does the healing come, though the consciousness of the individual is such that this or that method is the one that is more effective in the individual case.” (969-1) Generally, the best therapeutic systems are those that work with, not against, the body’s own healing abilities. The therapies recommended in the readings are consistent with this premise, and they have the primary objective of both working with the body’s own healing ability and coordinating each system to work with the whole.
At the level of the physical body, the Cayce readings described the physical points of contact for our spiritual bodies as our glands, which “secrete that which enables the body, physically, throughout, to reproduce itself.” (147 5-1) While the capacity for regeneration applies to all of the body’s glands, the readings identified seven endocrine glands as special vortexes of energy, corresponding to Hinduism’s chakras. These seven major spiritual correlates are: the gonads, the cells of Leydig, the adrenals, the thymus, the thyroid, the pineal, and the pituitary. As transmitters of energy, these seven “spiritual centers” play an important role in our connection with the divine.
The principal reason that therapies were directed to the glands in the readings is based on the role they play in helping each cell and organ to reproduce and regenerate. The use of small cyclic doses of a compound called Atomidine – which is principally iodine trichloride – was the most frequent method suggested to give extra incentive to the glands. Also, a device called the wet-cell battery in combination with gold or iodine was sometimes recommended.
Mind Is the Builder
The part of us that begins the process of setting us apart as unique individuals is our mental body. It is here that the patterns leading to health or illness are created. The analogy of a film projector can be helpful in understanding this concept: The light bulb and projected light represent the Spirit, and the images on the screen are the physical result. The film, which patterns the light to create the images, is comparable to our mental body.
The Cayce readings clearly take a much broader view of mind than the brain itself They agree with the concept that “thy brain is not thy mind, it is that which is used by thy mind.” (826-1 1) The Cayce material divides the nervous system into three functional components: the cerebrospinal system, the sympathetic system, and the sensory system. From the readings’ perspective, the significance of the sympathetic nervous system is the most underestimated. The Cayce readings make some intriguing statements regarding this system, including calling it “the brain manifestation of soul forces in the body.” (4566-1) They also named the solar plexus region as being the control center of the mental body.
A number of mind-body techniques were recommended in the readings to individuals in their attempts to get well: visualization exercises, breathing techniques, working with dreams, the role of positive emotions, and expectancy, among many others. The readings stated that an important first step toward health is to choose one’s “ideal,” a word the readings used to describe the principal motivating force in our daily living. Meditation tops the list of the readings’ suggested techniques for pursuing spiritual growth and health. The readings say that all of us eventually need to learn to meditate, just as we once had to learn to walk. Meditation, with the use of proper attunement and affirmations, works physically with the endocrine and nervous systems to create new patterns of health.
The Physical Is the Result
Cayce readings emphasize that each of our seventy trillion cells is a “universe in itself” (433-1), with its own awareness, purpose, and needs. Each cell is working toward its own process of self-actualization, and it can reach a higher state of health as it has its basic needs taken care of. To create the best environment for each cell to perform its tasks depends on three key processes: cellular nutrition, tissue drainage, and coordination. When these occur, each cell is free to fulfill its purpose and manifest its fullest potential. Let’s examine each of these in turn: Cellular nutrition. In terms of nutrition, the Cayce readings recognize that each person is an individual and that what may “be poison for someone, to another may be a cure.” (1259-2) Implicit in this assumption is that right diet for your body should make you feel better, and over time you should be healthier as a result. With this said, the Cayce readings gave some general dietary guidelines that seem to apply to everyone. Their recommendations are in line with current practice guidelines from the American Cancer Society and the American Heart Association. These include no fried foods and significantly less red meat and refined sugars.
The Cayce material puts a heavy emphasis on eating more fruits and vegetables. This recommendation is made for several reasons, one being to help accomplish the recommendation of consuming a ratio of eighty percent alkaline-producing foods to twenty percent acid-producing foods. Alkaline-producing foods, which include most fruits and vegetables, leave a digested ash in which the majority of elements are positively charged ions, such as potassium, sodium, calcium, and magnesium. The residual ash of cereals and meats has a greater number of negatively charged ions, such as chlorine, phosphorus, iodine, and sulfur, which have an acid-producing effect on the body.
Another important dietary principle the Cayce readings involved cautions about food cornbining. More emphasized than the need to avoid any one food, it was rather “the combination of foods that makes for disturbance with most physical bodies.” (416-9) This included admonitions not to combine proteins, other starches, and citrus fruits with starches in our diets. Tissue drainage. An equally important process in maintaining a healthy body is the ability to maintain adequate eliminations. The Cayce readings identify four separate waste disposal systems: the skin and sweat glands, the lungs, the kidneys, and the liver and digestive tract. Therapies were directed toward each in order to maximize its functioning.
One relationship particularly stressed was a balance between the functioning of the liver and of the kidneys. This relationship seemed to correspond to the electrical nature of the body, with these organs referred to as maintaining the poles of the body’s battery. A disturbance would have the effect of short-circuiting their functioning, causing poisons that should be eliminated to be thrown back into the system. Central to the functioning of the elimination systems is water.
The Cayce readings were big on hydrotherapy in all its manifestations. This included drinking eight glasses of water a day, use of Epsom-salt and fume baths, and the use of colonics occasionally for an internal bath. The latter were to be administered professionally using a mixture of salt and sodium bicarbonate to maintain the colon’s electrolyte and pH balance, with the final rinse containing GlycoThymoline. Another Cayce aid for eliminations as well as for enhancing abdominal physiology that has gained international prominence is the castor oil pack. Used since ancient times for a variety of medicinal purposes, the oil from the Palma Christi plant is recommended in the Cayce readings predominantly as part of a hot pack applied to the upper and lower right side of the abdomen. Its major impact is to stimulate the functioning of the liver, but in the process also stimulates the gall bladder and ascending colon, improves lymphatic circulation, dissolves adhesions, reduces inflammation, and improves assimilation in the intestines. Coordination. Inherent in the Cayce readings’ approach is the concept that optimal health requires coordination of the body’s various systems.
The readings placed special emphasis on the role of coordinating the nervous systems as the path to accomplish this. The two systems described by the readings involved the central nervous system and the sympathetic nervous system. Two-thirds of the physical readings recommended osteopathy as a tool to help accomplish the coordination between the nervous systems. The key areas where the cerebrospinal system interfaces with the sympathetic nervous system are located approximately at four spinal levels (C 3, T4, T9, and L4). Other important centers noted by the readings are the parasympathetic vagus center and the coccyx center. Injuries to this latter region, the coccyx, often resulted in more chronic coordination issues that could lead to a number of conditions, including epilepsy and schizophrenia. Finally, the Cayce readings recognized that one of the best ways to promote the healing of any condition is to improve the circulation to the involved region, both to carry nutrients to the area as well as to carry away wastes and byproducts. Many of the therapeutic approaches presented, ranging from osteopathic adjustments to castor oil packs, deal with enhancing circulation in one form or another.
Two frequently recommended therapies that also addressed this were exercise and massage. The Cayce perspective on the proper role of medicine is to “create a different element of consciousness in the system.” (331-1) The ideal use of medication from the readings’ perspective was for short-term assistance in giving the body stimulation or strengthening, while working with nutrition, eliminations, and systems coordination in rebalancing the body. While the readings occasionally endorsed some of the medications available at the time, much more commonly did they suggest herbal combinations. The readings saw surgery as a last resort, with the concept that most conditions were treatable without it by working to restore balance in the system. The one exception to this was in the case of cancer, where the involved cells were seen to have created a new activity separate from the rest of the body and were no longer reachable by the normal intracellular methods of communication and coordination.
The full potential of the readings’ applicability is still not known. There are many anecdotal stories of success, but like many other holistic approaches, the health readings have only begun to be scrutinized in a systematic fashion. The Cayce readings themselves, however, encouraged people to verify their principles, and they gave ideas for experimentation to accomplish this.
Presently, this effort is moving forward through the work of Meridian Institute and the Health and Rejuvenation Center (HRC). Meridian Institute is an independent nonprofit organization created in 1989 to study the Cayce health approach. HRC, now three years old, is a department of the A.R.E. that supports Meridian research, networks with other organizations, and helps disseminate health information to A.R.E. members. Both organizations work cooperatively to accomplish their goal of exploring the Cayce health readings and making this information practical for use today.
The Legacy of the Health Care Readings by Dr. Eric Mein
Copyright 2006 A.R.E.®, Inc. All rights reserved. Edgar Cayce readings © 1971, 1993-2006 by the Edgar Cayce Foundation