Your body is calling. Don't hang up.
A friend with whom you have had a quarrel phones to make up. You are not ready. The minute you recognize her voice, you hang up. Breakdown of communication absolute.
Not a nice thing to do, is it? But that's what you do much of the time when one of the best friends you have, your body, calls.
"Body calling?" I hear you mumble to yourself, "Never heard worse nonsense. How can my body call me?"
It can and it does. It does so in many ways, but you won't listen.
Your body calls you every time you experience pain, and you hang up on it when you reach for a painkiller. The purpose of pain is to warn you that something is out of balance. I had a backache not long ago. Lifting suitcases up to and taking them down from overhead luggage racks on European trains had caused it. Now, while knowing what had caused it reassured me that it would disappear in time, it did nothing to lessen the pain itself. For a few days it was so bad that I had trouble sleeping. Still I would not think of taking a painkiller, however much relatives and friends urged me to do so. I was afraid that, if I took something to deaden the pain, I might aggravate the problem: no pain to warn me when I was pushing the limit, I might push past the limit. The main purpose of a pain like my back pain is to prevent further damage by discouraging movements which either caused the injury in the first place or might make it worse.
It took a week for the pain to diminish enough not to bother me any more and another week for it to disappear. I am not sure that I would have been rid of it so fast if I had taken painkillers. All I did was rest, try to stay well within the limits of movement defined by the pain when I was up and about, take extra dolomite and Vitamin C, and put a hot-water bottle against my back when I sat or lay down. My body, best of physicians, did the rest.
Your body calls you when you get that sour-stomach feeling, and you hang up if you reach for the antacid. The antacids are unwholesome substances. They do not cure; all they do is mask the symptoms. And they produce the so-called rebound effect. When you take antacids, they reduce the concentration of the hydrochloric acid in your stomach drastically. You feel almost instant relief. But a message goes to your brain that your stomach environemnt has turned alkali. The response is prompt: your brain sends a message to the nerves that control the secretion of hydrochloric acid and bids them remedy the situation. Acid is released into the stomach, sometimes more than there was before. You feel that nasty burning in your stomach again, and again you reach for the antacid again. A vicious cycle is initiated.
Taking milk to relieve the burning sensation in the stomach is little better. It produces the same effects albeit more slowly.
What are you to do then? Are you to grin and bear the burning, hoping that it will go away? Well, not quite. There is one first-aid measure which I would not outlaw -- drinking a glass or two of clean water that is not too cold. It brings relief by diluting the too much of hydrochloric acid without causing the rebound effect. But that's only a first-aid measure. It is neither a cure nor even a control. Better try to get at the causes of the excess of hydrochloric acid and try to eliminate them.
One of the causes is erratic eating -- a big meal now, nothing for a long time, and then a big meal again. The big meal promotes the secretion of more stomach acid than usual. During the long no-food stretch, the hydrochloric acid irritates the walls of the empty stomach, there being no food for the acid to act on. If you want to be kind to your stomach -- and to yourself -- go for frequent small meals rather than stuffing yourself once or twice a day. This way your stomach will never be wholly empty; there will always be some food for the acid to act on and the walls of your stomach will be left in peace.
Something else you can and should do -- try to eliminate stresses that can be eliminated and try to control your temper. Stress reduction and fewer bursts of temper mean lowered secretion of stomach acid. This, combined with frequent small meals may take care of the problem in a matter of days. If you resort to antacids, it may drag on forever.
I shudder when I look at the goods displayed on the shelves of our pharmacies. Most of the space is taken up by three types of non-prescription drugs -- antacids, pain killers and cold medications. They have this in common -- that they enable you to "hang up" when your body calls; that is, they give you the illusion that all is well by masking the symptoms of a problem. Almost always, though, they make matters worse.
Your body calls you when you have diarrhoea and you hang up if you take medication designed to stop the diarrhoea. Your body is letting you know that something you ingested -- food, drink or microbes -- did not agree with you and that it is trying to get rid of the offending substance. If possible, find out what caused the diarrhoea so that you may avoid a recurrence, but do not try to treat the diarrhoea unless it drags on for more than a day or two. Nine times out of ten it won't. Skip a meal or two and take some good yogurt -- that is, yogurt which has not been pasteurized -- and some garlic. Yogurt helps to rebuild the intestinal flora. A day or two on nothing but yogurt takes care of most of the common intestinal disturbances. Garlic assists your body in getting rid of hostile microbes and it boosts your immune system.
One of the most important lessons to learn is that most of the ills which plague man are not so much illnesses in themselves as signals his body sends him to let him know that something is out of balance. The solution is not to turn off the "signal" but to find and to attack the cause.
Your body calls you when it sends you a cold and you hang up on it when you reach for the over-the-counter cold medication. Just as the pain that accompanies a back injury is not the ill itself but rather a measure adopted by the body to help in the curing of the ill, so a cold is not the real problem but rather a combination of measures adopted by the body to cure the real ill -- an immune system weakened by too great a demand on its resources. Let's face it, no matter what the medical establishment would have you believe, a cold is NOT caused by viruses. The part a virus plays in the genesis of a cold is that of a scavenger that feeds on diseased tissue. It is NOT the prime cause. If viruses were the prime cause of colds, everyone would be down with a cold all the time because there is always someone around who has a cold that can spread the virus to other people. You know from experience that you tend to catch a cold when you are run down -- something the medical establishment either does not know or pretends not to know -- and you end up run down if you don't get enough rest, if you overeat regularly, if your gut flora is not up to par, if you admit too much stress into your day-to-day routine and if your reserves of vitamins, especially Vitamin C, are low. When you are well-rested, when your reservoirs of vital energy are full, you are quite immune to the viruses which supposedly cause the cold.
What you experience as a cold is really a combination of measures taken by your body to set things right. It takes your appetite away. If you eat less, perhaps don't eat at all for a day or two, you body won't have to process food and can turn its attention to healing itself. Your body sends you a fever. The fever is NOT an illness to be treated but an attempt by the body to eliminate the viruses. A virus thrives best at body temperature. Even a slight rise of temperature may be enough to kill it. That's the purpose of a fever. Don't try to bring it down unless it is up so high as to become life-threatening. When you have a cold, you feel weak. Here is your body trying to get you to rest. If you hope to get well quickly, you had better do what it "tells" you to do. Don't hang up.
You do hang up if you take any of the over-the-counter cold medications. They have all been designed to overrule the signals your body sends you. They contain a pain killer which takes care of the headache and the muscle pains that often accompany a cold or the flu. And they contain a stimulant which is like the whip to the tired horse. Wonderful stuff those tablets! Pain gone, tiredness gone. Why stay in bed and rest when you fell as good as new again?
But, all considered, these patent cold medications do more harm than good. By masking the symptoms -- that is, by turning off the signals your body sends you -- they keep you from doing what you should be doing -- EAT LESS, REST, TAKE EXTRA VITAMIN C. Is it any wonder that some colds seem to drag on forever.
So do take the trouble to listen when your body "calls" you. Try to understand what it seems to be telling you and try to do what it tells you to do -- skip a meal or two, slow down, rest. Go after the proven immune system boosters such as Vitamin C, yogurt, garlic, echinacea. And try to recapture the lost faith in your body's ability to look after itself if only you don't hang up on it.
You hang up just about every time you accept a prescription drug, for the drug is not likely to cure; it is rather more likely merely to mask the symptoms. Virtually all the research of Big Pharma is geared to develop, not drugs that cure, but drugs that can be used to treat, as much as possible till the end of the patient’s life.
[What follows would have been the earlier INTERNAL LINK, but I don't want it. The file needed some editing. The *.odt file I have been talking about is what I would want to link to this page.]