Getting Sick Can Be a Sign of Good Health
With considerable frequency, clients sit in my office and list a sizeable range of nagging symptoms, chronic conditions, and perhaps their numerous surgical or pharmaceutical treatments. Just as common is to follow this list with some version of the statement, “My health is quite good really”.
To me this is an astounding assessment.
However with further questioning I have come to understand that what people mean is they don’t often have illnesses of the brief but intense, possibly bed-domiciled variety such as colds or flu. Another version of this reasoning is evident from ex-smokers. They remark incredulously that they never got ‘sick’ until they gave up smoking. There are similar reasons for both of these situations.
It is critical to understand the specific process to ‘dis-ease’ of any type, and the body’s early warning signs, so major health problems can be averted. By understanding this process you can become adept at valuing and interpreting the many small signals the body provides to get your attention regarding sub-optimal status. Discomfort of any kind is purposeful communication, not a nuisance phone call.
There are 3 types of illness: acute, chronic, and degenerative. If you have spent time with infants and young children you have probably observed how swiftly they can go from looking fine to having the likes of a fever. Fever, substantial mucous discharge, vomiting and diarrhea – when they have a limited time frame – are all classified as acute responses. A raised temperature for instance can be a sign that the body is dealing with an onslaught of pathogens such as viral invaders, which a fever helps prevent from replicating. Copious flowing mucous is an admirable and speedy exit route for all the trapped or dead enemy forces.
If these acute responses occur we should assist rather than thwart them. One of the few examples most people can easily relate to pertains to the following situation. Imagine that you have eaten some food that turns out to have ‘gone off’. You feel nauseous and want to throw up, or experience an otherwise explosive need for the toilet. Would you want to take a drug to settle your stomach or bowel and prevent the unpleasantness of vomiting or diarrhea? Most people would say no, they want to get rid of the original offender even more than the uncomfortable elimination. They acknowledge and support the body’s helpful efforts at forceful removal.
Sadly, appreciation of this scenario is not extended to other similar health situations. For instance if a child or adult has several bouts of tonsillitis the response should be one of, “Thank you tonsils for localising that infection and preventing a systemic takeover. Now I need to consider why these infections keep occurring and in this region, and the appropriate preventative”. Oh, no. The response is more likely to be, “These tonsils keep getting infected so they are to blame and must be removed”. This is the same logic as assuming that since ambulance drivers are always at the scene of an accident, then they must be the cause of it.
Since the middle of the twentieth century, especially with the development of antibiotics, medicine has become overly reliant on the big guns of medications and surgery. Until then most GPs were like present day naturopaths. They used to dispense advice on the importance of ‘roughage’ in the diet and magnesium supplements to assist bowel function, the benefits of hot broth and a spoonful of immune enhancing cod liver oil in the winter, the use of soothing poultices to counter inflammation, how to inhale over hot water with herbs or salt to encourage mucous drainage, and how to employ water baths to help a person work with – not against – a mild to moderate fever. The emphasis then was on prevention, knowledge and protocols tested by experience, and practical treatments people could do for themselves.
In contrast medicine now specialises in high-tech interventions. If you have a heart attack, if you need intensive care after a traffic accident or skin grafts after a house-fire, thank heavens for the brilliance of their crisis management skills. But the militaristically aggressive techniques that work well in emergencies do not tend to be appropriate for understanding or managing chronic conditions. People born and raised in a culture that suggests science will rescue them, often expect a magic pill solution to a health problem rather than a process of investigating cause and ongoing lifestyle solutions. Symptoms are viewed as something to be ignored or eliminated, not observed and learned from.
Chronic conditions include hay fever, eczema, most fungal infections, allergies, reflux, disturbed digestive and bowel function, headaches, PMS, varicose veins and vastly more common problems. They are annoying but since they don’t appear to kill, many people dismiss them as insignificant. Nothing could be less true. Such conditions are serious indicators of one or more entire body systems being weakened. If left unaddressed these road signs lead to “Park here for degenerative disease”. Some clients proclaim they were mysteriously stricken with the likes of cancer, diabetes, thickened and hardened arteries, rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune disorders. However it usually takes a cluster of factors over a substantial period of time – with numerous warning bells – before this deterioration develops.
Once the level of degenerative disease has been reached then rarely will a person have the vigour to summon a swift, brief, acute response as a process of useful elimination. The body is too deeply unwell to temporarily ‘get sick’ and be cleansed. In contrast, after a ‘house cleaning’ one-annual-cold-only, if you are generally healthy, there will be an experience of increased vitality and wellness.
Long before the development of chronic conditions, the body has tried to communicate its needs and cautions to its host. One of the first signals the body gives is through changes in mental or physical vitality levels. This is the most immediate way of communicating a message of “Attention please, system is approaching malfunction”. There might be nervous tension or fatigue. Later will come the equivalent of dashboard indicators of deeper problems within: small signs of impairment with extremities and the finishing touches of skin, nails and hair. Organ imbalances and nutritional deficiencies mean that key nutrients are instead being prioritised for internal crisis management. Allow these messages to go unheeded and in time chronic problems take increasingly complex shape, perhaps followed by the tragedy of degenerative complaints.
Now is an ideal time to act. See the GOOD HEALTH SOLUTIONS report: You Are Only A Few Steps Away From Peak Vitality. Learn the simple steps for regulating your unique needs and how to provide each cell and each organ with the critical fuel it must have for efficient function, repair and renewal. A healthy person should not have more than one cold or mild flu each year, as a form of systemic elimination. Or instead adopt an annual spring-cleaning programme. Solo or with a friend, plan a dedicated weekend with exercise in nature, massage, sauna, body exfoliation, a diet of unadulterated, easy to digest foods including broths and fresh juices, perhaps supplements such as garlic, chlorella, vitamin C and zinc, with time for relaxing music and uplifting reading, and a break from driving, shopping, the computer and TV.
Even more important is the rest of the year. For one month keep a Food Relationship Diary such as found in The Shape Diet. This will help you become more observant of the process and triggers to your body, mind and mood states. Read the chapter on Successful Psychological Strategies so you can learn how to gauge the difference between the promptings of your wise inner voice, and the urge to self-sabotage. Soon a few small clues – just like a car’s fuel light signaling ‘almost empty’ – will be sufficient to alert you to appropriate action. Your body will be less mysterious, easier to manage – and much more responsive to drive.