The Nature of Symptoms
by Loren Lockman
Like so many other aspects of health and healing in our culture, symptoms are not well understood. Conventional medicine is almost completely focused on the treatment of symptoms, and most “alternative therapies” do the same.
We act as if symptoms are the problem. When we have a sore throat, sinus congestion, or any other pesky symptom, we seek only to eliminate it. But symptoms arise for a reason, and merely evidence a larger issue. How do we determine what that is?
As is so often true, the key is simply asking better questions. Rather than asking how to eliminate the symptom, we would be much better served asking why the symptom has arisen in the first place. Though we may feel better, treating symptoms without addressing causes can never create true health or healing.
But everybody wants to feel better. If you have a sore throat, why not do something to alleviate the discomfort? Even if real healing won’t result, surely there’s no harm in eliminating the pain. Or is there?
In fact, symptoms are created by the body, on purpose, and are merely evidence that the body is cleansing and healing. So treating symptoms — by any means — is not only ineffective at creating health, but also counterproductive.
Let’s look at a stuffy nose as an example. When congested, you’re likely to go find a remedy to clear it. The inclination to do that is understandable; we seek to alleviate the discomfort. And we’ve been acculturated to learn that we need not suffer. Many over-the-counter remedies and numerous “alternative” ones are available to treat every condition. Why not avail ourselves of them?
It helps to remember that the body creates every symptom on purpose. but why would the body create a stuffy nose? The body creates this mucous to encapsulate and more readily eliminate some offending substance that doesn’t belong there. The body has virtually infinite intelligence regarding its own processes. By eliminating the mucous, we are also eliminating the body’s best means of handling the problem.
Does it make any sense to pit our own understanding and intelligence against that of the body? I don’t think so. Our bodies have approximately 30 trillion cells, each of which performs roughly 100,000 functions every second. No one would live ten minutes out of the womb if they had to control each function consciously. There’s no way we can ever understand the incredible complexity of the body, and those who pretend to are either kidding themselves, you, or both.
Like every other living thing, we are self-healing organisms. The best we can ever do is to intelligently get out of the way, allowing the body the optimal opportunity and conditions to cleanse and heal itself. No drug, herb, therapy, diet, or person can heal us, and we don’t need them anyway.
All we need do is meet all of the body’s physiological needs as well as possible, and allow the body to create the perfect balance, health, mental clarity, and emotional poise that is our birthright.
Fasting is such a powerful tool not because it has any inherent power to heal the body; it doesn’t. Fasting is so powerful because it’s the best way to completely get out of the way, allowing the body the opportunity to cleanse and heal itself.
The level of health that we enjoy is largely based on the overall body burden of toxins in the body. When symptoms exist, it’s because there is toxicity or damage, and enough vitality to create the symptoms. Acute symptoms indicate a dangerously high level of toxicity, and/or a level of energy high enough to cleanse and heal quickly and strongly.
Children frequently demonstrate acute symptoms. As we age, and our vitality typically (but not necessarily!) decreases, our tendency to experience acute crises diminishes dramatically. Though this may seem like a good thing, it is not. Either we eliminate toxins from the body, or we are forced to store them, where they will have a continuing negative impact on our health.
As we proceed through our lives treating (suppressing) symptoms, we are forcing the body to retain toxic wastes, and ever-increasing our toxic body burden. The more we suppress symptoms and increase toxicity, the less able the body is to eliminate toxins fast enough, i.e., as fast as they are coming in, and even more, being formed in the body.
The result of years of suppressing acute symptoms is the creation of chronic disease.
Of course, ongoing acute symptoms evidence a toxic system. So the key is to cleanse the body, meet all physiological needs as well as possible, and allow any symptoms that arise to express themselves completely. That may mean suffering through some symptoms in the short term, but when we do these things, an amazingly high level of health will be the inevitable result in the long term.
Loren Lockman is the founder and director of the Tanglewood Wellness
Center, a supervised fasting retreat.