Complementary medical treatments are less beneficial in old age because we are reaching a time when our vital force is diminishing and repair is difficult. Treatments in old age are palliative rather than curative.

It is better to establish health in our latter years by working on health concepts from a younger age. It is never too late to change habits and lifestyles and the advice given here will, I hope, encourage all of us to review our health at the beginning of the problems associated with ageing rather than once the damage has set in. Provided that no major damage has taken place, then the ageing process can be pleasurable, healthy and prolonged.

The process of ageing is dependent upon two factors. The first is the loss of vital force, this undeniable energy that keeps cells repairing and replicating. The second is the maintenance of good nutrition and oxygenation to all the cells in the body.

The presence of vital force is a much debated point and the Western scientific view is unlikely to agree with the Eastern philosophical view. Libraries could be dedicated to the books and journals that have been written on the principle of vital force. Proponents of meditation and mind/body energy workers would argue that it is feasible and easily possible to pull in life force from the universe to maintain health and youth-fulness. Indeed, many yogis take in very little nutrition and yet maintain a very healthy lifestyle on the energy they absorb from the cosmos. This is beyond most of us in the West, who do not have a non-materialistic attitude or the time to practise the more dedicated spiritual techniques required.

A more Western orientation of ageing would be to assume that the byproducts of metabolism, the free radicals absorbed or produced, the decrease in essential hormone production and the natural process of clogging the arteries, thereby reducing the oxygen and nutrients to cells, all lead to ageing.

See Arteriosclerosis, Antioxidants and free radicals, Stress and Meditation. Mastering and abiding by the rules of these areas is the simple answer to slowing the ageing process and avoiding the diseases associated with old age.