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Jay North
Mr. North has been featured in People Magazine, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Vogue, Cosmopolitan, The New Yorker, and thousands of other publications. Moreover Jay has appeared on The Tonight Show, Good Morning America, NBC Nightly News, World News, Sunday Magazine, and hundreds of other TV and radio talk shows voicing informed opinions on edible flowers and organic farming.
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When In Doubt, Sweat It Out
By Jay North

There is nothing that ails us that can not be cured, nothing!

As L. Ron Hubbard points out in his book, Clear Body Clear Mind, when a body is freed of harmful chemicals and radiation, the mind becomes clearer and a human being then becomes able to function and be at his/her highest productivity levels. No endorsement of Dianetics or Scientology is intended here, but I happen to agree with Mr. Hubbard’s thoughts and assessments on the importance of ‘sweating out’ what can get stuck in the body, can cause ill health and less-than-optimum thought and control of our own lives.

Hubbard was not the first to realize this notion. Several cultures throughout the world have been doing sweats for many thousands of years. The Native American peoples, the peoples of Europe, Russia and Germany, the Chinese and Japanese have all been using sweats for cleansing and purification of the body, mind and spirit for centuries.

Here is how it works:

    Start this way:
  • Getting the heart rate up
  • Exercise for a period of thirty minutes
  • Have plenty of water on hand – and drink it!
  • Use some specialized herbs and vitamins that will help induce sweating and purification.
In contemporary times the simplest way to do a sweat is in a sauna. Keep plenty of fresh, pure water on hand to replace water that will be lost in the sweat and to flush away the materials you are working to lose.

Materials, such as pesticides and drugs can get caught in the fatty tissue cells 
in the body and remain there for an entire lifetime or until we sweat them out.

Stay in the sauna for as long a period (hours) as you can stand it, 30 minutes at a time, cool and repeat the process for several days in a row, until your feel complete. The body will be cleansed of all harmful substances – it is almost guaranteed – but it takes commitment and determination to follow through in order for this method of cleansing to be effective.

The Sweat Cleansing
A human being has plenty of opportunity to contaminate one’s body during a lifetime. The pollutants available seem endless, so I’ll only mention a handful here. Even with a well-guarded regime of food, juice and supplement intake, it is almost impossible to avoid ingesting or absorbing some materials, including radiation and other less then harmonious things to our bodies: materials other then the highest value.

We may seek only high-quality, pure water and organic produce, but the reality of Planet Earth’s contaminants could affect us all at one point or another.

I’m talking about products such as chemical fertilizers, pesticides, hormones added to beef, contaminated milk, eggs and cheese. Shall I go on? OK! Herbicides, fungicides, pesticides, gas fumes and, of course, impure water, drugs and alcohol.

Sweat it out
The Native Americans have used sweats for health purposes for thousands of years and these techniques have been proven effective by science and religious orders. One religious order I know of works to sweat out the Master Serpent!

Sweating, particularly a program of regular sweating requires courage, determination, and a stick-to-it attitude. There are practitioners who are able to guide a person through this process and a person considering such a cleanse must be prepared for a multitude of possibilities that might come up – serious and significant emotional changes and shifts in attitude.

The process could involve several days of sweating and ingesting specific herbs and vitamins, along with lots of water. Among the herbs and vitamins that have been reported to be of value during sweats are:
  • Niacin
  • High doses of vitamin A, B, C, and E
  • Multi-Mineral intake
  • Fresh organic juices and herbal cleans formulas, such as Ultimate Cleanse and many others that are available on the open whole foods market

  • PLEASE Note: Anyone considering a long-term sweat consult with a physician before 

    The temperature of the “sweat lodge” can be set at the highest degree acceptable to the individual doing the sweat, but watch it – the heat can be debilitating, usually 150 to 200 degrees will work well. The hotter, the more sweat…and the more sweat, the quicker the release process.

    How long does it take to complete a sweat? According to Hubbard, that is entirely up to the individual. The practitioner or health provider can help determine this as well. When it feels complete, it is.

    The practitioner who assists with sweats will want to aid in this program with their 
clients, to ensure all is going well, and to encourage the client along the way.

    You should be prepared to stay in the “sweat lodge” for at least several hours and sometimes several consecutive days. It is highly recommended that you consume large quantities of pure water while doing this process. It is also important to get on a regime of cleansing herbs and supportive vitamins; the body is going to be pushing a lot of materials out and the replacement of vital life force components (both foods and vitamins) just might be a good idea.

    It is also advisable for you to work up a good, fast heart rate before entering the lodge to sweat; this could help push undesirable materials out even quicker.

    For more specific herbs and vitamins to ingest during a sweat, consult your health professional or local health food store.

    One tribe I am very familiar with from Northwest Montana (from Open Spaces, My Life With Leonard J. Mountain Chief, a book I wrote about a Blackfeet elder with whom I spent nearly ten years) ingests the herbs in several ways during an “initiation”. They drink a tea made from the herbs, have an enema with the same herbs, bathe in them, add them to a pot of boiling water during the sweat and even spank the tribal member with the leaves and branches of the plants they use – sort of like beating the devil out, or at least that is the contemplation.

    Whichever method you choose for clearing the body of unwanted materials, I do encourage you to read one of the many books written specifically on the subject of sweats and water purification. Take it slow; do the programs at a pace that is comfortable to you and, as suggested earlier, be sure to consult a health care professional before starting. For some people, this is not an easy process to experience or complete.

    When the sweat is complete, you will see a marked improvement in your appearance, attitude and out-flow of positive communication.

    It is also advisable that a practitioner does the sweats with their client or you find someone who is willing to do it as a team. It is always better for two or more to do this process at the same time. The Northwest Tribe referred to earlier usually has four or more in their ceremonies.

    You should receive massage and energy healing during the sweat cleanse or, at the very least, light healing touch. There is more information about sweating and cleansing in my new book How Safe Is Your Food? Miracle In The Kitchen, available on my website

          Washtae- all is well.

    The Sacred Sweat Lodge--From Jay’s Book Open Spaces
    There are secrets and mysteries to the sweat lodge that I am not allowed to reveal, based on my sacred promises never to talk about them. Each one of us has our own experience of miracles preformed in the sweat lodge, and I’m certain your accounts will be sacred to you one day and will not be shared with anyone lightly.

    Note to practitioners and their clients: There is the big possibility that the person 
doing the sweats is going to experience rather dramatic shifts and changes, some in 
personality and other in emotions.  This will be most noticeable in personality changes: 
emotional highs and lows, outbursts of communication (i.e., anger, fear, grief, 
exhilaration).  Most of the time, these are temporary changes that “move off” quickly; 
once more, check with a good doctor before starting a sweat.

    Without revealing any secrets, here is just one of many such accounts of my time in the sacred sweat lodge with Leonard and friends. This is an excerpt from my book Open Spaces; you can find a copy of it at

    Experiences such as these do not come nearly enough in our lives. You will see and know when you need one, and it is your responsibility to arrange it and seek an accidental miracle. Life will not usually deal you everything you need. It is way too easy to make excuses like, “I don’t have time,” “It is too hard,” or “Where would I find something like that?” But if you are truly seeking the path to fulfillment, freedom from the past, knowledge of yourself, and the answers to life, you will find the time and the meeting place will come. You will make the time, and you will discover that it is time well spent, as I did with Leonard on so many occasions.

    “I have a terrible headache, Leonard,” I was whining. “This heat is getting to me and I had a massive headache going.” It was the hottest August I could remember! In these parts of Montana, some years we have winter…and we have August. This was one of those years.

    Leonard said, “Time for a sweat.” In Native life, almost any time is a good time for a sweat, a smoke, a dance or a chant song.

    The sweat lodge is one of the traditional ways of healing mind, body, and soul, and is always taken quite seriously. As a matter of fact, a person who does not approach it in reverence would not be welcome, nor would a shaman avail himself for treatment and ask one to cross the line to come into the sweat lodge. Crossing the line is a time of reverence for ceremony and one only does this at the right time. A woman must never cross the line during her moon cycle; this is considered very bad luck.

    The sweat lodge is similar to the experience of quiet time, only it involves physical purging in addition to mere reflection. It is a more active pursuit, but produces an after-effect of having been reborn and refreshed. As with the tribal commune, it combines the experience of coming together for self-examination and cleansing of what we have built up in our bodies, hearts, minds, and spirits as we walk through a convoluted world and a time to let go of the world for a short period of time.

    And at that moment in Montana, it was time to let go of the world. “Let’s go into the sweat lodge,” Leonard said. “Your head problems will be left there.”

    The sweat lodge of the Blackfeet Nation is a small half-dome; one has to kneel to go in. The body of the lodge is made from bent willow and is covered in either canvas or deer hides. Occasionally old rugs are used, but that is not tradition in the Blackfeet Nation.

    The lodge usually holds up to six or eight people, but it can be only two if it is a ceremony; sacrifice, or ritual one is setting out to do. River rock is heated to a very high temperature outside the lodge, and in the traditional way the rocks are passed in by a female virgin of the tribe using tree branches, as the rocks must be pure. The hot rocks are placed in the center of the lodge and a mixture of water and herbs is poured over them. The opening to the sweat lodge or the door must always face east; there is no other acceptable direction, there is no other way! East represents new beginnings, the sunrise, mother’s warmth, and healing.

    There is always a leader or a shaman in the lodge, and he directs how the sweat will be run and its designated time. In other words, he decides how long we are to stay in the very dark, very hot lodge. Participants are encouraged to stay in the lodge for the entire duration of the sweat, and not to break the circle. The circle is of supreme importance to the Nation People, and we believe that if the circle had not been broken, we would not have lost our land and sacred buffalo.

    The lodge is normally built near cold running water so when it is time to come out, we can dive into a lake or stream. Occasionally the sweat will go on for several days. We enter the lodge as a group and depart together, we take long walks in silence, we rest, we fast, save for water, and we sweat in a harmonious group.

    Treatment is often performed to assist in overcoming an ailment, disease, discomfort, or nagging headache, such as the one I had when I went in.

    Physical complaints are not the only reason for a sweat -- on the contrary. We sweat to aid in our discovery, we sweat to help elevate ourselves to a place of desired strength and to achieve abilities. We sweat out the devil, we sweat in remembrance and we sweat to clean impurities, both physical and mental, out of our bodies.

    Herbs are always used in our sweats, and the ones utilized vary, based on our particular desire and circumstance. Red Clover, Yellow Dock, Mugwort, Willow bark, and Chaparral are just a few examples. Herbs are used in many ways and are applied as part of the ceremony. They are breathed in as steam over hot rocks; they are eaten; they are boiled and drunk as tea; they are bathed in; they are taken in through the anus; they are spanked or beaten into the skin with branches and leaves.

    Some herbs make one feel terrible for a short period of time. This is expected. One will experience deep heaves, hot and cold sweats, deep pain and diarrhea. But it all passes and one is encouraged to keep up his courage and allow this process to take place. If you can’t, you shouldn’t be there in the first place. That is law.

    * * *

    Leonard had gotten word of a ritual sweat about to take place down in the flats at the east end of the Res.

    “Come; let us go into the sweat lodge. There is an elder running the lodge today and he will be very happy to see you,” Leonard said.

    We approached the lower flatlands of Two Medicine River, which twists and turns its way down through desert land off the reservation. Great for fly-fishing, but that was not our purpose this time. When we arrived, I could see four or five naked old men wandering around a makeshift camp and gathering covers to go over the sweat lodge. The fire was already burning very hot and the rocks were turning white from the coals. The camp was quiet, with the exception of warm greetings when we arrived, and it remained that way. The oldest member of the group – Earl, a small but hugely respected shaman – came over to greet me and said, “Good day for a sweat.” He laughed, turned and walked towards the lodge, and signaled for the rest of us to follow. We did, and before I knew it, I was in a very small space with six worldly old gentlemen. I recognized most of the members of the sweat from family gatherings and Pow-Wows.

    Each had a reason for being there, and Earl asked us to state our purpose for being at the lodge that day. He asked each of us not to be concerned with the other members’ purposes for their sweat. He said that was his job, and we all laughed out loud. Each man told his story, and each man was allowed to speak completely until done. It was informal, yet guided. We were allowed to pour out whatever we wanted to say and Earl listened and acknowledged us completely. When we had all spoken, Earl started the singing and chanting that we would all follow and in which we would all participate.

    Leonard noticed I was tense and asked me to just relax into it and allow whatever was to happen in the sweat lodge to happen, or not. “Try not to expect too much,” Leonard said.

    Earl had herbs for each of us to ingest. He brought plenty of water for drinking and pouring over the hot rocks. He said he wouldn’t let us suffer too much and we could go out for a pee and “what-not” if we wanted to. We were all comfortable, near as I could tell, from the glow of the rocks; faces looked cheerful.

    Earl then began to move quietly and slowly around the lodge and touch each man. Some replied with a laugh, some with a cry and one with a scream. Earl’s movements and touching and caressing went on for what seemed liked several hours. The young lady outside of the lodge continued to send in hot rocks the entire time.

    It was extremely hot. Each man washed his face several times with water that was brought in for us. The chanting, praying, and singing went on for several more hours. We were all exhausted and could barely stay awake, which is required. I was starting to fear I would not be able to stand it much longer and thought about a fast move to the door. Every now and then, I could feel Leonard’s reassuring hand patting me on the knee as if to say, “It’s okay, kid; you’ll make it.”

    Suddenly Earl said, “It is done!” We were finished with the sweat and we were allowed to go outside to cool off.

    “Gee, my headache is gone and I feel great,” I said. Each man had something to say about the experience that had taken just over forty-eight hours.

    What I witnessed in the lodge is very private, but I can tell you this: I saw things you’d think you would never see without the use of hallucinogenics. While the things I saw are secret, they are also very real.

    All Leonard had to say was, “Nice sweat, eh? Let’s go eat.”

    One day you will experience a sweat lodge, and my prayer and hope for you is that it is traditional and authentic and that you have someone by your side to pat you on the knee as if to say, “It’s okay; you’ll make it.”

    Leonard is gone from his body now, but every now and then I can feel him say, It’s 
okay, Jay.  You’ll make it.”

    End—Released for free publication Jay North, One Globe Press 17/Jan/07

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    Jay North
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    Ph# 805-794-9126

    Jay North is a pioneer in the organic farming industry. He authored Getting Started In Organic Gardening for Fun And Profit, as a means of sharing his philosophy of renewal and self-sustained living. For more information and ordering, please visit Jay's books page at Jay is an internationally recognized authority in organic produce. Contact Jay also at on his website,
    Permission released for free publication Jay North 17/Jan/2007

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