The importance of being ill
NYR Natural News
Today we believe that good health is our “right”, something which should be bestowed upon us (by governments, doctors, etc.) rather than something which is acquired through our own actions.
When we are ill something is ‘wrong’ and it needs to be ‘fixed’ – very often with powerful drugs. Nobody likes being ill. It’s not fun and very often it happens at the most inconvenient times. But looked at in a different light, illness has meaning beyond just making us feel bad.
Looking beyond those troublesome symptoms to what lives beneath them, to the mind-body connection that influences everyone’s health, can yield some startling information.
Your miraculous body
Our bodies are miraculous things. The two trillion cells of the immune system (comprised of three types of white blood cells – phagocytes, T cells and B cells) constantly monitor conditions in the body to maintain the status quo. The while blood cells are smart enough to identify invaders in the body, whether they are viruses, bacteria, toxins or parasites.
Whether or not they have been seen before, immune cells can recognise these foreign substances, or antigens. When a germ overcomes the natural defences of the skin or mucous membranes and invades the tissue, the body responds with a process known as inflammation. White blood cells are ushered to the site where they gobble up the foreign substances. Special chemicals are also released to help defeat the invading germ.
Many doctors will tell you that at least 95% of illnesses are self limiting. In other words they will heal by themselves and do not require any medical intervention. Of course prevention is an important part of health care, but just-in-case medicine, given without any clinical basis, can make symptoms worse and produce a whole range of new and even more debilitating side effects.
Illness as strength
Good examples of this idea abound in our approach to things such common experiences as fever,and coughs.
Fever often develops during an infection. Although we generally think of fever as a bad thing, fever enhances the inflammatory response of the body, and certain components of the immune system work optimally at increased body temperature. Also fever helps to limit the growth of some germs that cannot grow well at higher temperatures.
Coughing is your body’s way of getting rid of phlegm. Because of this suppressing a cough is not a good idea nor do you need expectorant – the cough is doing that job. The use of cough remedies has been shown in numerous and extensive controlled trials to be useless. Other research has shown that antihistamine-decongestant combinations for young children confer no clinically significant improvement in symptoms after 48 hours.
The symptoms that we see as signs of the body’s frailty and inability to cope are, in short, signs that it is working well.