The Cayce Herbal 
 A Comprehensive Guide to the  
Botanical Medicine of Edgar Cayce
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The Life and Work of Edgar Cayce

    Edgar Cayce was born on March 18, 1877, on a farm near Hopkinsville, Kentucky.  His childhood was marked by paranormal experiences such as seeing and speaking to recently deceased rela-tives and sleeping with his head on textbooks to memorize school lessons.  His abilities as a psychic diagnostician surfaced during his early twenties when he developed a gradual paralysis of the throat and medical doctors were unable to provide relief.  As a last resort, he allowed a friend to hypnotize him so that he could reestablish the altered state of consciousness that he had utilized as a child to memorize his school books.  From this trance state, he was able to diagnosis his condition and prescribe treatments which remedied his problem.

    Cayce was hesitant to use his ability to help others.  He felt responsible for the information and was concerned that the suggested treatments might have deleterious effects.  Consequently, many of the early beneficiaries of his services were desperate cases, often given up by medical doctors.  Working closely with various types of physicians who applied his recommendations, Cayce gradually became convinced that his unusual ability could provide help to suffering humanity.

    As an indication of Cayce's interest in providing help to persons suffering from physical illness, over 9,000 were given in response to health issues.  The remainder cover virtually every field of human endeavor, from religion and philosophy to business and international affairs.  Apart from the content of Cayce's readings, the trance process itself is a fascinating aspect of Cayce's work.  Harmon Bro provides a glimpse into the trance procedure and the physical context of the readings:

    What took place in the morning and afternoon trance sessions, in the months that followed when I heard and took notes on some six hundred of Cayce's readings, was a profound shock.  Nothing could adequately prepare one for the amount of swift helpfulness that flowed from the unconscious man. His outward procedures were simple enough.  Cayce sat on his plain green studio couch in his cheerful windowed study, across the room from his desk and little portable typewriter.  He prayed, then lay down and step by step went unconscious.  He spoke in measured address about each person or need to which his wife, sitting beside him, quietly directed his attention.  After an hour or more of discourse and questions which his secretary recorded in shorthand, he came swiftly back to consciousness, remembering nothing of what he had said, and got up to resume the activities of his busy correspondence and office.  It was all done in broad daylight and simplicity, as naturally as if he were still taking portraits in a photographic studio.  But the plainness of the process did not take away the jolt of seeing him accomplish day after day what our culture said was impossible. (A Seer Out of Season: The Life Of Edgar Cayce, Signet Books, 1990, p. 58)

    Although many of the early readings were not recorded, over 14,000 were stenographically transcribed and have been preserved by the Association for Research and Enlightenment (A.R.E.) in Virginia Beach, Virginia.  A CD-ROM containing the Cayce readings is available from A.R.E. Press.

    Recognizing the need for confidentiality, each reading is assigned a number corresponding to the person or group requesting the information.  The identifying number is followed by another number designating the sequence of the reading.  For example, a reading cited as 182-6 indicates that this is the 6th in a series of readings for an individual or group designated as 182.

    Throughout The Cayce Herbal, excerpts from the Cayce readings are provided to familialize the reader with the content and style of this vast resource.  Since Edgar Cayce seldom used herbal medicines alone, a sense of the context of Cayce's recommendations is essential.  The principal of "integration" in the next section describes the importance of combining herbals with complementary modalities.

Principal Concepts of the Cayce Approach to Health and Healing

    The Cayce approach to health and healing is based on the following fundamental concepts:

  • Holism - This approach affirms that human beings are multidimensional including physical, mental and spiritual aspects which must be considered in relation to health and healing.
  • Inner Healing - All healing comes from within.  Our bodies have the inherent ability to be healthy. Therapeutic interventions work best by assisting the processes of innate healing.
  • Prevention - Healthy lifestyle is emphasized as a means of staying well and preventing disease.  Because all healing comes from within, the same therapies which assist the body in healing itself are often helpful in the prevention of  illness.
  • Self Care - Self responsibility in making choices and applying what we know to be true on a regular basis is the foundation of health.  Many of the therapies utilized in this approach are best done in the home and as part of the daily routine of life.  The Cayce Herbal contains a special section that addresses the use of simple herbal remedies in the home for common ailments.
  • Natural Therapeutics - "Nature cures" is the basis for many healing systems as it is for this one.  Natural remedies and therapies which work closely with and are supportive of the body's innate healing ability are emphasized in this approach.  Therefore it is no surprise that herbal medicines play a significant role in Cayce's approach to health and healing.
  • Integration - The Cayce approach acknowledges that all therapeutic modalities and systems of healing can be helpful.  The important point is to find the best combination of treatments for each individual.  This cooperative attitude seeks the common ground between systems and is known by various names such as "complementary medicine," "integrative medicine," and "comprehensive medicine."  The Cayce Herbal contains numerous practical examples of this principle, especially with regard to integrating herbal therapy with diet and nutrition, manual therapy, electrotherapy, and hydrotherapy.
  • Individuality - Each person is a special entity.  Health and healing can best be achieved by a person-centered approach that recognizes and utilizes the uniqueness of each individual rather than limiting people to diagnostic categories and pathological labels.  Although the disease-centered (allopathic) model is utilized in certain sections of The Cayce Herbal, it must be recognized that a more individualized approach is ultimately more effective and is certainly more consistent with Cayce's philosophy.  The challenge of individualized assessment and treatment planning must also be acknowledged.
  • Health & Illness - Health is a state of wholeness, balance and growth.  Incompleteness and imbalance ("incoordination") are common experiences which can challenge us to grow and develop.  Thus illness can often be viewed as an opportunity for transformation.
  • Non-Invasive Assessment & Treatment - "First do no harm" should be practiced with regard to assessment and treatment.  Practitioners should seek the least invasive procedures available that can assist with inner healing.  Keep in mind, however, that surgery and/or medications can be helpful for extreme situations.  Since herbal medicine tends to be milder and less invasive than standard medical treatment, the role of botanicals in the Cayce model is emphasized.
  • Cause and Effect - Although symptomatic relief to decrease suffering is desirable, addressing the underlying cause(s) is also strongly emphasized in the Cayce readings.  One of the strengths of the Cayce approach is the wealth of insight into the patterns of "cause" and "effect" associated with the various categories of disease.  The Cayce Herbal contains numerous insights from the Cayce readings on fundamental etiological and pathophysiological processes which can be therapeutically influenced by herbal medicines, particularly when integrated with other natural modalities.
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