Holistic Research (SEKEM Vision Goal #2), was a focus topic of the first half of 2023. According to the SEKEM vision, the research model of the future should not solely focus on data, but rather combine science with spiritual aspects, as it can broaden our perception and lead to a deeper understanding of the world.
Holistic science is an approach to research that emphasizes the study of complex systems, while the traditional research models usually focus on the study of the separate parts of a system. For example, holistic medicine does not just focus on the treatment of a specific illness, but uses a whole-body approach, focusing on the body, mind, and spirit. Holistic science combines natural science and spirituality, which are the two sides of one coin. They complement each other and in combination serve us to better understand the complex world around us, where science represents knowledge of the physical world and spirituality refers to a sense of connection to something larger than oneself, a complexity that cannot be measured. For example, spiritual aspects can refer to the effect of art on the people’s mood or a vital force of nature. Despite many scientists being skeptical of including spirituality as a part of research, some prominent figures, such as Albert Einstein and Carl Sagan, have always believed that science and spirituality are compatible and deeply interconnected. To quote Carl Sagan, “Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality.” Spiritual approach was an important part of the creation of the SEKEM Vision Goals (SVGs) that made us move beyond the common framework of thinking. SVGs guide us in innovation, and in order to realize them for 2057, Heliopolis University established research centers and research laboratories that handle all the important topics, from integrative health to sustainable agriculture.
Biodynamic agriculture is the heart of SEKEM activities. Originally this concept was developed by Austrian scientist and philosopher Rudolf Steiner in 1924. It was a first of the organic farming movements, which was suggesting that any farm should be treated as a whole living organism. Biodynamic farming practices give the finest circumstances for plants and animals to grow and express themselves fully, just as nature
intended. Steiner believed that every farm is unique and encouraged farmers to use their own experience and knowledge in creating their own approach to their farms. Just as any organic agriculture, bi
odynamics prohibits the use of chemical pesticides, but what distinguishes it from other forms of organic farming are spiritual aspects, such as eight specific preparations applied to the soils, crops, and composts; or the biodynamic cosmic calendar that is based on the positioning of the stars and the moon and considers cosmic rhythms in agricultural activities. Many studies demonstrated significantly improved soil quality and a higher content of soil organic carbon in biodynamic farms than in all the other farming systems studied. Biodynamic farming produces high quality nutritional food that nourishes not only the body but also the soul and spirit, and that gives a positive effect on human’s mental and emotional state. The vitality of the biodynamic products could be demonstrated through a case study with a group of nuns that has shown a significant decline in systolic blood pressure of the participants who ate biodynamic food, as well as improved personal physical and mental well-being.
Heliopolis University Research and Development department of the faculty of pharmacy works as an outsource for ATOS Pharma products. Besides herb-based medicines that Atos is specialized on, it is also conducting research in homeopathy. Homeopathy is a form of alternative medicine that is based on the principle of “like treats like“. In homeopathic treatment it is believed that a substance that causes symptoms of illness in a healthy person, can be used in a highly diluted form to treat similar symptoms in a sick person. It happens because the substance triggers a response in the body’s immune system and helps to boost the body’s natural healing abilities. For example, an extract of onion that typically causes irritation around the eyes and nose, is used in a solution prescribed to patients with hay fever. ATOS homeopathic injection Viscum is used as a supportive treatment for patients with liver and breast forms of cancer. The injection is produced from the extract of mistletoe, a semi-parasitic plant that draws water, minerals, sugar and amino acids from a variety of host trees and has similar behavior with cancer cells. The Viscum injection is re-registered in the Egyptian Drug Authority and shows positive clinical results in several studies (source, source) that were conducted with focus groups.
In the realm of holistic science, integrative health takes center stage as it aligns with the fundamental principles of addressing health from a whole-person perspective. It acknowledges that individuals are not merely physical beings, but rather complex organisms that are influenced by various factors such as their psychology, social environment, and spirituality. SEKEM’s Integrative Health Center, The Medical Center and The Eco Health Insurance are working together to provide access to integrative Health services as nutrition counseling, art therapy, eurythmy therapy, yoga and massage in addition to all the conventional medical specialties. A team of different practitioners and doctors are coming together to manage the patient holistically, considering not only their ailments or sickness but also biography and quality of life. One of the unique approaches to the patients that is used by the team of SEKEM Integrative Health clinic is sitting down with the clients and talking to them before taking any medical tests. The patients are asked about their mood, if they feel satisfied with their job and if the environment in their family life is good. These personal stories of clients become an important part of their medical history and considered in their treatment later. It also helps to develop a unique approach and tailor treatment to each person individually. In conclusion, the Health center’s team provides personal recommendations to all the people. In case they notice a pattern among all workers of one company (for example that a high percentage of employees are feeling burnout), they provide recommendations to the company itself and then create workshops or send a health coach to support the employees’ health.