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An Eye for Healing

by Michael Braunstein

Hoo Done It

In the early 1800's, an aspiring medical student in Hungary named Ignatz von Peczely captured an owl in his garden. The owl's leg was broken in the capture and Ignatz noticed as he held the owl, a black streak rising in the iris of the owl moving toward the pupil. Ignatz nursed the owl and in the years that followed, the owl remained in the garden. The young doctor had occasion to notice that the streak of black had changed to white after the owl had healed.

Von Peczely went on to work in hospitals in his role as a physician, and noticed that significant changes occurred in the irises of patients, reflecting trauma and healing. He noticed consistent characteristics after surgery, illness or accident and became aware that a direct reflex connected various parts of the body to sections of the iris. The observed anomalies were published in text form in 1881 and correlated parts of the iris with various parts of the body.

The science of iridology was born.


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It may seem a nostalgic notion, a romanticized reminiscence, but it is possible to recall the days when we once saw the family physician enter an examining room and use ALL of the senses to ascertain the wellness or not of the patient who came to the office. Physiological subtleties like the smell of breath, the feeling of the patients' skin, its elasticity and temperature, the nature of the surface of the tongue, hair and eyes told all. The ruddiness, or lack thereof, of the skin; its response when gently squeezed, could act as a telltale, attesting to the circulation, the oxygen saturation and the presence of hemoglobin, iron and other metabolites in the blood; a virtual "instant" blood panel.

In today's typical examination, the first thing you will probably see when a physician enters the room is his attention to a sheaf of computer printouts, medical records, intake interviews, x-rays, lab results and charts. The last thing looked at is the patient. In many cases, we have become a sum of numbers.

There is no sense or positive result possible in criticizing modern technological advances in physiological sleuthing; all tools can be used appropriately. And there is no intent here to say that all physicians act in the way pictured above. What is intended is the consideration of the value of the subtle signs that are not so easily quantified, yet are reliable and valuable in seeking to facilitate healing.

It has been said that the eyes are the windows to the soul. What is certainly true is that the eyes can be windows to the body. One of the tools the body uses to communicate with the "outside" is the eyes. The body is a miracle and it knows how to express and comment even without our conscious awareness. One of the ways to read what the body has to say is through the diagnostic technique of iridology. Iridology observes the changes and markings in the iris, that colored membrane in the eyes that serves as a regulator of the light that enters the retinal chamber.

The body is a miracle and it knows how to express and comment even without our conscious awareness.

The importance of visual observation in careful diagnosis is documented as distantly as the 30th Century B.C. Ancient Chinese medicine and writings in the Egyptian culture of the Pharaohs contain information about the use of the iris as a diagnostic. It is not until the late 1700's that these changes in the iris that accompany and often precede illness became noticed by Eurocentric medicine.

Later in the 19th Century, Swedish homeopath Nils Liljequist continued correlating the findings of von Peczely and added the effects of chemicals and toxins on the pigmentation of the eye's iris. His published work is Diagnosis From the Eye.

The biggest step in popularizing and expanding the field was taken by American doctor Bernard Jensen in 1952. After years of research, he developed the Jensen Chart. It remains the authoritative source mapping the 180 zones of the iris that reflex the various organs and body areas. Jensen also published the internationally acclaimed The Practice and Science of Iridology, the most accurate source text on the subject.

It is believed that the changes in the iris are so dynamic and reflective because it is the most innervated part of the sensory system. Each iris contains several hundred thousand nerve endings and responds through the spinal cord, optic ganglia and optic nerves to all parts of the body.

Popular versions of the Jensen Chart are seen in health source stores and give an idea as to the diagnostic power of observing the eyes. (NOTE: There is another area of diagnostics that was developed by early Native Americans and is called sclerology. It uses observation of the sclera, or white membrane of the eyes and is not related to iridology.) Though a layman can use a chart for self awareness, practitioners are, as in many areas, most helpful in observing subtleties and correlation to a specific practice.

Since 1982, the National Iridology Research Association has certified programs of training and maintained a listing of certified iridologists. Here in the Heartland, iridology is practiced by a number of professionals. Other information about iridology can be obtained through NIRA in Seattle or the Jensen Institute in Escondido, CA.

Be well.

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Michael Braunstein is Executive Director of Heartland Healing and certified by the American Council of Hypnotist Examiners in clinical hypnotherapy. He graduated from the Los Angeles Hypnotism Training Institute and was an instructor at the UCLA Extension University for 11 years.

Heartland Healing is devoted to the examination of various alternative forms of healing. It is provided as a source of information and not as medical advice. It is not meant as an endorsement of any particular therapy, either by the writer or by Heartland Healing Center, Inc.

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