A Tour of Russian Medicine and Nutrition

In 1978 MOTHER EARTH NEWS took part in a tour of the USSR to observe Russian medicine and nutritional practices.


| September/October 1978



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The tour of Russian medicine and nutrition began in Moscow.


PHOTO: MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF

Celestial Seasonings (the herb company) and the Citizens Exchange Corps (a non-profit people-to-people program) recently sponsored a three-week, 3,000-mile study-tour of health and nutrition through the Soviet Union. The tour—in between airline travel to and from Russia itself—began in Moscow's Red Square and ended in the northern "white nights" of Leningrad. Most of the trip, however, was spent exploring "the garden of the centenarians" in the Transcaucasian republics of Azerbaijan and Georgia —the ancient, exotic region of the U.S.S.R. between the Caspian and Black Seas where so many people are rumored to live to such ripe old ages.

Sara Pacher, one of MOTHER EARTH NEWS' helpers, went along on the excursion. She reports that, "In search of the ways of the 'long dwellers' of this beautiful, healthful section of the Soviet Union, we met with gerontologists, sociologists, physical therapists, nutritionists, and health spa and farm personnel. Finally, in the small, autonomous republic of Abkhazia on the Black Sea, we even spent some time with a handsome, active 114-year-old tea farm worker who still rides horses and dances in an internationally acclaimed folk group that is mostly made up of centenarians.

"We also discovered, along with modern Russian medicine, a marvelous reliance on the natural cures and techniques found in old Russian folk medicine. 'We first test to see if something works, and then we try to find out why it works,' we were told."

Sara further reports that in the U.S.S.R.—where health care is considered "the property of the people" and is free of charge—an ounce of prevention really is considered to be less expensive than a pound of cure.