FACT is pleased to inform its readers about a wholistic health center that has recently come to our attention. The Institute de Vida Natural (Institute for Natural Living) is located in the foothills of the famed Puerto Rican Rain Forest (El Yunque) on 10 majestic acres, with a panoramic view of the ocean.
The Institution shares with FACT a philosophy of health that stresses the importance of assuming an active role in one’s physical and psychological well-being through natural and biological methods. As we at FACT emphasize, a good nutritional program is essential to health. Food here is prepared fresh daily, and is vegetarian, with some local fish. Only the very freshest foods are used (unrefined and unprocessed), grains, fruits, vegetables and protein sources. Much of the food is grown on the farm, and guests are encouraged to enjoy avocado, coconut, banana, lemon, grapefruit, oranges and root vegetables, as well as breadfruit, guava, mango, passion fruit, and plantain often minutes after they are picked.
In addition, the farm has almost 20 identified indigenous wild edibles which have been cultivated and can be used medicinally as herbal teas, in topical applications, or blended with distilled water to make fresh green water: berenjena, cimarrona, used fix’ hemorrhoids and intestinal inflammation; juana la blanca, for kidney stones and urinal problems; clavelillo, a blood cleanser; cadillo de perra, a liver cleanser; insulina, helpful for diabetics; pelataria, a kidney cleanser; yerba bruia, good for ear problems; aloe vera, effective for burns, including stinburn; coitre, good for the liver, blood, energy, and high in calcium and B12; verdobagay, effective for osteoporosis; lemon sillo, for digestion and as a nerve tonic; eucalyptus, good for respiratory problems; naranja, effective for fever.
The nutritional philosophy of the Instituto also emphasizes distilled water and freshly prepared carrot and vegetable juices as a daily supplement to one’s diet.
The extra added attraction of the Instituto, however, is its emphasis on a concept that we at FACT have increasingly come to understand as vital to physical health: emotional well-being. Work-shops are scheduled throughout the year, each dealing with some important aspect of mind/body health, and providing in-depth instruction and discussion. The Director of the Instituto is Dr. Jane Goldberg, a psychoanalyst who is well-steeped in biological approaches to disease reversal. She has been a frequent speaker at the FACT annual convention, is one of the nation’s leading authorities on mind/body health, and has authored two books and numerous articles on the subject.
The story of the beginnings of the Instituto will sound like a familiar refrain to our Cancer Forum readers. Ivan and Carmen Martinez, native Puerto Ricans, were terribly concerned when their son, Ivan Jr., was diagnosed at an early age with severe scoliosis (curvature of the spine). When he was 13, the Martinezes moved to the U.S. in order to seek the medical treatment of a renowned scoliosis expert. Ivan Jr. was subjected to hundreds of diagnostic x-rays, and before too long, came down with a diagnosis of childhood leukemia (in all likelihood, induced by the excessive radiation). Frustrated, frightened and desolate, they turned to natural healing. Ivan Jr. was fed gallons of carrot, celery and beet juice nothing else. A mere two weeks later, he was retested and the leukemia diagnosis was reversed. Today, Ivan Jr. is a healthy 29-year-old father of two.
In 1976 Ivan and Carmen set up the Instituto. They had spent years training with pioneers in the wholistic health movement, including Bernard Jensen, Paavlo Aerola and Jose Rodriquez, and had acquired along the way masters degrees in herbology and doctorates in naturopathic medicine, and decided that it was time to bring their findings back to their homeland. Under their stewardship, the Instituto has been used as a day treatment facility, serving thousands of patients in Puerto Rico and throughout the Caribbean.
In January 1988, Dr. Goldberg assumed the position of Director, and it is through her efforts that the facilities are now available for intensive 4- and 5-day workshops. Arrangements can be made for short term residence even when the workshops are not in session.
Workshop titles will vary, but each will deal with a different aspect of the mind/body dynamic. Typical is one workshop entitled “Building a Psychological Immune System.” We are all familiar with the idea of a biological immune system which has the function of protecting us from foreign invaders and from pathogenic toxins arising within our own bodies. Similarly, a properly ftinctioning psychological immune system will recognize when we are in emotional danger. This workshop focuses on helping its participants to recognize psychological toxins, and to find methods of coping with these emotional pathogens.
Dr. Goldberg carries the mind/body analogy even farther in her “Feelings as Food” workshop. She reminds us that the body provides us with a nearly perfect conceptual frame with which to understand how the psyche works. Feelings, like food, have nutrient value. The emotional system functions like the digestive system, digesting, assimilating, eliminating. Psychological toxins those feelings we label as “bad” are neither digested, nor eliminated; they stay stuck inside of us, and like undigested food can make us sick. This workshop focuses on how we might digest and use to our benefit all of our feelings.
Some of the workshops particularly welcome those who are struggling with physical diseases. The “Reversing Disease” workshop goes into the host resistance concept of diseases. The “Unfelt Diseases: Cancer and Heart Disease” workshop presents the notion that these are diseases that are generally unfelt and unrecognized until they are in a relatively late stage, often making cure difficult. Psychological patterns that have been identified in these patients, however, can serve as early predictors of future problems. It is identifying and understanding how to manage these patterns that constitutes the essential task of this workshop.
The Instituto provides its guests with a wide variety of therapeutic activities and services. Supervised exercise includes early morning mountain hike, jumping oil, a 13-foot trampoline, and use of exercise machines, such as a stationary bicycle and a gravity –inversion machine (a super-duper slant board, where you can adjust the slant up to 180 degrees). Therapeutic mud packs are offered, with the mud coming from the peak of El Yunque, pristine, rich in minerals.and effective in aiding in detoxification. A highly trained staff offers the services of a masseur (Swedish or shiatsu), reflexology, colonies, iris diagnosis, acupuncture, Reiki, and hydrotherapy.
Instituto de Vida Natural is located in an area of Puerto Rico noted for its natural beauty and recreational facilities. Guests have plenty of time to enjoy the magnificent scenery or engage in a wide variety of activities. In addition to hiking in the rain forest, guests can snorkel, swim or fish at Fajardo or other local beaches, ferry to the virtually undiscovered islands of Culebra and Vieques, visit Coamo de Banos, a natural hot spring thought to be the “Fountain of Youth” described by Ponce de Leon. Horseback riding is nearby.
The combination of physical beauty and tranquility, the emotional and intellectual stimulation of the workshops, and the delicious natural food surely results in a valuable and lasting learning experience about the healthiest vacation you could treat yourself to. The therapeutic services offered are important aids in the restoration and maintenance of health.