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What About Those Pesky Symptoms?

Written by Susan M. Brown, D.C.   
Tuesday, 07 October 2008 09:26
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I've had people say to me "I know you don't want to hear about my symptoms, but....." Enough people have said it lately that I thought an explanation of my view of symptoms was in order. It's not that I don't want to hear about symptoms or that you can't tell me what they are, I just view them so differently.

The current view of health holds that if we have symptoms, we are sick and if we are without symptoms then we are healthy. And so much of modem health care, especially that which is medical in its approach, is geared toward ridding the individual of their symptoms. Some of the sickest people are symptom free. They just don't feel anything. Their bodies are so impacted with toxins and stress and injury (emotional and physical) that they have shut down. So lack of symptoms does not necessarily prove to be a healthy individual. As the reverse can also be true. A person with symptoms is not necessarily "sick".

Now at first, ridding the system of symptoms seems like a wonderful, noble thing. At least until you start to consider how the body functions. Many of the symptoms people experience are actually signs that the body is healing and stopping those symptoms can inhibit the healing process. For example, a normal fever rise is the body's first line of defense against infection. Temperature goes up, which increases the body's activity and signals the immune system to 'turn on". When we take something to decrease the temperature it compromises the body's natural healing response.

When we ingest something that the body considers to be toxic, nausea and diarrhea are healthy responses. When a joint is injured the body gives us pain to let us know to be careful, to avoid using it and re-injuring it. It swells to provide a natural splint to the area to protect the injured joint and gets hot as the body increases the circulation to repair and heal the injured tissue. The runny nose we get at the change of seasons is the body sluffing off the old respiratory lining, much like the trees sluff off their leaves and animals sluff off winter coats.

Every symptom our body lovingly gives us is a message. The body can only speak to us in two ways, pain or pleasure, discomfort or comfort, ease or dis-ease. The words it speaks to let us know it is working or not working are what we have defined as symptoms. A heart that aches after years of abuse will signal us with chest pains. A stomach will flare up with an ulcer to let us know that we have let life get too stressful, that it is too much to bear. Our pulse will race with the anxiety forcing us to face the fears that have built up in our bodies.

When symptoms occur, when our body is trying its best to communicate with us, do we listen to what it is trying to say? Or do we just try to shut it up, quite down or stop the symptoms. Do we ignore the body's only voice and try to "shut it up" like putting our hand over the mouth of a screaming child. If our intention is just to stop the symptoms, then we miss the gift. It's not that I don't want to hear about the symptoms, it's that my intention is not to treat them or silence them, it is to acknowledge them with something far greater than talking about them.

My purpose and intent is to turn on the power of the body so that it can heal, and can integrate the experiences of life. Sometimes when the body is in flow with life it has no symptoms and sometimes it does. Sometimes we feel great, sometimes we feel the process of healing happening and sometimes we feel our body telling us that a change is definitely in order.