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Prof. Dr. Cecilia Eyssartier has a PhD in Biological Sciences. She specializes in ethnobotany and medicinal plants cultivated and gathered by native communities across generations (Northwestern Patagonia, Argentina). Waldorf educator (Waldorf Teacher Training Program in Buenos Aires, Arg.). She is devoted to the educational field with a special interest in experiential learning processes and the embodied cognition approach.
Prof. Luis Daniel Monterubianesi is a researcher specialized in Nutrition and Health. Extensive studies in Anthroposophy, homeopathic medicine, naturism, hygienism, bioenergy, macrobiotics, permaculture and phytomedicine. He obtained a certificate in Education for Welfare and Live Food from Wigmore Natural Health Institute of Puerto Rico. Founder of the Holistic Nutrition and Regenerative Health Program of Qumara Nutrition and Regeneration.
Cecilia and Luis are both scientific researchers and professors from Argentina, RCE Ruhr partners and Sevengardens dialoguers, from the United Nations University.
In 2005 they founded QUMARA Nutrition and Regeneration. Q’UMARA means health awareness in Aymara, a language of a South American native community. Since then, they have developed the Holistic Nutrition and Regenerative Health Program in Argentina, integrating the three essential aspects of human biology, vitalizing nutrition and detoxifying habits; through courses and workshops intended for children, youth and adults. They have also offered several pedagogical training sessions and courses in various educational institutions and for professionals in the health field.
Take a look at our history, our mission and purpose
It was the end of the year 2005, summer in the Northern Patagonian region in Argentina. Luis Monterubianesi was working with the Red Cross in the city of Puerto Madryn; making progress in his academic training in Nutrition after having studied and worked for years in the Science of Law, at the National University of La Plata. Cecilia Eyssartier had already finished her Biology Degree at the University of Buenos Aires, and was working as a teacher and researcher at the Ecocentro Foundation in Puerto Madryn. Later, she would continue her PhD in the city of San Carlos de Bariloche and in other towns in Southern Argentina.
This would be the beginning of a journey that, for seven years, would involve us in a research project in rural and semi-rural communities with the descendants of the Mapuche people, in the Argentine Patagonian steppe; further strengthening our ethnobotanical knowledge and consolidating our work in relation to Biology, Nutrition, Health and the Environment. At the same time, we founded Qumara Nutrition and Regeneration in order to promote meaningful knowledge, experiences and tools for health self-management, through three main aspects: the study of human biology, the understanding of nutrition as the first and fundamental basis for Health, and detoxifying habits, as a necessary and forgotten process of balance and restoration of organic vital forces.
Our fieldwork in the rural communities allowed us to study and experience in depth the traditional and ancestral knowledge of these native peoples of Southern Argentina. They kindly invited us to delve into their worldview and lifestyle deeply rooted in the earth, by sharing their ancestral practices and wisdom transmitted through generations as part of their vast culture closely linked to natural processes. We explored the plants collected and cultivated in vegetable-gardens, greenhouses, and gardens, their traditional uses, the origin of the seeds, and thereby the Mapuche connection to nature. In recent history, their ancestral knowledge has been dramatically conditioned by socio-cultural events, causing significant changes in their customs, habits, nutrition and ways of conceiving health. However, they have managed to preserve certain traditions by being resilient and integrating their ancestral customs with new practices and technologies such as the protection and exchange of seeds, sustaining their food sovereignty; the organization of community vegetable-gardens; the improvement of soil fertility through composting and recycling organic waste and the elaboration of local and handmade health and medicinal resources.
This wide breadth of ancestral and ethnobotanical knowledge has laid our foundations and broadened our academic training and vision in Nutrition and Biology, integrating other “alternative” conceptions based on traditional and anthroposophical medicine, naturism and ayurveda, hygiene, beekeeping, bioenergy and permaculture. The experience of well-known health practitioners such as Louis Kuhne, Alexis Carrel, Bernard Jensen, Ann Wigmore, Jean Seignalet, Gabriel Cousens, among others, has guided our path within this endeavor. With this holistic and wholeness perspective that defines our biological approach to health, we have created Qumara Nutrition and Regeneration.
“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” – Hippocrates
Our body has the wonderful capacity to regenerate and repair itself, thus restoring metabolic functions, when we eat wholesome food that is respectful of our physiology and that genuinely nourishes and vitalizes us.
Not only is the oxygen we breathe vital for our life, but also the oxygen supplied by the food that we incorporate through our intestinal lumen, as highlighted by the German physiologist Otto Warburg, in his research on cellular respiration and its relationship with cancer. Incredibly, oxygen represents no less than 65% of our molecular composition.
How significant is to preserve this precious element present in food that is sensitive to high temperature and cooking! Integrating wholesome food as a daily sanitary and pharmacological resource, providing vital nutrients, enzymes, oxygen, among many other nutritional benefits, nourishes and at the same time purifies, contributing to the repair of our internal tissues and organs.
As Margulis and Sagan say, “photosynthesis is undoubtedly the most important metabolic innovation in the history of life on the planet”, and as Bill Bryson mentioned in his book “A Short History of Nearly Everything”: “…and was not invented by plants, but by bacteria”.
As soon as cyanobacteria proliferated, the world began to fill with oxygen, a molecule that was poisonous almost for all the living organisms in those days. “In an anaerobic (non-oxygen-using) world, oxygen is extremely poisonous. Our white cells actually use oxygen to kill invading bacteria.
That oxygen is fundamentally toxic often comes as a surprise to those of us who find it so convivial to our well-being, but that is only because we have evolved to exploit it. To other things it is a terror. It is what turns butter rancid and makes iron rust. Even we can tolerate it only up to a point.
The oxygen level in our cells is only about a tenth the level found in the atmosphere. The new oxygen-using organisms had two advantages. Oxygen was a more efficient way to produce energy, and it vanquished competitor organisms.
Some retreated into the oozy, anaerobic world of bogs and lake bottoms. Others did likewise but then later (much later) migrated to the digestive tracts of beings like you and me. Quite a number of these primeval entities are alive inside your body right now, helping to digest your food…”.
“Curing means cleaning” – Carlos Kozel (German Medical Doctor)
Body detoxification and removal of accumulation of toxemia from our internal fluids constitute fundamental and, paradoxically, forgotten practices, which favor metabolic processes of the organism and physiological development of vital functions. Within our pedagogical goals, we encourage the use of different practices and resources, such as the traditional use of herbs, to promote these cleansing processes linked to liver, intestines, kidneys, skin, and lungs, and the body as a whole.
In the words of Dr. Emmet Densmore from his book “How Nature Heals”: “Illness is a healing effort, a struggle of the vital forces to purify the system and regain normal status. This effort should be aided, directed and regulated, if necessary, but never suppressed… The disease is a process of purification. It is a curative action. It is a vital struggle to overcome obstructions and keep the channels of circulation free”.
Doctor Bernard Jensen, who devoted his life to natural therapeutics, affirmed that many of the “diseases” that distress human beings originate in an internal organic context lacking in hygiene. Similarly, doctor Seignalet warned us that when toxins in the body are accumulated faster than eliminated, and even more, when the excretion systems do not work properly, sooner or later, we can expect the disease to turn up.
Hence, the importance of daily cleansing resources and deep cleaning practices. It is worth remembering the old axiom that health is forged in the stomach and in the sayings of Hippocrates: “There is no healthy person with a sick stomach, nor vice versa”. Accurate bowel function is crucial for health, and depends, to a large extent, on the daily food ingested.
The broad benefits of this plethora of detoxifying resources, together with the vastness of the nutritional approach, have encouraged us to systematize and organize the diversity of knowledge and practices in an integrated way. The design of herbal and deworming cleansing protocols, as well as the individual proposals for daily nutritional and body cleansing planning, made it possible to effectively apply these practices in our everyday lives.
Honoring the bases of Hippocratic therapy
Hippocrates, the so-called “father of medicine”, prioritized more comprehensive approaches with respect to the voices of the current official system: educate, work on prevention, promote healthy habits and only, at the end, consider medication. And, above all, do not harm. The Greeks spoke of three phases in the healing process: first, rest; if it is not enough, examine the nutrition; and only ultimately resort to medication. Time efficiency and allopathy, in our view, have been responsible for eroding the first two phases.
This holistic approach to health invites us to reflect upon the complex network of relationships and interactions that sustain life, understanding the importance of being respectful of biological laws and the balance of vital forces. This, inevitably, leads us to review our daily habits, including our diet, physical activity, resting, bowel movements, and other organic signs that support our food and health sovereignty.
Why are these widely available, free, and non-patentable resources disregarded or left behind in the art of healing?
At what point do we separate food from health and nutrition from medicine?
At what point do we stop seeing the cultivation of the land, as the cultivation and care of our own organic context -our body-, to be seen as a mere model of production under exclusive market laws?
By gaining awareness of the magnitude and impact of our daily decisions, nutrition becomes an effective tool for our health, recognizing the existence of a true pharmacy available in nature. In this way, it is important to contact local and organic markets; consciously take care of our nutrition, prioritizing fruits, vegetables and seeds; avoid those refined, processed and ultra-processed edible products; reconsider traditional knowledge regarding herbs; optimize the nutritional quality of our food through simple processes such as Germination, Seed Activation and Fermentation, increasing the incredible benefits of wholesome food; create spaces in our homes and communities for soil regeneration through composting, thereby reducing the impact of our organic waste by transforming it into fertile soil.
The complexity of life that sustains us requires an interdisciplinary approach for its understanding. Scientific evidence is showing that biological processes in our organism, as in our planet, depend on a vital diversity. Recently, the microbiome has started to be quantified, and scientists have discovered that it is made up of at least 380,000,000,000,000 bacteria (38×1013). One of the most interesting findings, and one that “breaks” with our paradigm of disinfection and aversion to so many microorganisms, is that bacteria are not the most abundant microbes living in our bodies, but viruses. There are an estimated 10 viruses for every bacterium living within us. This community is known as the human viroma. That is, they are the most abundant microbes in our bodies, and logically – as we might presume – those that we most easily exchange with the environment.
“There is no point in trying to hide from bacteria, as they are always inside you and around you, in amounts that would be inconceivable to you. If you are in good health and diligent about hygiene, you will have a herd of a billion bacteria grazing on the plains of your body, about 100,000 for every square centimeter of skin. They are there to recycle the 10 billion skin flakes that you shed every day, plus all the tasty oils and minerals that come out of pores and fissures. And those are only the ones that live on the skin; there are billions more lodged in the intestine and in the nasal passages, clinging to your hair, swimming by the surface of your eyes, operating on the enamel of teeth and molars. The digestive system is home to more than 100 trillion microbes of many species. The human body consists of about 10,000 trillion cells, but dwells about 100,000 trillion bacterial cells. They are, in short, a big part of us. From the bacteria’s point of view, of course, we are a rather small part of them. Because we humans are big and clever enough to produce and utilize antibiotics and disinfectants, it is easy to convince ourselves that we have banished bacteria to the fringes of existence. Don’t you believe it. Bacteria may not build cities or have interesting social lives, but they will be here when the Sun explodes. This is their planet, and we are on it only because they allow us to be.”.
Bill Bryson, A Short History of Nearly Everything
Germinating Life: an integration of Science and Art
Under the umbrella of this wholeness and integrative perspective, we have developed the book “Germinating life” with meaningful and experiential activities designed for children to experience the process of seed germination; integrating Science, Art and Nutrition. The proposal of this biological living approach, which involves an integrative perspective and way of seeing, is to explore the seed with new eyes, through attentive observation, imagination and creativity, by studying the living process of plant development in the shoes of a scientist, a chef and an artist. Therefore, this book is a useful didactic resource for educational institutions, considering that the germination process is a topic included in every school’s Natural Science curriculum. The seed invites us to discover its mysteries through an experiential learning, integrating both the intellectual and affective domains. We can be active participants of the germination process through an experimental design, drawing, reading a story, singing and connecting the life in the seed to our vital daily nutrition in a meaningful and experiential way. In our various workshops, we have experienced how children awake this sense of wonder towards life by developing a significant engagement with nature. They marvel in amazement at the life within them; and they become more receptive of their own inner nature and connected to the outer natural world around them.
After carrying out this Nutritional Biological Program for 15 years in Argentina, we are currently working in Germany in order to pursue our aims in accordance with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, thereby becoming RCE Ruhr partners and Sevengardens dialoguers, from the United Nations University. Children’s nutritional health disorders are very common worldwide and a major cause of concern in educational contexts. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), overweightness and obesity in children constitute some of the main public health problems and concerns of the 21st century. In this sense, we are working on an interdisciplinary research project together with a group of professionals in the area of medicine and education, to promote greater awareness towards nutrition and healthy habits in childhood; while emphasizing the importance of contact with nature, biodiversity and the environment.
Sevengardens (http://sevengardens.eu/) has contributed to consolidate the experiential approach of our endeavor, becoming ambassadors of an artistic and cultural educational project, which favors social and altruistic actions oriented towards a common goal through a co-evolutionary process. Addressing the germination process through artistic practices such as painting, modeling, and storytelling, promotes an affective connection with living forms in nature and biodiversity; unfolding creativity, imagination and involving ourselves in an even more embodied and enactive perspective. Teaching strategies implemented in formal education settings tend to overlook experiential learning associated with children’s everyday life situations, which not only involves cognitive abilities, but also feelings and emotions that foster a significant change in the meaning and perception of their experience. Thus, we encourage educational approaches associated with embodied and situated experiences, involving artistic perspectives and the relevance of the senses used in seeing, touching, smelling and hearing, to actively engage children in becoming lifelong learners. Given the adverse environmental circumstances caused by climate change, it seems opportune to foster children’s affective and meaningful experiences with plants, not only to promote their critical thinking, but also to encourage a heightened sense of awareness of their natural world, in which plants constitute an essential and basic foundation.
The joint crises of climate change and biodiversity erosion can both be addressed by planting gardens everywhere – full of biodiversity; full of the celebration of life, well-being, and abundance. Gardens of hope everywhere. Farms that give real food. We will continue to create the other world that we are sowing – seed by seed, inch by inch of soil, person by person, community by community – until all this planet is embraced in one circle of resurgent life and resurgent love. We will not give up.
Dr. Vandana Shiva
Currently, when the overriding environmental complexity clamors for our human consciousness, it becomes unavoidable to think about our nutrition and our own health in close interrelationship with our Planet’s health, in a concrete and sustainable way. Thus, one of the main purposes of our aforementioned biological approach to health, is to emphasize the importance of being respectful of the vital processes that occur both in our bodies and on the planet. In this fast-paced current world, in which we seek effective and rapid results, we have moved away from our natural circadian and seasonal rhythms. We do not even have time to cook or prepare our own homemade wholesome meals. We seek advice from others to decide what we should eat, which type of food and in which quantities. We have distanced ourselves from our intuition in relation to what nurtures us.
A powerful image that encompasses our natural approach is that of “being gardeners”. The primordial task of a good gardener is to create the appropriate context for the biological laws and vital forces of nature to develop. It is not about controlling the growth process, but favoring it. Thus, the gardener must be a mediator, a mindful observer to understand what the garden needs. In this picture, the garden resembles our body, and we are the gardeners that favor the appropriate conditions so that biological and vital processes, inherent to our humanity, can express themselves in a healthy organic context. Our holistic perspective is not merely a proposal to improve nutrition and expand our knowledge of biology, but to review the underlying way of thinking, as a prelude to the path of our actions. Particularly, it is the way we conceive our health, which ultimately shapes our habits and lifestyle. This is what defines our leading biological approach to health.
In our view, it is timely to reinforce and uphold the value of ancestral and traditional knowledge closely connected to living processes, and review the mainstream scientific knowledge, in order to develop the ability to observe and listen to nature in a more respectful way. The valuable nature of seeds has been highly regarded throughout generations in ancestral communities worldwide. In the words of Vandana Shiva, “seeds are life, and life is freedom”. The seed is a living reservoir of knowledge, which is preserved alive in the community, in the land, and in the hands of the farmer, improving the local germplasm in the simple act of sowing. Like all seeds, it needs an adequate environment that embraces it with the proper conditions for its awakening and development. Symbolically speaking, the dormant mystery within the seed, rekindles our spiritual awakening.
We carry on developing our courses and research projects so that fruitful intentions and actions can germinate. We are willing to join other initiatives that are aligned with our vision in order to multiply synergistic actions that might contribute to review and improve our way of living.
Our feeling is that we are sowing seeds, and, regardless whether they will germinate or not, we embrace life with confidence. We trust life to be capable of profoundly transforming us as individuals, as communities and humanity as a whole, in the hopes of becoming a more altruistic and more humane world.
At the time we are so worried about the sixth mass extinction, here, in this farm we realize it is possible to reverse this stress, it is possible to regenerate biodiversity, it is possible to regenerate the Earth, it is possible to recreate climate resilience, it is possible to create communities including the earth communities. We have to learn that at this time of fear, we have to learn that at this time of hopelessness. And to learn it, return to nature. Return to our amazing ecological civilization. And reseed the future with every seed we save and every seed we plant.
Dr. Vandana Shiva
Health and Peace,
Prof. Dr. Cecilia Eyssartier and Prof. Luis Monterubianesi.
QUMARA Nutrition and Regeneration