Baha'i Library Online
Back to Healing through Unity newsletters


March, 2004

A monthly newsletter dedicated to serving the principles of
physical and spiritual health envisioned in the Baha’i Teachings

Volume 8, Issue No. 3



— Religion as 'Spiritual Spinach'
— Well-being and the Baha'i Life
— Observance of Baha'i Fast
— Looking for Production Assistant
— Readers Respond to Questions of the Month
— Whole Foods Recipe Swap
— Readers Request Assistance
— Question of the Month
— Letters
— Purpose of the Newsletter/Subscriptions





So, you are eating more veggies, taking daily ginkgo supplements and going for longer walks around the neighborhood, all in the quest for better health.

Great! But have you checked out the "R-Factor"? That is, have you tried religion? Recent studies show that practicing one's religion is a means of living longer and healthier.

"God is good for you," wrote Ron Csillag in his wry but informational article titled, "God is Good Medicine." ( Globe and Mail, Toronto, Ontario, April 2, 2002).

"People who follow a religious/spiritual path are more likely to enjoy greater longevity and superior overall health than those who do not. And prayer, meditation and other mind-body approaches, whether from the Eastern or Western religious models, appear to be beneficial to the healing process," he said.

Medical science is slowly coming around to a mix of health and spirituality, he said. "At least 80 of 125 medical schools in the United States offer courses in religion and medicine."

Spiritual engagement and healthy behavior are decidedly linked, he noted.

Even atheists are skeptically joining the mind-body-spirit bandwagon. The author cites Canada's best-known atheist, Dr. Robert Buckman, president of the Humanist Association of Canada and author of: "Can We Be Good Without God?" According to Buckman, membership in a religious group, or any group, gives a healthy sense of belonging that he calls "herd glue."

"Having a genuine communal life is probably good for you," Dr. Buckman said, "whether it's stamp collecting, trainspotting or a religion." However, "the idea that the (benefit) comes from an external god remains unproven," he said.

Today, new fields of research termed, "the epidemiology of religion, or theosomatic medicine" are opening a floodgate of information.

"At last count, more than 1,200 studies and 400 reviews, from Canada, Europe and the United States, show that: Those who regularly attend a house of worship have demonstrably lower rates of illness and death than do infrequent or non-attenders," the article said.

People who report a religious affiliation have lower rates of heart disease, cancer and hypertension ( the three leading causes of death in North America) and higher rates of recovery.

"Older adults who participate in private and congregational worship exhibit fewer symptoms, less disability and lower rates of depression, chronic anxiety, and dementia than those who do not.

"Actively religious people live longer, on average, than the non-religious (up to seven years longer, say some studies). This holds true even when controlling for the fact that religious people tend to avoid health risks such as smoking, drinking and promiscuity.

"Among African-Americans, religious participation has been found to be the single strongest determinant of psychological well-being -- more so than physical health or financial status.

"Meditation and prayer have been found to improve patients' overall well-being," the article said.

In April 2002, the International Journal of Psychiatry in Medicine, published a study that found "that people who didn't attend services regularly were twice as likely to die of noncancerous digestive diseases, 21 per cent more likely to die of cardiovascular disease, including heart and stroke, and 66 percent more likely to die to respiratory diseases, other than cancer, according to the article.

"High, even moderate, levels of religious faith and/or spiritual awareness are associated with greater resilience to stress, lower levels of anxiety, better coping skills, a greater sense of belonging, and generally, a sunnier, more serene, take on life," the study said,

The article does not suggest that any one religious faith is better than another for guaranteeing the best health. It does clearly state, however, that if people practice the basic tenets of most religions, whether Mormon, Buddhist, Seventh-Day Adventist, Baptist, Islam, Judaism, and the like, studies show dramatic health benefits.

Two groundbreaking books on the subject are recommended: “The Handbook of Religion and Health,” a 712-page book that analyzes the studies linking religious practice with health, and an easier-to-read “God, Faith and Health” by Dr. Jeff Levin, a noted North American chronicler of this new field of study.

According to the article, Dr. Levin noted that the best health results are seen in religions that make "the strictest behavioral demands of its adherents." These might include diet, physical activity, meditation, sexual activity, hygiene, and tobacco, alcohol and drug use. These teachings can be found in nearly every religion.

Among the most protected religions, according to Dr. Levin: "Amish, Buddhist monks, Roman Catholic nuns, Hindus, Hutterites, Jains, Jews, Mormons, Seventh-day Adventists, Zoroastrians, Protestant clergy and Trappist monks.

"Not surprisingly, these groups most explicitly promote — and abjure — certain behavior. Mormons, for example, abstain from smoking, drinking alcohol and consuming caffeine. Officially, Seventh-day Adventists don't smoke, drink alcohol and follow a strict lacto-ovo-vegetarian diet. The Amish and Hutterites discourage tobacco use and have very low levels of pre-and extramarital sex. Jains are strict vegetarians and are urged to practice monogamy," the article said.

The following article summaries looks at a number of religions and the incidence of major diseases in those groups:

Heart Disease

"Three United States studies that looked at the Old Order Amish in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Indiana found that males aged 40 to 69 had a 35-per-cent lower rate of circulatory diseases than non-Amish men the same age. Researchers also found that Mormons and Seventh-day Adventists are respectively 35-per-cent and 57-per-cent less likely to die of ischemic heart disease than those outside those faiths."


"Studies at UCLA, the University of Utah and the University of Alberta have shown lower overall death rates from cancer among Mormons of both sexes. Mormons also get cancer in far fewer numbers. A Danish study shows that Adventist men have a significant advantage when it comes to cancers of the colon and bladder, while Adventist women have an advantage surviving breast cancer."

The University of Alberta study found a big advantage among Canadian Hutterites, both in cancer mortality and morbidity.

"Dr. Jeff Levin cites scholarly articles published early in the 20th century that noted lower rates of cervical cancer in Jewish women, attributed, it was believed, to the hygienic benefit of circumcision of their partners. Lending credence to that assumption is modern research showing what Dr. Levin calls "an enormously higher" rate of penile cancer in Hindus, who are not typically circumcised, relative to Muslims, who are, and in whom such cancers are almost unheard of."

"Dutch and American studies have revealed notably lower rates of different cancers in Jews, including stomach, bile passages, lungs, pharynx, prostate and bladder. A University of Texas study found that death rates due to lung cancer were 60-per-cent lower in Jewish men than gentile men."

Blood Pressure/Hypertension

"Adventists do well, both in lower systolic and diastolic readings. An Australian study found half the rates of hypertension in Adventists versus the general population.

"A California study of adults with Chinese, Japanese and Filipino ancestry found a 29-per-cent rate of hypertension in religiously unaffiliated people — fully twice that of the religiously non-affiliated. The rate among practicing Buddhists was even lower, at 10.9 per cent.

"British researchers have found a strong correlation between the so-called Protestant ethic and Type A behavior. Type A tendencies — competitiveness, aggressiveness, haste, impatience — were found linked to higher occurrences of illness, but only among some Protestants. Type A behavior was also associated with greater alcohol consumption, but again, only among Protestants. Among frequently churchgoing Catholics, Type A behavior was actually associated with less alcohol consumption.

"A Georgetown University study showed that being ordained helps. It found that American Baptist clergy were 40 per cent less likely to die of hypertension complicated by heart disease than the general population.

"For Pastors of other denominations: The mortality advantage for hypertension was found to be 41 per cent for Lutherans and Episcopalians (Anglicans), and 29 per cent for Presbyterian clergy. In Japan, priests of the Rinzai sect of Zen Buddhism were exactly half as likely to die from hypertension as other Japanese men.

"While there's no empirical evidence to hold out one faith group as the healthiest, the big overall winner may well be Seventh-day Adventists, who lead in nearly all categories, including fewer respiratory symptoms, better cardiovascular health, lower mortality and higher life expectancy."





“The essential oneness of all the myriad forms and grades of life is one of the fundamental teachings of Baha’u’llah. Our physical health is so linked up with our mental, moral, and spiritual health, and also with the individual and social health of our fellowmen, nay, even with the life of the animals and plants, that each of these is affected by the others to a far greater extent than is usually realized.

“There is no command of the Prophet, therefore, to whatever department of life it may primarily refer, which does not concern bodily health.” ( J.E. Esselmont, “Baha’u’llah and the New Era,” Page 111.)

The following excerpts from the Baha’i writings touch on some of these health-enhancing teachings:


"Whatsoever passeth beyond the limits of moderation will cease to exert a beneficial influence.” (Baha’u’llah, “The Pattern of Baha’i Life: A Compilation," Page 16.)

"The Baha’i teaching is based on moderation, not on asceticism. Enjoyment of the good and beautiful things of life, both material and spiritual, is not only encouraged but enjoined. Baha’u’llah says: “Deprive not yourselves of that which has been created for you.” (J.E. Esselmont, "Baha’u’llah and the New Era," Page



"The drinking of wine is, according to the text of the Most Holy Book, forbidden; for it is the cause of chronic diseases, weakeneth the nerves and consumeth the mind.” (‘'Abdu’l-Baha, “The Pattern of Baha’i Life: A Compilation,” Page 20.)

"The use of narcotics and intoxicants of any kind, except as remedies in case of illness, is strictly forbidden by Baha’u’llah.” (J.E. Esselmont, “Baha’u’llah and the New Era," Page 112.)


"Wings that are besmirched with mire can never soar." (Baha’u’llah, “The Pattern of Baha’i Life: A Compilation," Page 12.)


"Were the commands of the Prophets concerning chastity in sexual relations generally observed, another fertile cause of disease would be eliminated. The loathsome venereal diseases, which wreck the health of so many thousands today, innocent as well as guilty, babes as well as parents, would very soon be entirely a thing of the past. . . .

"Simple obedience to the hygienic and moral commands of Moses, Buddha, Christ, Mohammed or Baha’u’llah would do more in preventing disease than all the doctors and all the public health regulations in the world have been able to accomplish.” (J.E. Esselmont, “Baha’u’llah and the New Era," Pages 114-115)


". . . the smoking of tobacco, which is unclean, malodorous, disagreeable and vulgar and of which the gradual harmfulness is universally recognized. .. . . Besides, it is a cause of expense and of loss of time and it is a harmful habit." ('Abdu'l-Baha, "Tablet on Purity," "Baha'i World Faith," Page 333.




This month, from March 2 through the March equinox is the period of the Baha'i Fast. For 19 days, the fast is observed by abstaining from food and drink from sunrise to sunset. It always falls in the spring in the Northern, and in autumn in the Southern Hemisphere, which are temperate seasons. The interval between sunrise and sunset is approximately the same all over the inhabited part of the earth — from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Children, the old or weak or ill or women during their menses or who are pregnant or nursing are exempt from the fast.

The Baha'i Fast is a spiritual observance, a symbol. Special prayers have been revealed for this observance, such as the following excerpt:

"These are, O my Lord, the days in which Thou hast bidden Thy servants to observe the fast. Blessed is he who observes the fast wholly for Thy sake and with absolute detachment from all things except Thee." (Baha'u'llah, "Baha'i Prayers," Page 246.)

Although there is evidence that periods of fasting can have a physical benefit, mere abstinence from food does not produce a spiritual effect. The reality of the Baha'i Fast is the remembrance of God. (Source: "Baha'u'llah and the New Era," J.E. Esslemont, Page 189.)





The newsletter is still in need of one person to be the Production and Circulation Assistant to help with mailouts and updating of the mailing list. There is more information about this position at the end of this newsletter.





About Vaccinating Children

Editor's Note: The following letters are in response to a reader from Germany wanting to hear more opinions about vaccinating children, who wrote: "There are a lot of debate in Germany as whether it is necessary to vaccinate or give injections to small babies, starting by the age of 4 months, as it is common in Germany. In Germany it is no longer compulsory to have injections. After reading about the side effects of the vaccines and about the homeopathic point of view, I decided not to vaccinate my child, who is now 10 months old, at least until he is 2 1/2 years old." — Mojgan Agahi

Dear Mojgan:

I have three children, ages 15, 13 and 9. Our family has used homeopathy as our primary source of medicine, with great success. Our present homeopath is a board-certified internist. Every other homeopath we have used has also been a medical doctor.

After extensive, independent investigation of truth and scientific research on the increasingly complex issue of routine vaccination, we made the decision not to vaccinate our children. One thing to consider is that anything routine means basically without thought. We put a lot of thought into it initially and continue to do so.

Most people do not know anything about vaccination. They just take the kid to the doctor, get the shots and believe that they are being good parents by doing so. I thought that too, until I began my ongoing investigation.

The primary motivation for vaccination is fear, fear that your precious child will catch one of these diseases and die. I think that making decisions based on fear is not a healthy place from which to operate. Decisions are best made when you have as much information as you can get, and you are functioning from a position of strength and clarity.

Fifteen years ago, I was considered a bit of a kook for not vaccinating my children, but there is much information coming out now supporting my decision, as independent studies are being done about the effects and myths of vaccination. Our family doctor did not vaccinate his children, and I know many other medical professionals who have made the same decision.

I am a teacher and work with elementary school-aged children with learning disabilities and emotional problems. Many school nurses and teachers are very concerned about the cumulative effect of vaccinations on developing (or

not-developing) children.

It is so easy to do independent research on just about any subject these days and this is one that bears close scrutiny, especially for a parent who is trying to give their child the best nutrition and raising them to be peaceful beings.

Think about how carefully we read the ingredients in food as we feed our children, then take a peek at an insert for vaccination. You will realize that you are injecting diseased animal tissues and toxic chemicals directly into your child's bloodstream with a thing called a "shot," with the best intention of keeping them healthy. I read a vaccine insert in the pediatrician's office while holding my beloved first baby in my lap and decided, at that moment, to hold off on the vaccination.

Then I went home and began my investigation.

Mothering Magazine ( is a good resource for information about vaccination; in fact, they publish a book called "Vaccination, the Decision of our Times." There is also an organization called National Vaccine Information

Center.* They have a Web site. — Victoria O'Neill

* The National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) is a national, non-profit, educational organization founded in 1982 that attempts to educate parents about the risks of immunizing their children. Their Web site is:

Immunization of Small babies.

Dear Mojgan:

I am a nurse. My boss, also a Nurse, sits on the County Immunization Coalition, in Fresno, California. I have asked her to obtain a clinical response to this question.

My immediate response is that we are told to follow the advice of trained physicians. Their advice, which the Pediatric Medical Associations have agreed upon, here in the United States, is to begin vaccination at 2 months, then 4 months, 6 months. And so on. — Margaret McLane de Jovel, RN, MPH, Care Manager, Health Net Medi-Cal, California, USA

Laying On of Hands

Dear Editor:

I've discovered there are a lot of places and people who train in the traditional art of healing called "laying on of hands" or "healing with the Holy Spirit" on the Internet. One needs to read and make decisions about what level you are comfortable with. After some investigation, you will come to know what questions to ask. If you search with terms such as "Intuitive Healing," "Distance Healing,""Energy Work," or "Energy Healing," lots of sites come up.

Here are some links:

* (She works long distance: phone and e-mail.)

* Energy & Spiritual Healing Center, a Virtual Support Center, with Marlana and Forrist Lytehaause. Phone: (800) 460-1882 to schedule sessions or (503) 636-1671 for client support and questions, Hours: 10 a.m. - 9 p.m. Pacific Time in the Portland, Oregon, USA area. E-mail:


* — Intuition Medicine® model developed at the Academy of Intuitive Studies and Intuition Medicine in Sausalito, California. (My certification, Master of Intuition Medicine, was earned through participation in and graduation from AISIM.) Dia North teaches a class there, via distance learning. Also at the site, are listed Master of Intuition Medicine® Practitioners, from the Academy of Intuitive Studies and Intuition Medicine®, throughout the United States and one in Australia.

Hope this helps. — Margaret McLane de Jovel, RN, MPH, Care Manager, Health Net Medi-Cal, California, USA

    (For Energy Healing in Niagara Falls Ontario, see Laura Canal's Miles of Smiles Alternative Solutions providing Reiki and Reflexology and Energy Healing in Niagara Falls. [-J.W., 2015])

Responses to Neuropathic Pain

Editor's Note: The following letters are in response to a reader named Arthur from the United Kingdom whose wife is seeking a solution for non-stop, neuropathic pain in a trapped nerve.

Dear Arthur:

I am a chiropractor; however, I am not going to recommend typical chiropractic services for this particular nerve entrapment, as it sounds as though the nerve is being trapped by scar tissue. That being likely, there are other possible


1. Injected normal saline solution can often free nerves trapped by scar tissue. This would have to be done very carefully, so as not to nick the nerve itself.

2. It appears that stem cells do a good job of cutting through scar tissue and restoring tissues to normal. According to John McDonald, M.D., one of the doctors helping Christopher Reeve make his astounding progress, reported that information in a talk he gave in Atlanta, Georgia, USA.

Most medical use of stem cells is highly expensive and controversial, unless the cells come from umbilical cord blood. What is not well known, though, is that we all have reservoirs of stem cells in our sternum (breast bone). Some people in the healing field have found that they can place a hand over the sternum and the other over the area needing rebuilding (or scar eradication) and in a meditative state of mind, "ask" the stem cells to help in the area indicated. This is actually followed by warming in the sternum and the target area and often by relief of symptoms. It can't hurt to try, strange as it may sound. Just visualize scar tissue being dissolved and things getting back to normal.

Other effective treatments for freeing up scars are visceral manipulation and Lymph Drainage Therapy, both of which are taught in the United States through the Upledger Institute: ( For a delicate condition like this, though, I would try the zero-pressure treatment first. — George Loud, Jr., D.C., Atlanta, Georgia USA

Dear Arthur:

I quote Sebastian Kneipp, the "Father of Hydrotherapy," who once said that with the correct combination of water and herbs, almost any illness could be treated. Today this statement has become a reality.

A machine using a German design, combined with Japanese and Taiwanese technology dubbed, "Ultrasonic Bubble Bath," using ultra-sound and infra-red technology is able to "advance healing." All that a person has to do is take a 10-15 minutes bubble bath (once or twice a day) combined with special bath oils, and it can reduce the pain. I dare not say it can "cure" a person, but it will reduce the pain considerably and may cure in the medium-and-long term.

More details of this apparatus can be found at a Web site: I am a transportation editor. — Wong Joon San, Hong Kong.





I feel enthusiastic for the recipe swap, so I have selected a couple of my favorites which I think would interest other readers. I hope that you enjoy the following. I have never grown tired of it. — Johnson Maxey (Fredericksburg, Virginia, USA)

(Mexican) Panbread

3/4 cup dry beans (kidney or pinto)

1 or 2 large, chopped onions

2 cloves, minced garlic,

oil for sautéing (corn, canola, safflower)

1 tablespoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1 cup cornmeal

1 cup whole wheat flour

3/4 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup (1/4 pound) tofu

1.5 cups water

1.5 tablespoons vinegar

2 tablespoons oil

Rinse the beans and soak in water, to cover, for several hours. Discard soaking water, transfer to a saucepan, cover with fresh water and simmer just until tender. Drain.

Chop enough onion to cover the bottom of a 10-inch iron skillet. Place approximately 2 tablespoons of oil in skillet, add onions and garlic and sauté until soft. Remove from heat. Spread the cooked beans on top of the onions.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. In a large mixing bowl, combine cornmeal, flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda, and if desired, chili powder and cumin. Mix well. In an electric blender, thoroughly combine the tofu, water, vinegar and 2 tablespoons of oil.

Pour this into the dry ingredients, and stir it into a smooth batter quickly but with as few strokes as possible. Immediately pour this into the skillet of onions and beans. Do not stir. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes.

This monthly recipe swap is for sharing healthy recipes that use whole foods, fresh, low-fat ingredients and that have little or no sugar. One recipe per month will be used in this newsletter, depending upon length. Please make sure recipes are checked twice before sending, so there are no missing ingredients or incorrect amounts. Looking forward to your recipes!




Looking for article on personality disorder

Thank you so much for the service you provide. It is a wonderful newsletter. Last year, you ran an article on borderline personality disorder. Is there a way I could get a copy of that? I am dealing with a person who is afflicted with this disorder. The article would help me know better what to do. Thank you, in advance, for any help you can give. — Ms. Pat Jacobsen, Rufus, Oregon, USA

Dear Ms. Jacobsen:

The issue you are looking for is Volume 6, Issue No. 6 (Feb. 2003). We are happy to resend you a copy of that issue. That back issue and others can also be found at our Web site at:

Editor's Note: We are still waiting for readers to respond to the following


Needs Help with Underweight Problem

I have been reading the last couple of newsletters of Healing Through Unity and must admit they are very informative. Most of the material presented doesn't apply to me, because tests show I don't suffer from any illness. However, I am underweight. That is also a serious problem. I would appreciate helpful suggestions from readers. Thank you. — Joseito S.




Care and Feeding of the Soul?

I have arrived at the realization that my SOUL is the most valuable asset I possess. Naturally, if the most important property which I can ever own is my soul, I am going to be highly concerned with prizing it, nourishing it and protecting it. I am going to be very eager indeed to take the best possible care of it.

Kindly let me know how you take care of your SOUL. — Ardeshir

Why Can't Routine Physical Exercise Be More Fun?

There is a lot to be said for physical exercise, whether walking, exercises at home, or in formal training program and how it adds to one's overall health and well-being. There are many benefits here, including weight loss, lower blood pressure. This is often a neglected area, possibly because we hate the discipline of doing it consistently and regularly. How can we make routine physical exercise more pleasant and fun? — Dick




Prefers Term, 'Healing Touch'

Dear Editor:

You published a letter from Thina who asked about the healing effects of using her hands to help her relative with the intravenous drip. You suggested "laying on of hands." I would like to suggest she look into "Healing Touch." To me, "laying on of hands" sounds Christian, but Healing Touch seems multi-faith and ecumenical. Thanks for a wonderful newsletter. — Cathy Rasekh

Editor's Note: Actually, Thina shared a story in last issue about how Healing Touch worked for her. It was I who asked: "Perhaps some readers know where one can study the traditional art of healing called "laying on of hands" or "healing with the Holy Spirit." Please see the "Readers Respond to Questions of the Month" segment of this newsletter for a response.




All of us have had healing experiences — physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual. Please share your stories and other ideas about staying healthy in a stressful world. Your articles do not have to be long — just a few paragraphs will suffice. Encouragement is a big part of a healthy lifestyle, and sharing stories and ideas that work for you benefits others.




You can visit the web site, obtain back issues and the Healing Through Unity Course at:




"Healing Through Unity" is published for the purpose of sharing thoughts, comments and experiences on how the teachings of the Baha'i Faith are being applied to physical and spiritual health. Other than the quoted Holy Writings, the material in this newsletter represents the thoughts and opinions of the writers and has no authority. None of the material published in this newsletter is intended to be a substitute for the advice of your physician. You are free to copy articles, provided you indicate the source of the article. There are 10 issues per year; it is not published during July and August. The newsletter is produced in Freedom, Maine, USA.


Many thanks to all of you who share helpful ideas for "Healing Through Unity" Newsletter. We welcome submissions from everyone. The decision to select and edit material submitted for publication is determined by the editor.

Please e-mail your stories, comments, suggestions or "Question for the Month" ideas to newsletter editor Lynn Ascrizzi, at:


Please e-mail all new subscriptions, subscription cancellations and e-mail address changes (please include old address along with new one) to --



The newsletter is still in need of one person to be the Production and Circulation Assistant to help with mailouts and updating of the mailing list. This person would be responsible for sending the newsletter to readers each month (10 issues per year; it is not published during July or August), updating e-mail addresses and adding/deleting subscribers. This person must know Microsoft Outlook 2000, should have good computer skills and be well-organized, orderly, and efficient. This task requires about 4 to 5 hours per month. If you are interested to serve in this voluntary position for the newsletter, please contact -- Thank you!

Back to Healing through Unity newsletters