It is only by understanding the true nature of disease that we can learn to defeat it. Disease is really nothing more than the inability of the body to effectively dispose of foreign materials and accumulated waste products. The body's defense mechanisms are designed to perform effective clearing functions, but sometimes simply become overwhelmed and are unable to perform these normal processes. It is at this point that disease occurs.
Let's look at some of these clearing processes. If you have ever inhaled pepper into your nose and experienced the violent sneeze that follows then you have experienced one of these clearing processes. If you have ever cried while chopping onions then you have experienced the body's mechanism of clearing irritating gas particles from the sensitive tissues of the eyes. If you have ever eaten contaminated food which made you sick with vomiting and diarrhea, then you have experienced the clearing mechanism of the gastrointestinal tract. The body has a built-in, self-cleaning system which, when working properly, ensures that impurities and harmful substances are disposed of appropriately before they have a chance to cause disease. Even the seven day process of watery eyes, coughing and sneezing which accompanies the common cold is the body's attempt to clear the invading virus. Internal cleansing is carried out by organs such as the kidneys, liver, lungs and digestive tract interacting with the bloodstream and the lymph system.
What happens when these clearing processes cannot take place effectively is the process called "disease." Fortunately, the body has some emergency measures which it employs when the system cannot cope.
Fever is a process whereby the body raises its internal temperature to accelerate metabolism. This increase in metabolic rate speeds up the body's defensive and elimination processes by activating white blood cells to neutralize and destroy foreign toxic substances.
Parvo Airola, one of America's most recognized health authors says of fever: "Fever is one of the body's defensive forces created and sustained for the deliberate purpose of aiding in the restoration of health."
The "people's doctor," Dr. Robert Mendelsohn, in his book How to Raise a Healthy Child in Spite of Your Doctor, comments: "If you child contracts an infection, the fever that accompanies it is a blessing, not a curse ... A rising body temperature simply indicates that the process of healing is sped up. It is something to rejoice over, not to fear."
Even the great Hippocrates, over 2,300 years ago, wrote of fever: "Give me fever, and I can cure your patient."
Dr. Mendelsohn, commenting on the fever phobia exhibited by parents when their child has the slightest elevated temperature says: "I have treated tens of thousands of children and I've seen only one case of fever higher than 106 degrees. That's not surprising because it's estimated that 95 percent of childhood fevers don't ever reach 106 degrees."
Inflammation, like fever, is also one of the body's defensive mechanisms. It is the body's way of dealing with infection and healing wounds. Whereas fever is a general, overall body reaction, inflammation is a local response. Inflammation is a process which aims to remove foreign material from specific localized sites in the body. According to medical author Ronald Raven:
"The inflammatory reaction is fundamental to the survival of the organism. It is necessary for the maintenance of homeostasis in the face of injury and without it the organism cannot survive."
Malaise, or the tiredness which accompanies a fever, is an important part of the healing process. During acute illness, the body must conserve its energies for fighting the disease process. The tiredness or listlessness which is experienced by a child who is sick is simply nature's way of saying, "I need you to rest so that I can get on with the process of healing." If we ignore this fact and allow the child to remain active during a fever, or treat the child with fever reducing medication or tonics, we risk delaying recovery and extending the period of illness.
Hippocrates, the father of medicine, spoke in support of the natural philosophy of health when he wrote: "Diseases are crises of purification, of toxic elimination. Symptoms are the natural defenses of the body. We call them diseases, but in fact they are the cure of diseases. All diseases are but one and their cause is also one, although they manifest themselves by means of different symptoms, according to the place in which they appear."
When we see a sick child suffering with the symptoms of one of the common childhood diseases, we should remind ourselves that the symptoms which we see are not an attack on the body by the outside environment but are a manifestation of the body's defensive action aimed at preserving health. The body has an innate capability to maintain health. All we need is the wisdom to know how to work with it and not to place obstacles in the path of the healing process.
Peter Fysh, DC
San Jose, California
Editor's Note: Dr. Fysh is currently conducting pediatric seminars. He may be contacted at 1-800-999-7337.
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