Your Body Has the Ability to Heal Itself
It’s not a joke; the body really does have the ability to heal itself. Prescription drug companies might want you to believe otherwise, and they encourage your belief by investing millions of dollars into advertisements, partnering with “trusted” government agencies who declare their drugs “safe”, and paying doctors who are highly educated in only drugs. But before you go reaching for that prescription or OTC drug, consider giving your body a chance to heal.
Think of winter time when everyone has a cold, and runny noses abound. What is that gooey discharge leaking from your nose? The nasal discharge is made up of dead viruses that your body’s defense system, the immune system, has killed. The dead viruses are accompanied by dead white blood cells that were a casualty of viral warfare, and mucous is the vehicle your body uses to remove this dead matter from your body.
When you take an over the counter (OTC) medication for the common cold, the drug works by reducing the body’s ability to make mucous, and stops the body from using its own efforts to kill and dispose of viruses in the body.
These chemicals may stop the nasal discharge temporarily, but not only do they impede the body's natural healing process, they can also lead to side effects like headache, bronchial congestion, and fatigue, which can be more miserable than the original problem of nasal discharge or common cold.
The point here is that just because a drug can effectively reduce symptoms, doesn’t mean that the treatment has cured the problem, or that its benefits outweigh the riks.
Natural medicine holds one basic assumption about health: the body has the natural ability to heal itself and inherent wisdom to defend itself and to survive. Symptoms of illness are not just something "wrong", they are mechanisms of the organism to defend and heal itself against infection and stress. As Han Selye, MD, PhD, and the father of stress theory once stated, “Disease is not mere surrender to attack but also the fight for health; unless there is a fight, there is no disease”.
The human body has been able to survive a changing landscape over thousands of years because it is able to adapt, and one adaptation that is especially useful is the creation of symptoms. It could be fever and inflammation, coughing and phlegm, vomiting and nausea, fainting and comatose states, and even the myriad of mental and emotional states; each symptom represents the best efforts of the body-mind in its struggle to fight infection and adapt to physiological and physical stressors.
Symptoms may be the best effort of the organism to defend itself at the time, but in the long run, it is not always most effective to let the body try to heal itself. It is best to provide some treatments to help nourish, nurture and augment the body’s own wisdom. The challenge of healers, physicians, and patients is to determine when to help aid this inner wisdom of the body and when to intervene to ensure that the body doesn’t hurt itself.
The term “symptom” stems from a Greek word and refers to “something that falls together with something else”. Symptoms are a sign of other more serious problems, and treating the symptom doesn’t change the underlying cause, or even treat it. Symptoms are becoming recognized for their defensive and healing properties:
- Fever is vital to defend against infection
- Tears help to wash and cleanse the eyes, as well as having calming properties for emotional crying
- The respiratory system is bathed in antibody and enzyme-rich secretions that are pushed up and down the throat so bronchial pathogens are killed
- Ears secrete an antibacterial wax which aids in fighting infection
- Saliva in the mouth kills some pathogens and dislodges others so that the stomach’s acid and enzymes can destroy them
Homeopathic medicine recognizes that the symptoms of the body are the body’s attempt to defend itself. Conventional drugs work by suppressing symptoms, and though they provide temporary relief, they can lead to other new and more serious problems by inhibiting the body’s defense and immune system processes. Conventional medication should generally be avoided unless in extreme pain or discomfort, or if more natural alternative methods are not working fast enough.
Homeopathic medicine is a well-known therapeutic method that honors the wisdom of the body by mimicking the wisdom of defense mechanisms like symptoms. Homeopathy is a type of “medical biomimicry” that uses various plant, mineral, and animal substances based on their ability to cause in overdose the similar symptoms that the sick person is undergoing. The main homeopathic principle to “treat like with like”.
Naturopathy is another route to go for safe, natural treatment of illness. Naturopathy is an alternative medical system that focuses on natural remedies and the body’s vital ability to heal and maintain itself. Naturopathic philosophy favors a holistic approach and minimal use of surgery and conventional drugs.
Despite their respect of the healing power of the body, neither homeopaths nor naturopaths believe it effective to let the body heal itself. Usually, it is necessary to give the body specific tools and treatment to help with the healing process. Natural treatments that nourish and nurture the body’s own wisdom are good first steps to initiate a true healing beyond just symptomatic relief.
Remember Hippocrates' first rule of healing is “First, do no harm”, so it seems even he was instructing us to try safer, natural methods of healing before turning to more dangerous conventional medicine. Ironically enough, every doctor must swear to this in the Hippocratic Oath before they can begin practicing - routinely with drugs that do, in fact, harm.