As a sometime Masters Athlete, I have learned that my body lets me know when its a bit ‘down’- a touch of tinea; the tickle of a possible cold sore; the feeling of being ‘run down’. These are signs that my immune system is depressed, and that putting in a hard session today will lead to a cold or sore throat tomorrow. The body’s talking, and I’ve learned to listen. If I’m sensible, I’ll also try for an early night, eat some good food, and take some extra vitamins- especially C.
As I’ve learned about health and nutrition, I’ve not only learned to listen to my body, but I’ve come more and more to respect traditional remedies and wisdom. Many traditional sayings are proving to have a scientific basis. Take these few examples;
– “Eat up your carrots” -it really DOES help you see in the dark.
– “Fish is brain food” -takes on new credibility as we learn about Essential Fatty Acids.
– “Drink tea with lemon for a cold”- works, although it’s probably the bioflavonoids in the tea, not the vitamin C in the lemon!
Not only do many old sayings have validity, but so do many old remedies. Numerous traditional herbs have ‘given birth’ to modern drugs. To name just a couple…
– Valerian led to Valium
– Willow Bark led to Asprin
In fact, Nuturopath Chris Wainwright tells me that about half of the pharmaceutical drugs around are derived from natural sources. So we invented drugs thousands of years before we invented pharmaceutical companies! Grandma and natives in the Amazon DID have some idea of what they were saying and doing!
As well as a tendency to disregard ‘old-fashioned’ knowledge, we have an unfortunate tendency to react to symptoms, rather than trying to understand why we are feeling the way we do. Today, happily, modern science is catching up with the fact that we shouldn’t always resort to modern science when the body does something different!
Coughing, pain, fever, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, anxiety, fatigue, sneezing and inflammation are standard defences used by the body. We mask them at our peril. Here are a few examples.
– Coughing clears the airways.
– Fever raises the body’s temperature to help destroy pathogens.
– Pain is there for good reason. As someone pointed out, “Pain
isn’t nature’s way of telling us that we have an asprin deficiency”!
While I’m not suggesting that every occurrence of these symptoms should be ignored, and assumed to be no risk to our health, we have a pathetic tendency to rush out for the latest product advertised on TV to cure the symptom. Or to ask the Doctor to prescribe antibiotics!
A new field of study in medical science has developed in recent years. This field, of understanding how the body evolved the way in which it operates, is called Darwinian Medicine.
Having respect for a couple of thousand years of accumulated wisdom, can help us enhance our body’s ability to maintain good health.
A greater understanding of why our body is acting the way it is, will help all of us to respond more appropriately to the symptoms our body develops from time to time.
To repeat the title of this article- LISTEN to YOUR body.