When you have a headache, stomachache or feel fatigued, your body is trying to tell you something. These physiological symptoms are signals that something is out of balance in your system or your body is reacting negatively to some outside factor. Instead of reaching for a bottle of aspirin or antacid at the first sign of discomfort, look for the underlying cause and make whatever changes are necessary to prevent the problem from arising again. For example, the headache may have resulted from a gradual decrease in the amount of water you had to drink over the course of several days. The stomach discomfort was most likely caused by the cheeseburger and fries you had at lunch. If you just take a pill for relief and continue to go about your life without making any changes, the problems will not only continue but they will be compounded and will lead to other ailments.
Let’s use the headache as an example. Say I have been neglecting my water intake and over the course of a few days I develop a nagging headache. I’m busy and can’t do my work with a headache, so I pop a couple aspirin and it goes away. I’m able to focus again and get my job done. Alas later, it comes back. So I take a couple more aspirin to relieve the pain. Over the course of the next week, I continue to get headaches off and on and continue to treat them with aspirin. Never do I take a look at the root cause and up my intake of water, which would stop the headaches from continuing. I don’t do that because I fail to see the connection between the two isolated (at least in my mind they are isolated) incidents. This behavior continues on for a while and eventually I start developing stomach problems (as a side effect to all the aspirin). So I take some medication for that to relieve my discomfort as well as continuing to take aspirin whenever I have a headache. A couple years later, I develop an ulcer “out of the blue”, which needs to be treated with medication. This medication of course has side effects, as ALL medication does, eventually leading me to develop yet another ailment for which I am prescribed yet another medication. Are you starting to get the picture here?
The ailments get progressively worse and when we ignore the underlying cause and just treat the symptoms, we lead ourselves unnecessarily down the path towards the degenerative diseases that plague our country—cancer, heart disease, arthritis, and Alzheimer’s to name a few. Think of that the next time you reach for that bottle of over the counter medication.
Unfortunately, the situation I described above is all too common. Our medical system is set up to treat every little physiological symptom we have with some kind of chemical drug. What many people fail to realize is that the body will heal itself if we just give it a chance. Human bodies are extraordinarily complex machines whose internal systems are all interconnected; when we treat our internal organs and systems as if they operate independently of one another, we really screw up the balance within our body.
The premise behind (w)holistic medicine is that you treat the entire body as one integrated system, so a problem presenting in the liver is not isolated to just the liver. All the other organs and systems in the body are also being affected and need to be treated. In the case of a common ailment like a cold or stomach discomfort, instead of reaching for a bottle of medicine, rest, skip a meal, and drink broth or miso soup until you feel better. Allow your body to do what comes naturally; to heal itself.