My Beef With Conventional Symptom Suppression

This past winter, I got a nasty, nasty, nasty flu that knocked me out for a full week and lingered for around 14 days.  It came on strong and furiously right after coming home from seeing a movie with El Branno and was relentless.  I did what I’ve always done – went straight to the drugstore to get a pack of extra-strength Tylenol Cold & Flu and took two pills every four hours without fail.

What I did with my flu was a classic case of symptom suppression which is the very backbone of Western medicine.

Have a headache?  Pop an Advil

Feel blue?  Grab an anti-depressant

Heartburn driving you nuts?  Take down some Pepto Bismal

Do you have gallstones?  Well then, let’s remove your gallbladder

The thing about symptoms is that they are like the Town Crier and are working hard to let us know something is out of balance.  Let’s take the example of my flu where the symptoms were fever, chills, runny nose, cough, aches and pains.  My body was dealing with an acute virus and in response it tried to get back to its normal state (nerdy science term for normal is homeostasis) by bringing up my temperature to fight the infection and producing more mucous to keep bacteria and germs out of the lungs.  Symptoms like these actually help us return to homeostasis and by suppressing it with over-the-counter drugs I was muffling the Town Crier in a big…bad…way.

The problem with symptom suppression over time is that we aren’t really addressing the root of the issue.  If I am taking Tylenol every time I have a headache, I’m not stopping to think about WHY it exists in the first place.  Perhaps the cause is dehydration, tension, stress, lack of sleep, or waiting too long to eat between meals.

Over time, the suppression of symptoms associated with acute illness actually cause chronic disease and impacts larger body systems.  Conventional medicine believes the gallbladder is a non-essential organ and thus it’s often removed after repeated incidences of gallstones to suppress the uncomfortable symptoms.  Bile, which is produced in the liver is stored in the gallbladder where it’s secreted into the small intestine in order to emulsify fats.  By removing the gallbladder, bile becomes much weaker and constantly drips into the small inestine causing irritation and is actually indicated in colon cancer.  Gallstones, btw, are usually caused by a poor, high fat diet and there are lots of things we can do to flush gallstones out and repair digestive health so that the symptoms are naturally relieved and homeostasis achieved.  A happy gallbladder is healthier digestive system!

Try to attention to what your body is telling you and try have trust in it’s ability to fight disease.  Symptoms are nature’s way of making us consider WHY something is out of balance.  Symptoms are a gift and if you have them consider yourself lucky.




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